Engadget Turns Off Comments. On Some Level, I Understand.


Is it any coincidence that just a few days after Apple’s iPad was announced, Engadget.com, probably the leading tech blog on the planet (who blogged the announcement live as it happened), announced that they were turning off reader comments for a while. As a longtime reader and fan of Engadget, I have to tell you I was shocked.

Here’s what they said:

“Hey guys, we know you like to have your fun, voice your opinions, and argue over your favorite gear, but over the past few days the tone in comments has really gotten out of hand. What is normally a charged — but fun — environment for our users and editors has become mean, ugly, pointless, and frankly threatening in some situations… and that’s just not acceptable.”

Click here to read their post, and why they did it. Thankfully, it appears that they have reopened comments once again, but I have to tell you, on some level, especially after some of the comments here concerning my iPad post, I kind of understand why they did it.

Here on this blog I feel very fortunate that we have built such a great community that it usually isn’t an issue (unless you mention Apple of course, and then all bets are off). However, a lot of bloggers I’ve talked with have decided to turn off commenting permanently, and they are stunned that I don’t at least moderate the comments here before they’re released. My policy has been—-if you make a comment—it goes up immediately, and so far that hasn’t been a problem.

That being said, here’s my policy: you can disagree with me—no sweat (and if you’ve read this blog for any time, you know that happens on about a daily basis)—-just don’t be mean about it. If you’re really mean to me, or to anyone else here, there’s a pretty decent chance I’ll just go and delete your comment (this isn’t The New York Times after all).

If you post a comment here and you get a message saying it’s awaiting moderation, that means you’ve probably put some web links in your post, and my spam filter thinks it’s a spam comment, but it’s not entirely sure, so it holds it for me to check it out. The problem is—I might not get to check it out until the end of the day, so your best bet is not to include a bunch of outside links. One isn’t usually a problem, but two or more and it’ll hold it for moderation.

I get literally hundreds of spam ads comment attempts here each day, most of them put there by automated spam bots, and believe me—you don’t want them to get through. Many are absolutely filthy (shockingly so in some cases), and besides, you probably already have enough Viagra, Cialis, and discount fine watches to last you for a while, right? ;-)

Anyway, I thought it was sad to see things get so bad at Engadget that it came to that. Again, I understand, but it was still sad. I surely don’t ever want to see that happen here, so as we move forward, even if I do wind up mentioning a topic you feel very passionate about (Apple), just remember we’re all friends here (except for Brad Moore. If he posts anything—blast him!). ;-)

  1. Well I’ll start, personally I think the iPad would be a really neat way to carry my portfolio with me. Great for us photogs!

    Scott- as a fellow user of the WordPress blog, can RC or someone tell us how to get rid of all the spam commentors? I had to turn off comments on my blog because it was nothing but Russian bride ads and enlargement pills. How do you do it here? You must get a million. Apologies if I’m just not in the know on this and missed a setting. Thanks a bunch.
    Your BFF, -Matt

    1. WordPress, whether at WordPress.com or a self-install, has a plugin called AKISMET. Do a quick search for it and you’ll find it easily. You register an account with WordPress, get a free API key, copy&paste it into the plugin which activates it and BAM… spam comments go bye-bye! :-)

      1. Rod, I have 2 blogs and have comments turned off of both due to spam. The comment form has been attacked many times. One bot was able to post 3,000 spam ads in a few hours. I use drupal for my sites. I’ve tried a couple of blocking options but not been happy with the results. If you or anyone has suggestions I’d like to hear them.

  2. I saw that Engadget did that the other day. They have now started to allow comments again. They wrote a great post: http://www.engadget.com/2010/02/04/commenting-on-engadget-a-humans-guide/

    The key line to me was :”commenting on Engadget is not a right of law passed down to you in the Constitution.”

    I appreciate that you allow comments. There are a lot of great questions, and answers, that come up here in the comment section of the blog.

  3. I still find it amazing the way some people behave on these sites! Would you have this conversation with some random guy in a store if you happened to overhear they wanted to buy an iPad?

    Probably not. So why is it acceptable to attack the questionable lineage of somebody online simply due to their choice in technology? Is it the anonymity?

    Meh. Personally, I follow a simple rule. If the comment you post is something that your grandmother would clip you around the head for? Best not to post it.

    1. Good rule Kris!

      One problem that the instant ability to “communicate” online is that we have forgotten to stop and think before we click post/send. Combine that with the fact that it is easier to type on a screen than talk to a person face to face — we say things that we otherwise would never say….and we are losing our people skills.

      Thanks Scott for filling your words and comments with grace and for letting the uncalled for comments roll off — at least I am praying that you are able to do that :)

    2. The problem is anonymity. No body knows you, and you don’t know anybody on these blogs, so people feel confident in saying things they wouldn’t to their friends and family. Plus, unlike strangers in a store, being incredibly offensive is almost consequence free. I think in a lot of ways, the type of comments one leaves on a forum really shows the inner being of someone.

  4. When I see all of the comments on the various blogs, etc. blasting others for their views, I sometimes wonder at why they feel the urgent need to convince someone that they are incorrect. It might not be a bad idea of most people remembered the Somerset Maugham quote:

    “I do not much care if people agree with me. Of course, I think I am right, otherwise I would not think as I do, and they are are wrong – but it does not offend me that they should be wrong.”

  5. Just a little presentation if I may. I am a longtime user of Photoshop, since version3, and I have an iPhone, that I am not ready to relenquish anytime soon…unless Android convinces me one day; that will allow me to get rid of iTunes and rediscover the joys of copy/paste and drag/drop fromone drive( any drive, anywhere) to my cellular phone( another drive)
    The thing with Apple, a great company with the most glorious designs, is that you feel that when they give you a product, they just hold down on many capabilities the product can deliver, while it is built with such capability.
    I am sure the iPhone is practically ready, and Apple would have unveiled it if it had seen that Nexus one was an immediate hit. But since they found that it was plagued with some defaults, they must have concluded to wait a while. Why when an iPhone is jailbroken( mine is not) it is suddenly programmed to unleach many functions inherent to the phone. Why doesn’t Apple, out of respect for its customers, give them these functionalities, either initially or through upgrades? This lack of respect, delivering the best designs a product came with, but holding on the functionalities or forcing them to use one program(iTunes), is what I despise most. But of course I will hold on my iPhone, the competition in this area is still far. Tablet wise, we’ll see. Sorry for being long.

  6. I think there is always going to be those that want to try and ruffle feathers but I believe they would have to get up early to truly nail YOU Scott. Hey, be nice to brad, I don,t believe McNally when he says he tricked you into taking him. Very noble not to moderate!

  7. I’ve received some pretty rotten comments on my blogs (I’d put links, but I don’t want to be held in moderation q;o) ). My opinion is that as long as it’s not violent or racist, I just leave it up there and let the commenter look like an ass.

  8. Just be nice. That’s all there is to life. I find it disturbing when people start using foul language in their posts. It just show’s a lack of intelligence. It’s ok to disagree, just do it nicely. I hope everyone has a wonderful day :) I’ll be digging out of two feet of snow here soon in DC.

    mike meyer

  9. I think anyone who runs a blog has had a run in with comment venom at some stage. I posted a blog post about jailbroken iPhones one time and some commenter compaerd me to hitler and said I was a “hacker symphathiser”. I never quite understood that one.

    The other one you get regurlarly is venemous attacks from grammar nerds. They obviously don’t like what you have to say but can’t find a reasonable counter argument so they go after your grammar instead. Of course any mistakes that might slip through are because you’re an “idiot” and “uneducated” and never because of something as simple as a typo. Heaven forbid. My favourite one was one time someone complained that my sentence structure was too long. Yeah, whatever.

    The thing is you know you shouldn’t let it get to you but sometimes they do. Especially when you put a lot of effort into something and someone is being a jackass just for the sake of it.

    1. Well, for once it’s easier being a non-native English speaking person – whenever the grammar nazis strike, you just hit them with a “and how is your third language, a ho?” Usually they don’t even speak a second language and you wipe the floor with the remains… :)

      But, just to stay a bit on topic, you’re right – it can be frustrating to have someone come down on you like a ton of bricks based on form, not on content.

  10. What particularly hits me is criticism from folks posting anonymously. Reasoned disagreements about a topic in comment sections can be very interesting if done with civility, but slams from folks who don’t identify themselves are ridiculous, and just show the commenter to be mean spirited.

  11. @$%(^*{Y*Y*+^egotistical blog owner!!!!! He seems to actually give a d@m about his readers!

    Long live the Kelby “Blog owners who care about their readers” gang.

  12. I think there’s way to much of nasty comments on blogs as a whole. I’ve seen the trend getting worse in the past year. I think people who post nasty comments feel safe to be rude because of the anonymity of the web. Karma will still get those peeps in the end. :)

    That being said, I love your blog, Scott. I appreciate the time and effort you put into it to bring us the latest news and gadgets or whatever, even if I’m not a fan of the iPad.
    ( Actually, I don’t have an opinion either way on it. :)

    I go by my Mama’s rule: If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.

  13. Scott,

    Great post…being the rumor monger I am….for sure Apple is sending IPads to all right wing nut groups and left loons to engage in class warfare and in the end, the whole world will own a IPad.

    Furthermore, Apple has over 20,000,000 people hidden underground in Siberia slave camps creating job growth my making IPads at $1.00 per hour…..

    As always, your truth teller on the job

    Ken in KY
    (ps, Ken in not well today, my iron man hat fell off)

  14. Another great post Scott. I actually cringe when I see comments going South here, because I don’t want to see you withholding your opinions. Glad it hasn’t gotten to you to that degree yet. Keep doing what you do, the majority of us here really appreciate it.

  15. These hate comments are a disturbing trend in our society, and it is not always when people are anonymous. Whether it is Apple / PC, Nikon / Canon, political parties, or athletic rivalries it is bothersome to this old fart.

  16. The funny thing is, all this arguing and hate-spewing about the iPad means only one thing: It’s on EVERYONE’S mind, and it’s guaranteed to be a success. You can love it or hate it, but it is going to sell millions, and the fact that it polarizes computer geeks so strongly is evidence of that. So, take all the whiney, hateful comments with a grain of salt, because all they’re doing is fueling the hype of a product that actually *benefits* from nerds down-talking it. Why? Because they’re TALKING about it, and that keeps it in the press, which is all that matters to the average computer users who will benefit tremendously from a device like this. I can’t wait for the iPad to be a massive success, and I hope someone – preferably from Engadget – points out that its most vocal detractors were actually a major factor in its success.

      1. Adobe will create a better version of the Flash plugin, and Apple will incorporate it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it before the release of the iPad.

  17. I guess the old saying that there’s no such thing as bad press still holds true. I am still baffled by how many people set their goals in life to be winning arguments on the internet. I remember the good ole days when somebody’s $.02 actually meant something.

    I won’t discuss it here, but search Google for winning an argument on the internet and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

    Personally, I really love Scott’s blog for it’s candor and honest opinions. Do I always agree? No! But why would I go someplace where all I do is agree with people. I might as well just talk to myself then.

  18. It is very interesting how people do spend time to argue such thing. We are all different and got all different tastes for all things. What if i started to get really upset about my dad using ketchup on his pancakes?! I mean, i don´t like it but he does and i accept his choice of taste so this is just really fun,sad and weird. Let´s all just come together and give everyone and ourselves a big hug ;)

    I personally think iPad is kinda cool but nothing for me and i won´t buy it but that doesn´t mean i have to get upset because you do. Keep on rockin and thanks for all good photo stuff you are putting out for me to read and learn everyday :)

  19. I’m still amazed people get so vehement about a brand of electronics. But then I’ve seen massive old west style fist fights over car companies in Bathurst Australia. And I’m sure everyone is well aware of the no-holds-barred, to-the-death fight clubs that take place every year between Canon and Nikon users in the back alleys behind Photoshop World.

    As far as commenting goes, everyone can do their part to keep things mellow. The amount of venom directed toward a company or product is almost directly proportional to the snobbery of its fanboys. If everyone eases up on the “I’m more enlightened because I use ‘Product X'”, then that will go a long way towards keeping things civil.

    1. We need more people that think like Joey Lawrence. Nikon Girl is a classic! He puts it in proper focus, no pun intended.

      I make my living running Exchange server but use Apple at home for photography and video. I like both.

      Like Canon, Nikon, Pentax, etc. are all cameras; these are just computers. It is what they can do for you and what you can do with them.

      A friend asked me the day of the announcement if I was going to get an iPad and I told him, “No, I don’t see a need for it.” Then we got to talking and I realized that I use my old iBook G4 each day to surf the web while sitting at the cafe downstairs at work or while at home watching the TV and decided that a tablet really would be nice. So, who knows? It fits a need.

      Like Chase Jarvis says, the best camera is the one that you have with you; I would probably carry an iPad more places than I do my laptop, so the best computer is the one that you have with you.

  20. I’m sure all the animosity will blow over soon enough. It is pretty sad to see people get so vicious over nothing. The iPad is just a tool, if you need it you need it. If you don’t you don’t. Blasphemous as it sounds I use a PC for all my photo editing and I would love to get a new Droid phone……it’s just what appeals to me. I don’t feel the need to get all riled up and tell everyone online what they should or should not buy based on the mob mentality of iPad haters or other haters for that matter. I say tune out all the nonsense from anonymous losers yapping endless negative, pointless, hateful or whatever other needless crap and just go with what appeals to you and fits your needs.
    Kudos to Endgadget for shutting down the comments. I hope it gave the haters enough time to simmer down and focus on more relevant issues…like getting a life or something… just a thought.

  21. well, like the old saying goes “if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say it at all” why are so much people hating out there, i guess it’s easy to hide behind a keyboard and screen. i bet it would be different, face to face, live in person. i hope it never happens here, i like to be able to share and voice my opinion.

  22. Hi, Scott!

    Well i don`t understand the problem! If you don`t like Apple, look else where… People can take a stand against everything, why you drive a Toyota instead of a Ford or whatever. If you are so mad against people using Apple products, may by it`s time to look over your life! Look for serious help! It`s still just a product, i use Mac, iPhone, PC, Nikon, Sony and many more brands, i buy products that i like… I am going to buy iPad..! Thanks for your great blog Scott, keep up the goooood work :)

  23. Just went to Photofocus blog (one of a dozen or so I read every day) and Scott Bourne states he does not have time to moderate or keep up with comments so he does not alow them. I respect his decision but I also think it’s important to be able to comment. I’m glad everyone here has a chance to voice their opinion whatever that may be. Thanks again Scott. (I would like to hear some of Scott’s opinions when he’s reading these, I bet thats a laugh at times).

    1. Hi Ken if everyone who commented a. would use their real identity like you do and b. would offer something constructive like you do, I’d rethink what I do about comments. But I tried it for a couple of years and it just wasn’t worth it. BTW having no time is ONE of the reasons I turned them off. The entire explanation can be found here: http://photofocus.com/your-comments/

      The Kelby folks have managed to build a very high-quality audience. And I note with interest, that as Scott said, except when he says (APPLE) people are pretty restrained here. But not always.

      As for my site – I routinely receive death threats and one nice chap declared that he was coming to my house to gouge out my eyes. No matter what, I don’t need that sort of thing and it does not add anything of value to the conversation.

      People told me that my site would lose visitors if I didn’t allow comments. I decided I would risk that. Since I turned off comments in April of 09, our site traffic has more than doubled – in fact it’s verging on being tripled. Many people contact me to tell me they are just as happy without having to wade through all the trolls.

      People can still comment on anything we post at Photofocus. They can use e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, etc., to say anything they want. They just can’t do it at Photofocus.

      I noticed that Moose Peterson also doesn’t allow comments. There are other top sites that don’t allow them. I think you’ll start to see more and more sites turn them off. Unless and until we live in a world where the Internet trolls are held accountable (in a tangible way) for their actions, comments seem less valuable than ever.

  24. On a off topic, I think I have an idea for your next guest. Mac Danzig is a major UFC fighter and a AMAZING pro photographer. It would be awesome if you got him on!

    Check his stuff out at: macdanzigphotography.com/

  25. Scott, thanks for taking the time and effort to allow any comments at all. As you mentioned, it’s nothing to get hundreds of spam comments and bogus links every day. Yes, Askimet does a great job, and helps a lot, but it’s still a hassle. The spammers keep coming up with new ways to sneak through, and every layer of “spam prevention” you add ends up causing legitimate posters to not bother due to the hassle needed.

    Most blogs I see any more are instantly filled with “comments” that are thinly veiled spam links. I sure wish somebody could find a good way to stop the spammers, but there’s so many of them it’s like tyring to kill off roaches.

    So thank you for going to the considerable time and effort involved to keep your blog open to comments. It looks easy but it’s not!

  26. Questin for Scott how can shooting with a d700 12.1 mpixels give you a 6 megapixel image or are you saying you cropped away 50% of your image in post production to get it in a tight as you did?

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