The end of blog & comments

By Razib Khan | June 28, 2012 11:39 pm

Chad Orzel may be giving up blogging. And no, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke. He’s been at it for 10 years, so no big surprise. I may be where he is at some point in the near future. For me, I always have something to say (or at least I think it’s worth saying!). But writing takes a little time out of my day, and many days I’m not gifted with a surplus of time. So we’ll see. I’ve been telling people I might give up blogging since 2004, and it just never seems to happen. But I never had a small person with whom I enjoyed wrestling with before.


Second, Sean Carroll has a funny post up on comment policy. Over the 10 years of running my own blog(s) I’ve shifted in my own perspective and outlook. In the beginning I was rather laissez faire. But it became rather obvious that most people were either stupid or ignorant, or, they took advantage of the anonymity of the internet to waste other peoples’ time. The biggest issue which I think some readers don’t seem to internalize well is that not only am I engaging comments, I’m also writing. This means that I’m spread rather thin, so the situation of me interacting with a given commenter is never symmetrical. So, to give a non-hypothetical, if I ask you for some citations and you spend 10 seconds, I’m going to get rather ticked off. I spend hours writing, and then responding to commenters who are clear and sincere. In contrast, other commenters do step up and add value when I ask pointed questions.

In real life most people are not worth deep engagement because they’re dull or incurious, or, our interests do not overlap (i.e., I’m incurious about their topics of passion). It’s no different on the internet. Sitemeter says thousands of people read the content on this weblog per day. The vast majority do not leave comments, obviously. I’m glad for that.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/doclonglegs Andrew Selvarasa

    I hope you choose to continue writing articles, even if it means that there is no set schedule! We’ll all be grateful for even one article every few weeks (or even further apart!).

    There really is no need for comments being enabled on every article, as we only come here to see what you have to say (it is your blog, after all!).

  • marc dauncey

    But surely blogging is about the conversation, a two way street? Otherwise it’s just a print model, talking at the audience. I know this is sometimes difficult or uncomfortable for bloggers, especially when people disagree.

    While it’s true that there are many trolls out there, I fundamentally disagree with your assessment of humanity, e.g. people not being worth deep engagement. That strikes me as highly elitest. I think you might find that just about everyone has a story worth telling, experiences that are unique or that confirm profound commonality in what it means to be human – but you aren’t going to experience that if you assume everyone is dull or stupid, because believe me people will pick up on that very quickly in real life and make some assumptions about you in return.

  • oldtaku

    I also used to believe in ‘Let them all say whatever they want to say and reason will sort it all out.’

    Eventually I admitted to myself that 1% of the people were 99% of the problem and were completely immune to any sort of reason or social concerns and booted them.

    It improved things immensely. Instead of spending all their time dealing with the toxic insane people, the bright, positive commentators got to talk to each other. Much more pleasant all around.

    I only spent 5 minutes writing this, but 10 years figuring it out.

  • Martino

    This is my first comment ;-) Your blog is usally an enrichement as are sometimes comments. Long discussions between totally opposite beliefs are normally not very fruitful. Sometimes the blogs (for me) are a bit off topic and/or of low interest – just as you say by yourself like in real life. Would add that you have one of the highest intensities in the genetics sector blogging. Wish you the best and hope you (and we) can enjoy your interest in genetics and the blogging about it a little bit longer.

  • Justin Giancola

    I can’t disagree with how you put that last paragraph! :)

  • Emma

    I also hope very much that you will go on writing your articles. I have been reading your blog for many years, and always have been a great fan of the content of the article, obviously, and of your writing style. Gene expression is a great place to learn about the most interesting new devlopeents in genetics.

  • http://hexter.blogdrive.com/ hexter

    Such a shame. Orzel may have been the very best.

  • Darkseid

    You can never stop! Why? Because there is literally no one else on the net who has a blog like this.

  • Sandgroper

    Wait until she starts playing with all the cool toys.

    Yes, have to agree with Darkseid. You’re more prolific than I can handle, but I’d be a poorer man for zero.

  • Naughtius Maximus

    You can always blog about wrassling.

  • AG

    #2
    Unfortunately, that is reality. Such reality do have its consequence like below

    http://news.yahoo.com/people-arent-smart-enough-democracy-flourish-scientists-185601411.html

    Republican form or technocrat form of Governing might be better way to prevent dump people destroying a nation.

  • AG

    A geek will always be a geek. I am addicted to intellectual stuff like drug. Figuring out truth and solving problems are part of who you are. Reading blogs like this, acquring knowledge, connecting dots are pure joy. The truth is that I can not get along with dump people even I grow up in ghetto like neighborhood. Only later I realize that the genes you inherit matter more than your social enviroment.

    With busy reality of making living, you will try to do the same stuff.

  • jb

    I think it’s kind of remarkable that thousands of people read your blog, but only a relative few make comments. I would have thought that the sort of people who read a blog like this would be the sort of people who see themselves as having something to say. Could you give us a rough estimate of the ratios of readers to commenters, and comments submitted to comments approved?

    (One thing I’ve noticed about myself is that while in many situations I am socially inhibited, I have no problem at all with public speaking, or asking questions or making comments in a group context).

  • floodmouse

    I love the shock factor of the title (“The End of Blog”). I assumed I was about to be reading the last-ever post of “Gene Expression.” I’m glad first impressions can be wrong!

  • razib

    But surely blogging is about the conversation, a two way street?

    one rule of commenting on this blog is that you don’t interpolate your own interpretation of my position back at me. where did i say blogging isn’t a two way street? where did i say that i don’t tolerate disagreement? you inferred that by relying on the powers of your own perception. don’t. just engage with what i explicitly said.

    That strikes me as highly elitest. I think you might find that just about everyone has a story worth telling, experiences that are unique or that confirm profound commonality in what it means to be human – but you aren’t going to experience that if you assume everyone is dull or stupid, because believe me people will pick up on that very quickly in real life and make some assumptions about you in return.

    1) it is highly elitist. i don’t think that’s a bad thing

    2) the fact that most people are stupid or ignorant does mean that people don’t have stories worth telling, etc. again, when you engage in interpretation you simply misrepresent and don’t understand what i’m getting at. most people are too stupid or ignorant to have good informative value-added discussions about points of history or science.

    let me give you an explicit example. a few years back some ppl on my blog were having a discussion about the significance of the battle of tours. i told them to stop giving me their opinions, as they had nothing to tell me of worth. it was clear i know a lot more on this topic than any of them, and none of them had any mastery of world history (to my satisfaction). this wasn’t a matter of stupidity, but of ignorance. a fruitful discussion on some topics can only occur when your partner has some level of parity in knowledge and depth.

    Could you give us a rough estimate of the ratios of readers to commenters, and comments submitted to comments approved?

    being conservative, say 2,500 readers per day, 30 comments, of which 25 get approved.

  • http://bloodyshovel.wordpress.com spandrell

    Razib’s comment threads are the best argument for absolutism since Filmer.

  • ackbark

    I would be radically less informed without this blog and I hope strongly you continue it for, essentially, the rest of eternity, the internet would be a lesser place without it.

  • http://bluetenlese.wordpress.com M. Möhling

    As Sandgroper wrote, you’re more prolific than I can handle, goes for Steve Sailer, too. I could skim your blog, but that seems like a waste, so I like to take my time–but I limit my total online time, for whatever reasons. Maybe writing less is an option to preserve the fun, readers might stick with you anyway. Can’t tell about the financial side, of course. As per this adsense
    heatmap ad placement could be improved, if the publisher should care–I’d be quite willing to endure a barrage of banner ads anyway.

  • wes

    Yes, please continue blogging, on whatever schedule fits. If you need to take breaks, take them.

  • expeedee

    I learn a great deal from your blog, and it would be a great loss to many people if it were discontinued. While I am not a PhD or even a student, I am very interested in genetics and human behavior, human biodiversity and such topics such as genetic determinism. This blog fortunately does not shy away from such subjects. Please consider balancing things by taking a break and perhaps blogging less often. You are a good teacher, and I certainly appreciate your efforts.

  • Mary

    This ‘feels’ very much like the start of a break up. First, we don’t hear from you for a month. Then when you do call, you plead time deprivation, and besides, other guys like Chad Orzel are doing it. What do we want from you anyway? Jeeesh. Blood? We’ve already got everything else. And besides, as much as you love us, it’s just not the same anymore. We’ve moved apart. Sorry. It’s not that we’re not pretty enough. Gosh, some of us are really quite attractive. It’s just that………….sorry.

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Gene Expression

This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

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