Recently, in a forum (called a subreddit) at reddit, I experienced a mild bout of frustration when dealing with the forum regulars. It reminded me of the very reason I avoid commenting on most forums and website comment areas. Too much drama. In this case, I avoided the drama by unsubscribing from that particular forum.
I made a simple comment. The other people responded by becoming pedantic over semantics. If they knew my age, compared to theirs, they probably wouldn’t have behaved so foolishly. But then again…
I sometimes believe internet forums are ruled by 12 year old children. Or adults behaving like 12 year old children, without meaningful lives in the real world.
Forums at reddit aren’t the only places where people behave this way. You can find the same kind of behavior in Facebook groups and practically anywhere else a forum is available. Website comment areas aren’t designed to be forums, but they’re often treated as such. Especially in YouTube comment areas and the comment areas of certain news sites.
I haven’t been “flamed” or attacked in either forums or comment areas in years. My younger son, Jonathan, was attacked for some stupid reason a few years ago and now he avoids public groups altogether.
I’m convinced the reason fewer people comment these days, anywhere, is that it’s a real pain to do so. Using a cell phone on-screen keyboard isn’t nearly as easy as using a real keyboard of any size.
Many websites forego a comments area of any kind. Not only because of the potential for conflict, but because of all the comment spam. No one should have to spend a lot of time moderating or removing inappropriate comments. The more anonymous commenters can be, the more likely the abuse.
Comments are supposed to add value to the information already presented, regardless of the format. That’s why I’ve always had a comment area of some kind on my websites. I don’t get a lot of comments these days, which is perfectly fine with me.
Many websites don’t provide any means of interaction at all, not even a contact form. Some websites aren’t designed for it, of course, but more are than aren’t.
Some websites, with comment areas, probably shouldn’t bother. The comments tend to get ignored anyway. I hate to say it, but they’re usually English-language websites controlled by people using English as a second language. You can’t answer a question if you can’t understand the question.
When I publish the articles related to my custom CMS, and even if it becomes less than mildly popular, I’ll probably have to deal with abuse. Some self-proclaimed expert or “guru” will tell me I’m doing something the wrong way. The PHP Standards Recommendations literally smacks of smugness.
My comments area isn’t a forum, and if I’m not careful, attackers will try to turn it into one.