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I, for one, find the comments overall quite interesting and useful, although there are certainly some particular topics for which they are less so.
Herrn Muller Again
Posted Apr 1, 2011 10:55 UTC (Fri) by farnz (guest, #17727)
I found the articles and the letters to the editor useful - the clarifications and expansions in letters to the editor were adding value.
When comments were introduced, they also added value; the people who were writing the letters to the editor shifted to writing comments. Over time, people providing intelligent comments have been drowned out in favour of personal attacks and rants; as a nice side effect, you've ensured that I cannot safely send a Subscriber Link to my managers, because I will get pulled up on spending work time on a site that's so poorly managed if the comments happen to degenerate - and there's no way to predict which articles will do that.
I don't know what the solution is - if I did, I'd be e-mailing LWN with it again; I do know that the shift in SNR on LWN has meant I no longer find it worthwhile paying for access, and that comments that basically boil down to "guys, the SNR is low" don't help improve it. I can only hope that a gradual loss of income will convince Corbet et al to find a way to improve it.
Posted Apr 1, 2011 11:21 UTC (Fri) by anselm (subscriber, #2796)
I for one would much rather see Jon and his colleagues spend their time on producing quality editorial content than on policing comments. Presumably, people are here for the original content rather than the comments. Nobody is forced to read the comments, anyway, and there's even a way to get rid of the more obnoxious commenters.
I suppose if there is to be some sort of »management« of comments it will have to be »crowd-sourced« so as to not take time away from our esteemed journalists – this seems to call for a Slashdot-type up/downvoting system with a user-customisable threshold (so people who are here for the personal attacks and he-said-she-said can still get it if they want). Voting – or the use of this system altogether – could even be restricted to paying subscribers to make the subscriptions more attractive.
Other than that, it is up to us (the readership) to do our thing for comment quality, by posting considered and courteous comments and deliberately not engaging in flame wars with obvious trolls.
Posted Apr 1, 2011 15:39 UTC (Fri) by farnz (guest, #17727)
I used to pay for the project leader level of subscription, in large part so that when an article relevant to my company appeared, I could send my management a link to it and not feel guilty. I can't stop my management looking at the comments - if you're not logged in (they don't even have accounts here), you have no comment filtering at all.
So, I'm afraid that those commenters who treat LWN's comments section as a place for personal attacks (I at least work somewhere where robust technical argument is understood) have destroyed my reason for paying for the site. A technical fix on LWN's part would be to provide me with a way of sending comments-free links, or links with my comment filtering applied (maybe something to offer for project leaders); then, at least, I could send my management links to interesting articles, knowing that they won't latch onto the flamewar in the comments section and chastise me.
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