I'm starting to see Disqus and Echo all over the web. Anyone else notice this? I wasn't happy when I had to move Gene Expression Classic off Haloscan, so the whole "death of comments" fad isn't something I'm a fan of. But it seems like Facebook's creation of a successful private web is now driving the Facebookification of the public web. The main issue I have with all this revolution of the "discussion" is that in my experience as a blogger most "discussion" is retarded and most discussants are barely sentient.
Most discussion in blog comments is pretty uninteresting, yeah. But that's why you try to read interesting blogs with more than just barely sentient commenters...
(An interesting coincidence is that Friendly Atheist switched to Disqus recently; and being the first blog that I regularly visit to do so, I had to try it, but things were just broken. He/they seem to have switched back now.)
There are probably ways to improve commenting, but nobody seems to have done it right yet. Lots of people seem to know how to build features for commenters and blog owners (spam filter, rich text editor, ...) but how do you build communities?
So it will be a brave person who starts the discussion on this post then...
Brutal but true.
And love your work here Razib, don't change anything.
Razib says: "The main issue I have with all this revolution of the "discussion" is that in my experience as a blogger most "discussion" is retarded and most discussants are barely sentient."
Savor it. Blog comments are a uniquely clear view into human nature with millions of new examples every day to consider. As a blogger with readers you can set up experiments. As commenters, we can too, albeit with less control.
For example, consider the possibility that (lack of) sentience is not the trait you are observing - but rather the power of emotionally potent beliefs they hold that have been publicly called into question. This can cause discussants who hold those beliefs as part of their emotional identity, to defend them however they can. If successful - they finding a surge of dopamine as a reward. If not, then, perhaps some adrenaline to fuel the next comment.
I suspect that even the most retarded comments are often made by relatively intelligent persons who have allowed their brains to become infected with beliefs that have little connection to reality - which they must defend or face depression. It takes a very clever mind to attempt to justify some of the concepts floating about the Interwebs.
It seems to me just the effort of ideological combat must provide some relief for them because they are often spectacularly unsuccessful. But then, in such cases, their brains will tell them that they did a wonderful job anyway.
The really interesting part of all this is that it seems evident that defending an ideological belief must feel just like "critical thinking" to someone engaged in it. And so, the interesting question arises: how does one know when they are seeking objectivity or simply defending an irrational belief already firmly attached to their belief system? I find it all fascinating.
Facebook should change its name to snakepit:
But aren't cats just adorable?
Razib,way off topic, but are you going to post breakdowns on the SECULAR RIGHT survey anytime soon? E.g., how many of the Hispanics are Catholic, what the mix is in the mixed race catagory, how many of the females are atheists, how do the Hispanics define their race, what is the average age of the "know there is no God" catagory, etc.?