We’re going back to the old commenting system!

We’re going back to the old commenting system! April 13, 2016

This blog is going to stop using the World Table commenting system and is going back to Disqus.  That means as of today, barring glitches, you can comment without ratings or being rated.  The whole story after the jump.

UPDATE:  The change hasn’t quite clicked in yet, but keep checking.

UPDATE:  Disqus is live.  Right now, the comments made in World Table, both today and previously, aren’t showing up.  But that should be fixed.

UPDATE:  World Table comments, made today or over the last six months, will not be lost.  There is now a tab that you can click to get World Table comments.

For the past six months at the request of our host Patheos, this blog has been testing the World Table commenting system, which allows readers and commenters to rate each other on the quality of the contribution.  It is designed to eliminate trolls and commenters readers find obnoxious and to raise the overall level of discourse.

It did that, but since we’ve been using World Table on this blog, the number of comments has gone down sharply.  There have been many thoughtful comments, from readers rated in the high 90s, but I miss the give-and-take of long, sustained discussions and arguments.  The energy of the old blog seemed to be gone.

Most blogs are designed as platforms for the blogger’s opinions and observations.  I do some of that, but, English professor that I am (or was), I like to get discussions going.  On my blog, I typically highlight something interesting that I came across, pose a question about it, and ask what you think.   The comments are not extraneous to the blog.  Commenting and, if you don’t want to comment, reading the discussions are at the heart of the Cranach blog.

So the diminishing number of comments was frustrating.  But what’s worse is that I missed hearing from innumerable readers who have been with this blog for years.  I don’t know if they have stopped reading, or just stopped commenting, but I miss them either way.  We had a community going, and it seems to me that we have been losing a lot of that.

I suspect that some of those who don’t comment anymore don’t like “being judged” by the rating system.  Some of them may have been excluded by ratings that fall below a certain threshold, or are afraid they will if they state their minds. World Table rewards thoughtful contributions, but a contribution doesn’t have to be particularly thoughtful to be helpful or interesting or entertaining.  I found myself missing not only the faithful readers but also the trolls and the snarks, the atheists and cultists, the iconoclasts and the iconophiles who used to keep things lively.

So I asked Patheos to be let out of the experiment.  They were understanding and agreed to let us out of it.

I also had a good talk with Jack Donaldson of World Table.  He understood, but said that they were still working on the system and had lots of improvements in store.  He said that a lot of them came from your input, whether suggestions or complaints.  He said to be sure to thank all of you.

Now it may be that we stop using World Table but the number of comments doesn’t come up, and the contributors I have been missing still don’t show up.  That would indicate other problems.  But let’s see if this helps.

So let a thousand flowers bloom.  The cost of free and open discussions is the occasional troll, but I’ll try to monitor things better than I had before, smiting bad language, blasphemy, and viciousness.  But for now, comment, discuss, talk among yourselves, contribute. Everyone is welcome as we pool our minds to think through topics important and unimportant.

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