Over at EdWize Leo Casey chastises Eduwonk for not having a comment feature. Another reader recently asked the same question and it comes up from time to time. Been meaning to post on this so here’s the quick and dirty answer:
It’s been looked at a few times since the blogs inception but the cost-benefit just does not seem worth it. A lot of blogs that have them seem to have trouble with them. For instance just recently Joanne Jacobs’ site was down for several days because of a spam attack and the comment features on some blogs are difficult to read (or at least difficult with some browsers). Other bloggers relay similar hassles. Though the template for this blog was professionally produced, don’t be fooled…the day-to-day operations are just one person who knows next to nothing about how all this stuff works and has regular work deadlines and responsibilities to meet. Consequently, avoiding technical hassles is a high priority.
Content-wise, while there are some really interesting comments out there, just as much doesn’t seem to add a lot of value. Spam and promotions of other blogs aside, comments often seem to degenerate into name calling. We get too much of that in the regular ed policy debates, you surely don’t need a special forum for it. And, there is almost invariably a comparison to Hitler at some point.
Now if it was really hard to get your say or respond without a comment feature then the calculus might be different. But it’s not because the medium itself is democratic. It’s free to start a blog, so if you can post a comment you can have a blog of your own, and we happily link to interesting posts that challenge the ones here when they’re brought to our attention. And, despite volume, all correspondence gets answered and some gets posted on the site, too.
So, while it’s not a New England town meeting it’s certainly not Turkmenistan either. We’ll continue to look at the options, someone said the other day that Haloscan is the way to go. But, until then, start a blog of your own, send email, or save up everything you want to say for when we change our minds and add the feature and you can be the first one to crash the site with your voluminous feedback.