June 30, 2004


My comments section has been growing and taking on a life of its own since the Atrios incident. Yes, I still read all of the comments. No, I don't eagerly look forward to them the way I did six months ago. I've got arguments and insults -- plus headaches and sleepless nights, believe it or not -- because of the comments section. Reader cjstevens wrote a long and interesting comment here, and Sander wondered why I even bother to have a comments section.

Sometimes I wonder myself.

I read this post on Instapundit today about comments, and I certainly understood. When I first started my blog and all those readers came over from USS Clueless, I couldn't keep my eyes off the comments section. When I started playing with my templates and thought I had deleted my first week's comments, I broke into tears (ask my husband; he thought I was nuts). I thought I needed to cherish every comment I had, because I certainly didn't think anyone would want to read my blog once the novelty of Den Beste's link wore off.

Eight months and 55,000 hits later, the comments section has begun to weigh on my heart. What was once a spot for Carla or Mike or Tammi to shoot me an encouraging word has turned into gnawing dread in my stomach whenever I see the numbers climb higher. Every time someone comments, I feel the need to think about his words for hours. I try to understand where he's coming from, what he's thinking, why he thinks I might agree with him, and what I could possibly say to get my point across and make him see what I see.

A friend advised me to blog for myself alone, not for the adoring (or loathing) public. But every challenge that I leave unanswered haunts me. Every comment I disagree with is hours of my thoughts diverted elsewhere, when I'm sure someone else has already had the same argument elsewhere.

I've thought about shutting the comments off and just doing this for myself. I've thought about leaving them and letting them take on a life of their own without my involvement. I've thought about giving blogging up altogether because sleepless nights and stinging wounds are really the last thing I need when half of my heart is in Iraq.

I'm just stressed. And beaten down. I'm struggling to remember what the point of all of this is...


cjstevens, it appears the director of Gunner Palace will be on CNN News Night with Aaron Brown tonight (30 Jun). See if you can check it out.


Please keep in mind that I'm not necessarily talking about "abuse" here. Yeah, the comments were pretty nasty there for a while, but mostly now it's civil. It's just so much for one brain to handle.

My alarm goes off at 0630. Lately I've been dragging it out until 0700. I read for an hour, get ready, go to work until 1600, come home, shovel some food in my mouth, and go to the neighboring post to teach for three hours. (On nights that I don't teach, I'm watching Band of Brothers, which isn't exactly light entertainment.) I return around 2145 and then read and blog some more. I rarely make it into bed by 2300 and I'm lying there thinking about Michael Moore and Iraq and elections until midnight or 0100. I just can't shut it off.

Writing my own posts keeps me occupied; thinking of how I would respond to five different people who all have different ideas about Moore and Iraq and elections is making me insane.

So I apologize if you're a commenter and I don't give you a direct answer to your comment. It doesn't mean I'm not losing sleep over it.

Posted by: Sarah at 10:35 AM | Comments (13) | Add Comment
Post contains 641 words, total size 4 kb.

1 I shut down comments some time ago (it may be close to a year now). My feeling is that the people whose opinions I value know how to get in touch with me. People whose opinions I don't value are free to get their own blog(s) and disagree with me.

Posted by: Nathan at June 30, 2004 10:57 AM (1vqm6)

2 You do what is right for YOU. I was just reading thru the latest batch of comments and found myself getting angry for you. Don't you worry - if we want to get an encouraging word to you, or agree with any of the wonderful things you say, we will find a way!

Posted by: Tammi at June 30, 2004 12:08 PM (Kw/tP)

3 Oh, dear. Well, I always like it when a blog has open comments, as they're often fun or interesting to read. On the other hand, I read the blogs that I do because of the blog's author, not because of the comments--and if the comments are causing you too much pain, then get rid of them! Blogging without comments is much better than not blogging (or less, or resentful, or whatever blogging) with comments. Also, you could always open comments on those posts you really want feedback on (with strict rules about staying OT), and since you post a way to contact you by email, it's not like you're entirely unreachable. Regardless of what you decide, I'll still be reading ya!

Posted by: Carla at June 30, 2004 02:40 PM (r5M6F)

4 It just sucks when mean people come to your house and harasss you! Maybe you can turn off comments for a week or so and see how it goes. I'm not sure how long I would take the abuse. Just don't let it stop you from blogging altogether - that would really suck!

Posted by: Beth at June 30, 2004 03:30 PM (Atb1y)

5 Noam Chomsky turned off comments after three posts. He has since turned them back on, but you pay for the privilege. Could be a good fund-raiser!

Posted by: Mike at June 30, 2004 04:37 PM (MqNKC)

6 Wow. I am sorry if my comments have contributed to your problems. I am not really used to this single POV blog stuff. I am a more used to free-for-alls like USENET, kuro5hin.org and slashdot.org. I have always thought that posting a topic for discussion was just the beginning...that the comments were alway where the interesting stuff was. I would encourage you to make people sign-up for account and verify their email. Consider comment moderation as a way of controlling the trolls and keeping the signal to noise ratio high. I don't know if MT supports that kind of stuff, but it is worth checking out. I am sorry if I ruffled any feathers along the way...I don't want to cause any problems. I, for one, will be moving along. Best wishes to you and your loved ones.

Posted by: rfidtag at June 30, 2004 04:46 PM (nO9sv)

7 The Democrats ideas died with Clinton --- They now have nothing to believe in, nothing to be for, nothing to promote --- They only have resentment, hate, anger, and attacks --- They have focused their lack of ideas into an attack on Bush. I always ask them what their for, what they beleive in -- they always answer with an attack on Bush --- I then ask if Bush was gone would everything be changed and everything be "milk and honey" -- It is at this point they curse and call me names This is why you hear nothing about Kerry -- This election is all about Bush --- ANYONE could be running from the Democrats and the result would be the same ---- The Democrat Party has died --- it is now the anti-Republican Party --- anything the Republicians are for, the Deomcrats are against -- this is why they can say and do anything as the have no principles, no ideas, they are only anti-Bush The death of their ideas policy and future leaves only hate and anger AND this is why they write as they do to you --- it is they way they respond to anyone they disagree with --- as proof,,, do they offer any suggestions for improvement or a different couse of action? Retreat and do nothing never solves any problem but it was the policy of Clinton --- and it is their policy too

Posted by: Mikeee at June 30, 2004 04:54 PM (HM88F)

8 Wowsa, quite a schedule, and here I am sleeping most of my days away and tending to ignore my blog on work days. Very impressive young Sarah. Kal

Posted by: Kalroy at June 30, 2004 06:03 PM (VU2TV)

9 Just found this about "hate posters" at Andrew Sullivans site EMAIL OF THE DAY: "Your article about William Raspberry's review of Moore's movie is right on target. Unfortunately, as I can tell you as a black person, Raspberry's irrational views are shared by many black people. I've never seen so many people who I always respected and always considered to be intelligent say so many crazy things, "Bush is the same as Saddam." "Saddam was not as bad as Bush." "The U.S. is the worst country in the world to live in." I kid you not. In the meantime, not one liberal or black person has anything to say about what Arabs are doing to black people in North and East African. The whole thing is very disturbing. Objections to Bush and the U.S. as a whole have gone way beyond any realistic criticsm of anything that is wrong. It's just hatred and a wish for destruction, after which I guess we will all live in brotherhood under Muslim rule! I just listen to people. I've given up trying to discuss it. People become enraged and start telling me I'm a self hating black, Uncle Tom, etc." - more feedback on the Letters Page. Seems alot of people are being attacked like you--- don't give up then they win

Posted by: Mikeee at June 30, 2004 06:23 PM (HM88F)

10 Sarah, Thanks for your acknowledgement. The Internet is a wild and wooly place, and "ruffly" subjects like politics tend to bring all sorts of characters out of the woodwork. The blogging atmosphere is particularly confusing. Blogging is a way of reaching out to a readership because it is so public. For this reason, it's natural to feel that any comment made on an entry is directed toward you. I commented this way at first, but then started commenting more in general terms toward commenters and yourself without necessarily expecting a response. But I'll be totally honest: I can't say I know how you feel, as I've never been in your shoes. Maybe that should be a sign to me to take it easy. I apologize. I can somewhat-understand your mention about the "numbers climbing higher," though... here, when the number of comments on an entry bumps into the tens and twenties, one can bet there's a fire raging within. I would actually recommend the idea of turning off comments entirely, or having them on only for certain posts. The latter option may or may not be possible depending on what you're using to run your comments. Or, perhaps you can make an account on a bulletin board site and link to it from your blog, directing commenters to that bulletin board. In terms of writing just for yourself alone, a journal/diary/whatever-you-want-to-call-it may be a good idea if you don't have one. At least, it seems helpful for me (yes, I admit to having a "diary"). Thanks for your information on Gunner Palace. The CNN NewsNight page (for some reason, I can't make a link to it) states that the show comes on at 10pm eastern time. Unfortunately, I won't be around at that time, but it looks like a transcript should be up some time afterward. I'm looking forward to it. Take care, Sarah... thank you for your patience with us.

Posted by: cjstevens at June 30, 2004 08:14 PM (FdYMc)

11 Better than Gunner Place but not a movie is the new book Generation Kill. The embedded author spent serious time with the forward Humvees, an interview with him is at the link below. He tells things in the interview that are not in the book, apparently, so it is a must-read. It is great because he thoroughly respects the soldiers personally, and reports only what they went through, but in the end it is an indictment on the horrible mess there. No wonder only 2percent of Iraqis view the US as liberators. http://www.laweekly.com/ink/04/30/books-donnelly.php

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