The reality is that people ask me questions I can't answer ALL THE TIME, and internet insults aren't something that keep me up at night. The real reason I've disabled comments is that I don't have time to deal with the responsibility that comes with having comments on a blog. Being a creationist also means I'm a lightning rod for criticism, and that means I'm a troll magnet. I still remember my favorite blog response: a one line email that said "you are the stupidest person ever," which I vigorously deny since I know several people way stupider than me.
Paul Garner's blog The New Creationism (currently on hiatus) launched with an open comments policy, and I thought Paul quite brave for doing so. In less than a year, though, trolls and other silliness caused him to close the comments on his blog too. Conspiracy theorists chalked that up to dodging criticism.
Well guess what? Our evolutionist friends at BioLogos have just disabled their comment system too. Oh my! Are they afraid of criticism? Are they unwilling to face their accusers? Of course not. They discovered that
... we did our own study, and it turns out that our comments section does very well at facilitating conversation among very few people. We have multiple tens of thousands of unique visitors to our site per month. During the month of September, 93.7% of the comments made on the blog came from .026% of our visitors.Huh. That sounds like an understandable and rational reason for disabling comments. They're going to try an email feedback system to see if they can get conversation going among a larger portion of their readers.
From the BioLogos post, I learned that the website of Popular Science is also ditching comments on their stories. Whoa! Afraid of a little healthy debate, Popular Science? Unwilling to answer your critics? No, that's ridiculous. Instead,
...we decided that it was a matter of resources. There is a way - there are many ways to patrol the comments on one's own site; but if we have a limited number of resources - and everybody does - I'd rather pour that into our primary mission, which is great journalism; putting out the best science journalism we can, rather than just trying to patrol our comments for all time.You know what, that sounds perfectly valid too. In fact, that sounds remarkably familiar. Where have I read something like that before? Maybe it was my very first blog post:
Unfortunately, since creationism is such a contentious issue, I decided to disable feedback. ... Frankly, I have plenty of work to do without debating some anonymous troll on the internet.So do you think we can put this ridiculous conspiracy nonsense about creationist websites to rest? Probably not, but I can always dream. At least now, I can point to the inconsistency and hypocrisy of such critics.
And if you will indulge one final childish comment: I TOLD YOU SO!
Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.