Reading Every Comment

Since the start of AVC, I have read every comment left here. It takes a lot of time and effort to do that, but I think it has been critical to building the kind of community we have here.

It does not scale. Paul Graham advocates doing things that don't scale at the start. He's right. If I had not engaged so deeply in the comments, I don't think this community would have evolved into what it is.

Continuing to read every comment at scale has been very taxing to me personally. Here is what the top of my priority inbox looks like this morning:

Disqus emails

Today is a good day. Only ~100 comments to read to get to a non-comment email. Some days that number is 500. And a lot of those comments are all of you talking to each other. Which I love to see but don't need to moderate.

The truth is I've been skimming through the comments more and more instead of really reading them. How else can you get through 500 comments in the morning?

So I am going to change my tune on this one. I will continue to engage in the comments and read as many as I can, but I am no longer going to attempt to read every single one of them.

This community is so engaged and active now that it can take on the job of moderating the conversation itself. And William and Shana have done a great job of helping me to identify problematic comments, commenters, and spam. They have taken a lot of the moderation load off of me to be honest.

And all of you can help moderate as well. If you hover the mouse over the upper right area of a comment, you will see a flag emerge (see below) and if you click on that flag, you can identify a comment as potentially problematic and the moderators (me, William, and Shana) can take a look at it.

Comment flagging

I would encourage all of you to do that when you see a truly problematic comment since I will be not be looking at every comment every day.

If the community is going to help moderate, then I should be clear about what is acceptable here and what is not.

1) we don't tolerate comment spam. if someone or something (a bot) is posting a link for click-thru or SEO value and nothing more, that is spam and we take it down. 

2) we don't tolerate hate speech or porn

3) we don't like abusive comments, particularly when they are targeted at members of the community. if they are aimed at me, we let them stand. i can take the heat.

4) if it's in the grey area, we let it stand. i believe that muting people, even if they are hard to deal with, is a bad idea. so there is a strong bias to leaving every comment up, as much as we possibly can.

That's it.

My hope is that by taking away the burden of reading every comment, I can spend more time engaging with the best discussions here and that will lead to more of me in the comments and less of me looking at the comments. 

The comments here at AVC are the best thing about this blog. If you don't read past the end of the post, you are doing yourself a big disservice. I get my best ideas, feedback, and inspiration from this community and you can too.