Once or twice a year, I post to the Dojo interest list encouraging people to not just make noise. In other words, only respond if you actually have something useful to add. Thousands of people read the list (or try to at least), and it’s really frustrating when people respond in a only to hear themselves talk, or speak without thinking about what the person is both asking and actually trying to do.
Today, Joel on software has a post Leaning from Dave Winer. While I rarely agree with Dave, his and Joel’s comments about less noise from useless comments really resonates with me:
The important thing to notice here is that Dave does not see blog comments as productive to the free exchange of ideas. They are a part of the problem, not the solution. You don’t have a right to post your thoughts at the bottom of someone else’s thoughts. That’s not freedom of expression, that’s an infringement on their freedom of expression. Get your own space, write compelling things, and if your ideas are smart, they’ll be linked to, and Google will notice, and you’ll move up in PageRank, and you’ll have influence and your ideas will have power.
We see constant useless drivel on ajaxian, techcrunch, etc., to the point where I rarely read comments any more. A rare exception to this was the set of comments on an article I wrote last year about corss browser vector graphics, where the bulk of the comments were quite useful and engaging. Sadly, this is the exception, not the rule it seems.
Every time I post a comment, or to a mailing list or forum, I try to ask myself the question, “Would I feel my time is being wasted if I was reading this, or am I truly adding value to the discussion?”