Want To Know What People Really Think? Don't Bother Reading The Comments Section

thinking monkey

Photo: Jonay CP via Flickr

If you are trying to change someone else’s mind, what is the best way to do so? Is it by making declarations, or asking questions?We are believers in the power of the question. Asking questions is the most effective method for both arriving at the essential facts of any disagreement and finding common ground between even the bitterest adversaries.

As for the declarative statement, we can sum up its potential to devolve in two words: internet comments.

Every time we watch a Youtube video, if we venture down the page, we are confronted with what seems like irrefutable proof of the degeneracy of the human race. “The kind of people who put comments are so weird and unhappy and alone and strange,” is how Stephen Fry puts it. Just this morning, Techcrunch’s Michael Arrington, after taking a strong position in an article, concluded his post by writing, “3…2…1…aaaand here come the haters in the comments.”

Comments are everywhere – but what purpose do they serve?

Is it to engage a readership? Surely not. A quick look at Gawker.com’s homepage reveals that fewer than 1% of readers of a given article take the trouble to comment.

Is it because commenters have such valuable insights to add? Consider the thoughts of MoveAnyMountain, The Guardian’s most recent commenter of the year. Is this really the very best commenter they have?

And if the object is to find out what a group of people is thinking, we are probably better off guessing than trusting commenters.

We don’t see the advantage of comments, which is why, from now on, they will no longer have a place on our blog. Every reader is instead invited to share their opinions through the Urtak embedded in a given post, or quite simply to send us a message.

Urtak is more engaging, more representative, and generates more insights. Best of all, everyone is allowed to participate, not just by making a statement, but by asking questions.

What do you think?

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