Update: No sounds to hear

…right, hello! It’s been a while.

There are a few reasons for this, and a few impacts to the site. I’ll get to the latter in a moment but, first, an explanation:

I don’t have one. Things are tough. I don’t think there’s anybody in the world who doesn’t understand that to some degree right now. I’m not a special case. Things are very, very, very difficult all around for a multitude of reasons. In addition, however, I struggle with chronic depression, often leaving me drained even during those quiet moments when nothing is pressing down upon me. Also, I am attempting to make my living as a writer and editor. That’s great. I don’t regret it. But it’s also very difficult and time consuming. (I’m sure you could have guessed that, but it’s worth being clear.) The time that I have to spare for this site and a few other hobbies is…limited, to say the least.

None of which is to say that I don’t want to write things, or can’t think of what to write. In the case of October’s Trilogy of Terror, I even wrote it. For personal reasons, I had to scrap it. Maybe I’ll post it eventually. I can’t be sure. I’m sorry that I promised what I could then not provide. That’s on me.

I have other pieces I’ve written, but which need to be edited, formatted, stuffed full of images and so on, and I just haven’t gotten around to it. No excuses; just a fact. Like I said, things are tough.

Now, the impact to the site:

You’ll probably have noticed that comments have been disabled. This does not please me. This is not what I wanted. And yet, I think I’m stuck with it, unless anyone has ideas better than the one I’ll propose momentarily.

The problem is twofold. The lack of time, sure, but also the fact that the site has been online long enough now that there is a lot of content and a lot of people find it. What a problem to have, right?

Well, yeah, please, read my stuff. If you read it and like it, great! If you read it and think I’m a ninny…great! Feel free to tell me. You can still contact me in very easy-to-find ways.

What I don’t like is when commenters go after each other. I don’t like seeing that somebody who left a comment in, say, 2015, gets genuine abuse from a passing visitor who isn’t part of this community anyway. Is disagreement welcome? Always. I’ve never interfered with that. Is abuse welcome? Never, under any circumstances. It never has been and it never will be.

My job isn’t to police the internet, but here, on this site, on my site, I have the right to maintain to the best of my ability the atmosphere that I wish to create. I want people to feel welcome and safe. I want people to discuss things and share their experiences. I want people to know that they won’t face antagonism and cruelty when they share their thoughts here. People face it in many other places. I’d prefer not to add to that number. Nobody needs to add to that number. It’s high enough. Everyone on Earth can be abused through multiple channels. If it’s that important to you to abuse others, go for it. I can’t stop you. But it won’t happen here.

For years, I didn’t have to delete comments due to their content. In the past year, I’ve had to do it often. So often that I couldn’t keep up with it. The comments lingered. People got hurt. Fights started.

And then, the icing on the cake, one particular commenter repeatedly shared a very unwelcome, upsetting perspective that I won’t discuss. But it was enough for me to know that it had no place here and would also never be welcome here.

I deactivated comments. I can reactivate them, sure, but I won’t be around often enough to keep them clean. There are too many now. Most of them, by far, are still great, funny, constructive, insightful, and so on. But the small percentage that aren’t are still numerous enough that I’ll end up missing them, overlooking them, or being unable to address them in a timely manner.

I apologize for that ever having become the case. I commit to not letting it become the case again.

So I had a choice. I could either shut down comments, or I could run a site full of the things I already wish I could avoid elsewhere. It was no choice at all.

But that also means that I lose the discussion piece, which I value deeply, and which my visitors deserve. Why should they be silenced because a few clowns can’t behave themselves in public?

I don’t know that there is an easy answer, but I’ve come up with what I hope is a start. I will allow comments on posts for two months. That should be plenty of time for people to read it, share their thoughts, and comment if they see fit. After that, it gets locked.

This is an imperfect solution, but I think two months will allow enough time for conversation to take place, while also preventing things from snowballing to the point that the comments on each article are no longer constructive.

I don’t know. I’m open to ideas. And, for the first time in a few months, you can share them right below this post. I’ll use this as a test. I also have another, proper post that should go live very soon, and we can test it there for real.

It’s important to me that I’m not operating just another internet shithole. I’d rather the site be completely dead. If you’d prefer the shithole, then I have great news for you: You aren’t starved for options.

Reach out and let me know what you think. I’m all ears.

(Header image from The Smega-Drive, which is a brilliant resource for Red Dwarf screengrabs. Don’t let the fact that I needed the dreariest image fool you.)

5 thoughts on “Update: No sounds to hear”

  1. I think disabling comments after some time makes sense, it limits how much moderation you’ll need to do sitewide, and also gives a chance for people to discuss (most of which tends to take place when a post is new anyway, at least for the “core community”).

    I don’t have much more to say except love u Phil xx

  2. I really like that your solution will help you manage what unwanted stress you have to deal with as much as it helps us. Plus, two months is long enough for me to make a comment and then come up with a funnier comment I wish I had made.

  3. Hi, glad to see a new post.

    The solution you suggest seems fine. What came to mind for me was to use moderators, maybe? I have no idea, if that is feasible here, but you do have a few people here, who have been on this site for years, and that might be able to do this well.

    I don’t know how feasible this is, or if you want this. It was just the first thought that popped into my head.

    Also, while I’m always happy to see something new from you, I (and, I’m certain everyone else here) understands that life gets in the way.

    Let me take this chance to tell you, that, from time to time, I think back on your ALF posts with good feelings. I’m glad they are here, and that I found them, and this site in general, years ago.

  4. Thanks for the update. I’m still kinda new-ish to the site but I’ll admit I was still genuinely concerned about you when you shuttered up in October. I don’t do the Twitter thing but was relieved to see you were still active there which meant you were still active in general.

    As far as the comment issue, your solution sounds solid. Don’t think I saw the comment in question but I did see new people directly responding to the things others had posted years ago, which seemed odd. Replying to you is one thing but replying to someone that wasn’t even around anymore seemed a lot like finding an old yearbook in an attic and signing “Have a great summer!” This keeps the discussion active while it’s still active.

    Anyway, good to have ya back

  5. Thanks, everyone, for the feedback. For now I think I’ll stick with my original plan to lock comments after two months and see how that goes. I appreciate all of the support and suggestions!

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