This is Warren Ellis, talking about comments sections on websites:
Which brings up another thing, and I’m not going to ascribe it to Charlie, who is a nice man, but it’s real – sometimes, your commenters, by which you often mean your audience and your readership, are really fucking annoying, and sometimes you don’t like them. Which you can’t say. Who’s going to pick up another book by a writer who says “My readers are awful pieces of shit and I can think of twenty of them, right off the bat, who should be drowned in hot pig blubber”? Nobody. “My audience are all complete pissflaps. Have you read my website comments threads? Utter inane gibberish. I would like to train a giant horse to fuck out all their eyes.” Who’s going to say that?
I guarantee you that even the sweetest and kindest writer has thought that exact thought more than once in their lives. And its corollary: “Oh god, my readers are such horrible demented shitbags, what am I doing so wrong that I attract them all to me?”
I have grown to hate comments sections on blogs.
I didn’t used to be like that; I used to love them, love seeing the conversations and different opinions and alternative viewpoints to the ones in the main piece, and so on. But somewhere along the way – and my experience at io9 definitely feeds into this, hugely – I realized that comments sections (and message boards in general, for that point) have become just suckholes of in-jokes, arguments and, most depressingly, people spoiling for fights. Social media has opened up space for conversation elsewhere that’s more democratic and also less likely to end up with people feeling as if they have something to prove, and I think that has weirdly killed off the viability of the comments section as was.
But maybe I’m insane.