Sep
18

Programming Note

I will be switching to a new service for publication of this blog in the next couple of days. Among the questions on my mind as I make ready for the switch is whether the comments section to the blog serves any real purpose.

I am aware of the "engage" theory of blogging: encourage comments, comment on the comments, and engage readers in a running dialogue. You can really make your site visits spike if you can get the commenters to engage with one another. That's one theory of blog use.
But I've noticed in the past week or so on these pages a nastiness to it all that I don't care to share. Readers are attacking one another, calling into question not just one another's point of view, but one another's mental health and integrity as well. I don't feel the need to facilitate that. In recent days, I deleted several comments and have refused to post a bunch more from the authors involved. This page is no poorer for the absence.
And from California came a note questioning my own integrity. I did not run a comment critical of me. The writer wrote back in sarcasm asking whether I'd publish a note gushing in praise about me. She raises a good point: It is easier to run the nice comments than the comments that poke at me. Of course, I'd rather have glowing comments, who wouldn't? But the desire, even the need, is a weakness, I suspect.
Engagement with commenters is not something I do well. There's too little time in the day to please all, and some never get enough. And then there is the school of Internet engagement that declares victory simply by repetition: Stick a needle in my eye. Beyond the first ouch, there's not much to say other than I am grateful to have such faithful and careful readers: That I have inspired you to care is a power that I have sought. But I also know that giving me your power reflects the same weakness in you that makes me crave the praise of strangers.
Engagement is a trap for the unwary, and a snare for those pressed for time. My law practice takes me to court most days. I prefer writing about that. I don't have the time or inclination to suit those looking for validation from this page.
So the question on my mind is whether to enable the new page to receive comments at all. I can see the pros and cons well. Everyone likes seeing their name in print; and even the anonymous writer, or the writer posting under a pseudonym, can take pleasure in the sting she imagines her words will cause. There is even a species of writer who seeks to build readership by commenting on what others are doing on line. On the theory that any attention is good attention -- is there no such thing as a bad byte? -- comments are good.
But life is short. The care and feeding of readers is much like living on a farm: the various readers must be fed, cared for, and made to feel loved. I am afraid I am not loving enough to succeed in that and meet the needs of those who pay the bills.
I've posted a poll to the right of this post for your views. I am not promising to live by the poll results. But I am interested in what those few who read this page think. As always, you can find me at my private email: [hidden email].
Comments (19)
Posted on September 19, 2010 at 5:06 pm by Norm Pattis
J
The hate emails are the ones that tell you your...
J

The hate emails are the ones that tell you your readers truly care. The trick is to avoid being baited into wasting your to time with them. I fail at that to my sorrow; I'm told my private emails even get reprinted. It is a little creepy to have that kind of influence over others. I'm told I have a friend or two working the phones to discuss my posts. That's just too weird for words, even if it is flattering in a twisted sort of way. On balance, I am leaning against comments; too much wasted time.

N

Posted on September 19, 2010 at 2:41 pm by Jeff Gamso
Yes, keep the comments. Even if it's often not a ...
Yes, keep the comments. Even if it's often not a conversation, they provide a forum for people to, well, comment. Not a bad service.

I don't get enough comments to have them be an issue. I delete the marketing spam and let the rest stay - even the odd hate comment. But that's my call. I'll read what you post either way.

Care for more civil discussion? You can do that too.

Posted on September 19, 2010 at 7:17 am by Norm Pattis
S
If I ever need help with social media or blog-b...
S

If I ever need help with social media or blog-building I will be sure to call. I appreciate your dedicated reading of this page, I think.

Posted on September 19, 2010 at 6:56 am by shg
My pleasure, Norm. And I'm still here when you ne...
My pleasure, Norm. And I'm still here when you need someone to talk to or help you out. No need to respond. You know where to find me, and you know that when you're in trouble, I'll still be there to help.

Posted on September 19, 2010 at 6:33 am by Norm Pattis
SHG

Thanks for your note but I an gonna keep you...
SHG

Thanks for your note but I an gonna keep your scent off my fire hydrant. You can find other places to relieve yourself I am sure.

N

Posted on September 18, 2010 at 7:35 pm by Norm Pattis
Mirriam:
It is a power struggle. Even when you le...
Mirriam:

It is a power struggle. Even when you let others play king they aren't content unless obeisance is paid. Alas.

N

Posted on September 18, 2010 at 7:27 pm by Norm Pattis
Lee:
"Called to my attention" is an interesting l...
Lee:

"Called to my attention" is an interesting locution. The author of the post who spotted this issue never informed me of his concerns or sent me the post. Someone else had to do that. He was less interested in correcting an error than in posturing as social media tyro cum ethicist. Forgive me if I find it a gutless performance on his part. I would rather submit the issue to a body that cares about ethics, and have done so. But casting pearls before swine is a pastime even Jesus warned against.
]
N

Posted on September 18, 2010 at 5:53 pm by William Doriss
Wow! It's come to this?!? I was busy all day, busy...
Wow! It's come to this?!? I was busy all day, busy yesterday, and busy tomorrow. I'm in favor of a free-floating rollicking comment section. I read extensively and comment frequently on a garden-variety of forums for several years. I use a handle when I'm goofing, and I normally use my real name when I comment on issues which I consider to be serious and of utmost important.

I've been blocked on a few sites. That does not bother me a bit. I figure they're doing me a favor. Something like getting turned down for a date. Somewhere down the road you realize that that was not going to work anyway. I am opinionated; I hang onto my opinions till the bitter end, until such time as someone can show me succinctly and definitively the error of my ways. And then, I'm not above apologing, if 'appropriate'.

Once blocked I tend to move away, looking for happier hunting grounds. The sole exception so far--I hate to admit--is SHG. He is addictive, yes he is. But that could change, and probably will?!? One man's addiction is another man's restriction.

I don't like abusive or vulgar language, or ad hominem attacks; I reserve that right to myself when the occasion calls for it. Ha! I prefer subtlety, caricature, and poetry to drive home my points.

I consider reform of Law Enforcement, the criminal justice system and Corrections of utmost importance. I'm also from CT, the same state where Norm practices. I'm also a victim of the criminal justice system in CT. I am not alone there; there are thousands of us, some in prison unnecessarily, for lengthy periods of time which serves no one but those officials who feed at the public trough. I believe it is a crisis situation nationally. No one seems to care; no one has the foggiest idea about how to correct it, certainly not the CDLs who are presently blogging their lives away without a care in the world. No names!?! Talk is CVC: cheap, very cheap. I want action, like in the movies!?!

Put all that into the pot, stir and that's why I'm here under my real name. I respect anyone who posts under his real name more than someone who posts anonyMOUSEly or under a PSEUDOnym.

Sometimes the comments are more informative, amusing, funny, insightful than the story itself. That's my humble opinion. I like this blogsite, I really do, even if I occasionally disagree with the writer [Norm] and/or the commenters. (For the record, Norm turned me down for my federal civil rights appeal; I think I understand why from what he has written here.)

I'm even game for tangential and discursive forays, as other bLAWgers apparently are not. Not naming any names, but we know who they are. I'm interested in anything that's interesting, whether philosophy, homesteading, husbandry or gardening. Tunnel-vision in any earthly endeavor is scary to me.

In conclusion, do what you feel is right, do whatever you want,... and do it quickly. Stick to what you know, and know what you stick to. I am 66 years old and the patriarch of my family for five years. No crimes worth mentioning were committed by me in the State of CT or any other state in the U.S.A. (In the event that this is my last posting.) The State of CT is operating a criminal justice Ponzi Scheme of the highest order, outside of normative models, and I think Norm knows that.

Posted on September 18, 2010 at 5:27 pm by Anonymous
The question in your case is if you want to live i...
The question in your case is if you want to live in a glass house AND throw stones, don't allow comments.

I think you should cut the comment section from your blog.

Posted on September 18, 2010 at 5:15 pm by Anonymous
Instapundit has a huge readership w/o the comments...
Instapundit has a huge readership w/o the comments. Althouse has a huge readership and a group of regular commenters.

You can have a great blog either way. Totally your choice.

I still am skeptical about leaving a history of my commentary all over the internet. Silly things I might say after reading a blog post could hurt me in ways I can't even anticipate as well as in ways I can dream up.

Posted on September 18, 2010 at 4:47 pm by mirriam
Leave comments. I like the engagement and you are ...
Leave comments. I like the engagement and you are free not to publish anything you don't wanna publish. Although, once again, I wonder why we gotta get here so frequently.

Posted on September 18, 2010 at 4:44 pm by Lee
You are forgiven. I wouldn't either.
But I'd have...
You are forgiven. I wouldn't either.

But I'd have also admitted I was wrong when it was called to my attention.

Posted on September 18, 2010 at 4:12 pm by Norm Pattis
LS:
Alas and woe. Forgive if I avoid publishing...
LS:
Alas and woe. Forgive if I avoid publishing your insults. Duly noted, now go play elsewhere.

N

Posted on September 18, 2010 at 2:52 pm by Rick Horowitz
You should definitely keep comments. Sometimes an...
You should definitely keep comments. Sometimes an article develops a nice discussion around it, as some of my marijuana articles have, which can give you something to think about.

You might find a comment now and then that inspires you to think about something differently -- I know I do, not only on my own blog, but on the blogs of others. You read an article on someone's blog and think about it, but the thinking really gets going when you read some of the comments.

I definitely think the blog can be better for comments and would miss them.

Posted on September 18, 2010 at 1:35 pm by henryberry
I will certainly follow your blog to start with wi...
I will certainly follow your blog to start with without comments. But as one who has been involved in online writing for some time and is "superuser" (which I think is a comical label) at Huffington Post and has had several postings selected for feature display at the website gather.com (connected with American Public Radio, which is connected with a Minnesota PBS station), I urge you to give comments a try. They usually spice up a blog, and sometimes offer great insight.

As one whose mental health was questioned lately for a comment, I want to say another word: I'm not going to waste my time in responding to deliberate wild provocation. But I'm not surprised that the point came where postings of mine were challenged and perhaps resented. I knew I was pushing the envelope, as I believe you were pushing the envelope. I was engaged with your blog as reader and occasional commenter to see how far you would go and could go as a working lawyer having to make a living daily, be effective in court, and represent clients to the best of your ability. I think all visitors to your blog for whatever reasons respect what you were trying to do, and marvel that you were able to do so much, to go so far.

I think one of the reasons things got out of hand in the past few days is that you allowed too much space in comments, some 4,000 spaces if I recall. Huffington Post limits comments to 250 words. I know in my case having so much space led to illiberality in some cases. But what's space for if not to use it? As Marx (I think) said, "I don't have the time to write a shorter piece."

Also, your topics were all over the lot, to put it mildly--from dogs to the death penalty, from a vacation to lifetime imprisonment, etc. This I know seemed an invitation to me to go wherever I wanted as a commenter. So at least, you want a better focus, I think. This plus short space allowed for blogs will go a long way toward cleaning up the commenter matter. Finally-speaking now as an experienced editor--you want to know well--even intimately--your own motives and reasons for doing the blog at all--this is like a filter automatically keeping control of comments and being able to make quick decisions on whether to post or not.

Posted on September 18, 2010 at 1:27 pm by Jamison
While I read this blog mostly for the posts themse...
While I read this blog mostly for the posts themselves, I enjoy both posting comments and reading the comments of others, and believe that you would be detracting from the blog overall by eliminating the comments. As for moderating the comments, I don't think any apology is necessary. This is your blog. You can do whatever you want to; people can go somewhere else if they don't like it.

Posted on September 18, 2010 at 12:54 pm by Vidocq
I agree that a great discussion can result from co...
I agree that a great discussion can result from comments and whenever that happens, I do return to that blog to see whether anything was added but, the main attraction is and remain the posts itself.

Posted on September 18, 2010 at 12:47 pm by Susan Cartier Liebel
Norm, allow comments with comment moderation. Als...
Norm, allow comments with comment moderation. Also, let people know there is a comment policy. If they don't adhere, there comments don't get published..specifically nastiness, solicitations, spam, etc. You can create any policy you like which includes that due to time constraints you may not be able to answer all comments. It's your blog, your policy. But do keep comments open yet within control you've published. Others have done this quite well and no one is particularly bruised for the experience.

Posted on September 18, 2010 at 12:27 pm by Tertium Quid
My advice is to allow comments, filter them yourse...
My advice is to allow comments, filter them yourself for spammers and ad hominem attacks, and otherwise ignore them. I have not followed your blog long, but you might enjoy the irony of a Catholic blogger who thinks of you as following in the footsteps of St. Vincent de Paul and St. Peter Claver. Practice law, write when you can, enjoy the comments when you can, and don't let the jerks get you down.
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About Norm Pattis

Norm Pattis is a Connecticut based trial lawyer focused on high stakes criminal cases and civil right violations. He is a veteran of more than 100 jury trials, many resulting in acquittals for people charged with serious crimes, multi-million dollar civil rights and discrimination verdicts, and scores of cases favorably settled.

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www.normpattis.com
www.normpattis.com

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I believe that the state is a necessary fiction and that failing to combat it is the first step toward tyranny.
– Norm Pattis

Disclaimer:

Nothing in this blog should be considered legal advice about your case. You need a lawyer who understands the context of your life and situation. What are offered here are merely suggested lines of inquiry you may explore with your lawyer.

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