Jason wants a velvet rope on his blog

by Mathew on July 28, 2007 · 3 comments

I can’t tell if Jason Calacanis is just trolling for some Techmeme reaction on a weekend (which he has certainly gotten in spades) or in a grump because he’s been sick, but his post about Facebook bankruptcy and closing off comments is a doozy. I’ll leave the Facebook part to Fred Wilson and others to respond to, except to say that it seems pretty simple to me: don’t want as many requests for things? Then don’t friend so many people.

The Facebook thing doesn’t bother me that much — like Fred, the Web and blogs are more important to me than some closed system, however appealing. And that’s why I find the part about Jason closing his blog to comments more troubling, for reasons I have expressed before, including a recent post about Joel Spolsky’s take on comments and one about Marc Andreessen also deciding to close comments.

elitism-poster.jpg

Like Scott Rafer, I am more than a little disturbed by Jason’s comment that:

“If you don’t have a blog – which takes 10 minutes to setup – then maybe you’re not worthy of commenting, or others reading your comments.”

A comment typed in haste, perhaps — but that sounds pretty elitist to me. Yes, it’s easy to start a blog, but not everyone has the time or the inclination. By preventing those people from commenting, it’s true that you avoid the idiots as Jason says, but you also miss some thoughtful contributions as well, as Fred Wilson has also pointed out.

Update:

Jason says that his response to the elitism charge is:

“I’m 100% available to the entire world by SMS, email, AIM, Facebook, LinkedIn, Skype, Twitter, and blog post. If someone want to reach me they can — that negates your whole elitist argument.

It is not my job to give people the platform, it’s their job to take it… It’s not elitism, it’s a meritocracy.”

Fair enough. But by building barriers, such as the “invitation-only” comments that Jason seems to admire, I think we are sending the wrong message to those who are still trying to wrap their heads around the whole blogging thing.

  • http://scrawledinwax.com Nav

    Isn’t that akin to Stephen Harper saying that, because both he and I have the vote, we have equal power? I think what Calcanis is missing is that meritocracy is always imbued with elitism – sure, often the cream rises to the top because of hard work, but it almost never happens without the self-reproducing nature of power and privilege.

  • http://www.onlinemediacultist.com Eric Berlin

    It does seem odd and provocative that Calacanis would seemingly punish many of his admirers by closing off comments.

    I’m guessing Jason has also been heavily been influenced by Twitter and enjoys the ability to fire out commentary without having to necessarily follow it up with clarifications and debate.

    So in essence he’s not happy with the blogging platform in general (and I would argue that comments are an essential component of blogging: the post is the beginning, and then the real conversation begins in the comments, or at least that’s the hope ;-) ). Therefore it’s interesting that he challenges those who want to respond to his writing to publish a blog post of their own.

    Or maybe it’s a ruse meant to drive up his inbound links? Or maybe as you assert Mathew it’s all merely a ploy to drive the Techmeme-conversation on a lazy summer’s weekend?

  • Maggy Young

    Agree with line taken by Eric. I thought the main ethos of web2 is its heavy emphasis on user generated content. Also that newspapers are losing traction because they do not alow for responses. Which is exactly why some are now making changes to facilitate this. The whole point of web2 is that it is not one way(autocratic elitist) communication.
    Like Eric, I often find the most interesting part of a blog page is reading the comments. Hell who wants to have to go off to 10 or 20 other sites to read comments on one blog? Jason’s implicit assumption here is that the facility to comment is only important to the commenter & not at all to the reader. This is where he is also fundamentally wrong. The natural place for comments to be is following on directly from any article or blog & NOT all over the web as Jason suggests!
    And it IS elitist to suggest readers start their own blogs purely if they wish to respond. Jason is ultra web savvy, with an net based career, factors which do not apply to many readers. Jason should be encouraging them to comment & then from this, a few may then go on to set up their own blogs. Jason knows better than most that to set up a blog with good traction takes a lot of time, work, experience, knowledge, links & cost.
    Readers simply want to comment & to read others’ comments so as not to get a purely 1-sided view.
    Jason’s views are back in web 0. Sure some comments are crap, but most are good. Maybe what he is saying is he doesn’t want to spend the work & time in doing a blog properly ie. inclu. running comments. Which is why he shouldn’t be encouraging readers to set up their own blogs, unless you are going to do something properly, you may as well not do it.

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