Google+ Comments Are Dead: Discuss
One of the big plusses of G+ has been the comments. Unlike other social networks, G+ has had seriously good conversations. I can't speak for others, but I remember when comments on my posts not only added to my posts, they drove new conversations. People would discuss the implications of new research, argue over the validity of dark matter and dark energy, discuss how best to credit and use the work of others, and held me to task when I made mistakes. There were always times when some drive-by troll would start a flame war, or someone would attack people in such a way that they were eventually banned, but these were limited. Which was good, because on personal posts only the author can moderate comments. I tried to limit moderation to a few simple rules: no spam, be civil, and try to stay on the topic at hand. All moderation has some manner of bias, but I tried to keep it limited and fair.
When G+ changed its format, the floodgate of comments opened, and spam became a much, much bigger issue. Almost overnight comments were flooded with spam, drive-bys, and trolls. As my posts became popular it's gotten worse and worse. Moderating comments soon became a full time job, and with no one to hand it off to I simply couldn't keep up.
The folks at Google have actually asked for feedback from many popular folks, including myself. How could they make G+ better?
I asked for basic moderation tools, specifically:
1. First time comments don't appear until they pass moderation. This ensures that all spam, hateful comments, etc. don't even get past the post. Since they never appear there is no reward for posting them, and they don't have a chance to feed retaliatory comments.
2. Commenters that have had a few comments approved on your posts get theirs to appear automatically, i.e. if you can play nicely you can play without supervision.
Those two conditions alone would, in my opinion, basically kill spam and trolling. Since comments don't automatically appear, the game of spam/troll and run becomes pointless.
What Google gave us instead was the ability to add images to comments, bringing with it another layer of spam.
For the past two days I've had to delete dozens of spam images, including some of a pornographic nature. Links to "make easy money" and "find russian brides." Then there has been the four pseudoscience flame wars and three religious flame wars, all on different posts. Despite deleting comments and banning the instigators they keep raging. In part, as I realized today, that my blocking of people hides their comments from me, but not from others, so I have to activate viewing them again in order to delete them.
Then there's been a flood of self promoters who go through dozens (in one case nearly a hundred) of my posts giving them +1s and linking to their own pages in the comments.
All this in only TWO DAYS. And it keeps happening day after day after day. The notification box that awaited me this morning was so dismal I forced myself to try turning off comments before leaving G+ entirely. I simply cannot keep up with all the moderation. I've tried just leaving them unless they are too egregious, but those comments simply feed bad behavior. I have come to dread opening G+ anymore.
I'm done. I have to be done. It's too much work to do Google's job. This is the last post where comments will be open, and I won't be moderating them. I don't know if I'll open comments again, but they are going to be closed for a while.
If y'all want a discussion, you can have it on my blog. I'll even start a forum if that's what you want. I know it's not G+, but it will at least be free of spam and trolls.
For now, y'all get the last word. Make it count.