inessential by Brent Simmons

Comments on blogs

On GigaOM, Matthew Ingram argues that comments are still worth the effort, and says, “A blog without comments is a soap-box, plain and simple.”

It reminds me of the classic geek religious war between the text editors Emacs and Vi.

Emacs is its own world — it’s been described as an operating system that happens to include a text editor. You can read your email, open a shell, and debug your app all inside Emacs. (And plenty more. Way more.)

Vi, on the other hand, is more purely a text editor. If you want to read your email, you use your email app. If you want to debug your app, you use a debugger instead of Vi.

Emacs is a container for a whole set of tools, while Vi is one tool in a chain.

I like Vi’s approach. It’s realistic, because, no matter what, people do use more than one tool. And it means that Vi can focus on being a great text editor rather than on doing a bunch of things.

I see my blog that way: it’s one place on the web, the place where I write. It’s one leaf on a tree. It doesn’t have to contain everything. These days there are so many ways and places to comment — so many other tools — that including comments here would be Emacs-like.