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Posted: 04 August 2007 06:38 AM   [ Ignore ]
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When I converted the site over to the new format, I enabled registered users to make comments to the entries on the main site (I’m not talking about the discussion forums). To date, few comments have been made and most of these are not the most intellectually stimulating--usually making some claim of a folkloric explanation that I have already dismissed in the Big List article. There has been one troll making comments to date.

My goal had been to enable people to provide updates, citations, informed questions, etc. This has not worked out.

It’s a minor annoyance to police these comments. Not a lot of work, but it is some. I’d be happy to do it if there were a higher signal-to-noise ratio, but the signal in these comments is very, very faint.

Should I disable the ability to comment directly to Big List posts? (Keep in mind that comments can still be made on the discussion forum). Or do people think this is a valuable feature?

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Posted: 04 August 2007 08:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Repitition is really the only way to stamp out the false etys, I believe. Keep the comments and treat them as another tool for getting the correct word out.

I have the same problem on my site—that the already disproven word histories are sure to show up in comments—but I still allow comments on my site just the same. There’s a curious inability or unwillingness on the part of many people to read a full entry. But I find that a smackdown of a foolish comment tends to stop nearly all other foolish comments thereafter, at least for that entry.

The other thing I get a lot of is that people are guaranteed—I can predict when it will happen with 99% accuracy, even before I post a catchword or entry—to bring up an unrelated but very common slang meaning of a word if I fail to bring it up myself. So, as with the folk etymologies, I have to bring them all up myself in order to dismiss them, and then I have to dismiss them again in the comments. Sometimes I let the comments stay, sometimes I don’t. Overall, I probably delete about a third of all comments, not counting pure spam.

Of course, I’ve got a problem on my site that you don’t seem to have: claimants to coinage. That’s another whole mess of comments that are not always possible to refute because antedatings may be impossible to come by. Though, the best instance of this taking care of itself is when two jackasses showed up at the “gleek” entry, both claiming coinage. I tried to get a cage match together, to no avail.

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Double-Tongued Dictionary, a dictionary of slang, jargon, and new words from the fringes of English.
A Way with Words, a lively public radio show about language.

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Posted: 05 August 2007 01:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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It’s a valuable feature but in light of its current disuse (or misuse) you would be forgiven for thinking the game isn’t worth the candle. And, as you point out, people can always comment in the forum.

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Posted: 20 November 2008 08:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I’ve finally gone ahead and disabled the comments feature on the main Wordorigins.org site. It had become not much more than a way to spam the site. The signal to noise ratio was running something like 1:100.

This doesn’t affect the discussion forums at all.

The site will still display a “Comments” section until I get around to changing the page templates. (It’s easy to turn off comments, but I still have to go into the html code to delete the section where the comments are displayed and that will take some time.)

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