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May 28, 2010

No comments for Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry explains why he recently closed comments on his blog:

"I don’t know about you, but my eyes are already trained only to read the top half of a web page these days. Rather as a Victorian would not look below the waist, I do not let my eyes have even a second’s contact with the revolting Have Your Say or Comments section of a BBC site, a YouTube page or any blog or tech forum. The lower half of web pages is very like the lower half of the body — full of all kinds of noxious evil smelling poison. I suppose it has to be expelled somewhere, but you will forgive me for not wanting to be close by when it happens. It is a pity, a real pity, that the furious few pollute the atmosphere and obstruct the pipelines that might otherwise allow the reciprocal possibilities of the world of User Generated Content that Web 2.0 promised all those years ago. Lord knows I don’t want the Comment pages on my site to be filled with nothing but sycophantic agreement and loving worship. The truth is I would like them to be open, honest and free. There are thousands of people with valid and interesting points of disagreement with me on any number of subjects, with objections to Apple, their corporate style, their approach to hardware, firmware and software and their whole philosophy , but they are drowned out by the fundies and the freaks. One hurtful, mean-spirited, vicious or intemperate comment ruins everything. Absolutely everything. You cannot say to someone about to take a bath, ‘it’s only a small turd in there, the rest of the water is crystal clear’ — one turd spoils the whole bath. So I would rather have no comment at all. Call me weak, call me pusillanimous, call me craven, call me anything, only don’t do it here."

Anything Fry writes is an interesting read, and this blog post, about Apple, was no exception. I laughed at the paragraph and wanted to quote it. Copy. Paste.

Then I got a little worried.

Twitterer and self-proclaimed geek Fry is claiming that one stupid blog comment is enough to ruin "absolutely everything". I think internet-based debate and commentary gets enough of a bad rep from technophobes and those people who don't read blogs, without ammunition from Fry. He is blogging and tweeting for 1.5 million followers. He knows that Web 2.0 is far from ruined, even if he personally can't be bothered to moderate right now.

Posted by Julie at May 28, 2010 10:36 AM

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In the case of Stephen Fry, I think one should keep in mind his bipolar condition. He's been quite open about his sensitivity to criticism and negativity when he is in a certain state of mind, and on at least one occasion disappeared completely from public view for quite some time (this was long before he started blogging)...

Posted by: Eirik Newth at May 28, 2010 4:46 PM