Garbage Time

Phil amusingly introduces the basketball term “garbage time” to refer to the point where a discussion thread reduces to back-and-forth arguments without much hope of further progress.

That got me thinking how garbage time starts at different points on different blogs. Here at Statistical Modeling, it doesn’t happen much at all. The Freakonomics blog often has high-quality comments (as I discussed here), but there are so many of them that there’s not really a chance for progress to be made in the comment threads. The posts at 538 get lots of comments, but garbage time there usually starts around comment #2 or so.

4 thoughts on “Garbage Time

  1. I don't understand why the more popular blogs (like, say, Freakonomics) don't use something like the slashdot system, where you can reply to specific comments, and individual comments get marked up or down based on ratings by randomly selected commenters, and by the 'karma' of the commenter. That seems to get rid (almost) of garbage time.

  2. I'd be interested in reading your take on the concept of the thread-killing comment.

    Also, I like the angrily disagreeing or dismissive response to a comment or post that's over 1 year old (probably found via google search), as if the author holds the exact same position today.

  3. Jeremy: I don't know why Freakonomics doesn't use a slashdot system. (which I contributes to) gets tons of comments but I don't think there's any system at all to it. Personally, I don't think I'd like a system in which comments get rated; it just seems unpleasant to add a competitive rating system.

    Hopefully: I'm very happy with the comments here. Even when it occasionally gets to "garbage time," the discussion is still of high quality.

  4. Trying to balance the encouragement / discouragement of comments while facilitating the concurrent and retrospective processing of blog material?

    Simply enabling anyone to post has a real value – there was a recent post about the value of writing things out. A quote that comes to mind is "when you write something down on paper it stares back at you". On blogs it _glares_ back at you.

    Think I understand why Zebras force those with not quite the right stripes to the outside of the heard to get picked off by the preditors (even though surely this not quite true) but I also think an unpleasant competitive rating system to force commenters to the bottom is not the least wrong way to go.

    Communities (blogs?) are important to form and enhance and eventually most people act in their perceived best interests – so getting the least wrong balance is likely important.


    p.s. Hope this is not one of those thread-killing comments ;-)

Comments are closed.