Why the Comments Are Off

The Internet is a truly wondrous place. Without it I never would’ve started Waiter Rant, gotten noticed and become an author. So I guess I’m indebted to Vinton Cerf and all the people who made this amazing web of communication and ideas possible. And to think the Internet was originally designed to be a communication system in the event of a nuclear war. Go figure.

But the Internet has a dark side as well and no, I’m not talking about porn. The web allows people to speak to each other in relative anonymity and that is both a plus and a minus. And I say relative because I know law enforcement can track every email you send and web page you visit. The plusses of anonymity are that it initially allowed me write my blog without fear of repercussion and enables the powerless to have a voice and impact in society. The minuses? I fear too many people are using the web to foist the worst part of themselves onto other people.

The idea of the “chattering classes” isn’t the sole provenance of political pundits anymore. It’s a big part of the Internet as well, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, My Space, forums on topics big and small or the comments section on blogs like mine. Most people leave thoughtful, well written messages that make sense and contribute to the spirit of civil debate. But for a segment of the population the Internet provides them with an opportunity to finger-paint with their psychological feces.

I’m a big boy. I can handle criticism. When you write a blog and a book you have to roll with the punches. I’ve been lauded and condemned, panned and promoted not only on blogs and Amazon.com but in major newspapers as well. I’m used to it. It’s part of my job.

But lately the comments on my blog have been bothering me. While I welcome criticism, contrary ideas, grammar checks and a lively debate, the tone of some of the comments worry me. While the vast majority of my readers have been responsible there have been a few people whose comments are stupid, mean spirited and beyond the pale. And if you saw the comments that get caught in my moderation queue you’d know what I’m talking about – the hateful, genocidal, awful rants of diminished souls. Sometimes I think the comments section on blogs has become a place for people to talk over one another and not to each other. And in some ways it’s become a competition for people to outdo one other in nastiness.

So I have had my fill of knee jerk political correctness, trolls, victimization junkies who pick apart everything I write so they can have something to get angry about, half ass psychologists, spammers, and yes, people who write those long rambling diatribes. And you know what really drives me crazy? The first poster who goes, “First comment!” or “I got here first!” Those comments will always and forever be deleted.

I don’t want to turn the comments off. They’re a good source of feedback and I know you guys enjoy posting. But I’m torn as how to handle them in the future. Should I moderate them? Have people let it all hang out? I don’t know. But for now I’m content to take a break from the madness. I’m at a point in my life where I’m avoiding people who suck the energy out of me. Those reasons are personal and I won’t discuss them but some of the people who comment on this blog just piss me off.

So for the near future the comments will be off or at least until I get my next book wrapped up. But I will leave this one open for comments. If you were me what would you do? How would you handle it? Suggestions are welcome. And I’m sure a few trolls will still come out to play.

To all my good and faithful readers my shutting off the comments is not a reflection on you. It’s a reflection of my own weariness dealing with crazy energy sucking people. When I rest and recharge maybe things will be different. But for now it is what it is. And if you truly have something to tell me I can always be reached by email. I don’t always respond, but I read every one.

Thanks for reading this.


Comments

Why the Comments Are Off — 193 Comments

  1. I can’t blame you. I used to have a blog and had a similar problem. It wasn’t as big as yours but I did get that one or two guys who had to be the buzzkill. eventually I had to approve the comments, and then I just stopped. I think you should just take a break on comments for now, maybe those trolls would would move on to someone else and eventually when you do turn the comments back on it will allow your faithful readers to talk to you and each other in peace.

  2. You mentioned that your blog may be reincarnated into something a little different after you’re book is done. I find it fascinating that people love the fall and fear death. Perhaps it’s because people can see what’s on the other side of winter. I think the comments ending is just the beginning of the leaves changing color.

  3. Look at what Andrew Sullivan does. His email is readily available, and he handpicks reader comments that are worth sharing, along with dissents. Since you’re reading everything in the moderation queue anyway, this would probably be even faster than what you already do.

  4. I fully recognize the irony of commenting to post this, but “comments” on the internet are, more often than not, The Worst Thing. Just read below any given Youtube video or CNN article online and more than likely it’ll make you want to hit yourself with a hammer to cleanse it from your head. I recently started reading this site from the beginning and while you initially had a little devoted clique of constant readers, now that you’ve become really popular they’ve been joined by the Idiot Masses and comments have not been worth reading at all.
    So with the exception of those posts where you ask a question and want reader feedback, just kill the comments.

  5. I recently started my own website and while I wish I had more than a few comments total, I fear that it could become a stomping ground for trolls. As such, I entirely understand your action. Plus dealing with dolts on the internet can be very strenuous, sometimes it’s better to just disconnect for a while.

    I was considering putting my website in that little bar where I put my name & email, but I think that would just invite the trolls rather than glean an amount of free publicity. C’est la vie.

    Have a g’day.

  6. I agree. Comments can be a big drain. I was a blogger for 4 years and you’re right, the internet somehow brings out the nastiest side of some people. It’s frightening. You have to do what is best for you. Always.

  7. Steve the bigger and better you get the more haters there will be hating on you. I think you should take a ZEN approach in that every hateful comment is really a kudos to your success! I’ve personally loved and adored your blog for years and am eternally grateful for the sunshine you have given to my life while reading your blog! (I thought I’d do a little Hallmark-ish comment for you, I think you needed it today!) XoXo

  8. The ultimate irony of course is that you’ll find that all the comments on this post will be from nice people who like what you do and say. I’m one of them and to be honest, I read your posts in my RSS reader so never catch the comments anyway and I’ve not missed them. Don’t let the haters mess with your head too much, just don’t let them in. As far as I can see it’s just jealousy anyway.

  9. You should delegate a few moderators to separate the good stuff from the trolls. I’m sure there’s more than a few long-time readers who would be more than willing.

  10. It’s your blog, you can do whatever you see fit. In cases like this I think about what we tell the kids at the camp I volunteer at: If you show me you can’t handle this privilege, it will be taken away.

  11. Hola Waiter,

    People react differently to similar circumstances. If turning off comments is what feels better for you right now, I am with you.

    I always read your posts and sometimes I go back to old posts I love. The comments are not part of the appeal your site has for me.

    Buena suerte amigo.

  12. Your blog, your rules. If comments aren’t doing anything for you on balance, leave them off. Or maybe later you’ll reach a point where the memory of the annoyance fades and is overshadowed by the memory of how the positive feedback felt. Thanks for the explanation, but you owe us nothing.

  13. Well-moderated forums and comment sections on the Internet can be a wonderful thing…the key word there being “well-moderated.” I’m tempted to just recommend moderating the comments and screening out trolls, long diatribes, personal attacks, etc., but I can see that the process of going through each comment would probably be quite emotionally draining. Perhaps there’s someone (or a few people- this blog gets a lot of comments!) who you trust and who have an interest in this blog, who could handle moderating comments? (Assuming there’s a way to do this with the blogging software you use, of course.)

    Whatever you decide to do, you have my support, and I will keep reading and enjoying your wonderful writing. Best of luck to you, and I can’t wait to read the next book. =)

  14. I agree with Troy. It’s your blog and you are the one being verbally attacked by people so therefore if you don’t want these people’s comments – delete them. I would!

  15. A break from comments makes sense. I only like to read comments on heavily moderated blogs anyway.

    I wonder if it would make sense to hire a virtual assistant to moderate comments (if you choose to bring them back) so that you only ever see the thoughtful, worthwhile ones. If that would be too costly for the value gained, then how much more important is it to consider what it’s been costing you personally to moderate.

  16. Thanks for all of your postings, I have really enjoyed your blog over the years, and I’m sorry to hear that there has been associated frustration

    I guess for a number of blogs I’ve found the comments to be really useful, so I hesitate to suggest losing that completely? But perhaps removing the anonymous nature of comments would be an improvement? That way, the community that you like could still log in and comment, and you could easily wipe away the accounts and comments of nasty people to keep things clean/friendly?

    Mark

  17. I didn’t often comment, but I often read them. I will miss them, but I really don’t think it’s worth the hassle of moderating; nor is it worth scrolling through the garbage to try to find the comments worth reading. So, I will miss them, but just shut ‘em down!

  18. A blog is about its content, not its comments. Eliminate them and save your sanity. Not to mention the sanity of a few readers driven to confront the asshole commenters

  19. This is your website, and quite frankly, your world. Screw political correctness, which is overrated anyway, imo. You delete or leave comments as you see fit. Or never allow comments again if you are so inclined. One of the negative byproducts of the internet is every schmuck takes every opportunity to express every opinion they have ever conceived.

  20. People forget that you (and all of the screen names out there) are a person with feelings. If the comments are upsetting you (and some of them are ridiculously hateful, I can’t imagine what you filter out), by all means, turn them off for awhile. I would do the same thing. Kudos to you for explaining yourself. You know we’ll still be here reading you posts.

  21. Hell yes! I hate the stupid white trash comments that weirdos leave you. I quit reading them because it seemed like 80% of the comments on here were from people so low down and depressed that they literally had nothing better to do than give you their awesome input that made everyone want to throw up. Made this is a negative way to put that I’m glad there won’t be negative comments anymore haha but you get what I’m saying!

  22. I would not at all be butt hurt if you do away with the comments Mr. D. That is not why I come to this site or buy your books.

    Just keep up with your writing and we shall keep reading.

    Much thanks.

  23. Ah yes, the trolls on the Internet.
    I’d say stop feeding them, but then your blog would be dull and uninteresting.
    Instead I say, bring a flamethrower and your best flame retardant suit.
    Have fun!

  24. I don’t usually read the comments here since your posts are pretty self-contained. I like the idea of opening the comments when you are asking for feedback on something. I know I love getting comments on my blog, but my readership is an order of magnitude smaller than yours so mostly, people are long-time readers and feel like they “know” me and are therefore kinder. When I had a slightly larger audience, I would get the occasional nasty comment. That’s the downside of popularity, I guess.

    I also agree, your blog, your rules. Comments closed, open or moderated is completely your call.

  25. Because you asked, I read all my stuff through a reader. Your blog is one of the few that I regularly click through to so that I can read the comments. You often pose very interesting questions or post about topics that elicit genuinely interesting conversation. So, honestly I’ll miss them.

    With that said, though, I’ll agree with others above me: your blog, your rules. One of my favorite other bloggers goes in waves: sometimes the comments are open, sometimes not depending on how petty the masses are being. I still look forward to every new post that she does. And I have noticed that lately more of the comments here have been mean-spirited. If it was me, I’d probably do the same thing and close the comments. When life’s rough, no need to make it worse by listening to total strangers yell at you. I, for one, will continue to read whatever your decision.

  26. I have to moderate like crazy on my blog. It’s amazing the darkness that emerges when one bruises the fragile male ego. But I also get a lot of thought-provoking comments, encouraging comments, funny comments that I publish even when they don’t agree with what I’ve written. It’s only the nastiness to which I say no.

  27. Your blog always leaves me something to think about. I look forward to each post very much.

    I also read the comments, or at least skim through them. I’ve even commented from time to time. While most comments seem benign, some people appear invested in being right or in having the last word. They contribute to their own delusion by demeaning others or by making generally snarky remarks.

    For a comments section to be effective in today’s internet, it has to be closely moderated. And with the volume of comments you receive, that would be a monumental task.

    While I’ll miss sharing an occasional response, I’ll certainly enjoy reading your posts just as much.

    p.s. Roger Ebert’s blog has some of the most literate comments I’ve read. Each time I read his blog & comments, I wonder how I managed to waste my education so completely!

  28. This is exactly why I read the blogs I follow in Google Reader. Comments are an important part of blogging, yes, but not one I find I need to engage in particularly frequently, exactly for the reasons discussed in this post. Comments brings out the worst in some, myself included on occasion.

    Hopefully this measure means that you are more inclined to post even more frequently, as I love reading your slice o’ life mini-essays. Hope the book is coming along nicely.

  29. Well, seeing as I just emailed you in regards to this topic – I’ll repeat myself slightly… and agree with most on what’s been said: it’s your blog, do what you want. If someone doesn’t like what you read, then turn the page. Some people may not like the changes – I’ve lost interest and I know others have lost interest in what I’ve written over the years. I went from highly personal to not, and may go back towards that in time… but for any of the bloggers out there – it’s YOUR BLOG! Do what you want. Write, don’t write. Comment, don’t comment. Read, don’t read.

  30. I come here to read what you have to say. I have occasionally enjoyed the comments threads in response to particularly interesting posts, but really…it’s all about your writing.

    (Which I like, for the record. Keep up the good work!)

  31. Yeah comments are the bane of any blogger’s existence. I tend to dread the little notifications because they can be so mean and nasty. Is there any method for banning specific IPs? I do LOVE commenting on your posts, so I’m kinda torn on this one…

  32. I never read the comments either, and don’t think I’ve ever commented on your blog before (I read on Google reader and enjoy what the bloggers I read have to say – and care much less what other random people reply to their posts.)

    Avoid energy-sucking people, life’s too short to have to deal with them.

    Enjoy your vacation from mean comments – maybe it should last forever.

  33. I like the idea of virtual assistants and/or moderator helpers. I am on an e-mail list that has a primary moderator (the list owner) and 2 or 3 assistant moderators; it works pretty well.

    Could you set up a mailing list for the “good guys” to send comments about posts (since we leave our e-mail addy when commenting), or do you think that would be compromised?

    Is there a way to “harvest” the trolls’ screen names and set up a block? Heck, they “harvest” stuff – time to turn the tables!

  34. I’ve lost track of how many times I have seen this same situation on the various sites that I frequent. You have a very well written, funny, insightful blog and your book was wonderful. The internet, which I have been accessing since the early 90’s, has a way of bringing out the worst in some people. Not all, just those who are too cowardly to sign their own name to their idiotic and hurtful rants. I too mostly read your stories using rss and don’t see the comments unless I click over to waiterrant. It’s your decision, your true friends will accept whatever your decision.

  35. Anonymity + Audience = Douche bag.
    It also allows people to say things they would normally be too afraid to say and a whole lot of other things, good or bad. By the way Steve, if you haven’t read it yet try Berners Lee’s Weaving the Web, a really good account of how the whole thing started.

  36. I consider my blog to be my own little home on the web. As my home, when people visit I expect them to treat me and each other with the same courtesy and respect that they would in real life. Anything else will be deleted. I make no apologies for that. I think that too often people believe they have the right to leave whatever trash they want in our web-homes and it isn’t true. Comments are a privilege, not a right.

  37. Like my late Daddy once said (okay, said a million times), “opinions are like assholes, honey, everyone has one.” You’ll always get some git who will throw down for the sake of just being heard. They are having a miserable life and want to bring you down with them. The choice is: do you circle the drain or do you just flush ‘em and close the lid? Steve, your blog, your rules. Get someone else to clean the house for you if you don’t want to see it.
    As for the ‘first poster!’ people, well, everyone wants to feel special, don’t they?

  38. People to help you out filter some of the spam is a great idea I think. They can filter out all the spam, useless, or 2 or 3 word responses that you get that don’t really add anything to the discussion or the post at all.
    Is there anyways to limit the number of characters or number of words on a post? That way you don’t have this huge long comment that doesn’t take up half a page and doesn’t really have anything relevant.
    Maybe you can somehow put a limit on how many comments you can get on each post? Don’t know if thats possible at all.
    Also liked the idea of you have to be on a list or have your e-mail approved in some way to be able to post. Maybe the website has made it too easy for anyone and everyone to leave a post/comment.
    The thing that sucks though, is that no matter what you try to do or how you try to control it, nothing is sure proof. The question you gotta ask yourself is what your limit is or what you want your limit to be on all of this, then decide a course of action from there.

  39. I just finished your book and loved it. I hope it is the first of many more to come. A friend passed it on to me, sorry, I will make sure to purchase the rest. LOL

    This is my first visit to your blog and have enjoyed what I have read so far as much as your book. You are a terrific writer, keep up the good work, don’t let the mental midgets bother you. Remember a few words of wisdom when trying to comprehend Internet tough guys “empty cans make a lot of noise” and my fav “The rash of e-thugs is only because talking shit in person is dangerous”.

  40. Look out for yourself above all first. If you can’t handle the tide of idiocy pouring in, then shut it off. At a certain point hopefully you’ll again have the stomach for picking the diamonds out of the rough. It’s an unfortunate question of scale: the insipid rapidly outnumber the not in posting comments, and do so more with each passing day.

  41. Steve,

    All the comments above are correct. Its your blog and your life. If the negative comments are draining you, shut it off. There are too much negativity in this world that can bring us down and I try to avoid it as much as possible. I rather have as much sunshine I can get. Concentrate on your novel so when the book comes out I can purchase and share it with my friends. I will continue to read your blog and enjoy it whether the comments are open or not. Drink some whisky, smoke a cigar, walk Buster and relax. You are making the right call.

  42. Do you have a friend or relative who could help moderate the comments, and cull the obvious snark? Otherwise just turn them off. You do not need the hassle. It is YOUR blog, if some folks want to rant – let them start their own blogs.

    :-)

  43. Just adding my voice of support to those above. I generally read your posts in my RSS reader, so comments don’t affect me, but I’ve moderated forums, seen the worst of the worst and it becomes nothing more than tiresome.

    I don’t know how wordpress works but if it’s possible, maybe requiring registration for commenting would be a good plan? Then at least you can ban repeat offenders.

  44. Like the previous posters, I just wanted to express my support for you. I really enjoy your blog and your writing and look forward to your posts. Do what feels best for you!

  45. Hey – I love your blog and how you tell it like it is. You are a great writer and I find you interesting. Do what you need to do to keep the draining, energy sucking people from pulling you down. I feel people that need to break others to feel good about themselves are very pathetic and have no self confidence. They are good to keep out of your life. Not that we all don’t have things we can improve, but you have to look at the motive. Thanks!

  46. I wonder if there’s a way of “crowdsourcing” comment moderation, perhaps picking some frequent commenters whose common sense and civility stand out and having them help? There are some interesting plugins for WordPress, like Role Scoper, that might permit this sort of thing–giving moderation power to people but not the ability to post or edit posts.

    There may also be a comment voting plugin available. If you could combine comment voting with the ability to control who could vote (the same aforementioned commenters), that would be even better. Role Scoper might be able to do that in combination with a well-behaved voting plugin.

    FWIW, being able to comment here isn’t particularly important to me. I just love reading and sharing your posts.

  47. I’m with you! I love to blog, however, I’m often disappointed by the fact that bloggers pick up on the negative and ignore the positive. Just thank your lucky stars that you are not posting to a women’s forum (Oh, god, someone is going to judge me!!).
    I have blogged with people who have been kind and helpful to me on your site. I must say though, I decided sometime ago to stop blogging on any site as I found the negativity too harsh to deal with, yet I found that I’m a little bit addicted….. Let’s see what time brings you… I’ll still buy the book though.
    I’d like the posts even without the comments if you did it more often!!!!

  48. Hi,
    Funny that a blog post about stopping comments should finally inspire me to comment on your blog.

    I think it’s impossible not to take vitriol personally when it is directed at you. No matter how little regard you have for the attacker, an attack is an attack. Aggressive words have an impact, and though it is in a different way from physical attack, it’s as pointless to say ‘ignore it’, as it would be to say ignore a physical attack.

    That said, a possible solution would be to have someone else read and pre-mod your comments, possibly in return for the same favour. Another blogger perhaps. If the comments you were dealing with were not directed at you personally, it would be easier for you (both) to deal with one anothers, thereby defending one another by doing (essentially) the same work you would be doing for yourself.

    Alice

  49. If the Energy Vampires are getting to you, turn off the comments. There are enough of us out here who love your blog and will still keep reading. Take care!

    M.

  50. Hey Steve- I hear you loud and clear. With very few exceptions, unmoderated forums invariably end up with “right fighting” and posters spewing venom that often digresses into homophobic, sexist, and/or politically motivated sophomoric blathering. I hate it.

    Perhaps, as another poster mentioned, you could find a volunteer to moderate the comments for you. I believe that thoughtful dialogue is invaluable. When you eliminate all of the noise in between, everyone wins.

    Good luck with your new book. -PM

  51. Blogs seem to highlight bad reactions. It is the nature of the forum. Stop pouting. You signed up for it when you came here. You can’t complain. It got you what you wanted. You need to recognize you caused a great many of those bad reactions from your preconceived notions. You have a tendency to paint with a broad brush. Especially in your fiction. Go ahead- turn off your comments. You don’t need this. You’re past this. At least you think you are. Good luck on where you’re going.

  52. I agree. Not only will turning off the comments prevent everyone reading the post from getting a migrane due to excessive idiocy, but it will also basically eliminate spam. I say go for it! And delete the ones already out there if you’re up to it!!

  53. If the comments of some people really bother you, then you should turn them off or do what you think is best. You are the one that has made this blog and it is your own. You do not need idiotic minded people bringing you down or attacking other readers.

    As long as you continue to write books and write in this blog, then that’s fine. Sometimes I like to post a comment but I don’t need to. I would rather read this blog and not be able to comment instead of you letting people comment and you not updating your blog, you know?

    You have amazing talent, Steve. You’re right, you have to roll with the punches. But at times to keep your sanity (and since you have the option to on this site), you have to stop having those people bring you and your readers down with their nonsensical posts. You don’t deserve this at all.

    Please keep blogging, even if you do have to turn off the comments. Just remember that you are the most important person when it comes to this site and you, you should put yourself first. Please remember that. If it would make things easier on you, then do not enable comments. Do what is best for you.

    ~Bree

  54. I’ve been reading you for awhile, we all go through changes in our life (career-wise, relationship-wise, general (-wise lol)) and I agree with you. It seems to me at this point the blog is not your frustration outlet anymore. I don’t mean that in a bad or demeaning way – that’s just what happens when you deal with people (especially hungry ones) constantly.
    Your blog is still here for you, but not in that ‘God I can’t take the stupidity anymore’ way. I do have to admit to maybe being tipsy – but the one sentence that jumped out at me was
    “I’m at a point in my life where I’m avoiding people who suck the energy out of me.”
    Congrats to you for figuring that out. More people need to.

  55. Hm.

    I have noticed in the past that I have waited for comments of mine to post, and waited … and waited … and yes, those posts were generally negative. I did not, however, think that they were negative to the point that it would create any sort of mental upset or anguish. My feelings were that the comments were honest and thought-provoking; never were they rants, or mean-spirited.

    I have read others that I thought were tripe and couldn’t figure out how those were posted over mine: those whiney “wah, write more” posts are irritating and a waste of time. Yet they went up. And I waited. But I guess we’re all full of our own self-importance to a certain degree at some point in our lives, aren’t we?

    I have followed you since day one, purchased your book, and applauded your accomplishment. Whether or not your comments are open, I’ll continue to read, and wish you every success ~ and wait for the next book!

    Bo

  56. If it’s no longer fun to have comments, DON’T! No reason to make this an unpleasant thing.

    As for moderating, I think you’ll agonize too much over “is this a valid critique or just another asshole blowing air”? I say all or nothing. Don’t feed the trolls.

  57. Personally, I think the comments are for you more than for the readers. I mostly read from the feed reader and don’t care to read from the comments anyway.

    The thing is you post on some controversial ideas and don’t hold back. That’s what I love about this blog. Some people can’t handle that. I don’t agree with everything you say and do, but that what makes this world so fascinating. Can you imagine what it would be like if we were all exactly the same and agreed on EVERYTHING? How boring!

    If it were me, I would strike some sort of balance. If you don’t feel like dealing with crap, turn comments off. If you post something where you want feedback, turn them on. It’s your site – I won’t be offended if you don’t want to hear from us on any particular day. :)

  58. I’ve been wanting to say this for a while, but I wasn’t sure if I should.

    Let me start by saying that I love you waiter. You have a brilliant mind, your creative writing is excellent, and your reflective posts are things I have spent entire days pondering. I’ve been reading your blog since long before you mentioned a book deal. Thank you for all of the happy (and sad) times.

    Recently, however, you have taken a darker turn. You’re still an amazing writer, and I am still very much enthralled with your posts. But, something about you has changed. You are much more cynical. You are occasionally mean-spirited. I would even reach to say that you are almost becoming arrogant. I can’t put my finger on it. It worries me. I hope things change for the better again.

    Anyway, that’s my little blurb. Thanks for listening waiter.
    Good luck, friend.

  59. I agree with most people that the reason I come to your site is to read your soothing words – no matter what the story, it’s a joy to read what you write. You write with a fluidity that’s a pleasure to read. I don’t come for the comments. I guess it’s only nice, once in a while, to say how much I enjoy what you have to say and to let you know I appreciate it. If i couldn’t do that, that’s ok, and just know that all your loyal readers enjoy what you write and wish you well. Life is too stressful most days to put up crappy people.

  60. Life is far too short to let people suck the energy out of you, so if you can put a stop to it, then just do it! Your faithful readers will always keep coming back. But I think you can read that for yourself, over and over and over :)

    take care of you!

  61. Ahhh… I had an epiphany a few months ago about internet trolls. I’ll share.

    They used to reeeally bother me. I would get so worked up over their mean, ignorant ramblings and try to set them straight.

    Then it occurred to me that most of the trolls can probably be found featured in the pictures on thepeopleofwalmart.com.

    Even if they’re not, that mental image really took the power out of their nasty little words for me. I can’t really get upset about a mean comment or an incoherent rant on a message board when I am picturing the writer sitting on a beanbag chair with a windows 98 laptop, wearing only a coonskin cap, boots and ratty underpants.

    I know it won’t take the sting out of all your comments, but hey… if it makes you chuckle at least once, my job here is done.

  62. Everybody has to handle it in their own way. I had a similar crisis of “free speech” a couple of years ago, when I was doing a lot of political blogging. I actually (and you know me well enough to know I’m not kidding) meditated about it. (Quit laughing.)

    For me, I decided that since it was my blog, I got to be the final judge-n-jury in whether the comment made it past moderation. Free speech be damned. If the comment was stupid and off-point, it got deleted. If it was hate-speech, it got deleted. Even if it was on-point, but utterly incoherent in terms of grammar and spelling, it got deleted. And most importantly, if the comments are made anonymously, they get deleted. I figure if you want free speech, then sign your name to it. If you’re too ashamed of your comment to put your name and e-mail to it, then why should I post it? Last time I looked, Blogger.com had plenty of free blog space available. If they want free speech, they can start their own blog. My blog is just about big enough to accommodate my free speech, thank you.

    “My house, my rules,” as my mother used to say. (Oh, my God… I’m turning into my mother….) I say you not only GET to do what you think feels right to you, you get to do it completely guilt-free. Because this is YOUR house. And it runs by your rules.

    P.S. Soo… Nice place you got here… What’s for dinner? :)

  63. Man, I know I’m already going to miss this blog soon. I just finished reading from your first post back in April 2004 to this last post. But despite my fears, I know you’ve grown a lot as a blogger, writer, person. So any change occurring to your blog is just testament of life taking its course. Thanks for your posts, Waiter. They will forever be a source of inspiration.

  64. I’m not going to waste your time with a long post, but will simply say, as I don’t know when/if the comments will return, I have read your blog for years and will continue to. Thank you for sharing your life and stories with us, and all those who feel the need to bash you for stating your *opinions* can just go suck a lemon. Enjoy your freedom from the venom spewing masses.

  65. I agree with Simon – read you on Google reader and don’t miss the comments. Have read your blog for years and just love your writing style. Forget about the sick folk out there and just continue your good work. :)

  66. As you’re using WordPress you can set the option for full moderation, then there’s an option that states:

    “Comment author must have a previously approved comment”

    So for the good guys, you only have to approve their comments once.

    Plus can’t you just pay someone to manage the moderation queue for you?

    Anyway I know how you feel, I have a fairly minuscule blog in comparison to yours but I get a fair share of hate in the comments section. Sometimes I leave them be, sometimes I argue back, sometimes I just delete. I guess it’s a reflection of our state of mind.

  67. I read on Google Reader, so I never see the comments – so I came directly to the blog to say that open comments aren’t worth your hassle. Is there any method you can use to get people to register to post? Then you can revoke their membership if they break the rules.

    Apart from that, I hope the next book is going well!

  68. Such is your gift that a post would affect me to the extent that I would leave a comment. Regretably there would be the odd shallow individual who fair enough did not agree but then would make personal attacks. Those instances were small however you will be subjected to this on a daily basis ( evidently we do not see the worst of them due to your moderators ) and I cannot imagine how demoralising that can be after all this time.

    I would agree that it is best to shut down the comments and shut off for a while and recharge the batteries.

    Like many here we wish you the best for the future.

  69. I think this is the first time I’ve ever commented on your blog/website.

    Kinda sucks that a few people ruin it for everyone else as sometimes the comments are almost as much fun to read as your articles.

    Whatevs….you gotta do what you gotta do-I don’t blame you for shutting comments off if they are a pain in the ass to moderate.

    Life is too short to spend all day on the internet;-)

  70. I think that if you make it known that you will not tolerate the trolls and then back it up, eventually they will leave. There is another blog that I frequent that has very few problems of that nature. If someone comments off topic or is hateful etc then post deleted. If that poster continues then his IP is blocked from posting. Makes it a nice place to visit and there are a large number of regular commenters that are insightful and kind to each other. j-walkblog.com is the blog I’m referring to.

  71. We too had a blog, and you can actually screen your comments, so the nasty ones will not be added to your comment section.

    The best part of reading blogs is the comment section. In fact we have found many interesting ones this way when we lived in China.

    Ultimately it’s your blog, and your decision. Good luck!

  72. Hey Waiter,

    There are few places were nasty, petty, and irrational people can exist and flourish as ably as in the comments to a blog. If you have the time, I think the ideal would be to ruthlessly moderate every comment that has no place. A good example of this done to perfection is Alan Sepinwall’s TV blog. He’s posted very specific rules regarding posting, and he deletes all comments which break those rules. It works wonderfully and the comment section is almost always a place of lively,insightful, and friendly conversation, as opposed to a place of idiotic tirades and mean insults. Check it out for yourself: sepinwall(dot)blogspot(dot)com

  73. I feel your pain waiter. I had a thriving food blog and I ended up shutting it down because I had a creep that kept sending me sexualized comments that really disturbed me.

    Not only did this person take away my hobby that I loved, they took away my second income that I really counted on some months.

    I don’t want to sound victim-ish. I know I could have ignored him but the negativity and creepiness was too much to handle.

  74. I agree, my first thought was hire someone to do the comment flushing for you. Also, you could make it so people cannot leave anonymous comments, that cuts down on some of the clutter. I personally rarely read more than a handful of anyone’s comments on another blog, comments i get are for YOU first and foremost so if they are making you feel icky take a break. good luck finishing the book.

  75. While I’m a regular reader, I don’t often read the comments, much less leave a comment of my own so I’m afraid I don’t have any advice to give. However, I will say that you’re still a fabulous writer and I’m glad you’re not taking a break from the blog because of it. I am sorry that there are enough negative comments out there that you need to do this. I don’t like that you’re doing this, mainly because I’m much more likely to leave a comment then drop an email. But I can’t say that I blame you at all. Heck, it’s stuff like this that makes me hesitate to post anything online at all.
    Still, you’re a great writer, do what you think is best and remember that what opinions are like, and that everyone has one.

  76. This has probably been said already, but I think turning the blog comments off is a great idea. If people have rants they want to assail you with, they’ll probably still email you. People who have really good stories or comments will still send them to you, and then you have a chance to share the best of them, if you wish.

    Email has always made more sense to me, because it means that the people are talking to you (as most of them are anyway), and you get to choose what ideas to share. It keeps commentators from tearing each other down, and protects people’s privacy, since they no longer have to fear public opinion of their post. I say if they want to write a public opinion on one of your blog posts, they can do it on their own website.

  77. I’m not surprised…I’ve had to stop reading your comments because they were so mean sometimes. I don’t understand what ever happened to civil discourse in this country, and why all the anger and rudeness. It’s awful.

  78. If you decide to leave the comments on I would, if I was in your place, require registration before comments are allowed and hold the first one in moderation.

    Most trolls won’t want to have to create an account just to scream and cry, and if they leave a post like that it is easily deleted and then they remain blocked

  79. I think that moderating comments would just be a form of censorship and would result in only one point of view getting across, yours. If that’s your goal, just say so. We have enough censorship in America, keep the internet free!

  80. URGH! Stupid Internet haters! How little of a social life do they have that they have the time to write stupid useless coments??? Nuts.

  81. I agree with Ricky.
    Ater finding my way to your book and than to your blog, I have been uplifted by you posts. You are truly an ispiration for this 33 yo life long waiter/bartender. Keep the blogs and books coming it’s cheaper than therapy. Tanks for everything man.Please don’t stop because you just got me started.

  82. I suggest that you moderate all posts. You are completely free to censor as you see fit. It’s your web site, and fair or not, any junk there ultimately reflects badly on you.

  83. Meh. You have obligations that are bigger than you; a publisher to humor, Expected Standards of Behavior that, regardless of how words arrive on your site, they will reflect on your public persona.

    You’ve worked hard to get where you are. Why let the razzers undo what you’ve accomplished? I don’t for a moment believe you give a fine fig of a damn what others think or say, but yes, in the real and grown up world, we must abide by some realities.

  84. I think a blog is (also) a form of interaction, so turning comments off would be, in my view, a mistake.

    I believe the best thing to do is to moderate comments. It can get tiring, but a blog without comments is a desert. I think the idea of getting a few moderators is very good.

    As an (insignificant) blogger since 2007, I always felt unsafe when comments on my blog were free, and always felt secure when I knew I had to approve them. But I never thought of turning comments off completely.

    In the end, you know the drill: your blog, your rules.

  85. I know a blogger who was blogging about her pregnancy, and after a while some commenters started asking her why she got so fat, etc. etc. She was very upset, but instead of banning comments, she got a friend to read them first and filter out the worst of them, so that she wouldn’t get so hurt and turned off by her readers. I recommend you do the same, it will really help!

    I’ve posted on here lots of times, and the only rude things I have posted have been directed toward other commenters for their stupidity :-)

  86. It’s your blog. Do what you want. Change your mind later if you feel like it.

    Blogs do lose something without the interactivity. On the other hand, isn’t it something like maybe 1 out of 20 readers who comment? Or less? You wouldn’t be disappointing _most_ of your audience :-).

  87. No worries. Honestly, I’ve been reading your blog for years and, while I’ve commented once or twice, I barely ever read any – let alone all. I know many who are of the same mindset: I come to waiterrant to read what YOU have to say, not to read what anyone else thinks about what you have to say.

    As long as you keep writing, Kudos and do what you will with the comments. I’m a huge fan, comment section or none. :-)

    -Me

  88. Hi! I am a reader from Singapore (you might not exactly know where it is but it’s NOT part of another country). I just wanna encourage you that your book has been getting rave reviews from my friends here as well.

    I have been reading ur blog for about 2 years and I appreciate your gut honesty. There’s no harm to turning off the comments – especially since it’s going to be HARMFUL to you if you don’t. :) Perhaps you might wanna seriously consider Vince’s suggestion of just picking some reader’s comments then post your replies to them? I think that might also alleviate some stress off yea for having to compose totally new entries whenever you wanna update.

  89. Years ago, the Freakonomics blog (before they moved to the New York Times and subsequently fielded a lot of nasty comments about that) had a small but committed group of commenters, mostly pretty knowledgeable. And for one April Fool’s Day, their post was a joke, but a little controversial. In the comments, I swear, every fourth or fifth was someone taking issue with the topic and the next one would be pointing out it was a joke; this went on for several screens. It was then I realized that people are not commenting to have a conversation, but just to speak out.

    Yes, I, too, realize the irony of using comments to say this.

  90. I am going to miss the comments. When I first discovered your blog, I went back and read every entry and every comment to understand what you were doing. It was so nice to find this website.

    I, too, have noticed that when you don’t post, the commenters get increasingly testy, as though it is your obligation to keep them entertained. Blame it on the anonymity of the Internet or our culture’s expectation of instant everything. Lately, I have been avoiding your comment section because I didn’t want to encounter the snarky comments. It’s just a shame that those of us who enjoy your writing and the ability to share our experiences or send you kudos have to be cut off because of the spoiled children who never learned to play nice with others.

    I await your next book and I will periodically check in to this website to see what’s happening with you and Buster.

  91. Life’s too short to have to tolerate unsolicited negativity, Waiter. So many of the comment threads have produced fascinating discussions of multi-faceted issues you’ve raised, but sadly, a few bullies have spoiled the fun from time to time. Give them a chance to go find some other playground. The rest of us will still be here, cheering you on and feeling grateful for all that you’ve shared so freely with us over the years. And all that extra time you’ll gain? Keep taking Buster to the dog park. Sooner or later a lovely lady dog walker is going to turn up and you’ll be able to start focusing on the sunshine again instead of all the sharks :-)

  92. It’s your blog, you should do what you want with the comments. I agree, lately seems like a few commenters live to rip you to shreds. I think its pure jealousy and something losers do in complete anonymity. I am really beginning to hate sites that don’t make you write under your real name or email address. People say that in the US we are a free country. Free to write your feelings out to whoever wants to read them. BUT…can we shout fire in a crowded theater to just see people scream their way out? No. Should you be able to libel someone just because no one will know you wrote it? I think not. I vote keep your comments off permanently, this way you don’t have to read the rubbish and they don’t have to write it. Like you said, you have enough critics as an author.

  93. I’m sorry to hear about the venom and sheer nuttiness. I don’t know of an optimum solution, but the first commenter’s suggestion, of turning off commenting for awhile, has merit. One can always moderate every darned comment, of course, but that gets wearing. It can also take time and energy away from the things one wants/needs to do, such as writing new books and enjoying the feel of the sun on one’s hair.

    I think people enjoy the sense of community that exchanging comments can bring, but you know, we’re all welcome to have our own blogs and comment to our hearts’ delight there.

  94. I say moderate them. You may want feedback of some kind but who wants to see all of the nonsense? If the comments are moderated, the losers will likely find some other outlet for their vitriol to spill forth. You don’t owe them a platform! Looking forward to the next book!

  95. I;m a fan and support whatever you decide you need to move forward in your effort…but your post “beneath the waves” was awesome… keep on writing… and I’ll keep on reading… isn’t that what’s it’s all about?

  96. Sad, yet understandable. Perhaps you should consider that commenting may be a privilege, rather than a right.

    Also keep in mind, that as a blogger, it is a nice problem to have.

    Thanks for your work.

  97. It’s an overwhelming 100+ comments showing positive support to turn the comment off. I would simply join them: do it, you won’t regret it.

    I’ve found your blog 2+ years ago and has read the entire archive from post #1. Although occasionally I enjoyed additional info mostly from ‘peer’ server commentators, it’s *always* your writings that count. Turn the comment off for yourself, you’ll actually do it for your readers.

  98. You’re absolutely within your right to turn off comments. Moderating comments is never fun, even for those of us with tiny blogs. With one as giant as yours, it’s just not worth the trolls.

    PS, I read your book last week and holy crap, dude, you’ve eloquently stated all that the rest of us could not. Thanks for that. :)

    Incidentally, I’m a Canadian, and I used to have to pay a 1.5% “house tip” each night to the management. It was part of my cash out paper and everything. I don’t think there’s any law against that here, but I sure wish there were!

  99. I enjoyed your book and like reading your blog and most of the comments. I find some of them infuriating as do many of your readers but I don’t believe that they reflect negatively on you at all. They serve as a reminder that there are some horrible people out there (maybe the same ones that fueled the “Rant” in the first place?) but that being said it creates interesting dialog and gives frustrated service people a place to vent. In the words of the Toasters (one of my fav ska bands) “Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down”!

  100. Hey Waiter, I understand completely. Most people who write negative comments do it, not only with the wish to draw attention to themselves but to distract from the general discussion at hand for whatever reason. Take care.

  101. Good for you, Steve. I understand your weariness in dealing with people’s craziness.
    Rest well, and enjoy the completion of your next book.

  102. I apologize it’s taken me a while to read your book but I finally did this weekend. I suppose it’s good timing because now I can sneak in a comment before you turn the comments off (and maybe not turn them back on again out of relief from all the a**holes out there). Please let me add my voice to your numerous other fans and let me say how much I truly enjoy your blog and I loved your book. Your writing has such a natural flow and feel to it it’s almost like I can hear your voice (though I don’t actually know what it sounds like) coming off the pages. I wish you continued good luck with the next book, which I await eagerly. And don’t let the bastards get you down. (People used to write stupid things in bathroom stalls, still do I guess, and now they have the Internet to defile. I will never understand the need in a million years.) So, applause, applause, and Happy Spring!

  103. I totally agree, and didn’t quite put a finger on this phenomenon until you described it. Some people really do let their worst side out in a comments section, and it can get really nasty. Just this morning I was reading an article and was highly disturbed by what people said in response to it. Energy suckers are the worst. I don’t have a blog so I can’t recommend what the best way to deal with it is, but good for you for taking a break from it. I like your writing.

  104. I agree with the majority. Turn off the comments.
    I have seen commentators actually try to take over a blog. They seem to forget who we really want to read.
    Looking forward to your next book and will continue to read the blog. Best of luck!

  105. Some sites use moderated forums instead of comments. You get people to volunteer as the forum moderators, and open a new forum topic for each entry, plus other general topics.

    Not sure if you’d be interested in a system like that, just saying that is how some others that have had your problem do it.

    Alex

  106. Long time reader, first time commenter. Love reading the comments when you ask the audience to chime in with their thoughts on a particular subject. Otherwise, I usually make it through the first 10 and then move on. I’m wondering whether you’ll feel a little disconnected from the audience if you don’t have a constant connection to the pulse?

  107. I love those who say that if you turn off comments, you’re infringing on their freedom of speech. Why do people think freedom of speech means they get to be jerks anywhere they want, any time they want? If someone wants to speak freely, no one is stopping them from starting their own blog and posting what they want to say there.

    Closing comments because you’ve gotten overrun by spammers, anonymous attackers, jerks, and idiots is not a violation of anyone’s freedom of speech and is, in fact, a good sanity saver.

    I am another of those who reads from the RSS and so I hardly ever see the comments except those rare times I’ve been motivated to comment myself or to answer a question you’ve posted.

    I say do what makes YOU comfortable and doesn’t put more stress in your life. I had to learn the hard way that taking steps to remove stress from your life is not selfish, rude, or wrong. It’s healthy.

    So do what makes you healthy and happy.

  108. I haven’t read all the comments, but I’m sure its been said already. Either way, just throwing my vote/$0.02(a lousy tip, I know) in. You do what you have to do to keep yourself and your site functional. If that means turning the comments off at least temporarily, then go for it. If it means turning them off permanently, then go for it.

    The other option would be to set up some kind of forum, separate from the main page. That way only those who really feel the need to join up can comment, that’ll filter out a good portion right off the bat. And any nastyness will be off the main page, and I’d think it would be easier to moderate.

  109. Waiter,

    Two things.
    1) In an attempt to be the opposite of the energy sucking commenters you talk of – I’ve been reading for a long time and I can see while I may not agree with 100% of what you say, you’re still a top bloke who’s put a lot of your life into giving back to society (as a doctor, and as a writer, waiter and no doubt other things). Screw those who don’t take factors like that into consideration when commenting.
    2) Consider using a moderation plugin like that in use on slashDot or YouTube where people can vote comments up and down, and if they go too far down they disappear. The comments will become self-moderating, and you’ll probably find repeat readers who’ll offer to moderate for you as well.

    Looking forward to the next book,
    D

  110. So sorry the haters are coming out of the woodwork. Why can’t people be happy for each others success? I’m generally a lurker and have enjoyed your blog and bought your book. My dh and I both enjoy your writing. Thanks for keeping up the website.

    Don’t let the bi***es get you down. : )

  111. I didn’t comment very often, but I liked having the option. Between your infrequent posts and the somewhat over-the-top rant above, you’ve lost this reader. In the end, it’s your blog, so good luck and I hope you find peace.

  112. I don’t ever comment on anything because I am so intimidated by the ‘internet vultures.’ I feel like people over the internet are so different from who they are in real life. The keyboard becomes their mask and they let loose without any real remorse. Could you imagine what the real world would be like if everyone lived their life like that? The lack of comments don’t bother me- just don’t ever stop writing. You’ve got a gift and you are inspiring and I look forward to your blog (and your books!).

    -Kristen (Brock from the carwash’s wife)

  113. I’d moderate comments, and see if you can find a few sane volunteers that you’d be willing to let help with the moderation. (That’s what I would do in that situation.)

    If there are regular commenters who are always good, whitelist them, if that’s an option. If some positive comments go through automatically, that might help set the tone.

  114. Good luck keeping readers. People like interaction. If you take it away, they’ll go to one of the other 8 billion waiter blogs. I predict that you’ll turn them back on by the time you lose 50% readership or just let the blog become one of many that die out. Why not just ban IP addresses if you don’t like what’s being said? Force users to be registered then you can yank them that way. Very few new people will show up and stay if they can’t respond to something you posted.

    Personally, I think it’s a coward’s way out but it’s your place.

  115. I disagree with totally closing down your comments for business reasons. You might not have any ads on your blog, but this blog earns you money by helping promote your book. And the reason it works is because of the sense of community you’ve developed here which would not have happened to such a large degree if you hadn’t been allowing comments. In fact, this blog helped you get the book deal and the one you’re working on now. You need to look at this from a business standpoint and if the comments are bugging you get somebody else to moderate. Talk to your publisher and maybe they can help. But don’t risk your traffic and exposure and BUSINESS over a bunch of stupid trolls. It’s not worth it. THEY’RE not worth it.

  116. I understand your turning off comments, and can’t say I blame you. But I don’t know if it’s the best plan.

    EVERYBODY gets posts like that. I have a small blog I keep mostly for family (which is why the address is not listed above), and I get random people who will pop in, post something horribly vitriolic, and then disappear, or come back with a different user name. I get them on a near-daily basis, and I’m not a famous author.

    I had some drawings I did up on my blog at one point, and some soulless creep wrote disgusting, perverse, or just plain mean things about every single one of them. They upset me so much I took down my drawings.

    As a writer, you’re taking a little piece of your soul and putting it out there for people to examine, to criticize and attempt to destroy. That’s a hard thing to do. It’s even harder when the people who post leave nothing but negativity behind.

    I am a dedicated fan and will not stop reading just because I can’t say something back to you, anymore than I’d stop reading books because the author didn’t read my fan mail.

    I find it deeply disturbing how many of the comments I’ve read recently were nothing more than negativity from supposed fans because you’re not writing what they want or on their schedule. Many seem to have forgotten that you aren’t being paid by them for writing your blog.

    As a fan of several years, I hope you will do what will most keep you sane, happy, and willing to continue to break off little pieces of yourself for me to examine. I deeply enjoy your writing, and am looking forward to your next book.

    Thanks.

  117. I like moderation. If I read something that is mean and nasty, into the garbage it goes. Most people who comment, I think want to just give feedback or say, way to go, but there are others who just want to spew their venom. I just found your book and love it. I love the blog too. I am glad that I had the chance to comment before they were turned off so I could tell you this!

  118. I understand why you are turning off comments and I also understand why you are asking about advise on what to do. I’m not sure if you will like this idea but I figured that it might be an option that could cut down and take away from the stress of dealing with troll posts and other nastiness.
    Most Blogs and forums will allow you to set a moderator or multiples, if you could and didn’t want to deal with the problems continuesly you could get a small group of vollenteers or people that you trust to go over them to regulate what is being posted and remove offensive posts. That is if you want to continue to allow posting.

  119. If you’re asking me as a regular reader, I say moderate the comments, eliminate the pinheads, jerks, trolls. What are they contributing? Nothing.

    I moderate comments on my blog.

    Keep writing about Buster!

  120. I have commented occasionally, but I do not come here to comment.

    I’ll never have a blog, because of the comments. If I had a blog, I’d want feedback, but there’s always someone out there who want to piss in your cheerios. I’ve read numerous blogs by good people, posting about their personal experiences, and always, always there’s some anonymous jerkoff that has to be critical,degrading, and/or offensive. To a young widowed mother. Or a minister’s wife. I mean, come on!

    So I understand, but will miss the chance to occasionally post my two cents.

    “That’s why we can’t have good things”

  121. I’ve pretty much given up on reading blog comments unless there’s a moderation system like SlashDot or the blogger rules with an iron fist, comments will tend to devolve. And America is very fractured these days – unfortunately some people are not happy unless they’re unhappy, and sharing their vitriol as though their rants really matter. Only a very few do – like from philosophical waiters!

  122. It’s your blog. You do whatever you feel like doing, at the time you feel like doing it. I’m glad you left comments open here just so I can tell you that I enjoy letting you know I’m still reading. But if you decide to close comments forever, I will keep reading. Good luck and best wishes Waiter Steve.

  123. Ditch the comments. This is YOUR rant. I personally get enough bitching from my fellow jaded and burned out service workers, don’t need to read more here. It’s just like going out for a drink to unwind after a crazy shift and everyone spends the entire time grousing about work. Misery may love company but I, for one, am officially over it.

  124. I love your blog, and I can see where the comments could drive you crazy. I had a similar thing with my blog, where left wing nutjobs were leaving death threats on my comment section. It got so bad that one of them tracked me down when I was in Manhattan and almost got past the doorman. Needless to say, he was arrested. Now, I have a different problem….my blog is continuously being hacked by the same group…I suspect. All in all, I don’t know if blogging is worth it, as you say, some people can suck the life out of you. Jeff

  125. Turn ‘em off. If someone has something to say that they feel strongly about, they’ll email you like I did. (I had told Steve how much I enjoyed the story about Buster since it reminded me of my own dog). If they can’t say it to your face, so to speak, they don’t need to say it.

  126. You want to shut off comments, shut them off, I’m happy to read your blog, for free, however you choose to run it.

    That said, since you asked for opinions, I’d say moderate comments if you have the time for it. If/when you don’t have the time, shut them off.

    Best to you in all areas of your life!

  127. I’ll try to keep this from being too deeply “philosophical”, and definitely non-rambling…

    I’ve commented, I think, perhaps a time or two on postings you’ve done where I thought my $0.02-worth might be a bit of “added value” – mostly, though, I simply come by now and again to check on what’s happening with you and your adventures in life. Your blog, like many I occasionally read that are largely or wholly solo works, doesn’t really seem to be an attempt at dialogue – more of a monologue, with occasional (mostly subliminal) statements that seem to invite commentary. You have interesting experiences, a different perspective on many things, and have an interesting and useful way of expressing those experiences and perspectives.

    I don’t know exactly where to be on the issue of allowing/disallowing open comments. I do think that every blogger has a different limit on their toleration of hostile or simply annoying commentary – and that it’s important to the individual blogger to determine just where that limit lies. On the one hand, if you’re successfully pissing off a bunch of froth-at-the-mouth clods to the point that they are compelled to spew at you, you’re quite clearly being effective at communicating – OTOH, do you want to expend very much of your limited (and valuable) time in this existence dealing with the “cleanup” that may ensue?

    All I can really say, from my own viewpoint, is that, while squashing trolls can be nasty, good fun, I can understand if you choose not to allow hostility to intrude into what is, after all, your commentary.

    In either event – with or without open comments – Waiter Rant will remain one of my visiting spots, so long as you choose to continue it.

    A very good day to you, and many more to come…

  128. Hey Waiter,

    I definitely agree with you on shutting down comments as a way to take a break from the crazy world of the internet. I would probably do the same thing if I were you. I would also lie to point out that while not everything you say is something I agree with the reason I love your blog and your writing is because its real and written in a way that really conveys all of your emotions and you as a person on the internet. I know you aren’t telling your blog followers everything about your life with good reason but the snippets we do get show us a man living his life in the only way he knows how. Hell, its what all of us do every day living life as best we can with what we have and trying to still be us even if things change around us. Your blog has helped me to keep at it a number of times in the past 2 years since I started reading and for that I really want to say thank you.

    Regards,
    Luis

  129. Now it will be a bit easier to navigate the archives. Honestly, it’s a bit of a pain to have to scroll all the way past the comments for the navigation.

    I don’t blame you for wanting a break. Even if you moderate the garbage so no one else sees it, you still have to, and that’s a pain.

    Perhaps you could require some sort of registration to be able to comment, so that you can block offensive posters. I know a few blogs do this.

  130. Just gonna chime in with the majority: you do what you want. If the comments are getting to you, there’s no reason you should put up with it. Personally, I’ve loved your blog for years and will continue to read it whether you allow comments or not. Be well!

  131. Waiter – I wouldn’t worry too much about the comments. Your blog is followed for the quality of writing you present to us eager readers.If you turn off the comments we’d all still be checking your blog for new stories and updates.

  132. Your talent is beyond the blog.

    And , in my opinion, that talent is your ability to look into the sea of humanity in which you swim and articulate the stuff most of us don’t see, but smile over and agree with once you point it out to us.

    Live forever.

  133. Your blog is awesome! I am sorry those “few” have been wearing you down. Keep on for those of us who cannot wait to see what you write next, and congratulations for knowing when to be good to yourself–and following through. Be well. (-:

  134. I don’t blame you at all. I wondered why you didn’t squelch the comments LONG before now!
    It’s one thing when people can criticize with intelligent comments and insights, it’s something else when they just want to spout shit all over and expect you to validate it. I really thought that some of the comments on here were really detrimental to the blog, anyway. I think it’s a good move, Waiter. Your writing stands alone, anyway, you don’t need a hundred dolts throwing their uninspired comments in.

  135. personally, my comments usually have nothing to do with the previous comments, but instead are just what i think about the blog itself. i care about what you have to say, not other people’s opinions about it.

  136. I think you should leave the comments off permanently before you get so sick of blogging and comments, that you close it down to get away.

    As you say, those who really want to contact you may use the email address. If you make any long term friendships out of that or pen pals – then it’s not like you’ve burned the bridge.

    I like reading what you write. The short paragraphs are fresh. For awhile, it may be good for you to be able to come back to “the nest” and post. Just for the beauty of it. One day you’ll stop. But that’s a good thing. It will mean that you’ve blossomed out into another level.

    Best of luck with your imagination and new career; keep it fresh and safe!

  137. It’s your blog. If I were you, I’d filter the comments and delete the unreasonable nastiness with never another thought about it. The fact that you debate what you should do speaks to your character! I love your writing. Keep up the great work, and don’t let the trolls bug you. As my mom always says, consider the source.

  138. I think you have to let it roll off your back. As a law enforcement officer (and an ex-waiter),that’s what I do, and most of the time, similar to the annoyances of daily life, it’s very doable.

    I enjoyed your piece on the day in the park with the hawk, but I disagree that cops don’t have a role. Our role is to predate on the people who would make a peaceful dog park impossible. Not to say there aren’t bad cops; there are. There are predators who kill more than they can eat too. but until mankind grows up enough to treat each other right, cops have a role.

    Waiter comments: I didn’t say cops don’t have a role. I said the predators they must guard against have not role – unlike hawks and sharks who have a function in the food chain

  139. I must say I am a bit put off by your disparaging remarks about my noble sub-specie. We trolls have been making valuable contributions to society for centuries. Some of the more celebrated trolls (Truman, Bonaparte, Buddha, and De Vito, to name a few) rose to the top of their professions. A few bad apples (Hitler, George W) and now we’re synonymous with every mouth breathing, knuckle dragging neanderthal who can find the “submit comment” button. Thanks a lot!

  140. Waiter,

    I am a writer with an acute sense of the space in which I write. I patrol my writing space with a zeal that even my wife and close friends find sometimes difficult. This blog is YOUR space. If our comments distract you from your writing, turn them off and do not look back. When the 8th book advance leaves you financially comfortable, then hire an assistant to moderate and leave you out of the loop, if you like. But above all, keep your writing space protected. Your sanity has no price tag.

  141. On my site, I just have a filter with keywords that trolls and flamers like to use. All curse words are in the filter, along with some others. When something gets caught in the filter, I just scan it and see if it was just the one-off curse that makes sense in conversation, or a string of abuse. So far, I haven’t had to deal with a big influx of comments though, so I’m not sure that would work in your case.

    You could also just make people register to comment. Then you can hit the banhammer on people who are a pain. This won’t stop everyone, since there’s no way to stop them from registering a different name, but people who just want to flame or troll are less likely to register in the first place. Might want to check if WordPress fixed the security issues with using registration though. I think they did a few versions ago, but I’m not positive.

    With as many people commenting as you have, I’d probably just open a forum though. Forum registration has some nifty stuff out of the box that makes it annoying for trolls and spammers out of the box, and allows for a different kind of conversation. With a forum open, you wouldn’t really need to leave comments open anymore to get public feedback from people. It might not be what you want for your site though, it’s just a thought in case you think it would be a good choice for you.

  142. Sorry for the double post, forgot one important bit. If the comments are seriously distracting from your writing, or you would prefer not to deal with whatever administration is involved, by all means, keep them disabled for good. The meat of the blog is your writing, and not having them wouldn’t seriously detract from the blog. For many readers, it probably wouldn’t make a difference one way or the other. Comments are nice to have, but they certainly aren’t essential.

  143. It’s your blog, presumably one that you started writing because you found some enjoyment in it. It’s great that it led to bigger and better things, but it’s still your blog, not an obligation.

    When reading comments is something you dread rather than enjoy, turn them off. If you start feeling like you would enjoy seeing them again, turn them on.

  144. For a time I read your blog, but life got busy and I haven’t read yours or any blog for quite a while. I bought your book recently, started it yesterday, read your blog just now and for the first time I’m sending a comment on the internet. I agree that you should only read what you choose, and if it weren’t an imposition, I’d say delete the rude and toxic drivel so no one should have to see it. But it’s your talent I appreciate – I’ve never read a comment, probably never will. So use your energy for what I selfishly prefer from you – your thoughts and observations. I may just go back to reading your blog occasionally, when I want to spend my meager free time that way. For now, I’ll finish your book, and wait for the next one. I treasure authors whose words sing to me. Thank you for the music. mhs

  145. I saw your book today, bought it and haven’t been able to stop reading it. I finally paused to go to the bathroom and took the moment to jump online and comment.

    You are my new hero. Seriously. I’ve been catering for 8 years now, and while there are minor differences between my world and yours of working at a restaurant, we are cousins close enough to share most of the major feelings/episodes.

    Reading your book was like seeing my internal monologue of the past several years printed out before my eyes. I haven’t had this much fun reading a work of non-fiction in a long time. Thank you ever so much for writing this.

  146. Steve,
    I agree that the poor comments and rants by some are troublesome. In that light I don’t blame you one bit. Keep working hard on your new book and good luck in the future.

  147. Steve,
    Long time reader, occasional commenter. Love both the blog and comments, but seems like lately people seem to dislike the changes to your blog and resent your success. Phooey to them! I think you are an awesome writer, and I continue to enjoy your posts. You are very insightful (is that a word? LOL)and strike chords within me about humanity, our world(s), and lives. Just wanted to give you some support. Comments included or not, I will continue to read and enjoy.
    Also, to Kate on #84: Do we know you? If you are who I’m thinking, so sorry about your problems, cos I REALLY MISS YOU!

    All the best,
    Karen

  148. Sorry to see you go! Whenever I have one of those days it’s time for the range. I load up some 30 rounders and throw the AR in the boot. I have some vision issues so I am allowed to bring my own targets that I over print the offending blogs with big orange dots. Just my way to get back at the SOB’s. Be Safe Friend…

  149. I started moderating all the comments on my blog and eventually the trolls gave up and stopped commenting. Comment moderation is still on – it is mine and I decide what to let through.

    I agree with many who said that you need to keep yourself sane, lest you ditch it all. You are so talented and have much to share.

  150. I totally understand why you’re doing this. My blog is in its infancy and there are a few people who have made snarky comments. The worse thing is, they know who I am, and are trying shut me up. I can’t imagine trying to keep up with the meanness on a site the size of yours. I think those people are just jealous of you. You made the American Dream come true for yourself, and the trollers are just too lazy and stupid to get off their butts and work as hard as you do. Take care, Waiter, I’m still reading you! And loved your book too!

  151. Hi, Steve:

    I can certainly understand. As my curmudgeon of a brother would write, “the great, unwashed masses” are enough to give anyone a headache.

    It saddens me just how selfish and without common sense the average person in America has become. For many people, self-expression quite literally means expression without regards to context, respect, or consideration – in short, it means not having to take personal responsibility. It’s one reason I don’t have any open blogs myself and even moreso why I fantasize about creating a video log or similar, but never take the steps to realize it – just too many rude people.

    The signal-to-noise ratio on the Internet has grown exponentially as there are more outlets for people to speak up. Unfortunately, too many of them lash out in manners they would never, ever do in public or to another person’s face. There just isn’t much respect in America for proper, intelligent communication – not when media corporations have cheapened it all for their own profits.

    You can give an amateur a Stradivarius violin to play, but what will result is beautiful-sounding JUNK. And another famous book said not to cast pearls before swine – they’ll never appreciate it.

    I think having a moderation filter is a splendid idea. But the idea just came to me to have registration with profiles. Require a certain amount of basic information and then screen the applicants. Those who are clearly literate, intelligent AND polite should be allowed to stay. The others? DEEEE-nied! You would have to talk to your web designer to implement some kind of sign-up and administration pages, but I’m sure you could do this.

    Like you, I enjoy hearing feedback from other visitors across the country. But like you, I also would like to cut out the imbeciles, the bullies, the ignorant, and the outright selfish. I say go for it on some kind of moderation (with trusted volunteers to help you out, perhaps?).

    You do have an audience out here that appreciates you, Steve. Keep speaking to those of us who “get” you. Leave the stragglers to choke on their own stupidity.

  152. Hi!!
    I know EXACTLY how you feel. I started a blog on becoming accountable to myself and my weight loss journey. A few months ago, I started getting ridiculously nasty comments from someone who was posting anonymously. Like you, I wear grown-up panties, so I can take constructive criticism, but just being all-out mean is not constructive. I have resorted to pre-approving comments before they are posted. And, I believe I have lost the bully!

  153. Don’t know what the fools could say against you, but the Net is full of average or below IQs, so you have to chalk it up to that mentally challenged mentality and be glad you’ll never suffer their problems. You could say” Offensive comments deleted” –or reword–so they may go away, but edit comments.
    Anyway, don’t take it personally–its about their their dead end lives.

  154. I go the other way and let people go crazy with their vengeful idiocies. Then, I go in and dump them as soon as I sense that they’re done. It makes all their efforts futile and leads to humorous hate emails that they send me about how I’m “censoring” their right to “free speech.”
    I just ignore those. Pretty soon, they realize, usually within a half hour, that not only did they just waste a half hour of their time but nobody saw anything they wrote. Then they go away.

  155. I’m new to your blog and was a bit surprised to see this post. Why not select a few individuals that have proven themselves with their past comments to help you moderate? There are also a few neat WordPress plugins that allow the community to moderate comments through a vote system. Maybe those are alternative solutions?

  156. Hello. I’ve been following your blog for almost 3 years now. If it helps in any way, I’m 19 and from Malaysia. Hope you knew your scope of readers were wide.

    Before this, I’ve never commented on your posts but it doesn’t mean I didn’t find them really good. I especially liked the way you could turn a pretty regular day into an interesting story. I guess that’s what makes you a good writer, and your life a tad bit more interesting than mine. ^^

    Regarding the issue of closing off the comment options, I guess if you don’t want to deal with them, it is the most logical option. Because I follow korean music, I wanted to share with you this *thing* they have in their internet culture. Those people you talked about? The mean, illogical, talking OVER each other rather than TO each other? They’re called anti-s there. They don’t make sense, bash someone just for being who they are, just for existing. They follow a certain singer or group’s news just so that they can bash them. It’s like they devote they’re time to to these sad stuff.

    I guess I’m saying the world has a LOT of people. To each his own. You keep doing your stuff.

    Oh, and did I mention that you inspire me to try to write about life like you do? But no one seems intrested to read what I write. Haha.

    But even if people comment, email, whatever to you hurtful and just plain sad comments, just know that they wouldn’t be doing it if they didn’t read your works. So you must have done something right to have people reading them. =)

    Love your writings and keep up the good work~!

    Pei Fang.

    P.S.: Recently a local newspaper wrote about how a blogger is so famous that she’s being recognized everywhere. What strikes me about the article was that she’s living off her blog (and she gets tonnes of bashing too) through endorsements, advertisements and etc. Have you thought about that? Or are you already doing it?

  157. I’m such a chronic lurker on most blogs I read and haven’t been here to visit yours in quite some time. I am so sad to see you grappling with this affliction, on my first visit back in a long time. Many of the bloggers I follow on twitter often talk about how despondent the haters make them. Also at the risk of soudning trite, and being a social worker, you really need to do what’s best for your soul and sanity. One of my all-time favorite quotes is, “I refuse to be an actor in your drama when I did not audition for the part.”

  158. i just stopped by to see what was happening and i am somewhat confused – isn’t the name of this place waiter RANT ?

    maybe it’s me, but wouldn’t that name alone attract at least some with an affinity to RANT ?

    besides, if you really want to see sparks fly may i suggest you observe highly-educated mutlti-experienced world-famous tenured elite scholars take different sides to a scientific question ! –

    and, remember “jane you ignorant slut !” ?

    anyway, i see these things get out of control on almost ALL blogs at one time or another and i’m not sure annonymous linear conversations don’t themselves lend to a particular lack of civility

    in conclusion, thank you, and those responses from those here in the biz, to allow me as a customer guest and patron gourmand better understand what goes on “behind the curtain” as it were, in the food / beverage hospitality business

    of course, your timing to become a writer was spot on, as the restaurant industry is sinking and will never recover, since “the whiter the tablecloth, the darker the red ink flowing”

    first, the strict law enforcement of DUI’s, then expense accounts disappeared, then the no smoking laws intruded and finally hook-ups mean a guy doesn’t have to wine and dine her anymore to get laid

    best of luck in your new endevours steve !

    frankD

  159. It depends. For the big-name blogs I read, their comments sections are no less an entertaining read than the posts themselves. I come to those blogs for the comments as much as, if not more than, I do for the posts. Then again, those blogs are sources of serious income to their authors, and said authors moderate, or hire people to moderate, their comments sections. This blog, for the last few years, looks like it has already served its purpose. (I haven’t seen the hit stats, but something tells me they probably peaked sometime before the first book came out.) Nothing wrong with that. If you do not attach any serious value or purpose to this blog, shutting down the comments is a smart move. Otherwise I’d advise to keep them while moderating them, possibly with outside help. Congrats on your new book and good luck in your endeavors.

  160. A wise friend once told me, “Abra, sometimes you just have to fire your friends.” While this may sound a tad harsh, it was said to me at a time in my life when I needed to hear it. We often allow other people to bombard us with their personal negative energy, when it is the last thing we need as a living, breathing, human being. I don’t mean this in any sort of neo-hippie, on a road to enlightenment sort of bullshi, but as a responsibility to ourselves. I understand your need to turn the comments off. They filled a role in the beginning as confirmation that people were reading, but we’re still reading and well, lets be honest, you know it. Keep on keeping on, because that’s what you’ve got to do sometimes.

  161. Sometimes the conversation in the comments is even better than the post that you came up with. Quit being such a pansy. Sticks and Stones brother, Sticks and Stones….

  162. I know some comments are outright demeaning and its not worth getting them posted here. But I dont think there is any reason for you to be mad about people writing “first comment”, it just saws the excitement of that particular reader that he thinks he probably might be one of the first few readers of the entry. So I dont see anything wrong in it. I know it makes no sense but i dont think it, at the same time, is doing any harm.

  163. I have been reading you off and on for about 4 years now, and never commented before. As one who has several family members in the business (restaurant – 2 GMS and a Waitress), I appreciate your insight. I guess I am just somehow oblivious, as while I have not read the comments before, I have never seen a reason for flaming.

    Thanks for continuing to write (as you can see, I am not caught up on my reading yet). My spelling, grammar, and English is bad enough that you will not find me being a Nazi about it (except for the apostrophe you forgot ;) ).

  164. I’m disappointed to hear that you are having such trouble with rotten people. I, too, am through with toxic personalities. Life is just too short.
    I love your work, and can easily relate to your restaurant experiences. I can’t wait to read the new book! Don’t stop writing!

  165. I am really glad I’ve found this info. Today bloggers publish only about gossips and net and this is really annoying. A good site with exciting content, that is what I need. Thank you for keeping this web site, I will be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Cant find it.

  166. Aloha Waiter,

    By now I’m sure that you’ve emotionally and logistically dealt with the issue of flaming trolls and long-winded narcissists, or at least I hope you have. Just wanted to say “MAHALO NUI LOA” for your contributions to the universe that is the food and beverage industry. I bought both of your books and am recc’ing them to everyone I know. All the best to you and your writing endeavors!

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