Alien Species


Comments or no Comments: this is the Question

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In response to User blog:Insurgence/Article Comments -- Yes or no?

I wish to thank Insurgence and Owen for the initiative to discuss this matter and Insurgence in particular for electing myself as the "defender"

First let me say that after reading the first post I find some of Insurgence's four points to be very valid. Others, slightly disagreeable. But let's start with two points that I consider obvious:

  1. Comments stimulate discussion
  2. Comments stimulate frivolous discussion

This is beyond doubt, especially but not uniquely to new users, and for many reasons: the use of a format so widespread across the internet makes us feel more comfortable than a talk page format. Consider too the fact that the comments are displayed on the same page as the article itself: makes them seem all more inviting and more friendly (and less professional).

Of course, this is not to say that discussion cannot exist without comments, as the article talk pages serve their function; and this is where my second affirmative comes in: the use of talk pages IMO restricts discussion to the most important matters only; while comments allow for more informal talk

At first this might seem bad for the wiki quality, and it might very well be. I am certainly not the ultimate defender of comments; all I said to begin is that I like the idea; I still recognize its possible flaws. But before I state what the main point is IMO allow me to respond briefly to Insurgence's own points:

I completely agree with 3 and 4, although I believe 4 brings an advantage too (that of new users discussing their new ideas before adding them to the article). I agree with 1 and 2 to a certain extent only: the comment response feature allows some level of organization that keeps different topics separated; and the use of comments is widespread among websites that I consider very professional, including serious blogs, web newspapers and others.

Now for my conclusion: I believe the main point resides on how much professional we want ASW to get. I think comments are a much better system for wikis based on creativity, such as our sister Multiverses; while talk pages are preferable for those with a traditional encyclopedia format.

The problem is that we are an intermediate: ASW has the main goal to present factual information about fictional beings, but it also holds the secondary goal to present scientifically-grounded discussion and speculation upon them. This has been the norm since well before I joined in, as Somarinoa can confirm; and in my personal view this is what makes ASW so special compared to other more traditional wikis.

So the idea is: we want to inform first of all, but we also want to discuss information; and all discussions benefit from a broader inclusion.

I don't think replacing talk pages with comments will have any immediate effect on the wiki, but I do think it might have a long term effect of stimulating discussion about our content; and given the goals of this wiki, this might end up being a positive thing.

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