a companion discussion area for blog.codinghorror.com

Because Reading is Fundamental


Perhaps watch this video, it covers that topic:


Let’s not pretend that authors posting on the paywall-less corners of the internet aren’t soliciting from a different reader pool than The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

There’s a reason newspapers write with a spiral rhetoric. Don’t hide your point to the end in an attempt to be clever or to create a ponderous logical argument if you’re posting content whose medium is designed for quick consumption.

Briefer, and only slightly hyperbolic:

Writers, stop blaming the user.


bananas was added later :wink:
comment by author John Timmer

I still consider your point to be true, people who are reading the whole text can contribute better to communities than those only interested in brodcasting their opinion.


This is great! You care about this minute details and are working to align the incentives with the desired goals of online behavior.
However, how would you convince someone this is important? Your post provides a good argument but how do you respond to people who feel this is unimportant? Arguments with anecdotes aren’t good enough. We have to show the size of the problem.

There are plenty of people who just don’t care about the minutiae and just want to get on.

  1. Do not automatically redirect instead of paginate. Some barriers to reading are also mechanics of comprehension. Paginated articles can be bookmarked. Autoloading can result in misfires (what if I’m reading the last paragraph? What if I hate the article already and want to scroll up to get the writer’s name to invoke a curse?) I find “auto scrolling” content difficult to digest and automatic browser events unreliable to the point of offensively opinionated. I agree that there are improvements to be made, but I don’t want to lose my place or scramble to stop a browser’s robot like behavior to avoid the barrier of clicking “next”. I also don’t need books that magically turn their on pages and slap my face when I’m reading too close to the page.

  2. Comments that address points already covered speak more to a reader’s eagerness to chime in than to how far they’ve read. This may still speak to an issue of online discourse being more about waiting to speak instead of listening, but any graphs or studies on the topic shouldn’t assume a direct correlation between what someone says with how much they actually read. The same problems occur in any community meeting with actual talking.

  3. As always, awesome post. I think there is some real value in watching what gets rewarded and how those metrics get twisted. As a 17k rep SO member, I can testify the value of the right metrics. I’ve taken an afternoon to write helpful answers just to hit some personal goal. And as someone who’s had a gf in tears because some site abused her simply through malicious down votes, I can also attest to how truly dark and counterproductive these systems can become.

Also, do lurkers actually need kudos? Would this be more for the benefit of other users, since they likely will keep reading without incentive?


Absolutely true.

I would love to see some of these features implemented on the blog.


It is definitely tempting to add some kind of check to see how much people read before letting them respond.

There’s two cases

  1. How much of the original article did you read?
  2. How many of the other comments did you read?

Of those two, failing to read the original article is worse, but posting a duplicate of another comment is also not great.

(We should also be warning / reminding people if they are posting a link that has already been posted in the topic, too. That’s on our list.)