A long time ago, in an Internet far, far away, commenting on posts was considered a very good and wise thing to do by readers. It was a gentle society based on respect for the author.
That golden era lasted five days.
From the dark side came the spammers, the trolls and the ungrateful, unwashed dead of the non-reader zone.
And the battle was joined.
Let it simply be said the spammers brought their rapid rail-gun software and the trolls brought their fetid, sewer smells. The unwashed dead, well, they simply brought themselves. There was no need for anything else in their arsenal because they were legion.
Authors fought back. Valiantly.
But like many other things, the weight of the dark side overwhelmed the forces of light and good in battle.
Authors were lost. Big empires shut down their interactive sites to guard the gates of their content. Locks and keys were invented for content and champions, such as the great battle-lord, software-spam-champion Akismet, fought mightily.
New empires rose, as is the wont of battle lords intent on finding and filling a space in the universe. And they named themselves Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. A host of minor empires crowded their backs, but the Great Lords demanded and occupied a central space in the protected firmament of the Net. And so they prospered mightily.
The trolls, spammers and undead did not die easily but preserved in their attempts to chew away at the dark side. War, unceasing war, never faltered.
The four empires decided to abandon the smaller publishers, to join together in an unholy alliance to protect their own flanks. The Great Lords decreed that all interaction within known space would go through them or it would be considered treasonous and the small and struggling authors forever doomed to inconsequentiality forever.
The small authors, unprotected except by the great Lord Askimet, were forced to decide on whether to remain independent, hoping against hope to attract and maintain an audience or whether they’d succumb to the Four Lords and join their alliance. An alliance that promised access to the vast millions of readers across the known universe and beyond. There was danger in the alliance as the small authors existed on the flanks of protected space but there was anonymity and danger on the outside.
And so authors, one by one, decided to join one or other of the Four Horsemen in their commenting systems.
Those chosing to remain independent dwindled and disappeared from magnificent and powerful Google ranks, to be unknown to the Facebook Lords, the Twitter masses or even the Youtube observation corps.
In this universe, a small, insignificant author with great ambition carefully examined the coffee grounds one frost-filled, almost-winter morning to decide whether to remain a humble scribe or open his system up to the Four Lords of the Known Universe and he trembled. True, his readership might increase but at what expense to his personal liberty? At what expense to his very writerly soul? Known for bold and decisive action, this author uncharacteristically dithered, thought, rethought and wondered at the options and their consequences.
He was overwrought and worse, the coffee pot was now empty.
He searched, high and low, fore and back, inside and out (well, not very long out because it was friggin’ cold) but returned again and again to the same choices. It should be noted the author had made a choice, perhaps not wisely, to concentrate on the great Lord Facebook on his websites because it was the only choice just a few short years ago. Now, a significant number of his readers moaned about the choice. They were followers of the other Lords and couldn’t play in his garden-writing now they had abandoned the great Lord Facebook.
The author was troubled. But a curious thing happened as he lit the fireplace on this cold winter’s morning. He looked at the young fire, so bright in its beginnings (kindling will do that for a fire) and smiled. What he needed was a fire on his websites. Something that would ignite a blaze of enthusiasm in his varied readership, something to allow all readers, no matter their alphabet or Lord to comment.
And so it passed (in a very short passing) he found Livefyre. It was a strange way to spell “fire” but then decided it was just somebody with a degree in English literature showing off or somebody who’d been to one too many Lilith fairs.
But the Livefyre promised a wealth of riches (don’t they all he thought wryly to himself, don’t they all.) and access to all the great Lords.
The author decided he’d run a small trial on his smallest website (well, not his very smallest – that remains hidden from all the firmament for the moment) but a trial nevertheless to see how his readership found the system.
So he installed the Livefyre. He did not get at all touched by the flame and found it installed quickly and easily to bring all former comments into the system. How wonderful! And readers get to sign in using whichever of the great Lords they prefer to follow and use.
The author notes some will not be happy because they have to sign in at all. While the author regrets the pain he causes these readers, he regrets to say he understands he can’t please everybody all the time. He does well to keep his lovely wife happy most of the time.
He invites readers to visit the new commenting system and experiment with it on all posts. He’s evaluating it himself and open to comments or notes about it.
And hoping, beyond hope, to live happily ever after within the graces of the Great Lords.