What to do with the comments

I started adding the ability to post comments to my website in 2004.  Since then, 919 comments have been posted.  Most of them are strange.  Many are disturbing and embarrassing to have on my website.  At one point, it appeared that two high schoolers appeared to being using my website comments as a chat room, probably because other methods of chatting were blocked by the school.  Surprising few comments are outright spam.  Finally, some comments are actually nice, thoughtful, and interesting to read, like this one: “I found your site over a year ago before we moved to Jackson.  It was so helpful then, and I just realized today that I still keep coming back.  Thanks for the time you put into it.  I really appreciate it!”

I’d like to keep getting the nice ones but discard all the crap.  I would also like to accomplish this with little upfront effort as well as little ongoing effort.  Comment quality is often enforced by CAPTCHAs and moderation.  However, CAPTCHAs protect against automated spam, which is not my problem.  They are also annoying to users.  Moderation would work to eliminate the chaff, except that means *I* would have to manually filter everything.  I’d also have to develop the moderation system or completely replace the homegrown commenting system.

While I do enjoy receiving the nice comments, I quickly forget about them.  I rarely visit my own site, so I rarely rediscover them either.  Maybe I should just remove the commenting system and instead let people send me an e-mail if they have something to say.  However, I think the threshold for deciding to leave a comment is lower than that for writing an e-mail, so I would be cutting down feedback.

Do you have any bright ideas?

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