Several weeks ago a fairly passionate debate was sparked about the value of comments. It all started when a fairly popular blogger (Matt Gemmell) wrote a follow-up about his decision to eliminate comments from his blog - not unlike Seth Godin, though his reasons aren’t quite the same. A couple of other blogs (MG Siegler and MacStories) responded to Matt Gemmell’s post in support of the decision.
Are comments required on a blog? No. Nor should they be. Every blogger has the right to his/her own policies. I say it often: My blog. My rules.
When a blogger posts about something, there’s always the possibility of discussion around it. By removing comments, you ensure that there are no angry tirades on your site, but it takes away the social part of a blog - and, make no mistake, blogging is a tool of social media.
Writing my thoughts and hitting publish gives me the chance to share my side of things. Comments allow my readers to respond and keep my blog from becoming a one-sided broadcast (we all know how much we hate that on Twitter, a microblog). Occasionally, readers will write a post in response, which is a good solution when your thoughts are too long for a comment, but I often receive an accompanying comment (along with the pingback) to alert me to their contribution to the conversation.
When I write about a controversial issue and comments flood in (“flood” is relative, by the way), it can be a little challenging to keep up with responses and stay calm when I get critical comments. On the other hand, I think the discourse is extremely important. Whether I agree with your opinion or not, I’m open to hearing what you have to say - provided we all stay respectful. I will not tolerate trolls.
Disabling comments gives the impression of a closed door, “Here’s my view - take it or leave it” attitude. Some of the blogs I respect a great deal are high traffic sites where the author responds to many (if not all) comments. A few have even taken the time to visit my little blog when I’ve linked back to their posts. How do I know? I get a comment from them. (I’m impressed by little things like that.)
As always, don’t take my word for it - here are a few additional opinions about blog comments with ideas for how to solve some of the genuine challenges that exist, as well as some debunking of the “troll” stereotype given to anonymous and pseudonymous commenters:
- Do Blogs Need Comment Reels? Yes, and Here’s How - TechCrunch, Josh Constine
- Yes, blog comments are still worth the effort - GigaOM, Mathew Ingram
- 7 Ways to Love Blog Comments Again - ReadWriteWeb, Marshall Kirkpatrick
- The Value Of Blog Comments - Six Pixels of Separation, Mitch Joel
- People Using Pseudonyms Leave Better Blog Comments [STUDY] - ReadWriteWeb, Dave Copeland
What do you think of the idea of turning off comments on your blog? Would you ever do it?