Seth Godin

Sixty Second Social: Blogging is not a monologue

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:

What do you think of the idea of turning off comments on your blog? Would you ever do it?

Sixty Second Social: There are no shortcuts

Social media has created an obsession with numbers, be it followers, views, Klout scores, fans…you get the idea. Some will tell you that the numbers don’t matter and in some contexts that’s true. All those numbers do is represent potential eyeballs on your content because there’s no guarantee that they’re actually paying attention.

Why are we so enamored of these numbers?

The root of this obsession essentially goes back to the human need for acceptance. A follow, like, pageview is perceived as a kind of personal endorsement. Someone is interested in you, wants to hear from you. The more that happens, the more you want it - it’s practically addictive.

This was on my mind as I read Mark Shaefer’s post about a guy who wants to start a twitter account and follow no one, a la Seth Godin. I can only guess that some of the high profile follow purges a few months back have reinforced the notion that following few and being followed by many is a sign that you’re a great and influential leader.

That may be true for some, but everyone who signs up for any social network starts out with zero connections. For the individuals who’ve done work that puts them in the public eye, they will amass a large following in a short time. Their value is already known and membership in this group is extremely small compared to the massive number of people who start out as relative unknowns.

The Bottom Line

You can buy new followers (though I hope you don’t), beg for views and entice new fans by giving an incentive. At the end of the day, you’re no further ahead if the people “following” you are ignoring everything you say. What works for someone like Seth Godin isn’t going to work for others. There’s no single tried-and-true method of doing social media and there never will be. Successful social media users are creative, open to new ideas and work hard at learning (and sometimes creating) the best practices for users.

If you want to grow an audience who’s paying attention, it will take time, effort and patience. The end result is worth it.