Blog Comments Are NOT A Debate
by Joseph Ratliff
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In a post I just read from 2012 on Matt Gemmell’s blog, he does an excellent job of linking a “debate” over whether or not blog comments should be on.
I suggest you read his post, and all of the posts he links to, then come back and read my opinion about this “debate.”
Back already? (you never left, did you?)
The short version… there is no debate. Any blog owner can do whatever they want with their blog comments; turn them on, turn them off, encourage participate through other methods… or even say you hate comments.
You can do whatever you want… there is no debate.
I’ve had comments on, comments off, called for emails, etc… and what I have found is “no comments” works the best, for me.
I get emails all the time about what I post here, and encourage you to do the same (joe at josephratliff.com).
But there was one linked post from Matt’s post that drew my attention in particular…
This one from GigaOm.
It dictates at the end of the post that if you don’t have comments on your blog, you are just “passing your wisdom.”
A blog without comments is a soap-box, plain and simple. Not having comments says you are only interested in passing on your wisdom, without testing it against any external source (at least not where others can watch you do so) or leaving open the opportunity to actually learn something from those who don’t have their own blogs, or aren’t on Twitter or Google+. That may make for a nicer experience for you the blogger, and it may make your blog load faster, but it is still a loss — for you, and for your readers.
This is just flat out wrong… Wrong… WRONG.
For example, my blog is NOT a soap box, nor do I pass judgment on the people who choose to read my blog (who are NOT “my” readers, btw, they are people who read blogs).
They are intelligent enough to post on their own real estate (or as Matt Ingram says, “test it against an external source), and I respect them for that. I thoroughly enjoy the emails too.
So two points to counter the piece on GigaOm:
1. Matt’s assumption that comments are the only way to accomplish what he writes is just, well, wrong. No, not everyone has a blog, Twitter, G+ etc… I get that… but they can, if they want to… easily.
2. Comments being off on my blog, or any blog with comments off (like, Seth Godin’s for instance) is NOT a “loss” for the people who choose to read my blog, or me.
Again, I thoroughly enjoy, and have meaningfully connected with people through email, Twitter, G+ etc… as a result of some of my blog posts.
But… on the “flip side” of this questionable “debate”…
I can also respect Matt’s position to leave comments on, it does provide slightly easier access to a conversation about any post… and it does, in some cases, foster a sense of “community” IF the blog ownership actively encourages such (most do not).
So, he is right too.
Because in addition to community, blog comments do give another “soapbox” (using Matt’s term) to the person commenting.
That’s great, because it can both encourage a deep discussion right there in the comments AND also allow people who want to voice their opinions a public forum within the blog post… to have such a forum.
There are certainly benefits to that deeper discussion and opinion sharing… and I respect that (GigaOm is a very popular blog because of that opinion-based discussion — I think).
That said… to automatically assume that comments are the only way to do it, is wrong with a capital W.