Wednesday 15 October 2008

The Comments Have It

You might recall there was a brief flurry of discussion about the value of commenting in blogs. I noticed that ProBlogger, Darren Rowse, kicked off a discussion on the same topic. Rowse himself doesn’t add a lot of value to the discussion, but the comments on this topic make interesting reading.

For the most part, the people reading Rowse’ blog maintain that comments are important, although no one likes comment spam. For example, someone responds:

I think turning comments off is snobbish and rarely read the blogs that don’t have comments. It seems selfish to me. It makes it seem like they don’t give a crap about what you think on what they wrote which, in my opinion, means that there would be no point in writing…….

But there are some exceptions and Seth Godin is cited as example – he explained back in 2006 why he switched off comments:

First, I feel compelled to clarify or to answer every objection or to point out every flaw in reasoning. Second, it takes way too much of my time to even think about them, never mind curate them. And finally, and most important for you, it permanently changes the way I write.

However, a few people feel that Godin is blogging AT them, rather than talking with them. IMHO none of this detracts from Godin’s success and there is nothing wrong with using a blogging tool as a publishing platform. But as a social media tool, a blog needs to be, well, social…

Ok. Back to you. The comment button is below!


  1. Anonymous8:35 am

    Comments are a vital part of any content managed system today, not only blogs. I can only see turning comments off for all posts as a retrograde step. I do see some posts where people want to express thoughts without dealing with comments - the example I cite there is when Bill Buchan was remembering those who died on the Piper Alpha oil platform.

  2. Far be it from me to tell other bloggers how they should blog. But I agree with Stu that comments are a vital part of publishing "2.0"--in fact, I just blogged about it.

    But I do understand how celebrity bloggers see it differently. It's not just a problem of comment spam; some people use comment sections parasitically, treating the comment section as a publishing medium rather than part of a sincere conversation.

    One of the challenges of "social media" is that it conflates publishing, marketing, and conversation. I think the social norms are still a work in progress.

  3. I've seen plenty of clients express delight at comments, only to then realise that their preferred method of handling them (moderation prior to publishing) won't scale with the number of comments they expect.

    It takes a fair degree of trust in the system to allow comments to be posted and only moderated after the fact - although it is a far more scalable and easy to use system.


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