Like many bloggers, I was surprised and concerned this week to read Copyblogger‘s notice that they were turning blog comments off. (See Sonia Simone, Why We’re Removing Comments on Copyblogger.)
The post sparked many echo posts discussing the decision. Some bloggers praised the decision while others questioned it.
If you’re not in the writing or blogging field, you may not realize that Copyblogger is one of the largest and most prominent blogs on the topics of web content, blogging, and writing. Hundreds of writers and would-be writers turn to Copyblogger every day for advice.
So, not only are we losing comments on Copyblogger, there’s the potential that other bloggers will follow their example. Which led me to ask whether blog comments are necessary.
Personally, I can see both sides of this issue. My opinion is that the pros of having comments on your blog outweigh the cons. I won’t remove them from WritingThoughts, at least not for now.
In this post, I address the pros and cons of blog comments. I also invite you to share your own opinion about blog comments. (Yes, share your thoughts in the comments here).
Why Blog Comments Matter
I’ve always loved good comments. A comment adds to the discussion. Some of the best comments could even be posts in their own right.
Here are some other pluses to including comments on your blog:
- Centralized location. When the comments are on your blog, it’s easy to find them. Sure, your post may be discussed elsewhere, but the comments that appear with your post are more likely to be seen over time. This is especially true for evergreen content. Who wants to go back and sift through a social media site looking for comments months after a post is published?
- A sense of community. I met many of my online contacts through the comments right here on this blog back when I started blogging. Yes, I’ve also met online contacts through social media, but it seems that I got to know the folks who left comments more quickly than those contacts who I just interacted with on social media.
- A part of blogging. There’s a blurry line between blogging and article writing as it is. Many of my clients don’t really understand the differences. While comments are not the only difference between a blog post and an article, comments are a very visible sign that you are probably reading a blog post and not an article.
- Accessibility. Bloggers who allow comments on their posts seem more accessible than those who do not. In fact, a blog post without comments seems empty to me, like a ghost town. If there are no comments, I wonder whether anyone actually read the post. A lot of people share content without reading it, so a social share doesn’t mean the content reached it’s target.
Of course, there are problems with blog comments.
Why Blog Comments Are a Pain
There are some very real reasons why a blog might want to shut comments off. Here are a few of them:
- Too much spam. Spam’s annoying. And any time you leave comments open you’re going to get spam. Yes, there are plugins to filter comment spam, but those filters are not infallible. The best spam filter is still the human eye. Reviewing possible spam comments is a time-consuming and thankless task–especially for a very large and popular blog.
- The problem of trolls. Any time you open the door to comments you also open the door to comment trolls. Trolls are commentators who just seem to live to post mean comments–often under an assumed name. Even if the troll’s comment is never published, odds are that the blogger who reviews the spam file sees it anyway when they moderate comments. The mean words of troll can easily spoil your day.
- The conversation is moving to social media. If you’ve blogged for a while, you’ve probably noticed a trend. Blogs that used to have dozens of comments now have only one or two. Comments used to be detailed and well-considered, but today’s comments are often little more than a word or two. The trend is definitely towards commenting on social media.
- The need to answer comments. Unanswered comments make a blog look bad–like the blogger doesn’t care. A blog is meant to be a conversation, and conversations are two-sided. But these days many bloggers aren’t present in the comment stream at all. I can certainly understand why. If you receive a lot of comments, it takes a lot of time to write thoughtful responses.
When you read the drawbacks to comments, it’s easy to see why some blogs might choose to disallow comments.
If you blog, you have a decision to make. Will you follow Copyblogger‘s example and turn comments off? Or will you allow comments on your blog?
As you can see, there are compelling reasons for doing either. You decide whether blog comments are important for your blog.
Share your thoughts in the comments on this post.