Is the Age of the Comment Really Past?

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Recently, I read a blog post about how that particular blog had eliminated comments. The change was hailed as an improvement, but was it really?

Eliminating blog comments is nothing new. Several blogs have taken this approach. And some blogs never had comments in the first place.

In this post, I’ll discuss whether comments are still relevant for today’s web. At the end, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. (Yes, I have comments enabled on this blog.)

Why I’ve Always Loved Blog Comments

I’ve always believed that comments are an important part of blogging. Comments are one of the things that differentiates a blog post from other types of web content (such as a news piece or an announcement).

When I first learned about blogging I learned that it was a conversation. By definition, a conversation needs two voices–the blogger and the reader.

Enabling comments also allows a blogger to develop a community around his or her blog. As the same people return time and again to add their thoughts, the blogger gets to know their readers a little better and the readers get to know each other. That’s definitely a plus for everyone involved.

Plus, comments are just plain interesting. I love reading what other people think. Confession time–on some blogs I actually spend more time reading the comments than I do reading the posts.

Why Some Bloggers May Choose to Disable Them

But comments are also a nuisance. Having been moderating comments for years now, I fully get that. Not every comment is worth publishing. There’s an awful lot of spam out there.

And then there are the trolls. They aren’t content to just politely disagree. Instead, they have to voice their disagreement in the ugliest manner possible, often resorting to name-calling or obscenities.

Of course, one could argue that readers can still voice their thoughts on a blog post through social media. However, it can be hard to find comments related to a specific post if they don’t appear right with the post. (And most people won’t make the extra effort.)

Disabling comments certainly simplifies things for the blogger. By eliminating comments a blogger can save a lot of time and eliminate a lot of emotional turmoil. But I wonder if we aren’t losing an important part of the web when we do so.

What Do You Think?

Do you view comments on your blogs as somewhat of a nuisance that you’d rather do without?

Or, do you think blog comments are an important part of blogging?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. says

    Laura,

    I love comments on my blog. However, I find that I am commenting less often than I used to, primarily because I read blogs in Google Reader, and I have to be very motivated to click through to the post to comment. I’ll do it if I have something I really want to say, but I often don’t comment if I’ll just be telling the blogger I agree with them. I’ve also had a decrease in comments on my own blog, but the comments I get (other than spam!) are usually insightful and relevant. Sometimes the comments are longer and have more useful information than the original post.

  2. says

    Lillie Ammann,

    I know. I feel the same way. I love getting the comments, but I don’t comment on other’s blogs as often as I should.

    As far as the decrease in the number of comments, I’ve also noticed that almost everywhere.

  3. Charles says

    You’re assuming that the conversation needs to be on the same page. If I’m reading a blog post and have a something significant response to make, nothing is stopping me from posting on my own blog and linking to that original post. There are tools available to connect to other blogs, subscribe to other blogs, and search for posts that refer to one’s own blog. There’s no need for a “community” to limit itself to a particular page or blog. And a conversation of thoughtful blog posts adds more to a discussion than the typical agreeing (or disagreeing) comments, such as, “I agree” and “Thanks for this wonderful post”, which adds affirmation but nothing of substance to a conversation.

  4. says

    Charles,

    Thanks for your comment. Yes, another blogger can reply on their own blog and there are all the tools you mention. There’s also social media.

    Of course, as I pointed out in my post, there are some readers who will never find a response on another blog or in social media. They either don’t know how or they won’t take the time.

    But regardless of my opinion, it does seem that the conversation has moved away from the blog post itself for many blogs.

  5. says

    Maybe I’m old school about it, but I can’t imagine taking comments off my blog. I’m always amazed at the insights readers provide and how they can turn an ordinary post into a thriving “mini community” of people sharing knowledge and supporting one another.

    (Damn, that sounds fluffy. I swear we don’t sit around my blogs singing “Kumbaya”…)

    As for the trolls, I just delete them. My house, my rules. Critical opinions are fine, but unwarranted anger isn’t something I have to put up with.

    That’s not to say that I have anything against bloggers who shut off comments. Certainly, moderating them takes time, and they’re welcome to run their blogs however they see fit. In my case, though, I choose to keep the conversation going :)

  6. says

    Sarah Russell,

    It sounds like you have a similar comment philosophy to my own. It’s certainly easy enough to delete trollish comments and the spam filters have gotten pretty good.

    I agree that bloggers who turn off comments certainly have the right to do so. I just wonder what they are missing out on…

  7. says

    I have comments enabled but people are responding to posts in different ways – sometimes on Twitter or Facebook, sometimes in response to an email post update or on a forum. My responses are equally fragmented depending on where I’m reading the post and whether it’s easy to comment – if I’m on a phone, the moment may pass.

  8. says

    Laura,

    Great post! Excellent information . . . I totally agree!

    Ok, that’s not my comment. Here it is. The above is a comment that I’ve often seen, with a few variations. Almost a copy and paste job.

    Let’s face it, commenting is a form of marketing. Your comment will get indexed by the search engines. I know, I’ve seen mine come up in results.

    People know this. Many do this, using the copy and paste job, just for the marketing and SEO results.

    Nothing inherently wrong with that. But if you’re going to leave a comment, make it a good comment, something worthwhile. Share your knowledge. Compliment and complement the poster. Give them a boost and share yourself and your knowledge as well.

    For example, last week I commented on a blog post. I complimented and agreed (sincerely) with the post writer. I added some additional comments that added additional, quality information, being careful not to sound condescending or puffed up. I included references to some of their previous posts.

    The results: people began adding more ideas, asking more questions. And I was asked to write a guest article.

    I won’t say this happens every time, by any stretch of the imagination. And it was not my intention; I was totally taken by surprise. However, when folks start leaving good, quality intelligent comments, like the comments already posted in this blog article, people will want to leave comments on and will be more than willing to dig through the trash to harvest the gold.

    Steve

  9. says

    Sharon Hurley Hall

    I understand that and I think social media and other types of sharing are also important.

    For me, though, a blog post (as distinct from an article or announcement) is not really complete without a conversation. I think that the best place for the conversation is in the comments.

  10. says

    Steve Maurer

    You made me laugh. I’ve gotten that exact same content…often followed by a link to a totally unrelated site.

    Your point is exactly what I’m talking about, though. A well-thought out comment helps the author get to know you and also adds to the value of the original post. In your case, the author felt comfortable enough to offer you a guest post. (Congratulations, by the way.)

  11. says

    Great post, Laura, and a subject that is near and dear to my heart.

    I completely agree with you: a blog is all about the art of conversation. To me, good blogs have lots of comments and a vibrant community of readers who enhance the posts by engaging in conversing about the chosen topic.

    I liken it to hosting a party. If you write a blog post and get no feedback or reaction, it’s like throwing a party and nobody comes. Sure, it’s great when people “like” your post or RT. But to me, it’s a thrill to have new visitors check out my blog and like the posts enough to take the time to share a comment. Cheers!

  12. says

    I can understand why some people disable comments but personally-I love reading what my readers think-even if they don’t agree with me. My spam filter works fairly well and moderating helps. I had a couple of trolls here and there and when that happens, clicking delete works just fine.

  13. says

    Mrs. N.

    I think spam filters do work well. I suppose if a blog is getting hundreds of comments, keeping up with them could be a pain. But if you are getting that many comments do you really want to cut the discussion off?

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