A Comment On Comments
In an age where words like “engagement” and “community” are so frequently tossed around, and with very little understanding of what the word actually means to boot, it seems unusual to come across a blog that doesn’t welcome or encourage commenting. After all, blogging has always been about two-way conversations, and the comment section of a blog is – at least one would hope – where the heart of the conversation takes place.
Comments have always been a tightly integrated feature of blogging. But as more and more high-profile platforms have begun to eliminate the feature, usually because proper comment moderation is too time consuming, one can’t help but wonder if others will follow suit and flip the comment switch to a permanent “off” position.
Pulp&Fiber has built many blogs, and we’ve always encouraged our clients to include a comment section on their platform. Many have taken our advice, but equally as many have declined the idea, siting concerns such as “moderating will take to much attention” or “I’m concerned about internet trolls” but unless you are running a blog that will have upwards of 10,000 subscribers and 100 comments per post, the time consumption should be relatively low. And if you are running a blog that experiences that sort of traffic, then a virtual assistant would be an ideal solution to your moderating hours issue. This was my stance on the subject ever since I began blogging, and I held it firmly…until two things happened:
1) Not long ago, I was at an event that our agency had personally executed. It was a huge success, and the turn out surpassed our expectations. Among the attendees, there were style bloggers with cameras, readily snapping photos of well-dressed members of the crowd. The next day, the photos were uploaded to a popular lifestyle blog, where commenters were allowed to have-at-it. I’m all for free speech, and I know that not everyone is going to like my choice of outfit, or the way I pose for pictures, however the comments became personal, and were not properly moderated. Not only did this make me look and feel bad (hey, no one wants to be picked apart publicly), but it also made the blog hosting the photos look unbelievably irresponsible.
2) I read a debate between two high profile bloggers on thinktraffic.net. Pat Flynn and Everett Bogue both have 70,000+ readers per month on their respective blogs, 8500+ monthly subscribers, and get approximately 50 to 100 comments per post. Pat encourages commenting from his readers, while Everett has turned his comment section off. In this debate they explain the various reasons behind their decisions to either support or eliminate the comments. After carefully reading and considering their different positions on the matter, I have begun to change my mind on the subject of open comment forums. I strongly agree with Bogue when he states that the best way to get a blogger to notice you is to create your own platform, write about something they would care about, and then hyperlink back to their platform. Comments get overlooked quite often because they don’t relate to the post, don’t add any value or include a link to the commenters own platform. Very rarely do these links get clicked through, so the effort is wasted. If you run your own platform I strongly encourage you to read this debate and consider both sides of the totem pole.
So if you are a blogger, then my question to you is do you support an open forum approach, or have you eliminated the comment section from your platform? If you are a frequent reader of blogs, do you comment often, or ever read through the comments? Although I have started to seriously re-evaluate my position on this matter, we have decided not to eliminate comments from The Thread. Instead we use Disqus, a WordPress plug-in I highly recommend to all bloggers.