When he asked I realised I had thought (a lot, at different times) about comments on my blog. I have debated on switching comments off completely. Thinking about this has made me wonder and think about why I was thinking about it.
How important is commenting to blogging and for bloggers, and, more importantly, how important are comments for me? This led to a lot of other questions, which I haven’t voiced and responded to.
So, to enable commenting or not: on comments and blogging…
The ‘Benefits’ Of Commenting
For blogging, in general, comments are one of the ways bloggers and those who consume their content, engage. Comments is where people engage (sometimes robustly) with posts. I believed and to a significant extent, still believe that they can help enrich posts.
Thus content creators can get a feel and or feedback on how helpful or relevant their content is. One of the most fulfilling things for any blogger is feedback about positive impact their content has made.
Commenting can also be the means ‘consumers’ tell you how your content sucks. This in turn can be something you could use to get better.
By the way, I have to mention this fact:
That you have made provision for people to comment on your blog posts doesn’t mean they will [Click to Tweet]
This is a truth I and many other bloggers can attest to. To summarise this section:
Comments can be helpful in continuing and enrich conversation as people interact with your content. Also, they can be a means to help you better your game as blogger as people affirm or tell you how much you suck.
(For now I’ll restrict the ‘benefits’ of commenting to this…)
The ‘Problem’ With Commenting
The ‘problems’ with commenting span practical issues to the mindset of bloggers and their audience. I’m definitely not going to be exhaustive here, but will give some things to consider.
On a practical level, do you have the time and energy to pay attention to comments? If you’re ever so lucky to get a lot (whatever that is) of comments are you clear on how you’re going go handle them?
By enabling comments on your blog, you’re inviting your audience to engage… whatever that means [Click to Tweet]
Not responding to comments would be like inviting guests to your house for dinner and walking out. There are exceptions of course. Some blogs have a large audience, making it practically difficult, if not impossible, to respond to comments.
In instances where bloggers have large audiences, the audiences tend to form a community around comments section. So, depending on where you are as a blogger, you will need to have a strategy for managing or engaging with your audience in comments.
The larger your audience and comments the more demanding the resources could be. This, of course, has some exceptions, which are determined by individual bloggers’ philosophy on comments.
For instance, most bloggers with a large audience tend to respond to the first group of commenters and let the rest go. Some bloggers check every comment and decide whether it is worth responding.
Blogger Philosophy / Attitude
I consider this the greatest determinant on what bloggers do with comments and or commenting on their platforms.
Dear blogger, your blog is your blog and you can do whatever you want with it [Click to Tweet]
Just as you can talk about whatever you want to talk about, you can call the shots on what to do with comments and commenting. In my earlier days of blogging, comments were a validation. It’s embarrasing to admit that I was naive enough to place the worth of my labour and vulnerability to opinion.
Now, not so much. I don’t create for the critic. I create for myself first and those who have an idea on why I create second. My goal is to start conversation, hence I still have comments enabled. However, if no conversation happens below a blog post I don’t consider it a failure.
Here’s a true story; an experience I had. A few years ago I travelled to Mozambique, in a village in the middle of nowhere. I met someone who told me how he had grown a lot from reading my blog. He told me that he was translating some of my posts and giving them to leaders in his community.
An interesting thing: some of the posts he said had made a great impression on him and other leaders in his community had and still have no comments on them. But, enriching conversations happened elsewhere.
Do you have the emotional energy or stamina to handle the scathing comments? This is something you want to think about. Some blogger talk about deleting some comments. The thing is deleting nasty comment is not unseeing them. If you can’t handle them, they’ll still affect you. This is not the basis on which all bloggers disable comments though.
When John Saddington started his experiment with no comments, he gave the option for conversation on Twitter. At the moment, he, and other prominent bloggers like Seth Godin have disabled comments. Disabling commenting can allow you to focus on creating content and other things. In fact, John says disabling comments has enabled him to focus on what matters.
When I’ve been impacted by a blog post with no option for commenting I often make a pithy comment as I share they content on Twitter and elsewhere. In some instances I’ll share a link to the post from my blog and make my comments.
I Said All That To Say This
Commenting or no commenting is your call. Like many things when it comes to blogging, there are no rules though some people try to tell you otherwise. What matters is only you want to accomplish, what works for you and how you think you’ll achieve it best.
I leave my comments open in case people do want to comment. I’ve met many people in the most remote and obscure places who’ve been impacted by what I’ve written. I don’t look and wish for comments as validation for my work. Some might think it’s a case of “sour grapes” but it isn’t.
It just so happens that my experience has proven that the impact of what I create is greater than the comments and or their lack indicate.
Although I’d like people to comment, I’ve stopped trying to get more people to do so. My energy and focus now go to creating content and hearing through other channels how what I create is impacting people in inspiring ways.
[image: Marc Wathieu]