On the value of blog comments

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"Paper Blogs" by bookwyrmish

Over at GigaOm, Matthew Ingram weighs in on whether blogs should allow comments or not, spurred by a debate between venture capitalist Fred Wilson and Tech Crunch blogger-turned-venture capitalist M.G. Siegler:

MG Siegler, who doesn’t have comments on his blog and has written several posts defending his decision, saying they are 99-percent bile and a waste of his time. On the other side of the debate is fellow VC Fred Wilson, who says Siegler is missing a lot by not allowing comments.

I think Wilson is right — while comments can be a royal pain at times, they are a crucial part of what makes a blog more than just a bully pulpit.

For my part, I respect MG Siegler‘s choice to have a place on the Internet where only he can share his thoughts, whether we call it a blog or not, just as I do that of Seth Godin or John Gruber. If someone wants to comment on a given post, he or she can do so and respond via email, social networks, YouTube or their own blog(s). Or all of the above. There is no shortage of options on the Web of 2012 to share and opinion of something online and link to it. Just the opposite, really. If I want to publicly comment on one of Siegler’s posts, I can do so right here on my blog. Or Facebook. Or Google+. Or  @reply to @parislemon on Twitter, albeit in fewer characters.

From where I sit tonight, whether you choose to have comments or not speaks to whether you want to create an online community, which requires a human’s touch to manage and moderate, or to simply publish your thoughts publicly online, without making the necessary commitment of time and patience.

As is often the case, I agree with Mathew Ingram: blog comments are worth the effort.

He cites two important examples of high functioning people who maintain blogs with excellent comment sections, Anil Dash and Fred Wilson.

Dash and Wilson both spend time reading and responding to comments. For those who have been online for a few years, you know that’s not the case with many other blog authors. In a frank post last year, Dash observed that if your website is full of bad behavior, it’s your fault. He clearly thinks it’s worth it:

“When you engage with a community online in a constructive way, it can be one of the most meaningful experiences of your life. It doesn’t have to be polite, or neat and tidy, or full of everyone agreeing with each other. It just has to not be hateful and destructive.”

It’s worth noting that both men have also put into place architectures for participation that enable them to create better norms for discourse alongside social norms created by community. Dash uses Facebook comments, Wilson Disqus.

Some of the worst comments online still show up on YouTube or unmoderated newspaper comment sections. That’s one reason newspapers have been rethinking anonymous commenters. (Another, of course, is that knowing more about your readers’ demographics matters for online advertising and lead generation.)

It’s on that count that Ingram has extra credibility with me, since he used to be the social media editor at the Globe and Mail in Canada. While Canadians generally have a reputation for being polite, online that can change. Despite years of exposure to the best and worst of humanity on his screen, however, Mathew still supports having them:

“…I still defend comments as a crucial element of what blogging is, and more than that I defend anonymity as well. A blog without comments is a soap-box, plain and simple. Not having comments says you are only interested in passing on your wisdom, without testing it against any external source (at least not where others can watch you do so) or leaving open the opportunity to actually learn something from those who don’t have their own blogs, or aren’t on Twitter or Google+. That may make for a nicer experience for you the blogger, and it may make your blog load faster, but it is still a loss — for you, and for your readers.”

Moderating and responding to comments is a full-time job at high traffic blogs. If you’re a one man outfit, small business or don’t have a full time community manager, that’s going to take time away from research, writing and interviews — and that’s a legitimate problem for a writer, much less an entire news outfit. MG made this point today, commenting on the decision by Macstories to remove all comments:

It’s one thing for a single person site (like this one) to make a call to remove comments. It’s another for a larger team blog to do so. In fact, I can’t think of any without comments.

Right or wrong, the mentality is that to build a next generation media publication on the web, you need comments. That’s why we never got rid of them on TechCrunch (believe me, plenty of us wanted to — Facebook comments were a compromise).

Even more interesting is the psychology behind “needing” comments on big sites. Let’s be honest: most of these sites defend comments because if they don’t, it will seem like they’re taking a shit on their readers. It’s along the lines of “the reader is always right” — even when only half a percent are commenting and the vast majority of those are trolls.

For me, keeping up with email, Google+ and Facebook, @replies on Twitter, txts and IMs frankly can feel a bit exhausting. One of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2012, in fact, is remove communications cruft from my digital life wherever possible, cutting way down on bacn and spam. (Note Bene: I’m not giving up bacon in meatspace.)

That said, I think keeping up that level of engagement is worth it. It’s important to me. I hear from readers that it’s important to them. I plan to continue to publish posts this year that have comments enabled because I believe, as Mathew Ingram does, that they’re worth it, both for me and for other readers. If I ever think that they aren’t, I’ll either turn them off or advocate that we do so — but I’m not expecting a change of heart any time soon.

I’m looking forward to an upgrade at the O’Reilly Radar that should make it much easier for our community to ring in. Given that O’Reilly Media has legions of smart readers, I expect to learn a great deal from them, although I suspect I’ll take my lumps as well if I make mistakes or errors of reasoning. For me, that remains a worthwhile trade.

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203 Comments

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203 responses to “On the value of blog comments

  1. What I appreciate most about blog comments is the chance to connect my point of view to the blog post for as long as it’s posted. If I were to share this sentiment with you on Twitter, we may go back and forth about it, but three years later, surely, it is forgotten. Now, this comment will forever be associated with this post possibly sparking new conversations because it is available for readers in one centralized place.

  2. Excellent topic. I truly appreciate blog post comments. I think they’re a fantastic metric, not just for measure for the sake of metrics, but because we really can understand the sentiment from readers. Most discussions add more value to the posts and can help other readers even before or more accurate than the author of the article.
    Not to mention that it’s the best way to start learning about if we (our blog) is gathering a community or just a bunch of anonymous readers (which is not that bad as it sounds).
    cheers,
    @RolandoPeralta

  3. In general, I agree. Unfortunately there are still exceptions. Here’s a post I wrote about the topic a couple years back when my SFGate blog was hit with such horrid trolls (vile, sexist, personal attacks) I was forced to turn off comments: http://blog.sfgate.com/sgranger/2009/10/31/lessons-in-new-media/

    The problem in that case was that I did not have control over banning trolls. I could remove comments once posted, but they still kept coming, and it was really emotionally draining as well as time-consuming. I wrote that post to shed light on the problem and explain my decision. Many other bloggers understood my problem at the time. Most bigger publications where the trolls hit are finally learning to deal with them now. I’m happy to report that SFGate just switched over to WordPress, so I’m now able to moderate comments and am looking forward to experimenting with turning them back on. Of the 25 or so blogs where I’ve posted in the past decade, that’s the only blog where I ever voluntarily turned off comments.

    It’s not a true blog when there aren’t comments, but it’s also not a true blog when you can’t be authentic and/or you no longer enjoy blogging there. In that case, I had to make a tough call and it was the right decision. In most cases, keeping comments on is definitely preferred.

    • One additional note here – in this particular case, I did have the ability to receive e-mail through the blog and it was nice because the people who really had something to say could at least provide feedback that way. They were all thoughtful notes, vs. mean. It’s not the same, meaning I much prefer comments and conversation, but it was still nice to receive feedback. So in the rare cases turning off comments is necessary, I recommend having an easy e-mail form.

    • I loved this quote from Sarah’s SFGate blog:

      “It’s like chemotherapy. You destroy the cancer cells that are there and you aim to create an environment that will prevent the cancer from coming back. It may be an expensive treatment, but in the long run, it’s usually worth it.”

      I completely agree — and it really is up to the outlet to invest in the “chemo” in order to create the appropriate environment. Good to hear SFGate switched to WordPress, allowing moderation.

      My blog is largely about healing after an unexpected divorce — and in some posts, my personal situation — so I encountered an interesting predicament: The new wife of my ex was posting personal attacks veiled as “comments” (multiple comments under many different identities). So while I didn’t deal with countless “horrid trolls,” I was dealing with one specific person who was attempting to use my blog as her personal microphone into my psyche. I did end up calling her out, because of course I was able to do a bit of cursory research to verify her identity based on IP addresses (which are logged and accessible to comment moderators). The title of that blog post: “I Spy with my Little Eye…a Blog Stalker?” I then gave my readers the step-by-step instructions (quick and easy) to verify their personal blog stalkers.

      But of course, my situation is on a micro level compared to macro-level sites like SFGate or HuffPo, where trolls are rampant (and often drive readership and spike audience numbers). I’m just grateful for my humble little blog and the big lesson this specific situation taught me…

    • Sarah:
      I always allow comments and try to engage with each one, but there was an instance a few years ago when a post of mine went viral and the comments became pretty nasty. The post was a comic screed called “10 Reasons I Hate Grading Your Assignment”: http://siobhancurious.com/2009/05/22/10-things-that-make-grading-your-assignment-harder-than-it-should-be/
      It was my first experience with truly unpleasant commenters; I let it roll, unchecked, until I was totally worn out, and then I shut the comments down and wrote a follow-up post on the experience.

      I once had a similar experience while guest-posting on a major blog and had no moderation control over the comments. It was really draining, and if I’d had the opportunity, I would have shut the comments down. That post, on the use of cell phones in classrooms, appears here:

      http://news.change.org/stories/dear-auntie-siobhan-my-students-wont-put-away-their-phones

      Both these experiences were really edifying, and I’ve tended more and more toward a “my house, my rules” approach – if people post off-topic or blatantly offensive comments, I delete them; if people post thoughtful comments but use a tone that is more aggressive than I like, I usually leave them, but always reserve the right, at least inwardly, to remove anything that really bothers me. And if unpleasant comments keep coming and are taking up too much of my emotional energy, I close them.

      So my position is mostly the same as yours. Comments are, for me, one of the greatest joys of blogging, but when they are no longer a joy, I see no reason to keep accepting them; it’s my blog, after all. But if someone else just wants to write stuff and isn’t really interested in responses, I don’t think it’s any less of a blog. The medium is flexible, and everyone’s motivations are different.

      • Oh: the follow-up posts, in which I consider the value and pitfalls of receiving negative comments, are here:

        http://siobhancurious.com/2009/05/29/who-are-your-gurus/

        and here:

        http://siobhancurious.com/2009/08/31/bloggers-block/

      • Alex

        Thank you for commenting and sharing your experiences, Sarah and Siobhan. I’ve heard enough stories from many of my female friends, family and colleagues to know that their experiences online, both in hosting conversations and on social media platforms, can be challenging at times, even frightening, due to hateful, vile or misogynistic attacks made through comments, particularly when anonymous commenting is allowed. The Internet can allow the best of humanity to shine or the worst of it to corrupt. It’s up to strong communities to self police and for bloggers to set terms of engagement, much in the same way that mayors, teachers and military officers do in other contexts.

  4. I love giving and receiving comments and hearing responses to whatever is on my mind.

  5. profanefaith

    “…whether you choose to have comments or not speaks to whether you want to create an online community, which requires a human’s touch to manage and moderate, or to simply publish your thoughts publicly online, without making the necessary commitment of time and patience.”

    That sums it up for me. Thanks!

  6. I agree with you for the most part! But I think its fine for different bloggers and sites to do what suits them the most, and if they lose out on feedback from readers that is their loss. A very opinionated blog without a comments section would definitely turn me off tho and I’d probably put them down as a bit of an egomaniac and not read it for long!

  7. The issue of time management is very real for small organizations or if it’s just a personal blog vs. just simply having high traffic of readers.

    “Just the opposite, really. If I want to publicly comment on one of Siegler’s posts, I can do so right here on my blog. Or Facebook. Or Google+. Or @reply to @parislemon on Twitter, albeit in fewer characters.”

    Not allowing comments on a blog post, does give the illusion to the reader of an unsullied piece of writing. But yes, reality is that anyone can search the Internet for external commentary worldwide. It just may be more difficult.

  8. I have to agree with others. I think that there is a lot of value in comments, and I like the concept of building a trustworthy only community using comments. While negative comments can certainly be a problem, sometimes even they can be valuable (if limited to addressing distinct problems as opposed to expressing personal bile). I also think that part of the value of a blog is the ability to initiate conversation among readers, which again leads to the building of a community. There are thousands of places where opinions can be expressed, and a large number where conversations can be had, but blogs represent the ability to directly converse about an expressed opinion, and that has a lot of value.

    • I so completely agree with this comment. And it’s funny that this post got Freshly Pressed since I was just thinking about this very subject. I wrote a piece on my own blog about the worst trial I’ve faced in my adult life thus far. I sent it out into the blogosphere. And waited…holding my breath. When the comments came in, I released my breath in a great sigh of relief. Because contained within those comments was the understanding and sharing that defines the blogging community. Reader feedback is what makes blogging a unique community experience.

  9. What a great article to read for just starting off with blogging, as I am. I think I’d prefer comments as they help me sharpen my writing, research, and critical thinking skills. If I speak all alone, how do I know I’m not some crazy, misunderstood fanatic? At least with comments I know I’m not the only one ;)

  10. Great post. Comments are a huge part of what makes blogging meaningful to me. I can’t imagine not having them enabled.
    Kathy

  11. I’ve never understood the idea of writing a blog and not allowing people to comment on it. I agree that it seems like a soapbox. It would mean you want to share your opinions, but you don’t really care about anyone else’s.

  12. A really interesting post. I think if you are looking for an online community as you said, then you would appriciate comments from other people. Its a great way to see how others feel about your post/topic. When posting on a topic, many people have a point of view and want to express it, whether positive or negative. Hopefully more positive than negative!

    :-) You get a smile from me!

  13. If I didn’t allow comments, I would have no way to situate my thoughts within a larger framework. I can’t guarantee that I’ll see every blog written in response to something I’ve written, or catch every time I’m quoted on Facebook, or whatever. I can, however, guarantee that I’ll read and engage with every comment left on one of my blogs. And in doing so, I’ll be able to modify my thinking, or defend it, or have it confirmed, or simply see differing angles to the same quandary. In short, I’ll learn where my thoughts fit into a larger marketplace of ideas, and in doing so, make my own thoughts more valuable.

    I don’t want a bully pulpit. If I didn’t want feedback, I’d write in an offline journal. But what would be the point?

  14. mommywritervkent

    We live in a time where posting things online about our daily lives, is not just a breaking trend, but a destresser for most people. So comments are usually welcome as we all want some kind of feedback that lets us know either others care what we have to share, or others dont care. It’s so much more then that even i think. While celebs and other recognized people might get overwhelmed by all the responses they get on Facebook, Twitter, etc… many people just like being able to vent and voice their opinions about random topics simply because they may need that outlet. Comments can be a good thing and a bad thing though. Like Sarah was saying, sometimes you have to just turn off the comments to keep from getting slammed with hate comments. It has been my experience that the more one interacts and reaches out to their audience, the more the audience feels the need to spead the word about the author/writer. I would have to say that enabling comments or not is just a personal preference, but it helps to have technology which aids the author in having the option to do so. For me, I welcome feedback as it helps me to grow as a writer and public figure.

  15. I sometimes get really good ideas about new articles from comments on my blog.
    Also, without comments, how could I get to know my readers?
    If there are silly comments, I can still delete or ridicule them.

  16. This is really great for me and validates my urging friends and colleagues to leave comments. As a new blogger I have no idea what’s a hit or miss unless I get feedback, and I feel comments are the quickest way to do that.

  17. When you stop to consider why a person posts a blog in the first place, then you’d have to agree that it must be for the attention; therefore, feedback should be welcomed. Why post your thoughts on any topic if you’re not willing to have people read them and offer their viewpoints?

    When a person seeks attention, they post a blog which makes it public. If they don’t want the attention, they keep their thoughts to themselves, or in other words, they keep things private. If you’re putting an article, story, journal entry, or poem on the internet, then it’s for one purpose: and I think I’ve already stated that up above.
    I’ve had comments made to me which opposed my viewpoints but hey, everyone is different. As long as there isn’t hate involved, to me, it’s okay.

    val

    • mic

      I completely agree on this post. We do blog for feedback, and we need to be able to accept the thoughts of others, whether we are agreeable or not to the post. Constructive criticism is how we evolve the wheel, and perfect it so that hopefully by understanding the feedback, we may end up where we would hope we are needed, or wanted by complying to group discussion and acting on it.

      Mic

  18. How timely is your post, in similar reference to a topic I posted about today, that being the various blogger awards, and having been nominated recently for two of them. It is an honor to be recognized by your peers by comments and award nominations, they are so vital to the sharing that writers long for – isn’t that way we write in the first place? Yet having said that, at the risk of being shunned by fellow writers, I honestly find the whole award thing to be a modern version of a chain letter, in which the blogs nominated just go round and round. It is good to find all the wonderful writers out there – I have been awed and inspired by so many. But I honestly found the whole acceptance process of the blogger awards to be tedious, save for listing blogs that I enjoy. These comments will probably alienate me from some, but I want to be honest with my words, just as I am in my blog posts.

  19. free will…it’s a wonderful thing.

  20. I have learned so much more about myself because of comments people left on my blog. Comments help a person to see a different viewpoint, but there are people who don’t want other viewpoints. :)

  21. comments are absolutely valuable :lol:
    and not enabling commenting feature just not qualifies for a web presence in todays 2.0 web tech world.
    Without comments activated the writers might as well keep their stuff on their personal computers instead of publishing it on the web. just my thought on it :)

  22. Rebekah Carr

    I don’t know about y’all but I get so excited every time I get a new comment on my food blog! I love comments. It’s great to get feedback and the beauty of it is you get to approve them or trash them before they’re published! On the other hand, if someone wants to write a blog without allowing comments, that’s fine by me. We live in America! Don’t read it if you don’t like it.

  23. trimming the fat out of your on-line life is a great resolution for 2012

  24. mistersilverio

    All for comments…I like the idea of building a community and sharing thoughts and opinions, even the negative ones.

  25. Great post. Generally WordPress comments are interesting and do provide feedback – and you discover other blogs/bloggers. The ability to moderate and have some control is important as there are times when comments can get unreasonably/unnecessarily ugly. Still comments are valuable.

  26. While I believe everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, I’m not sure I believe that everyone is entitled to express his or her opinion at all times. Sometimes we want to listen, and sometimes we want to be heard. The comments, especially the stupid, insane, ridiculous, thoughtless, mindless drivel that pours out of many anonymous keyboards, can diminish our ability to be heard.

    While you call a blog without comments a soapbox, I believe a “Leave a Reply” box like the one I’m currently typing in is a soapbox as well. And I have to wonder this: If we’re all shouting from our soapboxes at the same time, is anyone being heard? Of course not. So why not allow a man (or a woman) their moment on the soapbox? They took the time, the thought, the effort to form their arguments — at the very least, the commenters should invest at least as much effort in their responses.

    We currently seem to be going through this egalitarian phase in our history where we’ve decided that everyone’s opinion is equally important. In other words, we’ve surrendered our ability to discern fact from opinion, and if you’ll excuse my non-Puritanical turn-of-phrase, truth from bullshit.

    We have a vast array of outlets for our opinions, from Facebook and Twitter to the comment boxes on newspapers (which tend to be occupied almost exclusively by folks wearing Snuggies, warming their feet by their EdenPure heaters, and oiling their guns while ranting about the government) and I don’t know about you, but I’m not feeling smarter for it. In fact, with so much opinion being tossed about, I suspect I’m less well-informed than I’ve ever been though I’m reading a great deal more.

    So I’ve decided to respect those who have decided to shut out the shouting in order to get their points across. I will, however, allow comments on my blog because I have low self-esteem and demand the constant reassurance that comes from other people agreeing with me publicly.

    • After reading the comments from other bloggers, I guess I would have to ask, if every person commenting on something you wrote disagreed with what you said, would it make what you said any less true?

      And for those of you who believe that all people blog because they want attention, I’m afraid you’ve missed the mark. True artists create because if they didn’t they’d explode. If someone buys their art, or says that they like their art, that’s a bonus, but the creation is a necessity in and of itself. I write for the same reason. If you like my words, neat! But if I put my words out here in the ether and no one responds, I’m still going to keep writing. I have no choice in the matter.

      • Thank you, Nanci, for speaking my mind. After 59 years of keeping it all bottled up, I’m about to pop! I truly NEED to do this blog thing before my number is called. And, it would undoubtedly be nice to know if the words coming out of my head were touching other souls…and what impact they have on them. But WTF, I’m enjoying the experience and using this brain as long as I’m able.

      • Tom Puckett

        obviously, mayfly missed your point. but I’m in agreement.
        (which of course proves that we’re both wrong).
        sigh 2.0.

      • Tom, there’s no fun in being right!

    • >I will, however, allow comments on my blog because I have low self-esteem and demand the constant reassurance that comes from other people agreeing with me publicly.
      – Admitting that on a public platform + ” low self-esteem” …. Nah, they don’t add up.

      Kate

    • I loved this comment probably more than any comment I’ve read on any blog since beginning in the blogging world a year ago. “We currently seem to be going through this egalitarian phase in our history where we’ve decided that everyone’s opinion is equally important” well said! And I’d tend to agree with you about the “prototype commenter” in snuggies by their heaters with their guns!

  27. When you allow comments, you draw attention from both WordPress searches and Google searches. Commenting adds to your SEO value. If you choose to censor your comments, you need to take a few seconds per comment and approve them. If you feel you are too busy to approve remarks on your blog, you need to not be active on so many platforms. Pick one or two that are your most profitable and stick to them.

    The only time those tips should not apply is if you are only writing a blog for your own eyes. In which case, there would be no right or wrong way to handle comments.

  28. 3

    I don’t usually have comments open on my blog either –

    It depends what the blog, and the post is for…

  29. Pingback: On the value of blog comments | digiphile « Electronic Communication @ NDSU

  30. I love blog comments!! I like reading the comments on my own blog as well as the comments on the blogs I read. I like the interaction part I guess.

    Bravo- good topic!

  31. What the commenting critics fail to realize is that behind every comment there is a potential relationship that can be formed. Comments are implicit linkages about people.

    I am writing more about the “Relationship Management” inside comments via my new blog http://engagio.tumblr.com/ and putting this in action with http://engag.io, an Inbox for your conversations where you can see your comments and the people relationships behind them.

  32. Eva McCane

    i actually really enjoy the comments i get. some are positive feedback, some are opinion based, and others are more constructive. considering my somewhat edgy content, i don’t get much criticism. i love my readers and welcome anything they have to say. thanks for sharing!

  33. Hmm, interesting subject! I often muse about the worth of comments over a “like” for instance, or someone rating the post or subscribing etc. Sure, leaving a comments is more of an engagement than just reading it and going away. The other ways of acknowledging a blog or post as I mention above is more…passive in a sense. But there’s the dark side – you need to be ready for the “bad” comments because they will come. So I accept the good and the bad (some criticism is good for character-building) but I reject the ugly! Nice post. K

  34. millodello

    How do you handle it when your spouse lays a rant on you and ends it saying, “I don’t want to talk about it” just as you open your mouth to reply? You put it out there. You man up over it.

  35. A blog without comments isn’t really a blog. It’s a web site. If I wanted something that was less interactive but allowed me a personal web presence, I would have a personal web page instead of a bog.

    But the fact that this issue has been raised here, and apparently in other blogs, indicates to me that the climate may be changing. Definitions are blurring yet again, which is a typical characteristic of the constant flux of the Internet.

    To me, however, the interactive nature of an online journal is the life of the journal. I should know because I have about 9 comments to date on my blog. It’s hard to keep it up without feedback. Send me a comment!

    • I agree with your viewpoint. I enjoy the interactivity of blogs and it’s nice when readers stop by my blog and comment. It makes me feel like there is some value in my blog and that someone has enjoyed reading it enough to leave a comment.

  36. Moderation is certainly a tricky one, and nothing detracts more from a blog for me than a comments box highlighted with ‘comment will be posted following moderation’ – for many it appears as a tool to publish posts that agree or are weak enough in their opposition to be easily shot down, these are the blogs I often pass over. Nobody wants their work to turn into a torrent of abuse, but one wonders why such materials are published online in the first place, if not for want of communicating with a wider audience?

    There is a balance to be had, but I would find the end of comments a sad development.

  37. My three blogs allow comments because I want to connect with other people– and of course what I LOVE most is the totally incomprehensible message, with no relationship to the post to which they are attached, which implores me to : KEEP BLOG DOING . . . . . .and it comes from a site that is trying to sell me UGG boots (say no more) toys (I have no children) – OR some form of equipment which I don’t want/need/nor understand:
    doesn’t it make you feel good too?!

    • Tom Puckett

      There is a veritable circus-train of bloggers who ride the “freshly-pressed” post circuit. Freshly-pressed posts get lots of traffic, so they’ll show up here in a moment, full of wonderful comments about how insightful this post is, they’re thrilled with the picture, the author is genius, etc. And while they’re not selling UGG boots, they ARE including (for your benefit, of course) a link back to their own blog.
      Just makes me wonder if the commenters in this thread who claim that feedback validates their efforts are really that damn naive. Try disallowing trackbacks and author links, and see how many people come by to tell you how brilliant your latest rant is.

      • Kate

        Agree!

        To prove that I agree, I’m going to erase my digital contrails in this reply.

        And to prove that you have made a valid point where I’m concerned at least, I’ll leave a blazin’ trail when I comment on this article separately after I’ve read all the comments here. ;-)

    • But the Spam comments are always so uplifting and pleasant! Really, if more people could be like Spammers, it would be a much better world!

  38. Personal philosophy: Don’t make your blog a one-way street. If someone is going to take the time to read or subscribe then I want to hear their take and experiences.

  39. Receiving comments keeps me in check. It allows for critique of my writing. I know instantly from a comment whether or not my writing is getting my ideas across in the ways I intended. It gives me accountability and challenge to push my skills.

  40. It appears that MG Siegler doesn’t need a blog, he just needs a wooden box and a loud-speaker. If he’s not interested in peoples opinion, make his blog private and only invite those very special people he deems worth of his attention – narcissist.

    • Tom Puckett

      There is no requirement that he be interested in your opinion, or anyone else’s. None. Zero. Zip. Nada. Zilch.

      And you seem to be saying that if he is not interested, he doesn’t deserve to blog like anyone else. This is fairly circular reasoning.

      If a blogger (or any content portal for that matter) does not expressly provide for published responses, it’s their decision. The internet is NOT a public service announcement.

      You’re free to agree or disagree, just as you’re free to buy their product or not. If you agree or disagree strongly, then by all means, publish your opinion on your own blog, and link to the content in question.

      I would argue that the real narcissists are the bloggers who dangle a filtered/moderated comment box out as bait for compliments and validation are the real narcissists.

      People who have no interest in others’ opinions whatsoever may be either delusional, anti-social, or absolutely correct. But by definition, they’re not looking in the mirror.

  41. Tom Puckett

    Most pro-comment responders here seem to be concerned with one or two seemingly noble causes: embracing dissenting opinions, or stimulating community.

    A few come closer to the truth when they admit finding some degree of validation in reader’s comments: I am read, and therefore I am.

    Now that your blog post has been “freshly pressed”, you’ll soon have comments from several bloggers who never, ever, never fail to comment on every last freshly pressed item. Of course, they’ll never disagree with you. If it’s something they don’t understand, they’ll make a vapid comment like “oh, I never thought of that.”

    Why do they do that? Because it links to their own blog, silly. It’s passive spam. Freshly pressed gets lots of traffic, so commenting on freshly pressed gets them clicks.

    But then I guess it all works, right? You swell with pride over the “genius” comment, and commenter gets traffic.

    Unfortunately, with every moment that passes in this digital universe, an unimaginable tidal wave of spam, malicious links and other useless tripe is being hurled at comment portals across the internet.

    Readers and bloggers within the WordPress community are somewhat sheltered from this reality: most WP blogs are personal affairs, which means they neither generate the comment volume of a larger commercial enterprise, nor require a similar commitment of time and resources to adequately filter that comment stream.

    But when you consider these resource demands across the whole of the social internet landscape, it’s not far-fetched to consider the similarities between a programmed virus and comment-infection.

    Sure, you’ve got captcha and akismet. But do you have anything that will filter for sincere intentions? Just askin.

    • You make a valid point and raise an interesting question about the sincerity of the responders that have blogs of their own. Even if the responder is sincerely motivated to leave a response there still may be a dark part of their mind that is thinking about the traffic that the comment may send to their blog.

      On the other hand, is it wrong for a person to comment on another blog as a way of giving back to the community that supports their own blog.

      Personally I don’t worry about the sincerity of the responders if their comments add something to the conversation. I don’t even find an issue with the occasional “That’s interesting!” or “Nice post.” as long as that is not all I get for responses. If I am not getting the type of response I was expecting I’ll question the value of my original post before I consider the intent of the responders.

      Another interesting aspect of your response is that is validates the value of allowing comments on a blog. What you wrote expands on the initial conversation significantly. If the author had not allowed comments the readers would have been short changed.

    • We all have selfish intentions, anyway, so I wouldn’t worry about the sincerity of the commenter. George Orwell did say that the first reason why he wrote was Sheer egoism: Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. That works whether we write a blog post or a comment.

  42. Bradley Walker

    I believe it really depends on the content. If the topic is sensitive, I’d disable comments and let the reader interpret the information without the use of text.

    All too often people will post thoughtless responses to blog posts without taking a minute to formulate a genuine response, so disabling comments can force the reader to ponder a bit and use their new found inspiration in their own blog posts.

  43. I moderate comments, meaning I have to approve them before they show up to be read by everyone else. The thing I find kind of weird is that in almost three years on my current blog I have never had a negative comment. I wonder if I have been incredibly lucky, or if it’s just that they would start appearing if I stopped requiring comment approval. I also sort of don’t feel like a real blogger because I’ve never had any hate mail, and I feel that it’s inevitable that it will happen and that it’s going to be worse for me emotionally because I’ve been expecting it for so long.

    Why, yes, I AM crazy.

  44. I think I have enjoyed the comments on some blogs even more than some of the actual posts. I find this true with news articles and online product purchases as well. I cannot see the point of not allowing comments. It is like having a conversation and not allowing the other person to respond in turn. Great post! Thanks for allowing comments!

  45. Comments are for me an essential part of building a relationship with my followers and getting feedback on what I write or photograph.. I have to take photographs and get great joy from sharing them.
    Equally important I find out about other peoples blogs…often like minded people and the exchanges can be wonderful…
    Comments or not are about personal choice of course but I feel my blogs would be much less interesting without them..

  46. My favorite blogs are the ones with active commenters– comments add so much, because they bring in different points of view, clarifications, and can create a lively community. Hell, even comments that go off topic can be awesome to read.

    And honestly, I wouldn’t mind receiving vapid comments on my own blog. Sure, it might be someone just commenting to try and get the linkback traffic, but it might also be someone who wants to be encouraging but who really doesn’t have anything to add.

  47. I see comments are like opinions and although everyone has one not everyone employs decorum when expressing them. An opinion can express, challenge, reinforce or praise another person and I believe it is up to the blogger to praise these efforts while ignoring the latter (as I believe the new term is ‘trolls’). In older forms of communication this is how we did it, and eventually the bores and trolls faded from our circles to try to waste another person’s time.

  48. rmv

    hmmm. comments. my problem with them is that roughly 90% are gratuitously written simply for one to get a ping-pong effect of traffic and comments on their own blog. i have a habit of reading what is “freshly pressed,” and then i scan the comments. most of the time i’m reading “great! so true! damn funny! i agree totally!” following a blog entry that is irrelevant, inane, and unnecessary. i wonder why so many people seem to be so thrilled and entertained by – nothing. i have to assume that people are scanning blogworld in order to play “tag” and have someone then tag them back.

  49. Before I began blogging, I was really big into livestreaming games from the total war series. Right at the start of it all, I had an emphasis on always engaging my audience. It’s exhausting, it takes time, but the small following I do have is very loyal and dedicated. They know I care about what they think, and I’m content with that. Without comments, one runs the risk of talking into an echo chamber – less chance of criticism, especially constructive criticism!

    I played the debate game on digg and youtube in the distant past – and I will never go back. Blogging, blogs with comments, and especially ‘dueling blogs’ give you a lot of room to work with comment wise and to encourage civil debate and discussion.

    Great piece, thanks for sharing.

  50. Blogging is about communication, and communication is a two way street. Enabling comments promotes interactivity and engagement, adding value and enhancing the whole experience for blogger and visitors. The best and most effective blogs will be those that embrace this.

  51. Great topic, I love receiving comments, especially insightful or thoughtful ones that I learn something new from or that share some type of personal experience. I always try and return comments too and visit others’ sites to show my appreciation, and I always respond to every comment I get. This has allowed me to truly connect with other bloggers and I recommend it. :)

  52. The Kittle Team

    I generally believe that Comments help the Author and the Commenter, the author get’s a feedback of what he’s readers think about his article and may learn and explore more branches of possibilities with them, the commenter learn facts and post what his point of view in the article. For me comments are good weather they agree or disagree, just learn to respect and don’t use profane words when commenting. Great blog post!

  53. I have to admit I’m still in the position where too many comments is the problem I dream of having, and in full disclosure getting more traffic has been a factor in some of the comments I leave (although never the whole reason–I’m not that much of a comment slut, thankfully). It’s an interesting problem to have, though, to have to make the call between supporting an engaged readership base and taking the time to continue to put out great material. Thanks for the food for thought!

  54. Comments are very useful because they give us feedback of many personal opinions about our blog.
    Each post also needs to have a feedback about the work done, some times on behalf of other people,.
    I feel it worth to have other people opinions.
    Mário de Noronha

  55. christinaiko

    i like allowing comments because i deactivated my Facebook and it allows my friends to have another way of communicating with me besides by phone or face to face. they’re more honest with their opinions because I’m not actually there to give them intimidating feedback. however, moderating my comments is not as much of a hassle for me because i run a personal blog and my only readers tend to be the friends I’ve given the link to. as for spam, i don’t have to deal with it on wordpress… email and youtube is another story.

  56. Alex & anyone here,
    We’re still in private beta, but I just put aside 20 invite codes for this blog’s readers who want to try Engagio to manage your comments in one place.
    Pls use code digiphile & signup here: http://Engag.io

  57. I enjoy reading the comments on both my blog and OTHER people’s blogs. When I see a comment that is very original, intriguing, or well written, I follow the author’s link to his or her own blog. I find some new blogs to read in this way.

  58. If I did not allow comments, my blog would be an exercise in navel-gazing. Instead, it has been a mechanism for me to have actual conversations with people I would never know otherwise. It’s how the blog gives back to me, as the author, which is such a source of enjoyment that I pity those who choose to forgo it.

    In other words, yes– what you said about community.

    All the best to you,
    Katherine

  59. Great comments … and post about comments, which are necessary for building a community. Personally, if someone takes the time to visit and comment, I hope to reply as much as possible.

  60. i can see both sides, and respect whatever a blogger chooses to do. not allowing comments does not mean i will not read what they have to say.

  61. I definitely enjoy the ability to leave comments. I think it gives the blogger a better sense of their audience, and allows them to connect more deeply with them, otherwise it can feel as though you are talking to yourself.

  62. If I start modifying the writing on my blog based on reader feedback am I still author or am I letting my readers dictate my writing?

  63. Seeing people comment on my blog is pretty helpful. It always makes me happy and encourages me to keep on blogging.

  64. alivingoddity

    I love and appreciate blog comments. It’s a great way for the reader to involve themselves and relate to the material. Sometimes reading is just not enough. I have to comment so that the author doesn’t feel like they’re talking to an empty room, and it’s nice to connect with complete strangers. Great post.

  65. Aarom

    A very nice read. Thanks for sharing, and congrats on the fresh press!

  66. Having a forum for discussion is one of the things that distinguishes blogging from other types of reporting and analysis. I tend to agree with Wikipedia:

    “Although not a must, most good quality blogs are interactive, allowing visitors to leave comments and even message each other via GUI widgets on the blogs and it is this interactivity that distinguishes them from other static websites. In that sense, blogging can be seen as a form of social networking. Indeed, bloggers do not only produce content to post on their blogs but also build social relations with their readers and other bloggers.”

    One thing I absolutely agree with (from the Blogger’s Code of Conduct proposed by Tim O’Reilly) is that anonymous comments should not be allowed. (http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2007/04/draft-bloggers-1.html). I also love the advice to ignore the trolls: “Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, but the pig likes it.” :-)

  67. MakeSomethingMondays

    I strongly disagree with not allowing comments on a blog. #1: A blog is an online site, meaning public. You do not put something online that you don’t want the world to see. #2: You need to be able to accept criticism. Yeah, sometimes it isn’t what you want to hear but it makes you a stronger person if you can take it in and learn from what you commenters are saying.

    I am a professional in the Art/Graphic design field and accepting criticism on a daily basis is part of my job. I am SO thankful for being taught to suck it up, honestly. I’ve learned so much from my viewers it is unreal.

  68. I agree 100% with Ingram and you! Comments create community. Without them we’re stuck in the age of newspapers and mainstream media spouting their beliefs and touting them as the gospel truth.

  69. It’s a blog. It’s the blogger’s choice to allow or disallow comments. For some people, a blog is not a two-way communication tool, but just a public soundboard or yes, a soapbox.

    To quote a part of what Mathew Ingram said:

    “Not having comments says you are only interested in passing on your wisdom, without testing it against any external source (at least not where others can watch you do so) or leaving open the opportunity to actually learn something from those who don’t have their own blogs, or aren’t on Twitter or Google+.”

    To which bloggers who don’t allow comments can say, “It’s a person’s choice not to have a blog, Twitter and/or Google+. Why can’t it be our choice not to allow comments?”

    Personally, though, I love comments. Though I don’t reply to every comment if I can’t think of anything more to say than a “Thank you” (in which case, I just go to the blog of the commenter and leave a comment on one or more of their posts), I read and appreciate every comment our blog gets.

    Comments help me get to know our readers, and as a result, help me get to know about other lifestyles and cultures. It’s not just about knowing how many people actually read what we post — it’s about gaining more knowledge while doing what I love.

  70. My favourite part about reading blogs is reading the comments! I love when people comment on my blog too.
    Sometimes people can be stupid, but for the most part, they’re pretty cool and make some interesting points.
    Congratulations on making freshly pressed!

  71. Leaving comments on a blog for me is the simplest way by which you could tell the blogger that you actually read, took an interest and appreciated whatever he or she wrote. And personally, as an amateur blogger, I could not ask for more. :)

  72. I LOVE comments on my blog! It lets me know if I have hit a chord with people – and I find that the oddest items draw out the comments (Easter bunnies, junk mail, strange things). I’m not always good about responding – but I do try. Do I stew if I don’t get comments? Not usually – but occasionally when I write a piece I think is particularly good and no one comments it makes me wonder if anyone is reading — when the real question should be — was the piece really that good?

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  73. I think the comments add a wholesome conversation to a blog post.

    Plus, I feel super special whenever I get comments on my own blog, even if the commenter disagrees with me!

  74. “Why do they do that? Because it links to their own blog, silly. It’s passive spam. Freshly pressed gets lots of traffic, so commenting on freshly pressed gets them clicks.
    But then I guess it all works, right? You swell with pride over the “genius” comment, and commenter gets traffic.
    Unfortunately, with every moment that passes in this digital universe, an unimaginable tidal wave of spam, malicious links and other useless tripe is being hurled at comment portals across the internet.”
    Sure commenters can be self-serving. There are also just sheer ludicrous maliciousness that only reveals the comments idiocy. Whenever Canada’s national newspaper features a thoughtful article on ethnicity, diversity or immigration in general with some census data, often there is a barrage outright sneers, racist remarks and cursing. It’s pretty sick but necessary for other readers to be reminded of some people who just are publicly thoughtless or like to make comments for a lark. And no, Globe and Mail does not allow link to person’s blog/website in their user name. However to respond or moderate a spew of endless, thoughtless negativity with no objective data is yes, a waste of time at times to even allow comments. It pulls down the whole positive tone of the written article.

    But maybe that’s the point: the author’s optimism in face of viciousness and darkness.

    Readers and bloggers within the WordPress community are somewhat sheltered from this reality: most WP blogs are personal affairs, which means they neither generate the comment volume of a larger commercial enterprise, nor require a similar commitment of time and resources to adequately filter that comment stream.

    But when you consider these resource demands across the whole of the social internet landscape, it’s not far-fetched to consider the similarities between a programmed virus and comment-infection.

    • I agree about the newspaper comments. I write regularly for a mid-sized newspaper in the States that allows comments to stories. The commenters tend to be the same 20 people spewing the same diatribes over and over again. (Yes, thank you, I realize you support Ron Paul for President. I get it!)

      What concerns me about that is that some people will read these comments and develop an impression that these people represent the views of society at large, and will shift their opinions in order to conform to what they perceive is the majority opinion.

      We know that people change their opinions based on what commenters say — we have a dozen or more responders on this post alone who admit that what they write is influenced by the feedback of the commenters who respond to their blogs. But is that rational?

      You have no idea who I am, what my agenda is, why I’m here. Why would you put any value in my opinion? Have I earned such trust?

      • “You have no idea who I am, what my agenda is, why I’m here. Why would you put any value in my opinion? Have I earned such trust?”

        Yes, very true. And some readers are so influenced by commenters who may make comments but have no data to substantiate. For an established newspaper it is a challenge to deal with some of the wierd comments.

  75. Oops and sigh: Last 2 paragraphs are quoted from Tom Puckett’s remarks earler in this thread.

    Thanks Tom for reminding us to check our own narcissism when we praise overly on a stranger’s blog post whom…really in the end, we probably will promptly forget within the next hr. of what they wrote :)

    An excellent blog post should be so good that one would want to bookmark it.

  76. I think some one at WordPress is pushing your commenting button and has a slightly wicked sense of humor.

  77. All these comments — make for an excellent thought bank. To add to it, our media has simply changed and there is no going back. Where a decade ago, all media was something people attempted to gain access to…..now, there are any number of places where the individual has a forum from which to speak. So allowing comments or not — it’s an issue whose time will pass like the dinosaurs. Our world is changing to a new level of interactivity and access.

  78. The thing that makes a blog different then any other site would be comments and how the reader can contribute to the idea in the post.
    What is the point of having a blog without comments!

  79. I am in total agreement with you. I did a guest post for a small business owner who has her own blog and she had four comments and because of that, I look at their blogs. It definitely attracts new readers.

  80. I think comment are a good thing, but there are those that choose to leave nasty comments and that is where the option of removing a comment is a great value.

  81. Cassie Strauss

    This is a great article. The Internet can be used for wonderful two-way information sharing, but it can also be a way to anonymously post bitter and small-minded content without fearing reprisal.

  82. I feel like the blog Realtor – community, community community ;) Seriously, though if you would like to share and be heard – there is something to be said for listening. Comments allow me to do this. My thinking is enriched and my ideas flourish through my blog community of creative beings. A great post and well worth taking the time to read!

  83. I recently did a soft reset of my own WordPress blog and the decision of whether to allow comments or not was actually something I had to take into consideration. Because I already work for a magazine and a games blog, the public is already exposed to my work, so I didn’t need my WordPress blog to be another outlet through which people could familiarize themselves with my style. I wanted my blog to work for me. I wanted it to be an intellectual journal of sorts where I could post my musings and refer back to when I needed inspiration. But being a journalism student and knowing how important it is to have a venue through which to easily communicate with fellow students and professionals, I got to thinking it would be a good idea to allow comments.
    The idea of publishing a post and allowing readers to consume it but leave no open communication with the author is such a 20th century way of doing media. Before blogs were easy to set up, newspapers, magazines and other publications had teams dedicated to engaging readers through editorial pieces and selecting letters to the editor. It’s a shame that some writers would still want to maintain an authorial presence where they assume they’re the highest authority on any given topic. I come up with good ideas on my own, but it’s the conversations I have with my peers and colleagues that make them great. I’m envious of the person who can create something amazing completely alone (and I, for one, don’t think these type of person exists.)
    As for moderation, yeah, I can see where it’d be a pain in the ass. That’s why I’m glad my reader base is small and focused. I remember reading Kotaku, Gawker media’s video game blog, back in 2007 and being floored by how well the comments were moderated. Most of the authors were able to keep conversations on track and, even more surprisingly, the community did a great job of managing itself; if you were one of those pesky “first!” kids, you’d be berated for doing so and banned from commenting on another thread. That’s when Kotaku had a readership of approximately 10,000 daily. Now it averages 3.5 million and the comments section is a complete and utter mess because of 1) the sheer number of people making stupid, pointless remarks and 2) the amount of effort it would take to moderate every single story thread. It’s just not possible. Comments work better with small communities. Otherwise you’re just a goldfish trying to be heard in an ocean.

  84. I think that comments are one of the most important things in my blog. I actually become disappointed when a post doesn’t get a lot of attention via comments.

  85. Very thought-provoking. And me leaving a comment shows my owns views on the subject of blog comments, I suppose.

  86. uklotterynews

    Comments seem to the lifeblood of WordPress, without them it would just a lifeless abyss.

  87. If all comments were meaningful and not self-promoting that would be more surprising if bloggers would still want to refuse from them. The reality is different though.
    I see nothing wrong in the lack of the possibility to comment on a blog as well as I see nothing wrong in the lack of the possibility to comment on a paper book or a magazine or on a piece of art in galleries.
    Besides, there are bloggers who want communities and interaction and there are bloggers who just want to blog and as their aims are different it’s not surprising that the way they treat comments also is, thus there is no right or wrong way.

  88. Kind of late coming to the party on this thing, but I feel it is worth a response. “A blog without comments is a soap-box, plain and simple.” This kind of sums it up for me.

    The comments section is the best part of it all on WordPress.com, in the four years I have been doing this, I have only had to shut it down one time. Where there is no wood, there is no fire. It is YOUR house and YOU are responsible for it.

    Later,

    DS

  89. Pingback: Social media and exchange of ideas « Genius Around

  90. Good subject.
    When I read a blog I immediately want to know what effect it has had on viewers so I enjoy reading the comments. Comments positive and negative are meaningful unless someone it just trying to be a troll. There is nothing like a good debate on a subject.

  91. We should all value anyone who takes the time to read what we out so much time into writing. That’s why the blogging comunity is so huge.

  92. For all the wonderful benefits of comments mentioned here and those felt by bloggers who receive them, I personally would attribute the decision to enable Comments or not to the blog author. Not because that’s a fundamental fact, but also because it would make my life better not to get my delicates in a twist over someone *else’s* choices, especially when those actions have no direct impact on my life.

    “For peace of mind, resign as General Manager of the universe.” – Author Unknown

    Kate

  93. In my opinion blogs should allow users to post comment. Because it enables users to interact with others users as well as admin of site. It also enables admin to interact with site audience. Comment attribute is way to share anyone views on current post topic.

  94. I’m one of those people who make a point of looking at Freshly Pressed and, when worth it, leaving a comment. Does it bring me new readers? Maybe, maybe not. You can’t have it both ways! You want attention…you got it. We are all blogging to get attention and it’s an increasingly valuable commodity so whatever we do, legitimately and sincerely, to get it…why not?

    I spend about an hour every day searching for blogs to comment on, as much because I want to find good writing and thinking as — yes — I want others to read my work and subscribe. Sneer at it, but it works: I’ve increased my followers by 15 percent within two months in this fashion. And that hour is otherwise “wasted” time and income for someone who earns her living wholly freelance. No, it’s an investment in growing my audience. Why apologize for that?

    As a career print journalist (and ex Globe and Mail writer), I’m bored silly by the one-way nature of print communication, mine and others. It pays my bills, but I’m much more interested in hearing from readers worldwide through my blog — as I do — than simply spouting my opinions.

    • Alex

      Thank you for the thoughtful comment; some print journalists will never realize the value of commenting themselves, much less responding, without the sort of example you describe.

    • Tom Puckett

      This is the ultimate thing that everyone needs to take home from this conversation. I’m sorry to single you out, there have been others who have been honest, but you did the best job of explaining it. Any blogger who regularly approves “great post, dude!” needs to keep this quote in the back of their minds at all times:

      I spend about an hour every day searching for blogs to comment on, as much because I want to find good writing and thinking as — yes — I want others to read my work and subscribe. Sneer at it, but it works: I’ve increased my followers by 15 percent within two months in this fashion. And that hour is otherwise “wasted” time and income for someone who earns her living wholly freelance. No, it’s an investment in growing my audience.

  95. comments are a great way to set up a forum. Not just for the author, but also for those who wish to present their point of view. I enjoy hearing from those who read my posts. In a regard, it is a gauge as to the quality of what I am sharing. Without any comments, I feel like I am alone, and I am just posting for my own ego. If you put it out there, then it is not just for yourself. Comments help you navigate from just putting up contrite material. I welcome feedback on my own blog. Without comments, it is a narrow self-absorbed world, not allowing yourself to encounter others. You never know who you will discover. As for anyone who declines comments, I say they are sad souls, living a sad empty lonely blog.

  96. It’s nice when you get comments though I must say I’ve been surprised by who actually writes comments. I’m left asking: Is this representative of my readership?

  97. Rio

    I love the comments people have left! All three of them!

  98. My blog is still in its infancy, but I have absolutely appreciated the comments I have received. When I read magazines or newspapers, I always always always look at the comments because I’m likely to hear from experts who may have a perspective that’s different from the writer of the article. On the other hand, on sites that allow anonymous comments, sometimes the responses are pointlessly nasty and off topic…but many of them are definitely worth reading.

  99. Yes. I love comments! Internet 2.0 Rules!

  100. I’m with you on the value of blog comments. Both for the community created and for “lurkers” to see that they are not alone in their views.

    As a Torontonian, I also enjoyed reading this: “While Canadians generally have a reputation for being polite, online that can change.” Understatement of the year, lol.

  101. I like getting some feedback on my blogs, but only when people comment on the subject.
    Personal attacks to me or other people who placed a comment on my blog i will not accept.

  102. Hi
    Almost everyday I read a blog and learn something new that I can use in my life. I believe that the point of the blog is to contribute and help others, and in some way, comments are the contribution from the readers back to the author, letting him or her know that the contribution was well worth the effort, or how it is can be better.
    Cheers,
    Ron
    Be A DJ

  103. Communicating your thoughts about a post is a wonderful way to converse with the author. It also gives room for discussions to start and that-along with creating a good feel of a matter as others relate to it-is the real and main point behind comments.

    Excellent post and congratulations for being Freshly Pressed!

  104. “A blog without comments is a soap-box” – the perfect way of putting it if you ask me. Obviously each to their own but I would never get rid of the comments on my blog – even web crazies deserve their two cents’, why not?

    • I agree with the soap-box, but I would put to you the question of how to deal with “web crazies” that might post racist, libelous, or other types of “comments” that might offend or drive away readers. What do you think should be done in those instances?

  105. I have nominated you for a versatile bogger award. Check it out and join in—> http://flashingformoney.wordpress.com/2012/01/06/versatile-blogger-awards/

    Couldn’t agree more! Commenting is a vital source of feedback…

  106. Being fairly new to blogging, I have to say that the comments are the worst part of the experience for me. To be fair, many of the comments that I have received have been intelligent and well thought out, and although they disagree with my points, they have offered an alternative view. I have appreciated these. The awful ones are those that seem to have deliberately avoided any sensible points that I have made and jumped to irrational conclusions, before informing me that I am clearly a retard.

    As my partner told me when I showed him the comments, ‘welcome to the internet’. It’s depressing, but it seems to go with the territory and I hope that I will continue to receive those comments that make it worth bothering with blog in the first place.

  107. I agree with this post. In my opinion, if we all shut down comments the way Siegler suggests, then the trolls have won. Better to tend to our communities and help them thrive, than to throw up our hands in disgust and give up.

  108. Alex

    Many thanks to everyone who has commented here. I wish I had enough time to respond to each of you individually today. It’s hard not to notice how constructive and, frequently, thoughtful they have been, particularly in the context of the concerns I raised in my post.

    I’ve certainly been reminded, after being “Fresh pressed,” that keeping up with moderating comments, much less responding to them, is no small task. My Gmail inbox has absolutely blown up with likes and notifications.

    Given the tenor of your responses, however, I have to say that it’s been worth it. Cheers.

  109. Personally, I feel like I’ve been given a gift when someone actually takes the time to not only read, but comment on what I have bothered to spend my time to create. True, once in awhile the comments are less than productive, off-topic, or just plain mean. But, the majority of the time I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know my readers, and engaging in a dialog with people across the globe that I never would have “met” any other way is priceless. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! Well deserved. – MoSop

  110. I love comments, I’ve never had a negative one but even then I’d think fair play for the effort.
    Because while we would never admit it on our own pages, but I reckon I’m amongst friends here, aren’t we all just a little bit resentful that we put in so much time into our blogs and such a tiny percentage can be bothered to interact or say thank you.
    Yes, I do know full well it comes with the territory, but even so.
    Maybe we’re all just willing masochists.

  111. I think it’s important to allow comments. Surely as a blogger you want to share things that you enjoy with like minded people across the interwebs? Besides, comments are a great way of getting an insight into other views other than your own and can equal conversation.

    I don’t get many comments, but it’s exciting when i do. :)

    Great post and c ongratulations on being freshly pressed.

  112. This is a great post, and I agree with the sentiment of what you wrote. I think that there are reasons for blogs to have no comment enabled, especially if they are merely factual information posts. However, once you get into any kind of writing that includes some opinion, room for expansion, or that is supposed to create a dialogue, if you do not have comments enabled it always causes me to question why. Specifically, I wonder if poster is uncertain about posted content, fearful of different opinions, or just not open to new ideas. Even for fact-related posts, such as a simple how-to, there is always room for someone to improve upon an idea, so it makes sense for comments to be allowed.
    Comments can really create interaction, lead to new ideas, or help generate new thoughts about posted content. They make sense to have enabled in general, and for those who are fearful about “junk” comments, it is a simple matter of moderation (also something the newspapers are doing with posts in general).

  113. Although some people abuse the ability to comment, I find comments on blogs a great joy. They prove that your work was appreciated enough for a reader to take the time to comment, and that they must have enjoyed your post. If not, at least you are receiving feedback from someone you are writing for on how to improve .

  114. Great topic and well done! I think bloggers understand the importance and value of the blogger/reader relationship through comments but when you have a lot of non bloggers reading it’s tougher to get them to respond. It’ feels like a slow process. I find when I link my posts to Facebook non bloggers comment on Facebook but not on the blog.

  115. Interesting, this is the second post today on blog comments I’ve read. The first was about people being nasty and rude. Which I abhor. It’s no fun being insulted.
    So, to respond to your post on comments. I love comments. Constructive friendly ones. They don’t have to agree. But throw me a bone of something. I wish MORE people would comment. Maybe they’re self conscious. Of let’s say the 200 people that read my posts a day, maybe two will comment. And one of them is usually my mother. :) God love her. So congrats on being Freshly Pressed and I hope you enjoyed my comment.

  116. I couldn’t agree with you more. One of the things I like most about certain blogs is the comments. There are blogs that I read almost as much for the community discussion after each post as I do for the posts themselves. As the host of a poetry blog I find comments obviously very helpful (especially the critical ones). It tells me as an author quite a lot. I could go on but I won’t. Great post (am I just saying that because I agree with you?) and congratulations on being freshly pressed! Cheers.

  117. It’s frustrating to spend a lot of time to write a blog-post, but then no-one bothers to read or comment.
    My experience on wordpress is that a lot of people comment if you participate in WordPress’ “Weekly Photo Challenge”, while just a few people bother to comment (or even read) all the other posts..

  118. OK. I know you have too many comments to respond to all of them (wow, is it the subject or is it being featured in Freshly pressed – I guess it’s freshly pressed, because I probably would have missed it otherwise) Your post and the comments that came after it (yes I read them all) gave me a new thought about the way I handle comments. I allow comments now,but I have akismet and moderation going… I’m thinking I might try it without moderation, and maybe without akismet, to see what happens.
    I like comments.
    I like reading the comments on Other people’s posts.
    Sometimes it’s informative,
    sometimes it’s entertaining (LMAOROFL), and
    sometimes it’s both.

    • Hmm, not moderating your comments could be an interesting experiment. I wouldn’t undertake it myself, as I’m too conscious of how my blog reflects on me, but I’m curious how it would turn out. However, regardless of your feelings about comments, I strongly recommend you not turn off Akismet – those aren’t even actual people, just bots dropping spam.

  119. I like you’re use of the phrase “high functioning people”. :) I like to get comments, and I comment frequently myself. I told hubby last night that I think digital art has finally outgrown the awkward adolescence, where it all looked scary and weird, and now you see lots of digital art that feels “right”. Your post made me realize that the same is true for blogging. What began as “public diaries” has finally matured into mentally stimulating engagement with the world. For the high functioning. And if you like, you can still find a cookie recipe, if that’s your thing. :) Great post!

  120. Been thinking about this a lot lately. I’ve learned a lot about the value of comments in the course of the past five months through Instagram. As a result, my entire approach to blogging has changed (aside from having gone from thought to action), I think, for the better. Commenting, and responding in return, has led to my participation in an interesting social community that I hadn’t anticipated. Just from uploading photos using an app on my iphone! Incredible. I hope to carry it forward to my blog (and can only dream of blown-up inboxes at this point). Great topic.

  121. I think that having a ‘blog’ without allowing comments is the intellectual equivalent shouting opinions on a street corner while plugging your ears to avoid hearing people disagree. Of course there will always be trouble-makers who respond nonsensically, but that doesn’t me we should shut out everyone. People who don’t respect the opinions of others, can’t presume to have their opinions respected either. We don’t all have to agree, but we should at least be able to have a conversation. If someone decides to post opinions on the internet in a format that doesn’t allow a response, then they don’t have a blog. All they have is a static website professing their opinions, a la 1995.

  122. I think without blog comments the blogosphere (or whatever you want to call it) would suffer. I mean, how would a new blogger get the word out? Or public feedback? I know there are comments forms and such, but comments, as others have said, have an intrinsic connection to the posts their on. I haven’t started my blog back up yet – busy professional, yo – but I love comments when I get them, no matter how short.

    And I wonder – do people without public comments on their blog get higher quality feedback, or just less feedback?

  123. Ohh i wish I had enough comments to justify even reading a post like this lol. I have learned to post comments on other people’s blog and it really helps. At the very least it puts your blog out there for others to read.

  124. I have linked to this post and hope that’s ok with you.

  125. Comments are a part of the blog conversation.

  126. Great read! Now I kind of feel bad for only posting “thanks” when someone comments on one of my posts. I’ll have to work on that.

  127. I value comments myself even when on previous blogs I had some nasty, vicious stalkers. I like being able to moderate them and I use that to my advantage to keep out childish people.

    But I can see where folks are stepping away from comments as I visit more and more sites where anonymous people spew all sorts of ignorant evilness without any consequence and enjoying the mayhem. It can be frustrating to gain control over an atmosphere like that.

  128. I agree with much of your logic here. But as someone who is new to blogging, how should one interpret a lack of comments? I have a decent readership, but comments are few and far between. Often people who know me personally will comment on facebook or to me via text or conversation. However, I am interested in what more people have to say. I am a lover of debate and crave more than just the generic words of support (i.e. “Great post!”).

  129. Ooh, almost afraid to comment here. But thankfully yours does not seem to be a soap box blog. I appreciate comments, even though sometimes the comments are just polite things like “very nice” or “I agree.” Comments let me know that someone is reading and cares enough to take the time to say something.

  130. Sports & Concert Updates

    Ahead of commenting, a person should take some time to read the entire blog post. If the post is not read completely, you will end up in losing the content material. (Don’t ask me if i ve read this post, I sure did)

    Carpe Diem friend… :-)

  131. I think it’s funnier just to comment and then think about it later. Makes people wonder what you are up to. If you feel like it. If not, then do something else. I’m just saying. Have a wonderful day! :-)

  132. It seems to me that those who complain about blog comments are like a beautiful person who complains about being asked out too much. It’s an indulgent complaint. For a regular blogger who gets one visit a day, a comment is a solid gold nugget. Even insults and bile are deeply appreciated.

  133. Yet another comment – but having a little tiny blog that doesn’t get all that much loving, I get so excited when people comment! Even just a ‘thank you for posting’ kind of thing brings a smile. As I say on my site – sharing is caring.

  134. sirrahh

    Yes, a blog that does not allow comments sends a very clear message to its readers, which is “go spend your time reading something else instead.”

  135. “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” – Evelyn Beatrice Hall summing up Voltaire’s beliefs concerning freedom of thought and expression.

  136. I find comments to often add a nugget or two the blog post, however, for my own blog I prefer to moderate comments first “just in case” I get some unexpected vulgar response. I’m not all that controversial, but I’ve seen enough negativity and people just starting trouble behind the anononymity of the internet to know I sure don’t need that in my life.

  137. Wait a minute.
    A blogger writes something which stimulates (or agitates) a lot of people, and then they aren’t willing to listen to that response? Seems like everyone is missing out.
    If the blogger finds the comments disagreeable, maybe there’s something the blogger can learn. Oh, and not learning about being politically correct or avoiding differences of opinion. Just the opposite: to learn how to engage even with those who disagree.
    There are bloggers who are up to that task, accepting comments with a grace and style that includes them into the larger conversation so everyone learns something. Those are the true communication artists to follow.

  138. Joe Labriola

    It depends on the type of post I suppose and what reaction(s) you’re hoping for. I prefer people to comment as much as possible, but that’s cause I want to hear what people have to say about my work to improve upon it. The spam filter seems to work pretty well at weeding out the “vile” or useless comments.

  139. What I like the most about blog comments is that I can connect with many different people from different walks of life just by publishing a blog post. I like talking with people and I feel like when someone leaves a comment whatever I wrote got to them so much that they had to write about what they felt in response to it. I do agree that it is a good thing, just as long as people don’t get hateful or mean in their comments.

  140. I am in the process of trying to teach my students (Grades 9-12) to respond to each other on our (closed to the public) blogs. The criteria I have posted is:

    A Good Student Response to another student on a blog will be:
    thoughtful
    consistently positive
    respectful

    A Good Student Response on a Blog will also:
    clearly add to the original discussion (compare, contrast, contribute)
    take advantage of the medium (linking, video, audio)
    follow the standards of good writing

    NOTE: This means “I like your post” will not be accepted as a blog response. You must comment directly on the subject, language, or ideas in the blog.

    Hopefully, some of this training will carry over into the “real world”!

  141. What would a blog be without comments? What would the point be?
    Great analysis of the whole subject of comments and their impact – if any – on those of us chasing blogging glory!

  142. sapphy03

    I agree on all the points mentioned, but seeing the troll comments on newspaper website blogs, I’d rather block those comments.

    But its true that what people think really matter after all man is a social animal and you can learn a lot if you listen to other people’s opinions.

  143. Glad you raised this.

    The internet is about people and connections. That’s its magic and its power.

    Comments are the key to conversations and the entrance to community. It’s that natural order of behavior online IMO.

    Blogging is just publishing without comments. One to many digital publishing. No foul, just not interesting.

    Better. Worse. Useful. Not really relevant questions. It’s a matter of intent. If you want to simply prognosticate, just push it out there. If you are looking for connections and a conversation, comments are the life stream.

    I’ll take comments and engagement over traffic and pure disconnected reach any day.

  144. Katie

    Fantastic post! My blog is just a small, personal thing and I LOVE getting comments, it strokes my ego nicely!

  145. Good points for both sides of the equation while making you view clear on the side of keeping the comments! I like to interact with posts (posters) who make me think or make me feel, not just inform me. For that reason, I love the comment section. Thanks for being one of those bloggers for me.

  146. Like one or two others here I have never had the experience of negative comments. Some very bizarre search engine terms are used to find my blog though which provides me with endless entertainment in lieu of trolls.

    One or two things stood out from your post –

    Firstly the comment that if people behave badly, it’s your fault. This is bit of a harshly stark analysis but I agree that if you treat your readers, other bloggers and those who comment on your blog with respect this tends to engender respect in return.

    Secondly in relation to closing comments to stop diatribes – there is a fine line between encouraging readers to become involved and gently pushing them towards using their own blog, not your comments box for tub thumping.

    On the whole I love blog comments though and tend to feel a bit miffed if I don’t get them. Pretty sure that I am not alone in this.

  147. Comments are the lifeblood of blogging – they help keep you accountable and honest, and prove that you’ve actually got readers rather than people who’ve accidentally clicked on your blog while looking for something else.

    But having said all this, spare a thought for those of us who struggle to encourage comments somehow!

  148. Personally, I don’t get as many comments on my blog as I would like, but if anyone comes across it and is kind enough to leave a comment, whether negative or positive, I like to leave the option open. I love to hear other people’s point of view even if at times it may differ from mine. It gives me a chance to explore an issue from a different perspective, and it’s always rather refreshing.
    Besides that, I’m a strong supporter of free speech. So not allowing comments altogether goes against that stance. And although I like to moderate my comments, I haven’t yet come across a comment I didn’t approve :-)
    Thanks for this great post!

  149. zenlifefrugal

    I agree with the debate between the two individuals. Sometimes we just need to turn them off until we can afford to filter some of these better or establish policies that the commenters are to adhere to.

  150. OMG! lot of tons of comments up here. Is the general reader suppossed to muse over whole of it, casually skim through, or skip the bunch and write a reply. All options are equally good depending on the content. But being humans we naturally forget to put forth the real point. Commenting in one way or the other brings the gist through debates, arguments, simple lines of facts, statements and emotions. Comments give life to a blog. While some blog are like radio, only one way communication, some really deserve appreciation, scrutiny of facts and doubt clearance. It is good to have comments.

  151. I LOVE comments, I love feedback, and I love community involvement…hence, love the post!! Congrats on Freshly Pressed.

  152. Not much more to add really but i agree with the fact that comments are important to create interaction.

  153. One of the reasons huge blogs lose steam is because people know when they leave comments, no one reads it, or the author is just a staff writer, etc. So, leaving comments and interacting with your readers should be kept, no matter how big a following a blog has developed.

  154. Good points on your post and I personally like getting comments. It causes me to manage my time better towards my blog but also lets me know what people like, don’t like. Although I am still trying to figure out how to get better comments that will help increase the interaction:)

  155. Pingback: Need to read again 023 « Mirror Universe

  156. My purpose in entering the blogging world was specifically to create a dialogical community. Comments are essential to this experience, and I created a banner on my page to remind everyone visiting to respect the people commenting, even if an exploration of the truth or accuracy of the ideas can come into question. It has been positive thus far, but I have not yet seen some of the truly high volumes of traffic that some of these more accessible blogs have experienced…I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!

  157. Read my mind! Every time I read an article, I end up scrolling through each comment, as well. As mentioned, think it’s an insightful way to pick up how conservative or liberal your readers are. That said, judging from these comments, I’m thoroughly enjoying all the feedback on here.

  158. Pingback: Classrooms and community: my moderation standards for Google+, Facebook and blog comments | digiphile

  159. I’m a bit late to the conversation, but I wanted to express my appreciation for a great collection of insights and examples – in the original post and in the comments.

    I wanted to add an insight and an example. The insight I discovered – and wrote about – is applying Don Miguel Ruiz’ wisdom to the practice of blogging: don’t take anything personally: commenting on commenting. The second of Ruiz’ four agreements is:

    Don’t Take Anything Personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

    In applying this to blogging – and commenting – I realize that anything that I write on my blog (or in comments on other blogs) are things I need to read, which may or may not be useful or even interesting to others, regardless of however much I may intend them to be. And anyone who posts a comment on something I write is similarly writing something that is more about them than me, however much something I wrote may have offered a motivating trigger.

    The example I wanted to share is a critique of Forks Over Knives, a documentary film promoting veganism. The blog post is one of the finest examples of science journalism I’ve ever encountered, written by a 24 year old woman, Denise Minger, who majored in English and has largely acquired her expertise into nutrition outside of any credentialed institution. I mention it here because in the 5 months since she posted the entry, it has attracted over 1600 responses (mostly comments, but a few pingbacks), and an ad-hoc community has formed among several of the commenters to defend the original author and the well-substantiated criticisms she has written about. As far as I can tell, she has never personally responded to any of the comments, but the comment thread has become a de facto forum on the movie, veganism and related topics, so that the value of that post – as with this one – is greatly magnified by the engagement of those who are motivated to participate.

  160. Pingback: Revisiting standards for moderation and community on social networks | digiphile

  161. Pingback: Want good online comments? Create community and moderate them. | digiphile

  162. Pingback: On Corrections: Why fixing the rough draft of history matters | digiphile

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