Today an article on Mashable predicted that the ongoing debate about “comment etiquette” on blogs will become much more heated in the near future – I’ve said it before on my personal blog, but I find the social media community highly critical of anyone who defies convention. Mashable’s Stan Schroeder reports that popular site Engadget recently shut down comments, John Gruber’s blog Daring Fireball has been mirrored to include comments and everyone seems to have a view either way on the subject at the moment.
My view is that it is totally up to whoever runs the blog. There shouldn’t be a prescriptive one-size-fits all approach to any form of social media, especially when it comes to blogging. However, I think blogging is more worthwhile when comments are enabled.
Encouraging conversation, engagement and working to build communities and networks are key parts of what makes social media a success and by disabling comments you’re stopping this process (to a certain extent). After all, why be in the space if you’re not listening to feedback?
I feel that there’s also a psychological element to the debate – if you’re helping to build a brand, invite your consumers and potential clients in and they’ll feel much more valued? Maybe? Definitely.
I know if I read any kind of post I ALWAYS want to know what others have said about it in order to make sure I have a balanced view – especially if it’s a review or anything that could be tainted. People build brands, and common perception is what carries through word of mouth – not a brand’s broadcasted image.
However, I equally don’t think that brands, organisations or individuals should ever be criticised for disabling comments. It’s your decision how you’d like your brand to be portrayed online. Be that for the benefit or detriment of brand image.
There’s also the fact that many sites have disabled comments to quell abuse that cannot be constantly monitored – like the Engadget case.
If someone wants to say something they’ll find a way to do it – it’s not as if disabling comments means there’s a blackout on conversation about that topic – if someone wants to have a voice online there are millions and millions of ways to do it.
I felt it only right to collect a few of the comments beneath the Mashable post to explore some of the views on the subject:
“I think to some readers, blog comments can be more important, or more interesting, than the blog article itself”
“Comments are an invaluable part of the blogosphere. On more than one occasion, I’ve learned a SIGNIFICANT amount of information from the comments section. But that being said, I do believe in moderation”
“It’s not brain surgery. Moderate your blog comments to weed out abusive idiots. Have an option for the community to flag abusive idiots. The blogs that don’t have comments sections are living in an era long-gone”
“I agree with what engadget did. the commenting trolls were out of control and its good to let the bad commmenters go impatient and go to another site”
“Great blogs often generate great discussions through the comments. It is an essential part of the experience. Yet it is also true that sometimes a few people hijack the comments section and drive others off. The question becomes, how does the "community" police itself?”
“May be true for the big people in the market like engadget. But for us humble bloggers, the only satisfaction we get by writing is the comments”
Where do you stand on turning comments off?