This debate is a super hot-button issue in the blogging world. So hold on to your undies, tighten your shoelaces, and secure your spinny-chair.
I surveyed as many people as I could on this issue because I think it’s an important one — and found that exactly 100% of them keep comments enabled. Of course, to disable comments is something you have to try to do with your website. A lot of these people may not know they have a choice or they may not even have thought about. Some of this 100% could be because the person is complacently keeping comments enabled.
The Case for Keeping Your Comments:
In an admitted old (but nevertheless relevant) post from 2011, Problogger.net says, “Every comment left is a reader taking a step towards being a regular reader – without them readers have no simple way to participate.”
Keeping comments enabled does give web visitors a way to engage with you in the here and now. And they don’t have to leave your site or email you to say something, they can do it right there. There is something gratifying about that for the user. And it’s also very good for the blogger to get feedback in a real context.
Sarah Gooding, a smart gal over at WPTavern said this about Copyblogger (who, as you will read), disabled comments and caused an uproar among WordPress bloggers and nerds alike.
Open comments are the affirmation that your blog is a conversation and not a soapbox. Ultimately, allowing comments on your posts is about valuing conversation. Encouraging interaction on other social channels, while turning it off at home on your blog, sends a mixed message.
When Copyblogger turned off comments, it encouraged readers to take the conversation to social networks and to write responses on their own blogs as an alternative to commenting on Copyblogger.com. How can you ask your readers to promote you on social networks and link to you from their blogs, when they’re not welcome at your home on the web?
OK! Let’s talk about how brilliant that argument is. Until this very moment, I’d never really considered it unfriendly or rude to disable comments. It is a bit get-out-of-my-house-esque, isn’t it? I don’t know that I’d go so far as to think of Copyblogger as a soapbox (since they do say that you can refute them or talk about them on social media), but I think having no means of talking back to the writer/author after a blog DOES give this impression. So if you are thinking about disabling your comments, know that it’s crucial to have an alternative. Which brings me to this…
The Compelling Case Against Comments:
This has something to do with social media engagement…
The case against comments comes direct from Copyblogger. This quote I’m using doesn’t actually have to do with why they think you should disable them, but it actually is making me consider doing so: “If you’ve been running your own blog for awhile, you probably noticed that comments started to become less frequent when Facebook and Twitter really started to come into their own. (And that’s only picked up speed with the incredible growth of the other social platforms like Google+ and LinkedIn.)”
In other words, by keeping comments on your website, you’re potentially (albeit inadvertently) losing out on social media engagement. Because heck , if people can comment right there on your site, why should they bother talking to you on Facebook?
I suppose, contrarily, you could say, “Who cares? I want people to stay on my website.” Good instinct. Then, going back to this social media argument, I would remind you that commenting isn’t necessarily lead capture. These people, although engaged in the moment, don’t necessarily come back to you later. If they talk to you or about you on social media, you might actually get a follow or a page like. And that way, you do improve your chances of capturing a lead. Make sense?
The SPAM, my GOD! It just keeps happening.
There are ways of dealing with comment spam (installing Disqus, for one) or using a strong spam-blocker like Akismet. But the truth is, that the more traffic you have, the more spam you will get. For high-traffic sites, spam is probably a rising cause for employee carpel tunnel.
Comments can make you look like a bum in more ways than one.
Comment wars are so gross. They don’t happen here, but when you get oodles of traffic, they can happen. I just think they reflect poorly on the website and can usually ruin a good article for me, as a reader. Sarah Gooding from WPTavern says something about how she likes to read the comments because she learns more. I think that is a good point, but it definitely depends on the blog and the topic.
And then there is the lack of comments. I don’t view comments like Coach bags, but the fact is that some people do. If your site doesn’t have that many comments, it can make you look less important than the other guy. And nobody wants that.
What do you think of these arguments?
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