There’s a tidal wave sweeping the blogosphere: bloggers everywhere are removing the comment feature from their blogs. They say that replying to the comments is no longer scale-able, it takes too much time to moderate spam, and the conversation is taking place elsewhere. Whatever the reasons stated, the fact is: comments are down, and many bloggers are willing to help them die.
But not all bloggers have given up on comments. In fact, some view the slower stream of comments as indicating more quality conversation, rather than just looking at the changing quantity. Many bloggers are ignoring the trends and continuing to invest their time and energy into the comments section simply because they want to serve their readers faithfully.
Although killing comments may be all the rage this season, here are 5 reasons you may want to not want to join the trend. (Click to Tweet that.)
1. Comments save the conversation to your own blog.
Have you ever tried to go back and find a conversation that took place on Facebook? It’s like searching for a needle in a haystack…that’s 15 stories high. Social media conversations provide instant gratification but they don’t leave a lasting online legacy. Investing in the time to comment on a blog is contributing to a more permanent conversation.
Conversation may not be an asset that can be owned or controlled, but I believe comments are a resource worth preserving and protecting. There is no guarantee Google+ discussion threads will be available in 10 years. But blog comments can and should always be tied to the blog post.
“I stand very firmly on the side of building [your community] in a place that you own vs. renting it out to one of your social networks.”
“Social media is ultimately where you want to initiate conversation in order to bring people back to your website.”
2. Comments keep the post evergreen.
Whether you are sharing social media tips or real food resources, the comment section often becomes alive with your readers’ own experiences and tips. Not only does this provide additional value to both you and your readers, but these comments keep the post relevant. Someone could find the post five years later and add to the conversation with the latest research or their long-term experience. And when you take the time to answer someone’s question in the comment section, your answer is available to others who might have otherwise asked the same thing.
“The bummer is when a new post is published, the conversation [on other places, like Facebook] more or less vanishes, never to be seen again. It doesn’t ‘stick’ to the blog post like a conventional comment section does.”
“The lifeblood of a thriving community is the discussion. Not only does good discussion enhance your readers’ experience on your blog – it’s also great for your search engine optimization (SEO).”
3. Comments make us accountable.
Comments are an endorsement of sorts, that lend you and your post validity. The absence of a comment section demands another form of proof as to your credibility. Social media share counts come and go with domain or permalink changes, but comments are on your blog to stay.
Opening up your blog to conversation shows that you are willing to listen to criticism. A comment box is an invitation for the discussion–positive or negative–to take place on your blog, where you can respond to both your fans and your critics. Not only are you able to moderate and participate in the discussion because you own the forum in which it is taking place, but the words spoken might be a bit more polite because they are being written on your turf. The discussion on Facebook usually lacks the civility that is expected in a blog’s comment section.
“It is always good to have a balanced view and providing readers with the platform to present their alternative viewpoints in the same place is (in my opinion) healthy.”
“Open comments are the affirmation that your blog is a conversation and not a soapbox.”
4. Comments allow for an anonymity that social media does not.
Social media does not provide much space for pseudonyms or anonymity. Most people know better than to like or comment on Facebook about a post that speaks directly to a difficult relationship or situation they are dealing with.
But the relative anonymity available in a blog post’s comment section allows for your readers to reach out and interact with you in a safer way. Their IP or email address may be visible to you, but not to their friend or family member who happens upon your blog. And in responding to one anonymous commenter, you never know how you might be encouraging another who never had the courage to comment.
“When the comments are made on social media, they are typed out quickly and then gone as quickly. Not so with comments on blogs, where the discussion is measured, thoughtful, and conversational in tone.”
“By removing the option to be anonymous, media companies will never hear from a majority of their readers.”
5. Comments are community.
Comments are about community, not quantity. (Click to Tweet that.) The white space of a blog comment box brings a thoughtful quality to the conversation that is often lacking in fast-paced social media.
No, not all blogs lend themselves to comments. Some posts are not meant for continuing conversation, but for encouraging action or inspiring meditation. Other stories are too raw and real for people to want to respond openly, even anonymously. But I think those blogs and posts are still the exception to the rule.
Comments allow our readers to approach and interact with us as bloggers. Comments allow us to serve our readers on a more personal level. Comments allow us to cut through the noise of social media and engage in real community.
“[Having comments enabled] creates community. Opens a discussion among readers with common interests so that they can get to know each other, sparking new connections. And that’s what community is all about.”
“Comments are conversation, conversation is community. I think that if comments die, blogging is dead, and we’re just being reporters. Without comments, the conversation and community are gone from blogging.”
Ending a post with a strong call to action, links to related posts, a selection of social media share buttons, and a comment box gives our readers a lot of choices. It’s unreasonable to expect anyone to take that many actions on a single post. Especially when they are reading on a smartphone with a tiny keyboard and limited mobile connection.
Comments may be down, but interaction is not: it’s just split between many different platforms. Let’s accept the fact that leaving a comment is just one action a reader might take when they finish our blog post, and reward the comments that are made with a sincere reply.
P.S. Don’t miss the 10 practical ways you can encourage comments on your blog!