Do Blog Comments Change What Bloggers Write?
During last week’s Blogchat on Twitter, I learned something interesting about a prominent blogger’s refusal to allow blog comments on his site.
I’m not sure why I didn’t already know this about blogger Seth Godin and his blog comments policy.
He’s certainly a well-known blogger and this policy I’m about to quote a brief excerpt of was only posted 13 years ago!
But somehow, I missed it. I guess that’s a good sign that I don’t try to leave comments nearly as often as I should.
Seth’s blog comments policy: He doesn’t accept them.
He gives three reasons for this in his policy, which was posted on June 3, 2006. But the most interesting one, to me, is the third one. He says blog comments would change the way he writes:
Instead of writing for everyone, I find myself writing in anticipation of the commenters.
I note that he did not say it would change what he writes. He says it would change the way he writes.
I reread the comment policy a couple of times. And I’m left with this question: What, exactly, is so wrong with that?
I will never have the comment volume that Godin’s blog would have had if he allowed comments. But I still try to write expecting some sort of feedback. Sometimes, I receive messages through my contact form from people who don’t seem all that interested in leaving a comment.
But if I rethink something I’m about to say, it’s not because of fear of a comment.
I think about two things in the background as I write.
Of course, the main thing I’m thinking about is what it is that I want to say. I want to make my case on whatever topic I’m writing about and make it informative and, hopefully, even a bit entertaining along the way.
I think this is a basic thing most writers want to do.
But as I’m doing that, I do quietly ponder a few other things on a back burner. The first is, “How can what I’m writing right this minute be misunderstood?” The second is, “Can I say this in a different way to avoid a misunderstanding?”
Plenty of my posts get no comments. But regardless of this fact, which seems to be a fact of life for a growing number of bloggers these days, I still edit and re-edit with the above questions in mind.
I don’t think this is a bad thing at all. If anything, I think it’s great because I’m trying to put my audience first and make sure I’m communicating my points as clearly as I can. I don’t want to lead you astray with what I’m writing, after all. If I do, I’ve failed as a communicator.
Even if I turned off blog comments, which I would have no plans to do, I’d still ask those questions.
If Godin honestly believes the possibility of comments is enough to effect his writing in a negative way, then I suppose he’s absolutely correct to turn blog comments off. But I’m sure he must receive feedback in other ways, even if there’s less of it.
I wonder how that doesn’t affect the writing while blog comments would.
Far be it from me to suggest that he’s wrong to have reached the conclusion he did.
But just as blog comments seem to not work for him, that philosophy wouldn’t work for me.
Your mileage may vary.