What’s This Trend of Killing Blog Comments Really About?
Every so often, I see another blogger announce to the masses why he has decided to shut down all comments from his blog.
When I scan through the article for the reason they’d come to such a decision, it almost always comes down to the same issue: there are too few comments these days compared to the “golden days of blogging” — whenever they were.
If really pressed for an answer, and since their readers can no longer leave comments, they aren’t pressed much, they will then add this fact to their justification of killing blog comments completely: “Since almost no one comments anymore, it’s not worth the effort involved.”
Well, wait a minute.
They just told me almost no one was commenting. They just told me the throngs of faithful commenters had all but migrated to Siberia.
So I immediately wonder: What effort?
How much work was it before those commenters moved on to other things to occupy their time? Wouldn’t that have been the time to not have comments, when the “work” involved had to be much greater because the volume of comments was higher?
Are we talking about the “effort” involved in responding to comments? If so, fewer comments would mean less effort.
So again, what’s the problem here?
If they said the problem involved some monumental amount of spam they receive, I might be a little better able to understand. For my blog, which has experienced significant growth over the past few years, the addition of plugins like Akismet and Livefyre pretty much wiped out about 99.5% of spam comments. So for me, there’s been almost no effort there at all.
But spam is rarely mentioned as the cause for the change.
I suspect the real reason comes down to pride. I’d love to publish posts that would immediately pull in dozens of comments. Eleven years ago, when this blog was housed on AOL’s blogging platform that was more of a closed community, I would often have posts with 30+ comments.
It was nice.
At the same time, it was work responding to comments that needed responses. But I didn’t mind because it was proof (in the days before Google Analytics could provide another form of proof) that people were actually coming here to read what little old me had to say.
Nowadays, I’m lucky to pull in a half-dozen comments to any single post. In a perfect world, I’d get more comments. But in a perfect world, I’d have more time to respond to more comments.
In this imperfect world, I don’t and I don’t.
If anything, it makes me appreciate the handful I do get rather than resent the “work” involved in reading and, where applicable, responding to them.
Do they think it looks bad to receive no comments? If they do, and that’s the real reason to kill comments altogether, I’d respect that decision. I won’t necessarily agree with it, since most of us know that social shares seem to be regarded as the new comments. But I’d at least respect it, if anyone would actually come right out and say so.
It just doesn’t make sense to me to hear someone complaining that it’s more work to keep track of fewer comments.
That math just doesn’t add up.
And I can’t help but think, as a blog owner, that I’d rather give that small handful of people who might want to give some input the chance to do so rather than just closing that door altogether.
I can’t help but wonder what kind of message we’re sending when we close comments. Isn’t that like saying to your readers, “I don’t care what you think”? It feels that way to me.
I think I’d rather run the risk of having no comments while giving a faithful reader a chance to still have his or her say in those moments that person wants to do so.
There are still valuable points of view and interesting ideas waiting to be heard.
Even once in a while.