It's Not A Blog If You Don't Have Comments

I've long regarded websites that claim to be blogs but don't allow engagement/community generation via comments NOT to be blogs. I have explained why this is so at client sites, at conferences and in pubs but I've never taken the time to write it down.

And now I don't have to as the ever popular and highly informative Laurel Papworth has done so for me - No Comments? No Engagement:
I’ve been meaning to write this post forever. It really annoys me when people turn off comments, still call it a blog (not ‘a website with an easy to update article engine‘) and then waffle on about “engagement”.
(I like that she also has been meaning to write it all down - thanks Laurel - I write like we're old mates ... we're not ;-)

Here's what I believe the key arguments that Laurel makes around why you should enable comments/feedback - what are your thoughts (see what I did there, I asked for comments/feedback, subtle eh!)

... engagement means listening, hearing, responding - and not just with words like “Thank you for your input, we’ll consider it”.
It's a flow between the author and the reader in TWO directions, otherwise it's a lecture!

... allowing yourself to be changed. Or strengthened by the discussions, becoming stronger in saying “no you are wrong”.
This is a toughie for a lot of people that write from an "ego" perspective ... and I would suggest that is a lot of people from the "head office" view of the world that are setting such things as "policies" and the like. Sit back in your chair, close your eyes and ask yourself, "Am I an ego writer?"

... no comments means that the barrier to entry to move from lurker to participant is too high. Back to web 1.0 days
Sigh, the good old "read-only" web!

If you set it up so that you respond to helpful questions, not snaky trolls, the community learns really quickly how to gain the attention of their leader.
I call this the "dress sense" or "door policy". Two fantastic New Zealand blogs that have actively engaged a respectful "door policy" are PublicAddress and Geekzone.

... refusing to be influenced by your commenters means an unwillingness to engage.
Ego, ego, ego ...

... engagement often means containment, removing comments releases you from responsibility but also removes the central focus critical for control and management.
An example of the age-old adage of, "You want people to complain to you". If they can complain in your place you can address the issues and re-built broken relationships. Otherwise, as Laurel explains, you can be in the poop.


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Comments

  1. Good post, bad title. I agree completely that you will get much better engagement if comments are enabled. However, it's still a blog.

    I guess it comes down to the old saying. If someone writes a blog and no-one reads it, is it still a blog? Of course is bloody well is!

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  2. I disagree - if it does not allow comments it's merely an easily update-able/time ordered website, not a blog.

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  3. Thanks Mike ... I learned something valuable out of this post. It's about thinking how to end each posting by having an open question to encourage conversation.

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  4. Why doesn't this commentable (or commendable as my spell checker just told me:) blog have a "email me when comments to this blog are made" feature? I just noticed that people have replied now!

    I still believe that a blog doesn't need comments to be a blog. Google agrees with me: http://www.google.co.nz/search?q=define%3A+blog&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

    web log: a shared on-line journal where people can post diary entries about their personal experiences and hobbies; "postings on a blog are usually in chronological order"

    However, if you're writing a blog in order to engage with a community you'd be silly not to have commenting!

    (and if you want lots of discussions then, please, provide a "notify me about replies to this thread" type feature!)

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  5. You can, down under this box (to the left) "Subscribe by email" - you not getting that?

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