Should you allow comments on your blog?
I get asked this question a few times a month, but most recently, Kelly Livesay asked it via Twitter and wrote about blog commenting and your community. Every once in a while some influential blogger closes the comments on her blog and it causes a stir, and this time it was Danielle Laporte who needed to make some space for creative credo.
That seemingly simple question doesn’t come with a simple answer because it all depends on what you’re trying to do. Without knowing your end goals, I can’t say whether you should or shouldn’t allow comments. What I can tell you, though, is why I leave comments open.
Keep in mind that I’ve already talked about not being able to answer every comment. I’ve experienced the frustration of not being able to keep up with comments, as well as the feeling that I could write so much more if it weren’t for them. For a while, I even stopped answering them. In some ways, it would be a lot easier if I did close the comments and deal with the two weeks of backlash until people got used to it and later forgot that they were ever open.
But that doesn’t fit well with how I see this website and our connections. Over the past few years, I’ve learned a lot from you because of your comments and reactions. You’ve also given me plenty of things to think and write about, and I would miss learning from you and writing about things that I know you’re interested in. When I stopped answering and paying as much attention to comments, I felt more disconnected from you all and my writing.
As I’ve said many times before, you all have played a critical role in my own life and success. As momentarily frustrated as I may get with some aspects of tending to the mechanics of this space, the fact of the matter is that it’s not just about me anymore. Whether or not it shows, a lot of thought goes into each and every element of this website, and one of the primary considerations is how potential changes affect you. Removing comments makes it harder for you all to find and talk to each other, and we weirdos have to stick together.
I like to think of this website as a place where we all learn to flourish together. We share, we talk, we think, we understand, and we disagree – but we do all of this together. Were I to shut off the comments, I’d diffuse the conversations that happen here. There’s a lot of value to smaller, fractured conversations, and there’s also a ton of value in having a coherent, unified conversation in one place. I want to leave the options open for both to happen.
In case you’re curious, this is one of those cases where I’ve aligned compassion and strategy. Being more connected to what’s going on helps me create content that gets read and shared, so the audience grows. Commenter psychology is such that you’re likely to return if you’ve left a comment, so that increases the chance that you’ll read and share other posts, which agains grows the audience. Since this is a commercial blog, increased viewership on relevant content increases the chances that people will buy something from me, hire me, or attend an event – people supporting the commercial end of this blog helps me continue to do what I do, and the cycle repeats.
So, leaving comments open enables us to learn and grow together as well as put food on my table. Turning them off might make my life easier in the short term, but it seems to go counter to my long-term vision. If things change dramatically, I might reconsider, but, for the foreseeable future, it’s more effective and resonant for me to change my own habits and perspectives than it is to do something that requires you to change yours.
I ask for your continued patience and understanding about the fact that I may not be able to respond to all or any of your comments. I enjoy doing so and I care, but my time, energy, and attention are just as finite as yours. Deal?