Colin Devroe on a kayak

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More benefits of turning off comments

Over four years ago whether a blog should or shouldn't have comments was a heavily debated topic in the blogging community. Back then I wrote about one possible benefit of disabling comments.

One of the benefits I see coming from disabling comments is the number of links you end up getting back to your site.

Almost a year ago I wrote about the fact that blogging was ready for disruption. (I still think it is.) And that the new "pro blog recipe" was a blog without comments.

Lately this topic seems to have risen its head again yet not in the same way as it has in the past. In fact, rather than there being a debate for or against a blog having comments it appears that most independent bloggers have resolved that a blog without comments is simply much more enjoyable and manageable while larger outfits still see the need to engage the community.

Matt Gemmell, who recently shut off comments on his personal blog, added a few reasons to the fray. Here is one of his reasons that I have also enjoyed since turning comments off on my personal blog.

I feel more willing to publish short pieces, and to write more frequently.

When I had comments on I wouldn't publish anything that I thought may not start a conversation. Which ended up leading me in a direction I simply didn't want to go in - I was starting conversations for the sake of starting conversations. That isn't why I have my personal blog and I don't want it to be. So, off went the comments.And it isn't because I don't want to hear the opinions of those that read my blog. It is because I don't want to write simply for the gratification of receiving comments. It has been very liberating.

There is still a place for comments on blogs. Even personal blogs. Some blogs have very good reasons to have comments on them. In fact, even Jason Kottke turns on comments from time-to-time when they are needed. But there are better examples like Horace Dediu's Asymco. He has made it plainly clear that he runs Asymco in order to work with his community on figuring out a problem. He wants feedback, questions, answers, rebuttals to his hypothesis and blog comments is his primary way of accomplishing that.

So while the debate rages on - and all debates are good when they furnish constructive conversation - unlike Gemmell I firmly believe it is a matter of choice by the publisher rather than a cut-and-dry answer. There are pros and cons to having comments on or off and, once weighed, the publisher can then make a decision on how he or she would like to run their own blog.

  • 5 January 2012

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