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Comments on blogs are a strange beast. On the one hand, comments mean your blog is sparking a conversation, which is one of the major goals of most blogs and can help with SEO. On the other hand, if you’ve ever read the comment section of most blogs on the internet, they can be absolutely disgusting places. How do you decide if your blog should or should not allow comments? Today, I’m going to go through the benefits and downfalls and help you figure out which option is right for you.
Why You Shouldn’t Allow Comments:
1. They are only a fraction of your real engagement. No matter how many readers you get, only a small fraction will ever comment. This means that even if you do disable comments, only a tiny percentage of people will even care.
2. Your comments represent your community. This one can be on the good list too, but more often, it’s a negative. People will read your blog and get an impression of you and your blog, but if the comments are full of vitriol and ignorance, they may not want to be part of the community at all and won’t come back and read more. Sure, you can weed out the worst of the comments, but that brings us to the next point…
3. The onus of maintenance and curation falls on you. By allowing comments, you are creating more work for yourself. You’ll suddenly have to spend time daily going through comments on different posts and making sure they aren’t too strange or offensive. Some people will even take offense to you deleting their comment, causing them to leave more comments until you are eventually forced to ban them. All of this takes valuable time where you could be writing new content to share.
4. Part of maintenance is spam. Even if your following is the best in the world, even if you have a great spam filter, you are still going to have to deal with people trying to link to cheap Nikes on your blog. Why make more work for yourself?
5. Most comments are negative. Obviously this isn’t true for every niche, but the combination of human nature and laziness means that people only respond when they do not agree with you and really want to sound off. What makes it even worse is that most comment sections are anonymous, so people aren’t afraid to use offensive language when they voice their disagreement. Over time, you’ll start to worry about offending people when you write, and that’s the downfall of any creative voice.
So there are five valid reasons why allowing comments on your blog can be bad, from seriously detrimental to just a pain in the butt. Of Course, just because you don’t allow commenting doesn’t mean there can’t still be conversation.
Here are Some Comment Alternatives:
1. You can encourage people to write responses to you on their own blogs. This allows them to address what you wrote point by point and really take their time with a reply. This, in my opinion, is the best method. It creates more content for everyone, more discussion, and just furthers the topic more than anything else. Of course, people don’t always have the time, energy or brainpower to write long replies. For those who prefer to keep brevity intact…
2. You can encourage replied via social media. This is a good option because people Tweeting at you are a lot more easy to manage, and by that I mean you can just ignore them if you want to. They won’t clog up your channels and you still have the ability to reply if you feel like engaging. Facebook doesn’t work quite as well, so try and encourage people to reach out via Twitter if you’re using this method.
3. You can tell people to email you their responses. This one is the easiest if you really just want to ignore the bulk of communication, but it can be difficult to parse out the good replies even when you are looking for them.
Of course, you may have noticed that there are plenty of blogs out there that do allow comments, so they can’t be all bad. Now, we’ll take a look at the other side of the coin and see why you SHOULD allow comments.
Why You Should Allow Comments:
1. Your comments represent your community (remember this one from earlier?) If you have a great commenting community, it can actually lead to more commenters and more readers. If everyone is welcoming and having interesting discussions, newcomers to the blog will be more inclined to stick around. Of course, you’ll have to invest time in actually building that community, but if you succeed, it’s worth any amount of effort.
2. Comments serve as easy social proof. If people look at a blog and see no sign of interaction, they may be scared off. If they see comments on every post, they know other people are reading. Humans care about what other humans think, so social proof is hugely important.
3. Comments let you directly interact with your readers. They may have questions or comments about what you wrote, and you can answer them right below the post. Not only will this make the reader you reply to feel good, it will encourage other readers to take part, because they see that you care and that you’re willing to engage.
4. Commenters help you with ideas. We’ve all approached the blank page and been stumped about what to write. When you foster regular engagement, your readers can tell you what parts of your writing they are most interested in. This lets you tailor the content to them, resulting in even more engagement, more suggestions, and easier to produce content ideas.
And the Verdict is…
It will be different for everyone. Only you will know if comments are right for your blog or not, and the only way you’ll know for sure is by doing some testing. If you aren’t getting many comments, consider shutting them off for awhile. If your comments have been shutoff, try turning them on and see what kind of response you get.
Let us know which way works better for you!