A blog without comments isn’t really a blog
To me, a blog with no possibility to comment isn’t a real blog. The web is such a living medium with possibilities for everyone to control their content, give feedback in numerous ways and basically have every web site relation as some kind of dialog with the web site owner.
Then we have the people who blog and doesn’t accept comments…
To me, people blogging without having a dialog with their readers has, to some degree, misunderstood the meaning. Then you shouldn’t blog; you should write a column in a news paper. With letting people comment on a blog post, you’ll get:
- A more balanced view of the topic, with different people’s take on it.
- If it has any factual (or other) faults, they will be promptly pointed out.
- A relation with your readers, instead of a one-way communication.
- The possibility to show people that you care about what they think, as opposed to sitting on some pedestal, thinking you’re perfect.
My guess is that bloggers who don’t accept comments are the same persons that go up to a group at a party, tell a joke or a story, and then just leave as soon as someone else starts to talk. It’s all about them and their opinions, and not about anyone’s else. Worse, though, is my fear that they’re afraid that flaws will be pointed out or that anyone might question them, and if this is true, it’s really bad. If you can’t stand up for your opinions, you’re not really in title to express them either.
Sure, you can argue that if you don’t like a blog, you can just leave it and never come back. In my case, that’s exactly what I do. For instance, my field of interest is web developing, but I don’t follow a single blog that doesn’t allow the readers to comment. Why? Because to me, they lack credibility. No one’s perfect, so anyone can make faults, but if there’s no way help out the article author, I always go for the humble ones who can discuss things like grown-ups in a serious manner with their audience.
My comments broke, so I turned them off because I didn't have time to fix them. I've never bothered fixing them because I was sick off all the spam I was getting. Simple.
Besides, even if you turned yours off, I'd just ring you up to make fun of you. 😛
Robert, on my website I write things I want others to read, if someone wants to say something they have my AIM and email. That's all it is. You can call it a fake blog, you don't have to read it, no one has to. It's just a website. So according to you I'm a loser?.
I think the problem here is that now every website has to be a blog and if it doesn't fit the stereotype then it sucks, is that it?. Is Dooce a fake blogger? Is Kottke? Are the BoingBoing guys fake?.
I'm not being mean, I just don't get it. I mean, sure if you prefer to read blogs with comments do. If you can't read a blog with no comments, how do you read a newspaper?, why does it have to be a blog with no comments? why not just a website? what exactly does the word blog mean?.
Haha, my point:
You say "a blog without comments isn't really a blog". I want to know what it is then. A website? A magazine? A newspaper? And if so, what is wrong with that.
i too do not support comments on my blog. At least for now. This has some reasons. First, my blog is hand-made, since i do not have PHP on my webspace. And without PHP or CGI or whatever it is quite hard to enable comments.
Nevertheless i once managed to enable comments via a feedback cgi offered by my provider, sending me that comment as e-mail feedback, which i then added to the comment page by a shellscript and some xsl. It worked, although with a 10 minute delay. But then i got 100% spam. You read right: 100%! I got nothing else than spam. So after a while i disabled it again.
May be some day in future i reenable it again, maybe with other technics. We'll see. Until then, my blog ist still a blog. Only it's not Web 2.0.
I agree with you Robert, I've tried reading a few of the successful commentless blogs including those people have sited here, but lost interest after a few visits.
I agree with Pat in that I wish WordPress (and other blogs) allowed the commenter to edit their comment. I hate making a typo that I can't correct or using tags that aren't supported (I wish bloggers would enable more tags such as <q> ). It is a pain to either email the blogger to ask that a correction be made or, if the email address isn't available, add another comment with the corrections in it.
I know people that had a blog and just stopped. Why?
Because they were enthusiastic about it, but, what if you write premium content but your visitors never or very llttle comment on your site. You will feel stupid after a while.
Robert Nyman, yes you! You have succeeded in turning your blog in a frequently visited journal. And your visitors are happy to come here it seems, so they return. So you must be a lucky man. Roger Johansson, your fellow Swedish colleague is another example of having happy and returning visitors.
Jeremy Keith over at adactio.com said in this post:
The comments of crowds that he feels not comfortable with enabling comments. Why?
I dont agree with him. Since he does not see this out of social or ethic perspective but a marketing perspective.
Also I am very displeased that people stay away from certain blogs because they perceive them as less fashionable. They think that going to thinkvitamin.com will give them extra popularity points instead of going to a small blog. So where should we go? Are we going to a place to discuss with many to be seen by many, or do we go for premium content?
By the way please visit my article hosted by Jorge Frascara about design communication:
Sorry this was not clear: I dont agree with him. Since he does not see this out of social or ethic perspective but a marketing perspective.
But Mike said that he was going to lose visitors with comments disabled – a marketing perspective, not so?
But you could also see Jeremy's motive to disable comments that he is worried that comments enabled means to have less valuable content on his website and you could see that also a marketing perspective. But again the site owner is the king of content!
I would never call you a loser for that, nor that a web site without comments sucks. What I'm saying is that, in my book, it's just not a blog. What to call it? A regular web site, I guess… More like a billboard than the important two-way communicative aspect of the web.
I mean, take your reply here, for instance: I gave you the possibility to express your opinions about it and share your view. Imagine if I would've done the opposite and said that all blogs with comments were bad, and your only way to contact me or offer a more balanced view would've been through e-mail.
Wouldn't that have been annoying, and also slightly disrespectful to the other readers and their opinions?
It's your call what you want to do with it, but there are free blog frameworks out there and very cheap hosting supporting some kind of dynamic language, so I would just like to chime in that it's not that hard to get comments in your blog (with built-in, well-tested spam prevention).
Regarding editing comments: yes and no. If you've said something and then someone else replied to it, you can just change your comment and the comment thread will totally lose its meaning and consistency.
So, I understand your problems, but the downsides outweigh the upsides. My hope is that the preview I have here helps at least a little.
With that said, I'd like WordPress to support more formatting in the comment field as well.
Personally, I strongly disagree with the notion you mention/quote that visitors are, per se, wrong just because they want comments and an open discussion. And I also see no correlation between less valuable content and comments. The best blogs online allow comments.
Robert: Well I totaly agree that comments are one really important aspect of having a blog. Over at thinkingphp.org I got a got quite some people commenting as well (not as many as you so), and their feedback is awesome. However if my blog would suddenly have 3-4x as many comments this could cause a serious problem to me because I feel like it's my responsibility to control the quality of my entire site, including the comments. So when people point out issues in my code and offer their own solutions for them, I have to check their work – otherwise somebody else might get's some wrong information and will follow it. For my most recent work that is usally easy, but sometimes people comment on stuff I did months ago that I haven't touched since then. Getting this stuff back into my RAM (means finding the files) and head in order to give a response can often take an entire hour.
So at a certain point you might have to make the decision if the workload imposed onto you by comments is worth the results. Just take stevepavlina.com, the guy has a great blog, but after getting hundreds of comments a day he just couldn't handle them any longer, so he turned them off. But as long as the content stays good, I'm not going to kick him out of my RSS reader at any point soon. Sure it would be nice to hear other people's oppinions on some of his topics, and sometimes I would like to comment as well, but honestly sometimes I'm not even sure if that by itself isn't already a waste of time ^^.
Anyway, I love your blog, I love blogs with comments and I just disagree that a blog without comments isn't a blog.
You got me wrong there. If you want a blog and with comments, that is your own choice. But if you start to moderate you blog to filter out comments because they are unvaluable to you, you are hindering the freedom of speech idea. If you maintain comments like that, and delete or criticize people without respect, you have a bad blog.
If their blog is for them part of marketing or other, blog owners often shy away to respond to criticism, they just delete the stuff. You wont do that, you will respond. But I have seen often that blog owners feel offended if you disagree, and delete polite criticism without notice. In the end the blog owner is the moderator.
My point is that some blog owners would delete comments if a comments where negative or criticizing.
That is called censureship! And what undermines the democratic commenting system idea where every commenter should be have the freedom of speech whether you agree or disagree about the value of content.
Luckily: blogs like yours are about having a fun discussion or having your say.
But unfortunately we have blogs like thinkvitamin.com that generate traffic with having a blog.And since the authors are also mostly people that do the carson workshops. You have a marketing strategy combined with a design blog.
37signals has a $$ job board on top of a blog. They do
like having a lot of visitors. I dont like the mix of a blog and biz.
I understand and can definitely relate to what you''re talking about. But my take is that comments should still be open, it doesn't take that long to read them.
If we talk about code suggestions, especially on old stuff, I try to check it out depending on what time I have. If I don't have time, I'm still grateful that they took the time to share their take on it, and at least I think i owe them the decency to thank them for their contribution.
Luckily, though, the suggestions I get are usually very good, which helps me improve my initial code, which then in turn results in better code for everyone using it. 🙂
Thank you! And that's fine, that's your opinion and I respect it. To believe that everyone would have the exact same opinions is just naive. And also, what a boring world this would be! 🙂
Ok, I see. To me, then, to get offended by someone disagreeing, or, even worse, censoring comments that you don't like, is just ridiculous. As long as people disagreeing treat each other with respect and discuss things in a respectful manner, that's how we grow. To just express an opinion and not listening to a reply will help you evolve about as much as talking to a wall…
Robert, speaking as someone who (more often than not) doesn't have comments enabled on their blog, your post could be misconstrued as being pretty arrogant.
I may not have comments, but I've also never had the audacity to proclaim what I think other people should do on their own personal sites. I would certainly never go as far as to claim the very definition of blog requires the presence of comments: a ludicrous definition, as anybody who's blogging since the late '90s will tell you. I'm glad you prefaced the first sentence with "To me,". A shame that you didn't add "in my opinion" to the attention-grabbing title.
For the record, a blog without comments is just that: a blog without comments.
As for associating a lack of comment forms with a lack of credibility… well, I'll be sure to inform Joe Clark that he is no longer credible.
I respect your opinion, Robert. But I do not think you have any right to judge other people's personality or credibility simply because their feedback mechanisms aren't what you desire.
I hope that your arrogant judgemental tone is inadvertent. I'm pretty sure it is. I know you're not the kind of person who would normally make judgements about people just because they make different choices to you.
However, in deference to your new world order, I will hereby stop referring to my site as a blog. Perhaps some form of punishment could be arranged for people who don't have comments enabled on their personal sites but still refer to them as blogs? A fine, perhaps? Or a slap in the face with a wet fish? You decide.
Thanks for finally clearing up what a blog is. Other people have been trying to do that for seven or eight years now. Who knew that the answer would be so simple?
You know I respect your opinion as well, but I would say that you're fairly good at condemning me without looking at the perspective from which the post is written.
In the post, I use the phrase "to me" three times. I explicitly and repeatedly state that this is how I see it. Is someone's opinion now suddenly and automatically passing judgement?
What I do is describe, and speculate, which I also openly admit above, why I personally think a one-way communication lacks credibility vs. an open forum where people's take on an article/post is expressed. If someone states one thing or the other, I'd like three sides of the coin so in the end a more nuanced view comes through.
So, is it passing judgement or me merely expressing how I value things?
And regarding arrogant: I sincerely would like you to re-read your comment and say who is acting arrogant.
But hey, that's what this is for; I'm glad that I have comments here so everyone can read your and my opinions on this, and also have the possibility to contribute with what they think.
That's what I like about the web: the openness.
@ Jeremy Keith
There you cannot easily predict who will comment.
See, I disagree, you could have said that, and I would have just emailed you, or maybe not but I'd still respect your position (as I still do, you have a good point).
Sure, comments are great, but they're not necessary all the time. I think the question should actually be, if you didn't have comments enabled, would you have written the same post? Knowing you wouldn't get any comments?.
I personally don't allow commenting for several reasons:
1) I don't feel like coding up a commenting system. I know it's not hard, but I just don't have the interest in it because
2) I only got about five comments total in previous versions of my blog. What's the motivation to allow comments when the system will never be used anyhow? I do have an e-mail link, which unsurprisingly has never been used either.
As for your remarks about editing, I don't see that as a big concern. For example, nearly all foruming software in existence allows editing of posts (as do blogs themselves), yet there's never a major issue with posts being edited. I fail to see how allowing editing of comments would create a problem where there wasn't one before. The only real objection to editing I can think of is that it's quite insecure, unless a user system is coded.
Blogs are useful and interesting with or without comments. Those with are obviously more interactive and possibly have more "staying power", but it's not always worth the hassle.
In my opinion the primary reason people disable commenting on their blogs (assuming it had that functionality to begin with) is spam. I know of one fellow Swede developer who finally gave up in disgust.
Not that I can't speak for Tommy, he may want to comment for himself.
Although I agree with Robert on the principle of openness, there is one glaring and inherent flaw, and that is openness also leads to opening yourself up the guys wearing the black hats.
On my blog I continue to allow comments (although I get very few real ones), and it is a constant battle to allow this as I get far more junk. I did disable trackbacks because that was much worse.
I enjoy debate and discussion, but it comes at a price. It's a sad testament on humanity that for every evolutionary step forward (such as the Web) there are just as many assholes out there to drag it down again.
Skipped the comments: From my point of view, blogs imply a comment function. Other sites – like mine, for example – are "regular" sites, though probably offering additional news notification […]. And that's perfectly fine.
I personally like comments. With that said, dealing with spam can be a real problem. I don't know about others, but I get around 50 to 100 spam comments a day. Lucky for me I've only had two actually get through in the last three years. However, those that are blocked go into a blocked view, which I still have to look at to make sure that a real comment wasn't blocked. Of course I've not found a real comment that was blocked yet. 🙂
I thought of turning off comments when I got "hate" comments that were personal attacks against my character. Thankfully I only got three of those and haven't had any since, so I've left commenting on.
I do like receiving comments as it's an affirmation that someone actually reads my blog and their opinion of my blog entry.
I didn't state this before, but naturally I respect your position as well.
That's a very interesting question. When I write a post, I hope that I write it the same way no matter if comments were enabled or not; i.e. I don't write bolder or weaker just because I might get criticism/reactions to what I write.
But, of course I'm also aware that people will comment on what I write and as I result of that, I sometimes write short posts asking my readers of their opinion in some matter or invite they to share their experience.
Regarding your we site: it's your call and you should do what feels best to you.
When it comes to comments, I still think the whole flow of the comments will stumble if people can edit what they wrote. If commenter A changes his comment, maybe depending on what commenter B wrote, then B need to keep track of this and update his comment so its in line with A's new opinion, and so on. I'm fairly sure most people wouldn't like such a scenario.
A comment is stating what you think at that moment, and if you change your mind or want to add something, you can always add a new comment.
That's a different perspective from what I talk about here in the post. Spam is definitely a problem, and I'm genuinely sad that Tommy stopped blogging (although, as far as I know, this was far from the only reason).
There are assholes out there, but there's two ways to handle them:
1) Ignore them and they will usually get louder/more violent etc.
2) At least initially, rebute to what they said in a respectful way, and if they have any decency, they will appreciate that and maybe take the discussion to another level.
Absolutely, that's just fine. But to me, that isn't really the gist of a blog; it is instead "just" a web site with information (and that doesn't, of course, mean it's worth less).
I'm happy spam prevention works out (fairly) well for you! 🙂
well, it's not *that* easy. First i want to keep my domain. Well, that could be handled. Second, i want to keep my design. That is much more complicated. Formerly i offered user selectable style sheets (alternate stylesheet). Up to now i have not found how to support this with blog software. And definitely not with public services.
But indeed i'll change the whole system. Some day. But not the next few months.
I think, user generated content and interactivity is a web 2.0 feature, not especially a blog feature. So blog is not identical to web 2.0. A blog without comments is a web 1.0 blog. Well, that's pretty legal.
Robert, I'm glad you made this post and I'm glad you have comments, this is a great discussion.
There appears to be a trend (here in UK at least) whereby some news sites use blogs as another name for advertorials (case in point: IFA Online).
You can "Have your say in our discussion boards" but their kept away from the main story and it's a pain to try and link your discussion entry to the blog subject.
[…] th’s points on comments and I really disagree with seemingly pigeon-holed ideas like […]
I like to leave comments on (until I start to get spam), though I haven't been getting many comments on my articles lately :-(, so I often wonder what's the point? Anyway, I somewhat agree, although I understand the view of those that don't.
Regardless of whether or not you allow comments directly on your blog, people can and do still comment about things with posts on their own blogs. People like Ian Hickson, for example, who don't allow comments directly, do allow pingbacks, so if you write something about a post of his and your CMS sends a pingback, it will get linked to and (I assume) he'll read it.
Personally, I'm not much for labels like web 1.0 or 2.0; either a web site offers interactivity or it doesn't. No need to give that feature a number… 🙂
Thank you for reading and for discussing this; and, more importantly, understanding that I'm not out to say that anyone not agreeing with me is wrong. The whole point here is to discuss opinions, and express our standpoints.
Interesting. We start to see something similar here when it comes to major newspaper's online presence.
Regarding your blog and lack of comments: I know that you're very talented and your posts are often technical topics shedding some light on advanced stuff. Maybe people don't see the need to comment, or they're afraid that they will be technically wrong and consequently embarrassed for asking things.
Allowing pingbacks is fine, but what you miss out then is the possibility for all the people that don't have a web site, to express their opinion in context.
The reason I close my comments now and then is that I simply don't have time to deal with them. Or that I expect a bunch of useless flames that wouldn't add anything to the topic at hand.
You're probably right about people not having a need to comment. I keep hearing from various people that I'm apparently quite popular, so I'm sure it's not because I have no readers. But I hope no-one feels so intimidated by me that they'd be too embarrassed for asking a question.
I know that's the reason you have for it. I understand the risk for flaming, but personally to take the risk but not waste any long reply on people who write comments that are there solely to provoke. However, you do have comments most of the time, so I still think it's ok… 🙂
Many web developers know who you are, and respect you, so don't worry. 🙂
But, if you fear that it might be risk that they get intimidated, encourage people to comment! It might work, or it might not. But you don't know till you've tried it (I've had some crash and burns in this field…). 🙂
It seems to me that someone who leaves a site because they do not have comments enabled is perhaps more interested in expressing their opinion than say someone with a blog that doesn't allow comments.
Let me explain my reasoning a little more.
I'm sure that it's already been said but if I want to comment on another blog I can do it in my own blog and then link to the original post. Personally I think that this creates a much better interconnection of sites and opinions rather than having all the feedback to a post contained within the original blog. This widening of the sites commenting on a post will lead to further comment and eventually, I believe, a more considered and balanced response.
Personally I open comments on most posts and deliberately don't when I think there will be no benefit.
P.S. Although the "Comment preview" is a nice visual feature it is annoying constantly having to wait for the cursor to catch up and it makes correcting typos quite difficult.
It would be interesting in seeing innovative commenting systems. Funny thing, are forums not the same thing as commenting on a blog?
What does Robert think of http://www.cocomment.com?
That or implementing wiki style comments where once it's edited it's marked as such and people can see previous revisions of it. Tie in OpenID for authentication and your set : )
While that is surely true for some people, that's not the reason for me (as stated above in the post and the comments). I rarely comment at other people's blogs, but I appreciate the option too, if I see any factual faults in it or just have a strong urge to express what I feel.
Blog to blog-connection is fine, but there's two problems with that:
a) Then you have to have a blog to comment. My take is that everyone should be able to comment, i.e. no discrimination.
b) Far from every blog accepts pingbacks.
With the preview: not sure what you mean with that the cursor has to catch up… Unless you type really fast. 🙂
A blog is more the expression of one people's opinions and then a lot of other people's take on it. To me, a blog is sometimes written more professionally, while forums seem to be more casual in the tone. However, there are of course exceptions to this.
I have some friends who use it, and they seem happy with it, but I've never tried (or had the time to test it). Do you like it?
Ah, yes! I just need to hire another web developer to have the time to set it up then. 🙂
But yes, it would be nice.
The comments are both in blogs and forums threads, comments on blogs are similar. You are right that a blog post is mostly longer (and can be more subject to posing lots of questions) and a forum post is about one question
Both forums and blogs have categories.
Thinking about it some more I think the combination of blog to blog, plus comments, plus the other numerous ways you can express your opinion on the net is what makes it great. There is no one way, it's the combination of them all that I like. I'm still not sold on the "a blog without comments isn't a blog" thing but each to their own I guess.
Re: the cursor thing. When I add comments to your site it takes an eternity for what I have typed to show up. Maybe it has something to do with firefox version 2??
Oh, but of course there are a lot of similarities as well.
Yes, I agree that there's no ultimate way, but that instead the combination of options is what makes it so great.
Weird about the comments. I use Firefox 2 on my PC as well as on my Mac, and I haven't experienced that…
Maybe it's related to the spell-check feature in Firefox 2? Do you have the problem in other web browsers as well, or only Firefox 2 (no need to reply here, you can send me an e-mail: Contact information)?
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,..] robertnyman.com is one another useful source of information on this subject,..]
One of the biggest problems with blogs are the amount of people who leave comments that don't add to the topic/discussion. I use to have to allow comments on my blog. However, I spent more time reading spam filled comments that were so generic that you could leave them on any type of blog.
Comments like, "You hit the nail right of the head on this subject. You really know what you are talking about, and I will surely come back for more."
That kind of comment is just a waste of time, doesn't add to the discussion and is a mere ploy to get a link by commenting. I am not that desperate for comments to settle for this. I feel that many people want comments so badly that they are willing to settle for any type of comments they can get. If one settles for this, it degrades your blog and reflects on the blog owner. It is going to deterrent people away from your blog as well.
Search engines are also looking at quality of comments as well. So, if you allow comments that are full of spam, you devalue your content and that will affect your ranking in the search engines for the blog post.
I had a WordPress plugin made that would allows, a no comment blog to open a specific posts up for commenting. However, even when I do that, 85 to 90 percent of the comments are spam. In my niche, it seems that there is a spam issue and from my experience, I have to agree.
Therefore, I still open up posts for commenting hoping that things change. However, the problem remains the same.
I would love to have discussions about what I have posted on my blog about search engine optimization for WordPress blogs. Hopefully, things will turn about in the future and there will be discussions of something that contains substance, instead of spam.
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[…] discuss whether you should give clients the right to reuse your code and whether blogs should have comments enabled or […]
[…] Keith’s response to Nyman’s post expresses my thoughts exactly. Notice Nyman’s response to it. […]