Focused Vs. Freestyle Blogging Part 2: Comments or No Comments?

Categories Social Media

I wrote about freestyle blogging in my last post, which was a way getting my foot in the door.  This post is about throwing an arm after it. I have been wondering about the extent to which we have the power (sociologically correct term will be ‘agency’) in deciding what to write on our own blogs and if that affects the success of our blogs.

My last post raised the question about the theme of the blog – should we be subject matter experts who focus on any one field or should we write about all that our heart compels us to? Taking that debate further, what do you think about comments? Is it important, or even necessary, to have these on our blogs?

I had a look at a few of the most read blogs and it seems there is no clear answer. Though most of the blogs do allow comments and most of the bloggers would tell that comments keep them going on, it is definitely not the only way.

Blogs which function more like news outlets or forums, such as TechCrunch and GigaOM etc, are in business of creating conversations and providing an industry platform. So, comments are not just a basic part of the structure, they are also a barometer of a blog’s success. However, these blogs are not the subject of our discussion here.

I am more concerned about personal blogs, which is what all blogs were in the beginning. Here are a few very eminent bloggers who think readers should only be that – readers.

Norman Geras: Not that he doesn’t need feedback, but he decides it can’t be through his blog.

Seth Godin: You can share, like, +1 etc, but you can’t comment on his words.

Jason Kottke: The great grand uncle of blogging does not need comments, he has won enough awards. But it must have been tough in the beginning. His is an interesting story.

I am not sure what makes a blogger decide whether she wants comments or not. While the above are doing great without comments, there are others who thrive on comments and have expanded blogs into sort of communities.

Neil Patel responds to almost every comment and it won’t be the same without the ensuing discussions.

Aaron Wall does something similar with SEO Book.

Photography and food blogs on the other hand have to allow comments. I have not seen an exception yet. Jez Coulson needs constant feedback on his work.  Even Robert Scoble needs comments too.

With comments, comes the extra work of editing, approving and responding to them. To a few, this may seem a part of blogging they don’t need. Blogging to express can be quite different from blogging to communicate. One may have a lot to say but not have the willingness to carry on discussions around every spoken word. Even though no comments blogging may seem to be some kind of blogging hermitism, it is not that strange. After all, blogs are not forums.

There are other simple ways of dealing with comments. Jeffrey Archer wants you to log in to be eligible. Anil Dash has a few words of wisdom on the matter, which he has freely expressed in a very direct blog post If your website’s full of assholes, it’s your fault and in the next. The point put forward by Anil is that if you allow comments on your blog, you are responsible for their quality too. That’s fair enough.

So, which path will you take/have you taken? Is need for appreciation the biggest factor here or does something more important come into play? And, what do you do – freestyle blogging or focused blogging?