In 2015, I turned off my blog comments for a variety of reasons. Little did I know that Michael Hyatt was doing the same thing! You can read his great post on the subject here: I’ve Pulled Comments from My Blog.
My reasons were somewhat similar, but I want to share why I turned off my blog comments for those of you who might be wondering if you should do the same thing.
Reasons Why I Turned Off My Blog Comments
1) The Absence of Comments
As a new OR seasoned blogger, the decline of comments are hitting us hard. In Hyatt’s post he shows his own statistical analysis of the decline of comments. While his readership is GROWING, the number of comments are SHRINKING.
Perhaps it’s, in part, due to the difficulty of commenting on a mobile device. Many services require logging into Disqus, Twitter, or Facebook. The switching back and forth between apps is annoying, as is the tiny keypads and Captcha boxes. Maybe it’s just too much for readers.
The absence of or low amount of comments can hurt a blogger. When people see that you don’t have comments on a blog, they are less likely to comment. Comments beget more comments, so if you are a smaller blog (like yours truly) it can make those few people who would comment decide against it. And so the dominoes fall…leaving you commentless and looking like no one reads your blog, even if your pageviews shows otherwise.
People like to hang around popular people. Perception is everything to most people and it is no different in the blogosphere.
2) The Total Time Suck
This is my #1 reasons for turning off my blog comments. I have to approve one comment for each commenter before they are allowed to comment freely. This is necessary to reduce the CRAZY amount of spam/robot comments I get. If I didn’t do this, my REAL readers would be reading comments like this:
I have a spam filter, but I still get a lot. I can’t even imagine how many someone like Michael Hyatt is getting per day!
I want to approve comments in a timely manner, but it was just getting to be too annoying to constantly be notified of comments that were low quality. Comments were taking away from the joy of blogging and time from my family.
3) The Nasty Comments
I don’t mind people disagreeing with me. It’s the beauty of free speech. But when people start calling me names, I delete the comment. But after a barrage of nasty comments on a recent blog post, I decided that “ain’t nobody got time for that.”
Maybe one day I’ll reinstate comments, but for now I’m happily ignorant of the haters.
4) The Positive Comments
I love it when people agree with me and add great information to a blog post I’ve written. I love meeting new online friends and developing a relationship with them. But sometimes as a blogger, I have found myself relishing in these comments, maybe a little too much. I’m continually trying to learn that my identity is not in the opinions of other people.
The absence of any comments, positive or negative, allows me the space to become more secure in myself.
5) The Shift to Social Media
In her State of the Blog address, Tsh from The Art of Simple recognized that the commenting is happening off-blog. People are moving their conversations onto social media.
The fact is: I probably won’t ever really stop engaging in comments, but since (it seems) that most of the community is moving to other venues that I, too, should close-up shop and move elsewhere!
Especially if I want to get the most bang for my (blogging) buck.
6) Who’s Planting the Seed?
This is probably the most controversial point of this blog. One that I’m glad to miss out on the comments from. It comes from a dear and trusted friend. I was
complaining discussing the frustration I felt with my comments section and she told me to take the time to think about this question: who’s planting the seed?
She gave the example of watching a movie with her husband (who is the WORST side-movie-commenter EVER!). During a recent movie night he pointed out a flaw in the movie. The complex storyline missed a loose end. It just wasn’t answered. It happens to writers all the time. No matter how hard we try, we just don’t have the time (and our audience doesn’t have the attention span) to flesh out all the points.
She didn’t notice it before he said anything, but now it was all she thought about. Instead of just saying “that was a good movie” and moving on, now she was thinking about that one detail. It didn’t ruin the movie, but it definitely took away from the enjoyment.
Sometimes comments can be like that. While many comments add to the conversation, making new and helpful points…many detract from the main purpose of the blog. Someone that visits your blog may never have thought of that other (negative) viewpoint. Instead of thinking on the good aspects of your blog, they are now focused and pissed/confused by something another commenter said.
And it begs the question, who is planting the seed?
This is controversial, of course. I want free speech. I want other opinions if they are meant to grow the community, but many commenter’s only aim is causing division and confusion.
As a blogger, I am trying to plant the seed. Of course, I want you to see things my way. But if you don’t, that’s okay. But if you are going to take over my comments section and confuse my reader, I don’t want you. I don’t need “pot stirrers” for the sake of pot stirring. Thanks, but no thanks.
If the pot stirrers wants to be heard, they can go writer their own blog post. They can write an online rebuttal and tag me in social media…which I’ll probably ignore because I’m too busy writing a new blog or spending time with my family.
7) Let What’s Been Said, Be Said
Again, while I appreciate free speech, the comment section can be a place where a blogger is defending their position to people who don’t (probably) want to understand.
Or you think of entirely new points to strengthen your blog post and end up writing a mini-blog in your comments section. Not only does this take up time from writing something fresh and new, but it also means that your post should have sat in the oven a little while longer.
I get antsy to push that publish button. I’ll admit sometimes I start promoting my post on social media only to go in a tweak some verbage. I try not to make entirely new points (rendering critical comments useless to future readers). The point is, unlike traditional publishing that takes day or weeks to edit and print, online publishing allows us the power to ‘get the word out’ immediately. While that is an amazing blessing, sometimes (I) we have abused that power.
If you’ve written a blog post, let what’s been said, be said. This goes for anyone — not just people who decide to turn off blog comments.
You wrote the blog. You already got the time to make your case. That’s it. If you feel the need to make a rebuttal — write a new blog post. At least that would be building up your content.
What do you think?…oh wait, there isn’t a comment section!
No really, if you have something to say I DO want to hear it. You can comment on my social media pages, tag me, tweet me, photograph yourself sticking out your tongue at me on IG because you don’t agree.
Commenting on social media is different because (going back to my second point) I DO NOT HAVE TO MODERATE YOU! You are free to do whatever on social media and I don’t get an email telling me that I need to “approve” your words! If I have time to comment or read your post I will, otherwise it will sink down, down, down into the social media void.
The death of blog comments?
Maybe blog comments aren’t dying, per se. Maybe they are taking a hiatus. Maybe when it gets easier to comment on mobile devices they will make a resurgence. I dunno.
But I do know that comments have had a funeral on my blog. (Enter the death march song)
Hopefully, I’ve made an interesting case and made you think about the value of blog comments.