Copyblogger’s recent announcement that they were shutting off comments on their blog has certainly sparked some interesting conversations in my neck of the blogging world.
I’ve been mulling over my own thoughts about this for a few days as I’m torn.
I agree with A.J Kohn that for readers of a blog “Commenting is your chance to get the undivided attention of that creator, if only for a few seconds as they determine whether the comment is interesting.”
But I don’t necessarily agree that in today’s online world those comments need to be on a blog post. Those conversations can happen anywhere (and often do) whether comments are enabled or not.
I also don’t agree that a blog has to have comments to be successful.
Many of the people writing about the Copyblogger decision are in an area that celebrates content creation in an online world. And their audience tends to be the same; creative people who enjoy creating content (usually by writing) and want to learn how to get better at it (usually so they can provide a service to people who don’t enjoy creating content).
And in that situation blog comments can extend the conversation and create interesting discussions for both the original creator and the people commentating/lurking.
Many blogs though cater to an audience that just wants to learn stuff – they want to know how to fix their T.V antenna; write a LinkedIn status update or worm their cat.
Or how about the audience that’s looking for advice on swimming pool construction; questions to ask a plumber before getting a bathroom renovation or the latest photos of a celebrity?
No matter how many calls to action you put in your post they’re unlikely to be interested in leaving a comment – they’ve gotten the information they’ve needed, they’re not going to hang around.
But that doesn’t mean the content is useless. I’ve gotten lots of extremely valuable information from blog posts that didn’t have a single comment on them.
It would be a shame if people writing these types of articles were made to feel failures because they don’t have the ‘social proof’ of comments.
So to sum up – I agree that comments can be useful (whether on a blog or elsewhere) but if a blog (even a really big one) turns off comments I don’t think it’s the end of blogging as we know it.