I remember when commenting was a feature at the bottom of every newspaper and media website article. Initially, anyone could add a comment without a profile. That led to vulgarity and incivility, which in turn began moderation with publishers employing a mix of robot algorithms and human checkers. Readers grew frustrated with the lag between the time they posted their comments and the time the comments were approved. Readers turned to social media, especially Facebook. Some posted links to the articles and added their own commentary. Others found the original articles linked on social media and replied there.
The Boston Globe continues to accept comments. For instance, at the bottom of this article about Governor Baker responding to social gatherings, there are (currently 72) comments. Create a profile and write what you want.
On the other hand, NPR disabled commenting in 2016. If you like what they post on their website and you want to say something, you can share a link to your favorite social media platform and write whatever you want.
This brings me to blogs…
When I mentioned Seth, Dave, and Dan at the bottom of my post the other day about blogging every day, their blogs don’t enable comments. Some of them used to, but these days they do what NPR does. If you want to say something, say it wherever you want. (Dan goes a step further by linking to Facebook posts at the bottom of his posts. In this way, readers who want to converse with Dan and other readers can do it in the same place.)
My friend Julia Campbell continues to ask her readers to add comments on the blog. At the bottom of this post about nonprofit marketing techniques after the pandemic, there is an option to fill in some fields and write whatever you want her and other readers to see.
Bloggers in 2020 are a mix of Dans and Julias. Some bloggers prefer comments and eventual conversations on the blog. Others want the dialogue to occur elsewhere which carries with it more features (including less spam moderation, a greater desire to be civil because your full name and profile link is attached to whatever you write, and you can opt to “like” or “share” the original post from Facebook whenever you want).
Granted, asking would-be commenters to interact on Facebook implies readers have accounts there. But if not, they can comment on Twitter or LinkedIn or just send an email. I like email too.
Should comments remain on my blog or should I disable them?
Since 2007 when I started this blog, I approved over 11,000 comments! In response to people writing them, I contributed 2,500 of my own comments.
But since resurrecting my blog to focus on pandemic topics about four months ago, it’s hit or miss if people comment. I usually receive email responses instead of posted comments. I’m glad they want to share their opinions with me, and I always reply back, but why not share with others?
There’s no urgency if I decide to disable blog comments, but it’s something I’m thinking about.
As an experiment, I’ve disabled comments on this post.
If you want to share your thoughts, click here to chat with me.