Inviting comments on your blog is like inviting someone into your home. Come on in, you say, let me get you a cup of coffee, what’s on your mind? Sometimes it’s an old friend you’re inviting in, sometimes it’s a new one you trust to treat you right once inside.
So turning off the commenting function, as I have done, is not something to do lightly. I’ve been pondering doing it for a couple of years, before a few big guns blogs made the decision to do the same. I’m not big on bandwagons for trend’s sake, and wanted to wait until the idea clarified in my own mind.
And it did. So the blog comments are off…but not because I want conversation to end.
Better public ways to continue the conversation
When I started this blog in 2002, it was still the Wild West of blogging. The only practical ways to have the conversation was either by email or blog comments. The other platforms we hang out in now simply didn’t exist.
Those platforms — places like Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Facebook — have changed the way conversation is taking place on the web. They’re like an online coffee shop. I love having conversation with friends in the coffee shop and don’t like requiring friends to visit my home if they want to talk.
Coffee shop conversations can really get an idea to blossom and grow.
And private conversation matters a great deal for a conflict resolution blog
But not all conversations are best to have in public. Sometimes, sitting down on my porch, one on one, is better.
Email has always been the most common way that readers comment about my articles. Even when I write back and encourage someone to post their comment publicly, so I can answer it once for all those interested in the same question, few have actually done so. And, when you think about it, that makes sense.
It makes sense because I’m writing about conflict and resolution. A lot of people have something to say or ask or disagree with, but they want to have the conversation privately because conflict is a private subject for most people. And some want to have the conversation with me alone, not with everyone else who feels like weighing in.
And that’s as it should be.
Why I turned off blog comments
With better conversational mechanisms online for public conversation, and email a favorite of my readers for private conversation, blog commenting is becoming less and less compelling to me. Things change on the web and sometimes it makes sense to change what we do in response.
There was an additional impetus in the mix: I’ve been a bit worn out by a small but growing type of comments. No, not trolls. There have been few trolls here and those that have shown up over the years have been summarily sent packing with little fanfare.
The commenting that wore me out were the spammy ones and those that were little more than thinly disguised self-promotion. While most spam filtering happens automatically, the filters don’t catch it all, especially the subtle stuff. And while most readers who comment are actually adding to the conversation, a growing number have been using comments primarily to self-promote to the readership I’ve built over many years. Instead of adding to the conversation, those folks are trying to take from the conversation.
It feels a little akin to someone showing up at my dinner party and saying to my guests, “Hey, I’ve got a party going on next door! I don’t have many guests yet, so please come over!”
Have comments? Great! Here’s how to continue any conversation I’ve started here
Many of you read my blog posts in your email. You can hit reply and respond just like you always have. I read all my email and I love hearing from you (even when you disagree!).
If you hang out online, and prefer to have the conversation where others can join in, then meet me over at Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn and let’s talk. (Sorry, Facebook lovers, I use Facebook these days only to hang out with friends and family.)
Like all experiments, the results are yet unknown. Maybe I’ll decide it was a good call and leave the comments off. Maybe I’ll see it was a mistake and bring them back. I won’t know until I try it out.
For those of you who have commented here in the past (and some of you are beloved regulars), thank you. I have so enjoyed talking with you and hope you’ll continue to share your thoughts and reactions.