December 4, 2015

Time to stop commenting on blogs?

Till Facebook and other social networking sites became the main platforms for social engagement on the web, blogs held sway.

Blogs still have their standing as a valuable section of social media and will remain so for a long time to come. However, their importance for engagement has definitely gone down as the comments made on blogs are not instantly visible to follower or friends unless you have made put some widgets or notifications for this. Even then, the notification system is not as efficient as that of Facebook, Twitter or even Google Plus, LinkedIn and others.

Another trend to share, in case you missed that. Many mainline media organizations the world over have reduced focus on commenting. Some have even stopped accepting comments on their news items and editorials. Some have reduced the prominence of blogs maintained on their platform. At the same time, all of them have put social sharing buttons for quick sharing of content.

So comes the question, whether we should give up on commenting on blogs?

Let's try to answer this question in three sections.

1. Continuing to accept comments on a personal blogs or other small blogs

We'd not want to pit blogs against social networks in terms of engagement. To some extent they serve different purposes. For example, the 'likes' and 'shares' on social networks are made at the spur of the moment, often without proper application of mind. 'Followers' on social media are known to act as herds - following mindlessly what others are following. This type of commenting is good for quick responses, especially of a personal and emotional nature. These comments or clicks also collectively show a trend and social sentiment in favor or against something or somebody. As they have the capacity to spread fast and go viral, they are much more efficient in popularizing or denigrating or broadcasting a message. 

Now look at comments on blogs. These are generally of higher value and made after at least a bit of thought. With better integration of blogs with social networks, it is possible for visitors to make quick comments, clicks and shares on these networks while reserving more serious comments for blogs. Of course this reality may also change, as some earlier bloggers have moved completely from blogs to Facebook or Google Plus.

Yet, till blogs die or merge with social networks or new platforms emerge that encompass blogs and social networks, small bloggers should keep the option of commenting on their blogs. They can decide when the blog has thousands of followers and hundreds of comments coming to their posts, whether to take the commenters to Facebook etc and leave the blog without comments. Not before that, we reckon.

If you have just started a blog, commenting must be part of your blogging routine. You must not only keep the comment box, you must also comment on blogs you like and where you can contribute. This results in good community building and traffic.

When you keep the facility for commenting, you have the responsibility to keep engaging with comenters so that the purpose of comments - that is, engagement - is well served. Otherwise the facility is just like a vestigial organ (like the ear lobes on human body). We find that many busy bloggers (and many who care a damn) do not engage with commenters. Some lament that comments only take their time and don't add value (or they don't care for that little value). Well, if you have these issues, closing down the commenting facility is an option worth consideration, is it?

Comments are an integral part of a blog, generally speaking. The reader of the blog must not be left to read what has been written without the choice of making a comment of approval or disapproval.  In fact, leave the duty of the blogger towards his readers, he himself is a loser in not allowing comments as he does not get feedback which may sometimes be of a high value. We have seen some blog posts on which the discussion through comments has generated far greater value than the post.

We find that comments do wonders in blogs of narrow themes and research blogs. If your blog is of these categories and you have taken some pain to popularize the blog, you must have received many useful comments. Such blogs do not receive many distracting or abusive comments.

Talking of trolls, we can always dis-allow anonymous comments by linking comments with Google, Facebook, Twitter, Disqus or OpenID identities. We can also put captcha to stop spam. 


We saw an interesting argument sometime back for not commenting: "My blog receives 3000 visitors a day but no comments. If I keep comment form, visitors will likely feel that my blog is not popular. Instead of helping at all, the comment form will be hurting the blog. So, I have removed comment form from the blog."

2. Accepting comments on blog when you maintain it for a community or a corporate

Many visitors to big blogs and websites come through links on social networks. Most mobile phone users fall in this category. Since social networking sites offer better and more visible conversations, it stands to logic that commenting may be given up as a means of 'social networking'. The 'likes' may not be sincere and serious, as discussed above, but they serve as a scale of popularity or sentiment in favor of a thought, service or product.   

Even if big bloggers or sellers of services and products have very vibrant social networks, how does it harm to allow comments on the blog or website? Chances are that if someone wants to give a  considered feedback on something and if he has the choice equally easily available, he will choose the blog commenting facility. In addition, the standard way in which blog comments are visible, serves as a good archive of opinions or FAQs that can resolve service issues and lead to fewer grievances.

3. Commenting on others' blogs

Without any discussion, we'd recommend that you comment on blogs when you feel like making a contribution to the discussion or giving a feedback. Please do not go away after just clicking the social sharing buttons next to the post; a well-written post deserves a better treatment. Yes, if you do not have time for making a useful comment, do not use the blog's comment box for a 'great post' type cheap comment - a Facebook 'like' may be a far better option here.

Like to visit this post on how to avoid comment spam
Saw this Social Media Examiner article on comments' comeback.
ITB has removed comment box but still has a comment box!