The Argument Against Comments
The first time I came across a blog that did not allow comments I was aghast! On my blog comments were my riason d'etre. What was wrong with this guy? If only I could give him a piece of my mind...
After cooling off a bit I noticed that the owner of this blog (Charles Nelson) had clearly articulated why he does not allow comments. The gist of his message, which you can read here, was that he, like most people, likes comments. The problem is when they simply agree with him he feels he is not really learning. And when people disagree, "they are likely to dash off their disagreement without chewing on it and thinking it through. So, I might learn a little, but not as much as I would from a thoughtful and measured response." So Mr. Nelson prefers to use trackbacks.
I've just given a brief summary of Mr. Nelson's reasons, and I really suggest you read the whole thing. He also has a whole series of posts on this topic.
The Argument For Comments
For me, the comment section of a blog is a place to meet people. It is like the staffroom of a collegial school where you can hammer out ideas, enjoy some laughs, and occasionally (depending on the blog and on the staffroom ;)) agree to disagree. Sometimes commenters head off in a different direction, and that's interesting too.
It is interesting how some posts really touch a nerve and generate a huge number of responses. This one by Will Richardson has garnered 68 blog reactions and 166 comments to date. What could someone possibly add to the conversation at comment 166? I don't know, but they must feel pretty stongly to add their 2 cents worth.
Where Do I Stand?
I understand Charles Nelson's points about not wanting to just have people agreeing with what you write and about wanting thoughtful responses. Even if a person were to take the time to write a thoughtful blog post, in lieu of a comment, how often do you check out the trackbacks? If the trackback is on one of my blog posts-of course I check it out. If I go to the comment section of someone else's blog it is rare that I click on the trackbacks. Now maybe that's just me and maybe I need to change this behaviour, I don't know. I also find that though a lot of times commenters agree with a post, they often bring a new perspective or can offer some information so that I am still learning from what they have to say.
Sameer Vasta, in pondering whether to enable comments on his blog writes, "So I think this is what I’m going to do: I’m going to enable comments on posts where I feel there can be some good discussion. On posts where I just want to have a bit of a personal soapbox, I’ll shut them down. That way, I get the best of both worlds." I'm not so sure that the 'personal soapbox' posts would benefit from a lack of comments. I'm sure there are certain times when disabling comments might come in handy.
To wrap up, I like commenting, I like reading comments. For me, comments are an integral part of a blog. They help me connect to others, and to learn from them.
When would you see the need to disable comments? Do you check out trackbacks on other people's posts? Why or why not?
Images: 31 Day Comment Challenge Logo, Relaxing in the Staffroom.