Any blogger will tell you that the decision to remove comments from her blog was not an easy one. After all, comments are included in all blogging platforms, and most people assume that what separates blogs from magazines is the two-way conversation.
It’s true, of course. Social media is characterized by an easy access to all, and by a free, two-way conversation. But there’s this well-kept secret that many bloggers discover only after they’ve been blogging for a while: the two-way conversation on blogs can be aggressive, fake, and incredibly time-consuming. It can get so bad that it actually takes away from the joy of writing and makes you feel as if you had lost control of your own blog.
Here’s what three wise men have to say about why they decided to turn off comments on their blogs:
“I feel compelled to clarify or to answer every objection or to point out every flaw in reasoning… it takes way too much of my time to even think about them, never mind curate them… [and] it permanently changes the way I write. Instead of writing for everyone, I find myself writing in anticipation of the commenters,” says Seth Godin, capturing what many seasoned bloggers eventually come to realize – that our blogs are our creative outlets, the places where we go to share our thoughts and opinions with the world – not the places where we want to argue and fight with the many anonymous visitors who vehemently, violently disagree with us.
Adds Merlin Mann, “I’ve loved so many of the comments [here]… but, for an endless number of reasons that you’ve probably seen for yourself across the web, the quality and care of visitor contributions everywhere has hit what I truly hope is rock bottom. Stupid, venal, ignorant, self-linking comments from people who couldn’t be troubled to actually read the article. Angry forum posts full of personal attacks… nonsense tagging, meta-commenting, ass-kissing, trolling… Please. It’s nuts and it’s pointless and it’s really cynical on the part of almost every publisher that allows that crap to go on. “Conversation,” like “friend,” is a word that has a meaning to human beings with faces and brains. I will not abuse it as code for the surplus page views produced by someone with an afternoon to kill. 43 Folders is now, once again, about what *I* have to say about things… If you have comments about what I say here, post about it on your own blog.”
And Leo Babauta says, “I truly loved comments here. I love hearing from readers, and it was my opinion that the comments often held better tips than the posts themselves. So why did I turn off comments? There was too much comment spam, resulting in huge headaches for me. And the tiny minority of legitimate comments were mostly bloggers trying to get noticed. People can still give me feedback via Twitter, and if I don’t always respond I do listen. Getting rid of comments has been regrettable, but they don’t scale, and it has brought peace to my life.”
So I am closing comments on this blog. I am torn about this – I actually lost sleep last night thinking about it and trying to reach a final decision. But I am doing it, because I am fed up with aggressive, mean comments that are affecting my writing and my mood. You don’t even see these comments – I have been moderating comments heavily for the past year or so – but even if I don’t publish them, I still see them.
Three years into blogging, I am also tired of the “comment on my blog, and I’ll comment on yours” game that many of us bloggers (myself included!) play. I still want to write, and I plan to continue writing here even if not as regularly as before, but I won’t do it with potential comments in mind. I’ll do it because I’m a writer, and writers have a deep, nearly uncontrollable need to write, and to be read. The conversation can take place on Facebook, on Twitter, and on readers’ own blogs.
Got comments? Feel free to post them on your blog.