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10 January 2012 7 Comments

On Comments, And Comments On

There’s an interesting debate raging in parts of the tech blogosphere at the moment, about the wisdom of courting commenters and whether bloggers might be better-served by switching off comments altogether. Many of the arguments for and against are neatly summarised in Matt Gemmell’s post Comments Commentary, but in brief: the no-comments argument seems to be that it encourages people to write more considered, interesting responses on their own platforms rather than commenting on other peoples’ posts. It encourages people to form their own voice, instead of diluting it in the comments sections of a dozen different blogs.

That’s all well and good, as far as it goes – and look, it’s worked; Matt Gemmell’s comments-off policy has prompted me to write my own post in response, instead of merely commenting on his. However, this is probably the only time I’ll ever make a post in response to one of his, regardless of how many I read, and how many I’d comment on if he were a comments-on blogger. Because I may write a blog, but it’s not a tech blog – it’s a gaming blog. Crew Skills would quickly lose focus if I blogged about tech interests as much as SWTOR.

And what about if I threw in all the other spheres of interest where I follow – and comment on – blogs? Should I start a different blog for each thing I’m interested in? Or write a general blog, knowing that any given post is probably going to be of little interest to half or more of my readers, given the disparity in some of my interests? (I doubt many of my SWTOR readers would be interested in my recommendations for The Avengers fanfic, for instance.)

So the comments-off policy excludes casual participants from the conversation – you’re obliged to:
a) maintain a blog in which to do so, and the involvement that that entails;
b) restrict yourself to short and insubstantial commentary, via Twitter;
c) restrict yourself to private commentary which doesn’t build the community, via email; or
d) not comment.

Only A is an appealing choice, and it’s prohibitive in terms of time requirements for people who are already active in other blogospheres or online communities. The implication is that comments-off bloggers are only interested in talking – by means of blog posts – with other people who are as involved as they are, and casual voices are relegated to the sidelines.

(Needless to say, I will be remaining comments-on. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations I had with commenters at Banana Shoulders, and I’m looking forward to more of the same here.)

7 Responses to “On Comments, And Comments On”

  1. Anexxia 10 January 2012 at 16:06 #

    A primary reason I blog– in addition to doing it for myself mind you– is to engage w/other likeminded folks to talk about this hobby I love. It’s a heck of a lot easier dong that with comments on and an associated twitter account. Without comments on, it’s a monologue. And that can only hold my interest for a short while.

    • Siha 11 January 2012 at 02:49 #

      Absolutely. I’ve never had any luck with motivating myself to maintain a blog that wasn’t part of a wider community, and I can’t imagine how people do it. I can certainly see how one could get to a point where comments could be more trouble than they’re worth, but I certainly hope that day never comes for me.

  2. Iyeri 11 January 2012 at 01:02 #

    I will leave a comment in support of leaving comments on!

    I don’t especially COURT commenters, but it always disappoints me when a post sits commentless because regardless of views, it does feel like I’m not engaging in anything relevant to the larger community. I don’t want to be an island.

    Also, I always do like it even when someone else is responding on their own blog, if they leave a link, it helps me not miss parts of the conversation that aren’t going on in my space.

    • Siha 11 January 2012 at 02:47 #

      I absolutely agree with both these points! Participating in conversations with the rest of the WoW blogosphere was something I absolutely loved about writing Banana Shoulders, and the lack of it was the biggest factor in my frustration with and eventual abandonment of the blogs I attempted to start in the interim.

      I don’t, actually, write for myself – and I don’t think many bloggers do, despite what many say. I think “I write for myself” is convenient shorthand for “I reserve the right to write about what interests me, in the way I want to, and not to have my content, formatting, schedule or anything else dictated by anybody else” – but ultimately at the end of the day, we’re here to talk to each other, in one way or another. And for me, blog comments – making, receiving and replying to them – are a big part of that conversation, and it wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying for me without them.

      • Iyeri 11 January 2012 at 05:00 #

        Banana Shoulders was one of my favorite WoW blogs when I first started. I squeed with delight when I saw this site was yours. :)

        • Siha 11 January 2012 at 17:42 #

          Thankyou! I loved writing Banana Shoulders, and I only stopped when I found it hard to muster up the enthusiasm for WoW itself.

  3. Peal 11 January 2012 at 04:15 #

    Without comments, our community would feel disjointed. Moreover, no-comment blogs make me feel like the author is more concerned with me being a number in their “platform” than a member of their community.

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