The Great Blog Comment Debate (Or Why I’ve Turned Mine Off And Back On Again)

I spent the first few years of my blog being on the “For” side of the Great Blog Comment Debate: adamantly for blog comments on blogs. To not have comments seemed pointless (among other things) and I was a little judgmental about it.

Then I spent the last year growing my business and a multitude of reasons shifted my ideas. I’ve now had blog comments turned off on all posts for about 5 months.

I’m going to speak in this post both as a blogger, a reader and an authentic business owner on my experience and experimentation with blog comments.

Hmm...
Yes. It’s called “fear”.

 

The Blog Comment Debate Will Vary

Bloggers will adamantly (and sometimes rudely) insist that to have a blog means you “should” have comments allowed, that those comments should go live instantly so no one has to be “approved” (after perhaps a captcha feature to prevent spam) and that every self-respecting blogger should moderate and answer each and every comment themselves.

This leaves other bloggers – the ones who feel drained or uncertain or pulled – by comments feeling as though they are obligated by some unwritten Blog Code of Conduct to overextend themselves, to make others happy, to be accused of “censorship” (really people?) and maybe even give up their blog because it’s become something they didn’t intend – an outlet for others instead of an outlet for themselves.

Business owners with blogs will often (and sometimes rudely) insist that comments are a waste of time, rarely add anything of value to the conversation, are a breeding ground for trolls, and that no self-respecting business owner would waste their energy on it.

This leaves new, growing and even established entrepreneurs that are still building their traffic to feel as though they are cutting off a means of connection and growth, to question whether they are playing small, and to start thinking more about the marketing rules than their personal style and doubt their own intuition.

After doing it both ways (and even advising each way), here’s what I’ve found:

Opinions are like butt cracks. Everyone has one and is sure their own doesn’t stink. 😉

“Rules” suck.

There is no right or wrong way.

There is only your needs, and your personal experiences, and what works for you.

Judgment, snark and self-righteousness need not apply.

This is my personal experience, why I’ve turned blog comments off, why I’ve had them on. Your personal mileage will vary.

Why I’ve Turned Comments Off

  • Time Management: The more my coaching business expanded the more I needed to find ways to balance my time between work, self and family. That meant finding the things that allowed me to spend less time online and more time on the things that made the biggest impact on my life and the life of others.
  • Reactions vs Reflections: I love reflective comments, questions, conversations…especially the ones where we’re not afraid to ask the questions that may not have a simple answer or that may stretch us. But reactive comments (and I’m specifically talking about the judgmental, snarky, self-righteous ones) aren’t serving anyone (except maybe giving that person a space to vent their own triggers). It’s not my job to answer every rude person; it’s not my job to filter trolls; it’s not my job to host negativity in my (online) home; it’s not my job to spend my energy with energy vampires. It’s my job to connect on a deep level with the people whom I may be able to support, not the ones who just want to argue.
  • Simplifying: With comments spread between several social media sites, the forums, and email, my work time was getting overwhelming. I needed to simplify where it was possible, and blog comments were one of those places.
  • Deepening Connections: A funny thing happened when I turned off comments. I got more of the most incredible, beautiful emails…deep, authentic, powerful emails for women sharing their Aha moments and thoughts and stories of the amazing things they are doing in the world. Maybe without that immediate ability to leave a simple (public) comment others could sit with their own thoughts longer and therefore share more? Maybe when a personal email was the primary means of connecting it created a safer space to really connect. I don’t know, but it was awesome.
  • Writing For Me, Not Stats: I found myself writing with what others might say in the comments (or how many comments I might get), instead of writing from my heart and soul. And that’s bullshit. I’m glad I turned my comments off for the last many months to allow me to get back to writing for myself: releasing the fear of making waves (or making friends) and pouring my real heart and soul into my words without worrying about how popular any of it is. I needed to remember that I’m not going for popularity. I’m going for resonance. And turning off comments helped me get back there.

Why I’ve Turned Comments On

  • Central Hub: It’s not totally central. Comments will still be found on Twitter and Facebook, but at least with the blog there is a somewhat more central hub for sharing reflections and thoughts, and deepening a conversation between more of us. After all, it’s about Tribes and those connections are part of it.
  • I Missed The Convo: If there is no immediate place to comment many readers won’t email or comment elsewhere. And I’ve missed those connections and the wonderful things such thoughtful comments would inspire in me, or the Wisdom they could share (or the ways they could say it) that add so much more than my words alone.
  • Simplifying: Don’t you love how this is in both lists? I can do that because they’re my lists. 😉 Comments make it simple and quick to share in that convo. It may not simplify my job, but it simplifies the process of connecting.
  • Readers Miss the Convo: I hear you. Being able to write out your reflections is often more powerful than just thinking to yourself. Reading something impactful and beneficial without the simple ability to join the convo sometimes means less time to really absorb before we click off to our busy days.
  • Making Connections: Knowing the other names, faces and messages of the people reading opens my life up to more ideas, more connections, more possibilities. Those things I love. I’ve missed those connections over the past several months.
  • Better Time Management Now: When I turned the comments off my plate was freaking FULL and I was working out kinks in my rhythm and systems of support. Now that I have better rhythms, more systems and the wonderful Jennie as my Organic Support Specialist to help me with many admin tasks, including moderating for trolls, I can still focus on my most important tasks: my personal care, my family and personal life, my clients, my creative work within my businesses and connecting with real women sharing real Wisdom with real heart and soul.
  • Resonance over Reputation: Like I mentioned above, I was writing for comments, and not for me. This isn’t an uncommon reason to turn comments off, although on the inverse: the fear of “too few comments” and how that looks to others. Fear of what others think has held a pretty prominent place in my past (meaning it still pokes it’s head in from time to time), but it’s the fear of my inner Little Girl. And even though I don’t quite feel grownup yet (when does one finally feel like a Grown Up?), me and that Little Girl feel pretty damn comfortable with the fact that that fear is no longer serving our own greatest good or the world. Zero comments don’t freak me out. They don’t make nervous someone will judge me. And what others do in their busy lives is only a reflection of me when I’m making it all about me. My job isn’t to put thoughts into someone else’s mind. It’s to share the intention and thoughts in mine.

Right now the Off List is ruling and I have my comments off (obv).

Like I said, there is NO “right” way. There is only your personal needs as a blogger or entrepreneur and how you might meet those needs. Yes, your readers have needs too, but your own needs come first (think: oxygen mask).

So my advice: Experiment. Evolve. Do what works for you. Maintain the right to change your mind. Keep authenticity and self-care as your touchstones. Examine your fears and ideas of “should” or “have to”. Then release them. And unapologetically do what works for you.