I occasionally get questions about my policy of not enabling the comments feature on this blog, although most are bit more polite than the question I’ll discuss below.
One of the difficulties new bloggers have is the sheer number of bloggers who make pronouncements about the “One True Way” to blog. Of course, most of these pronouncements are at wide variance with each other. I enjoy these pronouncements because, if you can look past the self-righteous and condescending tone of some of them, you can get some good suggestions for ways to improve your blog.
In other cases, well, I don’t know quite how to respond. Take this recent example, please:
Dana Blankenhorn’s recent post called “Blogiquette” is so grumpy and judgmental that I wonder if the title is meant to be ironic. In the post, he lists some of his pet blogging peeves, which seem to be considered cardinal violations of blogging etiquette.
One is “ads in feeds,” a topic I’ll address in some detail in the next few days. He’s opposed to ads in feeds and thinks no one should use them. This might surprise those who see the 120 x 600 pixel (!) sponsor ad on his blog. However, I salute anyone with a blog that’s good enough to command sponsor ads.
Here’s the violation of blog etiquette that really got my attention:
No comments. Who are you, God?”
Holy cow, I don’t enable comments. I don’t think I take that approach for Godlike reasons. In fact, I think my approach to blogging is pretty humble.
I guess that “blogiquette” permits this type of blanket criticisms of bloggers who commit this pet peeve. My sense of etiquette is somewhat different.
I’ve never enabled comments on this blog and that was a decision I made before I launched the blog almost two years ago. I’ve explained at various times why I don’t enable commenting on this blog. I’ve also said that I can see doing other blogs where enabling comments might make sense.
That said, let me try to answer the well-mannered question, “Who are you, God?”
Reasons I Don’t Enable Comments on My Blog
1. I know many bloggers who have turned off comments because of comment spam. I don’t even want to fight that battle. I love blogging and I have no desire to give spammers an easy avenue to ruin my enjoyment. I turned off trackbacks recently until I see how the trackback spam issue gets resolved.
2. I’ve always wanted to use this blog as a way to experiment with my writing, to take my writing in some new directions and let it find its own audience. In my case (and maybe only in my case, for all I know), allowing a bunch of comments doesn’t fit with what I want to do with this blog.
3. I’ve never really made comments on anyone else’s blog, except when I couldn’t find the author’s email address. I’ll either send a blogger an email and have a private conversation or, as in this post, use someone’s post as a basis for post that may or may not have much to do with the original post. For example, I can’t see how this post would be appropriate as a comment on Dana Blankenhorn’s blog. It’d put him in a position where he’d need to decide whether to leave this up on his blog. I’m not comfortable with that.
4. People who want to make private comments to me email me. People who want to make public comments make them on their blogs. In each case, they “sign” their comments and take ownership of those comments. Unless I set up registration mechanisms, anonymous comments are possible. I don’t see why I need to provide a stage for someone’s anonymous theatrical performances.
5. I live in an increasingly newsreader-centric world. I rarely visit blogs, so most of the time comments on a blog don’t even reach my radar screen. I’m using a newsreader, after all, to eliminate the need to visit each blog individually. Increasingly, I’m writing my posts with the idea that they will be viewed in a newsreader rather than in a browser by someone visiting a blog.
6. I have a hard enough time following the lines of conversation in the comments to a blog post when I visit a blog, but the feeds for comments I’ve subscribed to from time to time are indecipherable to me. I can’t figure out who’s talking. In my opinion, comments are not a good medium for conversations. But that’s just me.
7. I subscribed to your feed because I wanted to hear what you have to say. I assume that’s why you subscribed to my feed or visit my blog.
8. Finally, the last thing I need is one more silo that holds another set of demands for my responses. I have a hard enough time keeping up with email. A comments area on my blog would be like handling my email in public, only worse because there’s no way I would be able to keep up with it and people would probably criticize me for not doing a good job of managing comments. I admire the people who manage comments well, but that’s not one of my strengths and it’s not what I want to be doing with this blog.
Bottom line: It’s a personal thing.
I don’t suggest that my approach is the way to go or that you should follow my lead. Some people are obviously very critical of my approach and quick to throw insults. However, I think blogging is cool because every blogger does his or her blog in his or her own way. I like that. I try to understand the reasons for and the benefits of the different approaches bloggers take, and don’t presume to think that I have found the one true path of blogging.
Now you have my reasons for the approach I take to comments. I don’t mind whatever you take on your blog. It should be whatever approach works best for you. I just don’t think blogging should be a “one size fits all” thing.