Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Does a blog without comments smell as sweet?

I know, I know. I gotta find me a new Shakespearean reference.

I know there are those who think that blogs are "conversations", and that, therefore, comments are a must.

That would exclude BoingBoing, Dave Winer, Chris Nolan, Seth Godin, Dave Rogers from Groundhog Day, and now Russell Beattie from being considered bloggers I guess. You can count Russell as a new addition to this list, and he is catching some flak for it.

I've heard one no-comments blogger say that if someone wants a conversation then they can blog about it, and they'll converse via blog post. That's a little cavalier toward the non-blogging blog reader. And that number still stands as about 80% of blog readers. So sure, I think having comments is a good thing. I recommend it to my clients. I have comments enabled on all of my blogs, even the ones that are periodically plagued by comment spam.

Even so, I am not among those who would throw no-comments bloggers off the blogger island. You know why? Because it's a free damn country. You don't like Russell and his bloggy decisions...then quit him. If you find you "just can't quit him", then give in to his bloggy goodness, read him for what it's worth and shut the hell up. My God. Y'all act like he broke up with you via email.

BTW: I might add that the conversation is certainly swirling around Russell's decision, so it looks like he was able to encourage conversation without comments, no?

Elisa, I have thought about eliminating comments on my blogs, mainly because the occasional mean comment just does me in, psychologically. I get tons and tons of useful and nice comments but it's those nasty ones that get me. I could moderate my comments but I'd still have to read that stuff and know that someone was ill-intentioned enough to post it.

I haven't followed the conversation around Russell Beattie's decision to remove comments so I don't know why he decided to do that. But comments are a time sink and can be a mental distraction, so I don't blame him if he doesn't want to deal with them.
Funny enough, I blogged about this, too (in general, and specifically about Russell Beattie's blog, too) and Russell has yet to respond either via comments on my blog, or via a post to his own blog.

Of course, back when he had comments on his blog, if I'd left him a comment, I probably wouldn't expect him to respond then, either. You don't have to respond to every comment left to you on your blog, right? But then, the point of comments really aren't about engaging in conversations -- well, you're not obligated to, at least.
I understand why some people don't have comments, because of spam and trolls, but I like comments on blogs and the interaction it brings. Plus, I discover new blogs that way, by reading a comment somewhere and following the link to that person's blog.
Elisa, like many casual observers of Russell's decision you don't address for what I called him to task. Russell over the past couple of years has gone to great lengths to request that others contribute value to his blog by answering questions he had or submitting their own proposals in his comments to problems or possibilities.

Many other bloggers contributed as requested and appealed to do so by Russell. I have zero issue with him for turning off comments. But his cavlier attitude toward the wealth of contribution by others stating, I was too lazy to figure out how to keep past comments, is not merely damaging to his reputation, but also to many who linked to those contributions for extending those conversations.

This act would be equivalent to deciding 12 months from now to remove all the comments to posts by it's contributing editors. How do you suppose the community would react?

Hopefully, this will help you to understand what the substantive issue was in my view. Of course, I've learned through experience that ruffling Russ' feathers delivers mad, crazy traffic. I'm trying to figure out how to do so on a frequent schedule. His tantrums in response to disagreement are well known, predictable, and were documented in his own blog comments. hmmmm...
Debi-It's not that I'm casual, it's that your issue with him doesn't change my basic point of view. I'm sure if BlogHer did as you describe people would be pissed and abandon well they should.

But Russell has made clear on numerous occasions, dating back since I can remember ever reading him, that he *just doesn't care* what people think of him and how he manages his blog. He has turned comments on and off on a whim.

His right to be a jerk. My right not to read him.

The only actual subject of interest here is copyright on comments. If he has the right to delete and not provide copy to comment makers, then ipso facto he must own the copyright on them. So, if he ever opens comments again everyone who is pissed should go leave slanderous comments on his blog, and he would theoretically be the one who is legally responsible :)
Elisa, I assumed you were a casual observer because you misrepresented what my post said. Now that I've been corrected on that point, I'm left wondering why you would do so on purpose.

You say, "His right to be a jerk, your right to not read him." Of course, you are make a judgement about whether those who disagree with Russell "have the right" to state that disagreement on their own blogs. How ironic that you make the point of Russell's right to do as he wishes on his blog by claiming those who disagree with him don't have that right. That's just illogical.
Debi: My post really wasn't about you at all. I don't link to your post or quote your post or represent that it says anything. I only link to Russell talking about a bunch of people being mad at him, you being one among many.

I was trying to discuss the belief held by some people that blogs without comments are not blogs. Whereas I think blogs without comments are simply blogs that people with that belief might not want to read.

I admit it was flip of me to say "shut the hell up", if that's your issue. (I think it is.) I certainly didn't mean to imply people couldn't blog about their issues with such a decision. It was more meant to convey that those are blog swarms that I don't have the desire to read.
That's just it. I was never mad at Russell. My post isn't angry. Perhaps, you didn't read that deep into the conversation. A number of people have lumped my post into those unhappy with Russ' choice to no longer allow commenting. That was not my issue with him as I've stated.

I could have responded to Russ' post about my being pissed off in general, but that seemed as pointless as his tantrum. I trusted the reader to be a bit more thorough and read what I actually wrote, rather than to accept Russ' inaccurate characterization. Unfortunately, your post and others didn't see the distinction or merely didn't go to the trouble of reading what I said. If they had, the conversation might be different.

Here's the end of post summary:

Like Ben, I'd encourage Russ to restore his past comments merely as a courtesy to those who relied upon the existence of those comments and links to extend the conversation. Current and future commenting capability in Russ' corner isn't so much of a concern, and should be his choice. It is his blog after all.
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That's a little cavalier toward the non-blogging blog reader. And that number still stands as about 80% of blog readers.
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