Is This a Blog or a Lecture Hall?

lecture hall

I have a good number of blogs on my reader. In fact, I have an email address set up specifically for my Feedburner subscriptions as I subscribe to so many. But I definitely don’t subscribe to every single blog I read, by any stretch of the imagination and one pet peeve of mine will stop me subscribing in a heartbeat – comments being disabled. By the same token, if I am already subscribed to a blog and the blogger disables comments afterward, I will unsubscribe.

This might seem a little on the harsh side, but for me, one of the most appealing things about blogs and the blogosphere is the conversational element. In my opinion, a blogger should pretty much be able to say whatever he or she likes about any topic, providing they’re prepared to answer to their readers and accept their readers’ opinions on it afterwards. If you blog something on a public blog, you’re making those opinions public domain, surely? And in doing so, surely you then have a responsibility to hear what others think too?

Blogs with comments disabled remind me of clinical lecture halls where someone stands on a platform almost preaching lists of facts or opinions at a room full of half sleeping onlookers. If I wanted to be lectured to, that’s where I would go. For me, blogging is about more than just the blogger. It’s the community element of it and the most popular and well respected blogs around are those that have a loyal and wide readership and lots of comments. The main blog post on any given day should be a conversation starter – not the be all and end all of all discussion on the matter. There’s a certain arrogance to that.

Whenever I complain about this, someone almost invariably tells me that they’ve disabled comments because of spam… because of the hordes of people going by the name of some prescription medication filling in spam comments for a link back to some dodgy website. Or perhaps that they’ve disabled comments because it’s a family site and they don’t want to accept responsibility for moderating everything first, that moderating is too big a job.

I agree that moderating can become almost as time consuming as blogging if you’re subject to a lot of spam. But there are automated plugins that can take care of much of it for you and while they’re far from perfect and will still require some manual input, it’s part of the job of blogging. If you have to manually check every comment before it goes live, so be it. Closing comments altogether isn’t a realistic alternative if you really want a community around your blog. If there’s nowhere for your readers to express themselves on your blog then they’ll go elsewhere to have their say… and if they’re anything like me, probably won’t return.

What do you think?

photo credit: D’Arcy Norman

This is a guest contribution by Stacey Cavanagh, who is from the UK and works in online marketing with Tecmark: SEO London


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