Laura Pevehouse Thomas

The Life and Death of Blog Comments


Pearls Before Swine comic strip - These bloggers are an angry bunch 

When blogging hit its heyday, it was all about “the conversation.” Everyone was supposed to start blogs in order to start conversations with people. In fact, it was often debated if a blog was really a blog if someone turned off their comments.

When Seth Godin eliminated comments from his blog back in 2006, one of the reasons he cited was “it takes way too much of my time to even think about them, never mind curate them.” Hugh MacLeod said in a random notes on blogging post on his Gapingvoid blog that “If a blog doesn’t allow comments, then yes, it’s still a blog. People who say otherwise are just getting in touch with their ‘Inner Idealistic Wanker.’”

I’ve always been of the mind that a blog must allow comments, although I moderate them on mine – which is something else that many people frown upon. I do it not because I’m afraid of negative comments (I’d welcome them actually, since it would mean I’d elicted some sort of response), but rather because I’m simply trying to keep all the pharma spam off the site believing that if one gets through, 100 will follow quickly behind it.

With the birth of Twitter, many began to wonder Is Twitter Killing Blog Comments? The conversations certainly seem to be shifting away from one focused location on a blog. When I share a link to one of my blog posts on Facebook, almost all of the comments on it remain in Facebook. And, I recently posted something that I thought a particular friend on Twitter might have a comment regarding, so I DM’d them to see what they thought. The answer came back as a direct message, too.

I didn’t specify that I wanted the response in the form of a blog comment (seemed too forward for my style), but as a blogger themselves I thought they might lean that direction. But, no, we are all inclined to take the easiest path to responding, which is generally right where we read something – no extra clicks required.

So with all this worry about The Death of the Blog Comment, it was nice recently to see a post from HubSpot talking about not only the benefits of commenting on blogs, but also giving tips on how to do it constructively. Perhaps there is still a life for blog comments and the news of their death is being greatly exaggerated.

I know I’m going to try to make myself take a little more time and follow the HubSpot tips for adding a “helpful presence in the blogosphere” by commenting on other’s blog posts.

13 comments on “The Life and Death of Blog Comments

  1. Hey there Laura,

    It’s an interesting conundrum. I’m definitely of the view that a blog is the best place for comments, purely because it’s where the discussion started, and regardless of what platform you prefer (Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, etc), it’s where all views on the post can really be discussed. Talk about it on Facebook and the Twitter crowd miss it, and vice versa.

    Then again, if it’s starting conversation and encouraging others to share and talk more about your thoughts, should that be “discouraged” because it’s not on the host platform?

    It’s a tough one. Perhaps if we could have an aggregated comment system that cleverly morphs all discussions into one? Not too dissimilar to Disqus, but taking it a step further.

    So a Facebook comment melds into the timeframe it was posted, and any replies on the blog go back to the Facebook account, and vice versa?

    It’d definitely extend the conversation and really offer a view of what’s being said. We can but hope.

    Great thoughts – cheers! :)

  2. Hi Laura,

    First of all, I’m really glad I found your blog (thanks to @DannyBrown on Twitter).

    I agree that Twitter and Facebook tend to discourage blog comments, because they bring the conversation elsewhere. Unlike you, I don’t have a hard time asking my Twitter friends to post a comment on my blog, particularly after they’ve retweeted a link about it.

    I don’t think blog comments will completely die, however. At least not as long as people want backlinks to their site. This means, unfortunately, that high-traffic, authority sites will tend to attract the remaining commenters.

    The end result is bloggers need to work much harder to encourage comments from their readers and keep the conversation going.

  3. The conversation has definitely fragmented — people tend to comment wherever they happen to be at the time they find your content. Commenting is still, however, a great way to build relationships with bloggers. That said, I still find myself more likely to click on a Tweet This button rather than reply. A lot of it, for me, is that I just don’t have as much time to read and comment as I used to. Actually miss that.

  4. How could I not leave a comment? LOL!

    I’ve seen the same thing with Twitter. My comment system captures and displays some of the Tweets that reference the post directly but I do wish that more would remarks ON the blog.

    If a post makes my go ‘hmm’ or ‘oh yeah’ I always feel like I owe the blogger a comment and then a tweet to it is extra gravy.

  5. First off, I’m proof that Twitter can help generate comments—I saw your tweet, came on over here for the first time! Like many bloggers, I love comments. But here’s my reality: I don’t spend a ton of time reading and commenting on other blogs and like you, I know I need to better commit to that. I’m still manage to get a fair number of comments on posts, some of which spark dialogues, and for that I’m grateful. I also exchange emails with readers who’ve written in for advice or consolation (my blog is for parents of kids with special needs, and some of them don’t feel comfortable sharing in public). And I’ve been meeting up with parents in person. I recently gave away the special walker that taught my little boy how to walk to a child across the country whose mom readers my blog; this month, she’s going to be in our area, and we’re going to meet up. Blogging, for me, is all about connecting—and some things are definitely more satisfying than just racking up the comments.

  6. Wow! Who knew blogging about comments would bring so many so fast?! :-)

    Thank you Danny for tweeting the link, and thank you all who have taken the time to come from there to here to add discussion.

    It’s late in the evening for me now, so I’m not sure I’ve got much brain left to really respond, but promise to be more coherent and conversational tomorrow.

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  8. The growth in social media has really put the onus on bloggers to engage their readers, which I can’t help seeing as a good thing. To maintain that conversation with our readers, we need to push ourselves to write better, and engage them enough to maintain their side of the conversation.

    It’s true that time pressure can mean it’s easier to do a quick Tweet or Stumble sometimes, but when someone says something that resonates strongly with me, I’m happy to take the time to join in the conversation – like now!

  9. Well said! As a very new blogger myself I haven’t even had time to consider the points you made but I’m grateful you raised them. Will now be giving more thought into the ways I distribute the info I wan’t to share. And now I took the time to write my comments here instead of responding to Danny’s FB :-)

  10. I make a conscious effort to comment on blog posts, even when I learn of the post through Twitter of Facebook, but like you, I find that a lot of my blog comments are coming as @ replies. I prefer comments on my post to replies, but in the end, I’m looking for conversation, and I’ll take it where I can get it.

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  12. There are some folks who believe the NEW Google algorithm weighs comment rich blogs heavier, and that makes sense to me. Instead one person’s thoughts, there are several ideas present and so it becomes a better destination for search queries.

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