Volitans Software

In Defense of Comments… Again

It seems every year or so the high and mighty tech writers come out with anti-comment posts. And just like last time, I’m here to defend them. The current anti-comment post comes from Matt Gemmell.

He lists a lot of the benefits, but they don’t seem to come close to over riding the best reason to have comments- further the conversation. Oh sure HE benefits a lot, and HE can participate in the conversation, and that’s his right, but NOBDOY else can. That’s a huge dent to the interactive web.

Not everybody can have a blog, and very few people will have more than a few token followers on the blog or twitter. So very few people see the responses, very few people will be prodded to think critically, or learn more information. All those are bad things.

Bloggers who don’t have comments turned on are sheltered, and so are their audiences. Its hurts the readers, and it doesn’t help the bloggers become better. Comments are not shouting matches, not if they are run right, and blogs without comments are not a curated conversation- because you need to have more than one person in a conversation. Those bloggers need to wake up.

Luckily, those selfish bloggers are few and far between, and there are great ones like GigaOm out there. Somehow I missed two excellent articles about comments on GigaOm. The first one explains  that comments are perfect, but they are still a necessary part of a good blog. I love this paragraph here:

That said, however, not everyone has a blog, and not everyone is on Twitter or Facebook. One of the benefits of having comments is that they are open to everyone — although that is obviously part of what can make them so noisy as well. The barriers to entry are low, and so there are plenty of “drive by” comments and trolling. Having people respond on their own blogs or on Twitter and Facebook can also fragment the conversation on a topic, making it difficult to follow and causing potentially valuable responses to be lost or not recognized properly.

 The second article  is a followup, and guess what- comments are still worth the effort and the best part of a blog. My favorite paragraph:
The most compelling reason to have comments is that you actually care what other people think. It’s true, as Siegler and others argue, that readers can find other ways to comment: they can post a remark on Twitter with a link, they can do the same on Facebook or Google+, they can send an e-mail, or they can write a response on their own blog. But doesn’t that make it even harder for a blogger to find and respond to all of the thoughtful comments, since they will have to check all of those other sources? I think in most cases, bloggers who shut down comments don’t do this — they simply don’t respond.
Bingo. I can’t say it any better. And highly encourage you to read both articles, and follow the links. There are a bunch of other good defenses there. And of course read the comments- the second article particularly. There are some great comments.