Should You Allow Comments on Your Site? The Pros and Cons
We recently reviewed a new blogging platform, Roon , which brings a minimalist and easy-to-use experience to people who need nothing more than a place to share their thoughts and images. Something else Roon brings, however, is a slightly different approach to time-honored blogging feature: Roon doesn’t include comments.
Roon is not the only blogging platform that disabled comments for its users – the Twitter founders’ new blogging platform Medium also removes this feature. Some bloggers may look at that as a deal-breaker, taking platforms like Roon and Medium out of the running as potential options, while others welcome the approach.
We’ve decided to look at both sides of the coin when asking ourselves the question: should you allow comments on your site or blog? On the one hand, you can argue that quality content will encourage quality comments; on the other, there’s always someone out there with something negative to say.
Why You Should Enable Comments
Feedback & Constructive Criticism: Allowing your visitors to comment on your blog or site opens you up to constructive criticism. Your readers can leave you tips for improvements, ideas for article topics, feedback, and more. Allowing users to comment on your blog gives you an obvious avenue for bettering your content, and making sure it’s hitting the mark with your audience.
Allowing that kind of feedback gives you a tangible sense of how your content is being received, and allows you to improve your content.
Two-Way Street: Blogging is a two-way street. You write blog posts and want your visitors to read them. By that very same token, some readers will want you to read their response. Affording them that opportunity can help create a rapport with your visitors.
Create Loyalty: By enabling comments you are creating a sense of loyalty among your readers. When they can comment, and you respond, a direct connection is created and brings them back to your blog or site for more.
Create a Network: Your blog can become a community or network, but that is much harder to create with comments disabled. For bloggers who are dedicated to a niche topic, this is particularly important. Allowing comments means you can connect with like-minded people, create friendships, make business connections and more.
Why You Shouldn’t Enable Comments
Time Consuming: Enabling comments means you’re going to have to dedicate time to moderating and responding to comments. If you’re expecting readers to leave comments on your blog, they will also expect you to respond to questions. Depending on how often your blog gets comments it could prove to be a huge task.
Requires Moderation: Related to the point above: if you do decide to enable comments, you have to make a decision on how closely you want to moderate your comments. Are you going to allow anyone to comment, are you going to require them to fill out a CAPTCHA, are you going to require them to sign up before they can comment? Each of these decisions can have an adverse effect on your ability to receive comments in the first place. Requiring a signup, or at least a CAPTCHA, can deter people from commenting, while not placing some sort of moderation system in place means you could be dealing with all sorts of junk comments. While you can have a spam control system in place, some spam comments are bound to slip through, and you’ll have to clean that all up.
Welcomes Negativity: If you allow anonymous comments on your blog, you’re welcoming potential negativity onto your blog. Needless to say, there will always be someone out there commenting on a post, a video, or anything else, that will be able to nitpick and find something wrong with what you’ve said or done. You need only go to YouTube, or any political site that allows comments, to see just how mean Internet users can be when they aren’t held accountable for what they say. Some even argue that comments add nothing to the conversation, and that no one really reads them (other than trolls.)
This also depends entirely on what topics you write about. Politics and some tech topics (iPhone versus Android, Mac versus Windows, etc.) tend to welcome flame wars, whereas for special interest blogs – food blogging, mommy blogs, or anything where people share ideas or experiences – that exchange of information can be a good thing.
Encourages A Social Media Conversation: Disabling comments means anyone who really wants to let you know what they think can only do so using social media. This encourages interaction on the likes of Facebook or Twitter, creating more buzz for yourself.
If someone leaves a comment on your blog post, only those who visit will see it; if someone has to leave that comment via Twitter, there’s an extended audience that could end up on seeing blog for the first time: the followers of the person leaving the comment.
Accountability: Another advantage to using social media rather than blog comments comes back to the topic of anonymity. If the comment is made through social media, it can be seen by that user’s followers. That creates a certain level of accountability, and decreases the chance of trolling and negative comments.
There’s obviously no right answer to this question. It all comes down to personal preference, since it’s all about what you want to achieve with your blog. In some cases, comments can add substance to the conversation, while in others it’s simply a distraction.
Obviously here at MakeUseOf, we fall on the side of encouraging comments on the site. So this is where you can weigh in: do you think you should enable comments on your blog? Let us know in our comments section!