Back in March 2014 CopyBlogger turned their blog comments off. And Michael Hyatt did the same thing in January 2015.
But guess what? In January 2016 they turned their blog comments back on again!
They claim they did this as an experiment to see what would happen. And even if it was, I am overjoyed that they decided blog comments are worth having and have activated them again.
Because for me a blog without comments totally defeats the objective of having a blog in the first place. Even Michael Hyatt said “Running a blog without comments is like hosting a party without a venue.”
Here’s one of my Infographics to show you visually what I mean:
And here’s some code you could paste into your own posts (via the text mode) if you want to share this Infographic with your readers.
I hate it when there’s no comment box
I come across a fabulous post that really fired me up and I want to leave a comment. But when I pan down to the bottom of the page to find the comment box, there isn’t one.
Disbelief turns to despair as I realise that if I’m going to leave a comment, I have to leave this blog and go find the author on social media.
It’s another process to do. Something else that makes my desire to comment begin to evaporate. The hassle of searching for the most appropriate networking platform (which one? Twitter? Facebook? Google+?) is further aggravated by the fact that I don’t really want to leave a comment on social media.
I don’t want the world and his wife to read what I have to say there. I want to say it in the confines of this blog. Next to the post which inspired me to comment in the first place. Not somewhere else less personal and irrelevant to the present situation.
I haven’t introduced myself to the blog’s author on social media. It seems intrusive that my first conversation with them should be about a post that isn’t immediately available on that platform. Totally inappropriate.
What do other readers think about this post?
Having no comments at the bottom of a post doesn’t tell me much about the kind of readership the blog gets. Neither does it let me know anything about the blog’s popularity, whether the writer is any good or not, whether it’s worth my while bothering to stay and read any more.
Not having any visible feedback may be uninviting for me, but it must be extremely demoralising for the writer. How do they know if their post is successful? OK, they may be happy to scrutinise their traffic stats, but that doesn’t say everything.
If you want to encourage more readers to come to your blog and read your stuff, you have to make them feel welcome. Turn your blog comments back on to build a sense of community. Make your readers believe you write your blog specially for them.
You’re not going to achieve this effectively if your readers are not able to express themselves, show their gratitude and appreciation to what you have written, by having the opportunity to leave a comment.
Commenting creates a community, which is the blog’s heart, its raison d’etre. Your blog is nothing without its readers, so why do you deny them the pleasure of letting you know what they think?
How do potential readers know your blog’s worth?
Social proof is a powerful marketing tool. By turning your blog comments back on means you’ll start to get lots of comments again. This give the impression your blog is popular, especially since the majority of visitors will know that not all of your readers will have left a comment.
Popularity is always a crowd-puller. People always want to know what’s going on, and a large gathering of comments gives the impression that your content is worth reading. Also they will all want to join the party and be where the fun is happening.
Therefore you need to continue having a conversation with your readers outside the post. But not necessarily outside of the blog. Keep your readers inside, safe and warm, where there’s more content available that also might interest them.
And don’t forget to reply to your reader’s comments. This is much easier if you can do this on the blog. It all happens in one place, next to the blog post in question, and you can respond appropriately to each comment in self-contained and relevant threads.
Whereas on social media, you may have to keep flitting from one platform to another, trying to keep up with the comments when they occur. And since social media commenting is not restricted by spam filters and moderation, you can’t regulate what gets published. Threads can easily wander away from the subject, and contributions tend to be less full and meaningful.
Big blogs didn’t do better without comments
This is most interesting. Apparently the amount of traffic to the likes of CopyBlogger and Michael Hyatt’s blog flatlined during the time comments were turned off. It seems that not being able to leave a comment was not conducive to a passing readership.
One of the main reasons for turning blog comments off was because of spam. Especially when you get hundreds or thousands of comments a day, working out which ones were legitimate was getting more difficult. Apparently human spammers were getting increasingly clever at writing comments that looked real.
However, it was noted that most spammers targeted old posts. They weren’t interested in the most recent content provided for readers. What they wanted was traffic to increase their back-links back to their websites.
So the answer was to turn blog comments back on again and reduce the amount of time readers could contribute. This successfully kept the spammers at bay. And the real readers who wanted to show their appreciation, challenge the subject or offer their opinion were able to do so within a smaller time-frame soon after the post was published.
As soon as comment boxes were opened again, the readers returned. And this in turn encouraged the bloggers to write more posts. Not only that, the feedback they received showed them what the readers wanted to read, so they were able to provide much more meaningful and appropriate content for their readers.
Now it’s over to you
Did you succumb to the trend and turn your comments off? Were you ever comfortable about doing that, or was it a relief not to have the bother of moderating them? This will depend on how many comments you were lucky enough to receive in the first place.
But now that the likes of CopyBlogger have turned their blog comments back on again, will you be encouraged to follow suit?
Let me know if you have, or if you have no intentions of ever allowing comments ever again. Because if it’s the latter, then I feel sorry for your readers.
Blogs were designed to include comments. Don’t take that facility away. Turn your comments back on again!
And please leave me some comments too, to make me happy and to show I also have some readers who care.