Should I disable comments on my blog?
That’s a very interesting question, and I know there’s already quite a bit of debate about this topic, and already some of the industries leading blogs have gone down the route of disabling the commenting feature on their blogs, Copyblogger made a bold movement to remove comments on their blog a while back.
I want to add my personal thoughts and opinions on this topic of removing comments, and more over, I want to look at the advantages and disadvantages of disabling the comment feature on your blog. So if you’re seriously thinking of removing comments altogether, for what ever reasons, just hold off until you’ve read this post.
Once I’m done ranting, I’d love for you guys to get involved and share your own thoughts and opinions. Maybe share your experiences too, perhaps you don’t allow comments on your blog, and if you don’t, I’d love to hear from you. I’d like to know how that’s going for you, and what other tactics you’re using to promote engagement on your blog, if not through commenting. Perhaps you don’t care about engagement and building a community! Let me know your thoughts below this post.
Anyway, let’s get on with the post.
First of all ask yourself this:
“Why should I disable comments on my blog?”
Why do you want to do this?
It could be because you want to spend less time sorting through comments every single day?
It could be because you want to maintain a nice clean blog without showing lots of comments?
It could simply be because you don’t want any comments, or care about building an audience for your blog. If it’s a personal blog I wouldn’t really recommend turning off comments, but a niche site then maybe comments aren’t as important as social shares. What do you think?
What ever your reasons may be for the moment, let’s just start off with weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of turning off comments on your blog.
4 Huge Disadvantages Of Turning Off Comments
Let’s start with the disadvantages…
#1. No engagement and no conversations – This is the big one for me, ultimately the benefit of allowing comments on your blog is to promote engagement and conversations. Comments helps you to make real connections with your readers and build relationships, (which we’ll talk about more in point #3).
In my opinion, turning off comments on a personal blog does the complete opposite of promoting engagement and helping you to build your community. It’s a bit like having a slice of toast with just a bit of butter and nothing else, no jam, no marmite, no marmalade, just bland old butter!
What’s my point? you’re probably wondering.
Well whilst your toast is going to taste OK with just a bit of butter, you can’t help but think that something’s missing, a bit like your blog!
If you have a great blog and great content, but with no comments, no conversations going no, it’s just going to be an OK blog, and nothing really special going about it. Do you really want to have a ghost town blog? (aff) That would be pretty boring in my opinion.
If you turn off comments, that’s exactly what it will be…
So as you’ve probably gathered by reading the above statement, I do feel that comments are important, regardless of how many your’e getting on your blog, whether it’s 3 or 4 comments per post, or 30 plus comments per post, I don’t care, comments are essential, they’re useful to you and your community, it let’s people know your blog is alive and active.
So to round up this first point, allowing comments on your blog promotes engagement and conversations, and engagement is crucial for several reasons. I won’t cover them all in this post, but the biggest two reasons for me is that engagement is crucial for helping you to build your community, and crucial for helping you understand your target audience better.
Knowing what your audience really wants from your blog is critical. Without engagement, how the hell are you ever going to know for sure, that what you’re providing to them is of any value or not? You might think your content is of great value and wonderful, but your readers might not, and so if they can’t comment, or they can’t engage with you on your blog, you’re never going to really know.
Think about it, you wouldn’t do a talk in front of 30 or 40 people in a room and not ask them for their feedback and comments at the end, would you?
So remember this point clearly: No comments means no engagement and no conversations. No conversations means no community building and no relationships with your readers, and having a blog community is one of the many keys needed for achieving blogging success. We’ll cover more on this in point #3.
#2. No proof your blog has an active community – Proof, what proof? When new visitors come to your blog and see lots of conversations going on, lots of comments being left by others in your posts, they immediately get the impression that: ‘hey, this blog must be pretty darn important’.
It’s proof that you are an authority in your industry, and that people are actually listening to you, following you and communicating with you through comments. So when other people are visiting your blog for the first time, they see all these comments and this will encourage them to want to do the same, and perhaps even subscribe to your blog too.
You turn off the comments, and you’ll have no proof to show to anyone that your blog has an active community! Perhaps you can rely on social shares instead.
#3. Difficult for you to build relationships and strengthen relationships with your readers – Following on from the last two points I made clearly about no engagement and no proof, the other critical benefit of allowing for comments on your blog is that with engagement, comes the strengthening of relationships between YOU and your blog audience.
When regular visitors and other bloggers drop by to leave meaningful comments and you respond to them, something crucial and magical happens, you become more connected, intertwined, and over time those relationships strengthen, which to me is what it’s really all about.
Comments is what helps you to build your blog’s community (aff). And you know what else strengthening your relationships with your audience does? It helps you to build trust and credibility! Boy don’t even get me started on how important that is. Actually I wrote a post about it here.
#4. Difficult for you to understand your audiences needs – I kind of touched on this in my first point, but let’s dive deeper.
Allowing your readers to comment on your blog makes it easier for you to tune-in and listen to what they’re asking for, what questions they’re posting, what conversations they’re striking and so forth.
Understanding their needs will help you to determine what types of content to create for them in the future. For example, you might notice that a lot of people in your audience is talking about, and searching for solutions to their problems, what ever that might be. The that would be your cue to start thinking about writing more ‘how to’ posts and creating ‘online tutorials’, right?
As you engage more with your audience, as you connect with them on a more personal level, you get to understand them and their needs better. Blog comments can do all of these great things and then some.
OK I know that those are not all of the benefits of allowing people to comment on your blog, what I’ve done is tried to highlight what I believe to be the most important ones. If you can think of anymore good reasons, please do leave them in the comment section below.
So let’s now look at 3 main advantages of disabling comments on your blog, why might you consider removing the ability for someone to leave a comment on your blog?
I’ve already shared with you some reasons ‘why’ at the start of this post, but let’s take a look at some others, in fact I’ll use one of my niche blogs as an example.
3 Huge Advantages Of Turning Off Comments On Your Blog
I did a little experiment on one of my niche sites earlier this year (2014, a parenting blog), where I completely disabled the commenting feature on that blog, I haven’t enabled it back since. Here’s why I did this and the benefits I got from removing comments on that blog.
#1. I saved myself valuable time and almost got rid of all spam! – First thing that I’m not doing anymore as a result of removing comments, is using up valuable time and energy trekking through the thousands of spammy comments that blog used to get each month, just to find a handful of half decent comments.
It’s tragic I know, and I didn’t have Akismet at the time. So instead of letting people, or bots comment, I pushed for the ‘real’ conversations to take place over on the site’s Facebook and Twitter page, and to some extent that tactic has worked well, social sharing in fact increased!
#2. I’m not putting off new visitors… – If you have a blog that gets a lot of comments, great, that’s wonderful, this point wouldn’t matter. But if you don’t have many comments whatsoever to show, that’s not so great. I know new blogs do struggle to get comments in the beginning, however they will come with time, marketing and promotion.
But let me tell you how I see things when there aren’t any comments to show on a blog. If you have a ton of posts that have a big fat ‘zero comments’ in them, (like some of mine do from time to time), what’s that going to do for your first time visitors? It’s going to tell them that, “hey, the lights are on here, but nobody’s home!” I’m sure you’ve heard that expression before.
What I mean by this is that people are going to see that you make an effort to update your blog regularly, but most of your posts don’t have any comments, just a big fat zero sitting in each of your posts.
So in my experience seeing big fat zeros can sometimes discourage others to want to start commenting, let alone hang around long enough on your blog to show interest, not always, but I’ve certainly experienced that myself.
Some visitors may automatically assume just because your blog doesn’t get any, or show many comments, it can’t be a very good blog, so there’s little point in hanging around.
You know, I’m guilty for doing this myself in the past, I visit a blog, I scroll down the blog posts page and see big fat zeros in almost all the posts, and therefore I leave without reading a single word on that blog. My bad…
What I’ve found to be very useful in such cases, is to disable commenting altogether on just the posts that haven’t received any comments at all, I do this after some time of course to give those posts a chance. And I’ll leave the posts that do have comments in them, so if anyone new is visiting, they won’t be greeted with big fat zeros, they’ll see few posts with few comments in them at least.
#3. I’m saving money… – If you have a WordPress blog, and have had one for some time, you’ll know the only way to stop comment spam is to either disable comments and trackbacks altogether, or pay Akisment for spam filtering.
By disabling comments you save yourself $60 per year on Akismet subscription, so in my case, the benefit of disabling comments was that I saved a little bit of money. You might be thinking well what’s $60 per year for heaven’s sake? When you have 7, 8 or more blogs going, each with it’s own Akismet subscription, it accumulates to quite a lot of money each year!
My Final Thoughts
There are many other reasons why some bloggers might choose to disable comments on their blogs, reasons that I’ve not mentioned in this post perhaps, but at the end of the day, it’s what ever you decide to do. I’m not saying don’t do it, I’m not saying do it either. You can read all the articles you want about how valuable comments are, but it’s YOUR choice at the end of the day.
My personal opinion is that receiving blog comments is an essential element for building an active blog community.
So there you have it, if you’re thinking about removing comments from your blog for what ever reason, I do hope this post has helped you to make a better decision before you do.
Come on, let’s hear what you have to say…
OK so I’ve said what I needed to about this subject matter, I’ve shared with you my thoughts, experiences and opinions too. I’ve weighed out the benefits of taking either options. I now want to hear what you think about disabling comments on blogs.
Leave me a comment below as always, until next time, keep on blogging, keep on rocking!
– Fabrizio Van Marciano