Comments or no comments?

This morning, I came across a very interesting article… err… debate regarding whether or not the average blog should use comments or disable them altogether.  Well, I have my own thoughts on this, but first, let me point you to the article.

The debate can be found on a site called Think Traffic.  I don’t normally follow this site, so I don’t know much about it.  A friend sent me the link to the article, Debate! Should You Allow Comments on Your Blog? Find Out What Two Remarkably Popular Bloggers Think, in which two popular bloggers debate the question about allowing comments.

People want to comment!

People want to comment!

Now, let me say, there are a lot of super-popular blogs that allow comments, and also a lot of super-popular blogs that don’t.  A few examples of blogs that don’t allow comments are Seth’s Blog, Zen Habits and Steve Pavlina.  Each of these sites is super-popular, and there is no way to interact with the writer (on Steve Pavlina’s site you can interact through their forum section, though).  I can’t argue with any of these because they are very successful.

In my case, though, I would never even consider turning off the comments on my blogs.  In the rest of the discussion, when I talk about my blog or my site, I will be talking about my Live in the Philippines Web Magazine, or LiP for short.  On LiP, my articles usually receive between 50 to 200 comments per article.  It is a lively group of readers who come to LiP, and the discussion we have through the comments fosters a growing community there.

Yes, community.  Community is what it is all about for me.  Commenting grows a community.  If you do not allow comments, your readers will know who you are, but they will have no idea who each other are.  By using comments, your readers not only know you, but they can know and interact with each other as well, which I believe is very important.

One of the most important things, in my opinion about comments is that you should respond to every comment that is directed at you.  Now, if “Steve” comments and addresses his comment toward “Mike” then you, as the writer of the article do not need to respond to Steve, although you certainly can if you wish to.  All in all, though, entering into a conversation with your readers, and engaging them through the comments does a number of things that will benefit you:

  1. It helps grow your audience.  As people come to your site and check it out, when they see that you interact with the readers, they will feel more at home, and willing to talk to you, knowing that you take comments seriously.
  2. Build trust.  By interacting with your readers, they will get to know you and consider you a friend.  When you gain this trust with your readers, you will have better success in selling them products that you endorse or produce yourself, like e-books.  You have to be careful, though, to always sell high quality stuff, and that way you will keep your reader’s trust.
  3. Spur conversation and develop new ideas.  By engaging with your readers and listening to the comments that they leave, it spurs your own thinking process and gives you new ideas in life, and especially ideas of what topics to write about on your site.

Fact is, for me, it would be unthinkable to turn off the comments.  I believe that I am who I am today, blogging wise, and internet profile wise, because of the comments on my site.  As the site grew and grew, it was because of my comment policy and my responses to the comments that made my blog bigger, and made me more and more well known in the blogging community in my niche.

So, for me, I personally believe that using the comments to engage your readers is very important.  Yes, there are some big blogs out there who don’t do it, but overall, I think it’s the best way to go.

What do you think?

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