The concept of whether or not a Blogger should allow comments on a Blog is one of the oldest in Social Media. In the interest of full disclosure, it took years (literally) until I opened up the comments on this Six Pixels of Separation Blog (for various reasons). The well-worn story is that it's not "really" a Blog unless it's open for others to comment.
What piqued my newer thoughts around commenting on Blogs happened after reviewing the Advertising Age Magazine Power 150. The Power 150 ranks the best Marketing, Communications and Advertising Blogs in the world (currently, I'm ranked at #92, thank you very much), and while some question the formula that is used for the ranking (we're still griping at Twist Image because there seems to be an issue with Bloglines), guess who comes in at number one?
Seth, in case you were not aware, does not allow comments on his Blog. Seth does enable trackbacks. So, you can "comment" on anything Seth has to say by Blogging about it on your own space and linking it back to Seth's post (err.. a trackback). So, the number one Blog in the world - in my niche - does not allow comments. Now, more often than not, I'm noticing that most Blogs do not have trackbacks enabled but one can comment (the common reason is trackback spam). It's definitely a mixed bag.
Why is this?
"I think comments are terrific, and they are the key attraction for some blogs and some bloggers. Not for me, though. First, I feel compelled to clarify or to answer every objection or to point out every flaw in reasoning. Second, it takes way too much of my time to even think about them, never mind curate them. And finally, and most important for you, it permanently changes the way I write. Instead of writing for everyone, I find myself writing in anticipation of the commenters." - Seth Godin - Why I Don't Have Comments.
Simply put, he just wants a place when can put his thoughts. Thankfully, all of us reap the rewards of his kindness. On top of that idea, I've noticed something unique on this Blog. The more comments I get (and they have been increasing month over month), the more I feel like my own thoughts are being drowned out, misrepresented, completely agreed with, or open to interpretation. The comments force me to focus more, rethink my positions, respond, and sometimes even disagree with what I Blogged about in the first place. Re-reading Seth's post from June 2006, I can empathize with his position.
It can be a good thing.
It can be a bad thing.
I happen to like Seth's approach and for years, one of the main reasons I did not open my Blog up for comments was because my thoughts and feelings were not open for others to comment on (should they ever be?). Sure, you can feel free to read. If you agree, great. If you don't, that's fine too. But, lately I think the big change is that Blogs have gone from personal online journals into media channels. Maybe this Blog is not about my personal thoughts anymore but rather a collective on the Digital Marketing landscape and how your Personal Brand fits into the world, where I'm the spark and the community helps me to create fire.
It's fascinating to watch the Blogosphere evolve. I'm fascinated by people who have Blogs. I'm fascinated by people who comment on this Blog. I'm fascinated by the feeling I get when I comment on another Blogger's Blog. I think the conversation around comments on a Blog is not growing old at all. In fact, I think it will heat up again as Blogs become much more polarized between the traditional online journal and the new media water cooler.