Couple of weeks, Amit posted a helpful guide to enabling web mentions and followed up a week later by ‘marketing’ Micro.Blog if you wanted to leave a comment on his blog. In the M.B community, this led to two distinct conversations. One thread talked about the importance of comments on a blog and the other on whether we should cross streams and display comments on one semi-public platform on a more public domain outside the community. While the second one is a more interesting conversation, I want to focus on the first one.
When I started blogging in the early aughts, I considered comments as an integral part of blogging. How can you not have a place for people to offer their feedback on your opinions, right? While there were interesting conversations on many posts, for the most part, it didn’t serve much purpose for the non-celebrity blogger. The best interaction happened when other bloggers wrote about the original blog on their blogs and in turn exposed the opinion to their readers. If the original opinion was really interesting, it snowballed into several posts across dozens of blogs. Now that was a true viral sensation.
Sharing your reaction on your own blog instead of in the comments section of someone else’s blog allowed you to truly own and retain your opinion regardless of what happened to the original blog. At the most, you ended up with a broken link but you still had your thoughts documented.
So should you even enable comments on your blog for it to be considered a blog? My thoughts have evolved on this and now I believe, nope. First, your blog is your own space for your opinions and thoughts. You’re not obliged to provide a platform to anyone else even if they agree with you. Everyone is free to post their thoughts on their space: be it their own blog of even Twitter, Facebook, or as I would prefer Micro.Blog 1. As we used to say in the age of Technorati, let a thousand blogs bloom.
Second, you must first identify why you’re even offering up your thoughts on a public domain. Is it to seek external validation or to simply write? While it may be a mix of both, it may be up to you to decide which one is paramount. Accordingly, you can design your blog. Once again, it is your space and there’s no right way to do but all I ask is to be consistent with your predetermined objectives.
Trackbacks and web mentions hit a sweet spot of letting others inform you of their thoughts on the matter without impinging on your space. Now whether you choose to display them or not highlights the other issue being discussed. That, however, is something for another post.
This is also why I believe it was a folly to enable comments on high-traffic mainstream media sites like the NY Times or Washington Post. Most of them are crap.↩