When you write for comments, you write to please commenters. When you write to please commenters, you don’t write from the heart.
By John Wolcott
Have you ever found yourself on a website, thoroughly enjoying the content, and BAM! you’re pulled into the comments section?
Before you know, you’re drowning in a sea of uninformed or biased opinions that takes away from the author’s points. And after an hour you realize you could’ve spent that time doing something more productive, like reading more posts on that website.
If you respect your readers and you don’t want the same thing happening to them, consider ditching your website’s comment section. If you’re not convinced that turning off your website’s comment section would benefit you and your readers, consider these five reasons.
People use your platform to promote their stuff
Think about how hard it was for you to promote your blog. Think about how long it took to build up your tribe. Are you willing to hand over all that hard work to someone else so they can benefit off your labor? Many times people comment for selfish reasons. They don’t add anything meaningful to the conversation. They only want a link back to their own website, which they get, free of charge, thanks to the comment section of your website.
Commenters influence your writing
When you write for comments, you write to please commenters. When you write to please commenters, you don’t write from the heart. For a short time, I thought: “What will my commenters think if I post this article?” Today, I don’t want anyone influencing what I write, and I sure don’t want to censor myself for commenters. That’s a shitty way to look at writing. Since I’ve turned off comments I’ve focused on writing important things that need to be said, without worrying if I’ offend anyone.
You focus on the numbers
When you first start developing your voice and theme of your site, you’ll be without direction. In the beginning you’ll have the reasons for writing all wrong. If you’re like I was when I first started, you’ll think blogging is about getting people to comment on your website. And you’ll look to those comments as a measuring stick for your success. I used to let the numbers of commenters I had on a blog post govern the success of that post. But when I looked at the numbers on the back end, it was often the least commented-on posts that had the most views.
Comments promote half-ass debate
If someone disagrees strongly with something I write, it’s easy for them to leave a comment and carry on with their life. If someone doesn’t agree with me, fine. I accept criticism with open arms. I’ll even consider changing my ways if you’re points are valid. It’s the only way I’ll grow as a man. But when people leave strong opinions and never return to read or reply to your rebuttal, it makes healthy debate difficult to hold.
Comments let the negative visitors shit all over your work
The Minimalists coined negative commenters as Seagulls. Seth Godin talks about the same problem. Even I’ve been a Seagull a time or two. Comments make it easy for people who don’t believe in your message to smear their negativity all over your work and then disappear in the shadows of the Internet. Even if you take the time to address their criticism, they’ll never come back to read it. And who are they anyway? They hide behind made-up monikers and generic Gravatars. Yet, their comments leave us frazzled.
What if you’re looking for a way to continue the dialogue with your readers?
Your readers are intelligent and know exactly where to find you. You won’t be missing out on any chances to further the conversation if you leave them a little note, just like the one below.