This has been on my mind for a while, and like many big decisions, I didn’t want to make a change without really giving it some serious thought. I’ve spoken with friends who are for and against the change, and I’ve read posts from others who have made the same choice.
But starting with this post, I am closing comments*. For real this time. I danced around it back in 2011, but decided not to make a change. But now I am. It has absolutely nothing to do with any previous comments I’ve gotten, or any kind of negative feedback that I’ve received that make me want to plug my ears and run and hide. It has much more to do with the shifting currency of blogging, and where I think my time is best spent so I can do more of the things that make me happy and fulfilled. And in the end, to be a better resource to all of you.
So, my main reasons:
I would much rather someone share my post on their networks and comment there, for everyone to see, than just for me. Love what I posted and find it valuable? Tell your friends! Hate it and think I’m a monster? Use your own platforms to share your opinion and crowdsource the responses there. I try pretty hard to create content that helps people with their own goals, so I’m much happier when that content is shared and amplified, rather than kept in my own little closed community. It may sound selfish, but I think that by closing comments, I’ll increase the amount of reach each post gets and in the end, inspire more people to do whatever it is they love.
Moderating and responding to comments takes an inordinate amount of time, and since I don’t have a lot of it these days, I’d rather spend it developing new content, working on new features and more. I don’t think that the comments bring a lot of value to my other readers (I like them, but that’s not a good enough reason to keep them open), and that’s the main thing I’m focusing on right now: how can I use my extremely limited amount of blogging time to reach as many people as possible. I get a lot of spam comments, and even with special filters set up, I have to weed through a lot of crap to find the good stuff. It’s time-consuming and frustrating.
My site has changed from a lifecasting, personal blog to more of a tutorial, consulting site. That’s not to say there aren’t personal posts — I share race recaps and fitness struggles and more — but the comments that I typically receive are either people wanting to give me some love (SO appreciated, of course, but again — not of real value to my other readers) or are from people who need very specific input on things like installing plugins or backing up websites, etc. Those are questions I’m happy to answer, but generally I do that outside of the comments section anyway, and via email where there’s more opportunity to go back and forth with people.
There are a million ways to contact me — taking away this one method doesn’t make me any less accessible. When it comes to comments, they’re at the very bottom of the list of things I have time to respond to. It’s fairly easy for me to get back to a tweet or Facebook question immediately, since I almost always have those platforms running. It’s less quick for me to respond by email, because I force myself to only check my personal account once during the day and then do all of my responses at night, but I can do it. Comments just fall to the bottom, and by taking that off the to-do list, I already feel some relief.
I am on every social platform known to (wo)man, I offer Google Helpout consulting, I speak at events across the country and generally answer every single person that reaches out to me. That won’t change. Whenever possible, I do that work for free. When it’s a more extensive project, I offer my services for (hopefully very reasonable) fees.
The game has changed and I don’t think that commenting on other blogs is nearly as important for getting your own reach as it was in the past. So I don’t think I’m taking away something that really brings you, the reader, a measurable amount of value. That one may make you scratch your head or disagree, and if it does — I’d love to see you write a response on your own site or Facebook page. Think I’m nuts? GREAT! Tell me about it on your site and send me the link! But in my experience, just commenting on other people’s blogs and leaving a URL is not effective, at least not at the level it was a few years ago, in helping YOU get traffic back to your own sites. I’d much rather see you take your opinion on my work to your own space, where you can expand on it, become an authority, ask for your own community’s input, etc.
I rarely, if ever, comment on other people’s blogs these days, but I do share a LOT of their work on my own platforms. I think the shift in my behavior is going to become something that’s more common for all of us, so I just want to lean in.
This site has always been a sandbox for me, and this is just one more experiment I can use to help others develop their own blog brand. I have never been afraid to try new tools and features on this site, because by experiencing the highs and lows of each, I think I’m a better consulting resource, I have more examples to share and I develop more expertise in this niche. If this works, I’ll be a case study for others. If it’s a disaster, I’ll have learned that firsthand.
I have read posts from other people who have also turned off comments, and cringed at some of the reactions they’ve received. They’ve been accused of discouraging community or conversation, or of shutting down engagement. This post from Matt Gemmell about the high-quality conversations happening off of his site about his decision particularly resonated for me. Not everyone agreed with him (in fact, many were PISSED) but the discussion itself was extremely interesting, and none of it happened on his blog.
I CARE ABOUT YOU. I care very deeply about your opinions and your feedback and your thoughts and my intention is not to take away your ability to engage with me or other readers at all. I just want to be more efficient at having conversations, and for me, the comments do not serve that goal.
*There are exceptions to every rule, including this one. If there’s a post where I really want to ask for commentary or answers to questions, I may open them back up on a per-post basis.