Why I Almost Closed Comments Part II

Blog-Love-LetterI had a post all ready to go for today on making sure you own your name on all the big networks BUT I’ve pushed that to Saturday for the following reasons:

  1. I seem to have struck a nerve when it comes to the topic of comments — should I leave them open or close them?
  2. I wanted to convey my limitless and tremendous love for all of you who stopped by and offered your feedback (and for your amazing words of support).
  3. I got an email from the fabulous Tanya of InTheGym.net, who offered her perspective on closing comments, and I thought it was worth continuing the conversation.

Before I turn it over to Tanya — I just want to invite you to check out the discussion at the bottom of my post: “Why I Almost Closed Comments.” THAT is why I love blogging. THAT is why comments are staying on. THAT is what I hope to see on your blogs!

I hope to reach out to each and every one of you, but from the bottom of my heart…thanks for reading.

********************************************************************************

Hi – I’m Tanya and I run the blog IntheGym.net which features workout music playlists. I loved Katy’s post on “Why I Almost Closed Comments (But Didn’t)” and wanted to share my experience with Why I Closed Comments.

First, I do consider IntheGym.net to be a blog, comments or no comments, because I’m updating content regularly (3-4x per week), and it’s also my personal opinion with opportunity for others to give feedback on every post. I decided to no longer include comments as a feedback mechanism for 3 main reasons.

  1. I did not receive a lot of comments, but I was sure that many people were reading because of the number of monthly visitors, pageviews, average time spent on the site per user, and the low bounce rate (for those not clear on this, it’s the percentage of users who enter the site and “bounce” (i.e. leave the site) rather than continue viewing other pages within the same site).
  2. When I really thought about it, I just didn’t think that my content lent itself well to commenting for a number of reasons, but mostly because it already takes quite some time to listen to a playlist, which has 12 songs. And if, as I thought, readers were moving on to check out another playlist or 2, then they probably wouldn’t be commenting as well.
  3. I found what I think are better ways for my readers to provide feedback. And this was really what led me to close commenting – which by the way, has not decreased readership at all.

Here are the ways that people can now leave feedback.

  • There is now a 5 star rating system. I think it is much easier for people to use the 1 click rating, and honestly, this feedback is very useful to me as well as it lets me know what playlists people are reacting strongly to – either like or don’t like. One way I might use this is to make the next playlist with a few of the same songs; or I might not use any of the songs on a low rated playlist in the future.
  • I implemented a “Facebook Like” button. This doesn’t get used as often as the rating system, but when it does, I know that the playlist was a total hit. For people who are very active on Facebook, this method will work really well. Tony from the blog The Antijared had no commenting system until recently and used Facebook to it’s full potential with a ton of Facebook comments per post.
  • This one is such a surprise to me. All the playlists are also on iTunes as iMixes, but recently they started a new social service called Ping which is integrated into iTunes. This replaces iMixes, which at first I thought was a royal pain as I now have to re-publish all the playlists to my Ping profile (Tanya Patrice for anyone interested) – it’s not hard, just time consuming. BUT I put my user-name on my blog – below every entry – and all of a sudden, I have 138 followers. Now, anyone can leave me a message, which I’m sure to see – like when a follower requested I re-publish the Best of the Best in Workout Music: The 2009 Rock Edition – it was super easy and quick to get it to her via this medium, as I have all past playlists on my dektop iTunes.
  • Finally, my email address is below every post. Readers can email me with any requests or any problems and I do get a few emails per day related to workout music.

So for me, not having comments has been great. I no longer have tons of entries showing “0 comments” which to me, made it seem like my content wasn’t as good as I thought it was. Oh — and Katy’s article just reminded me to actually open comments on my race recaps, which I only recently started putting on IntheGym.net, and which is where I feel more people will interact with me if they want to.

I asked Katy to do this guest post because I wanted to share with other bloggers that there are quite a few ways to interact with your blog readers other than commenting. Plus, if your goal is to drive readers to your blog, it helps to carry on the conversation AWAY from your blog, whether it be on general social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter; or places more specialized for your topic of interest, such as a particular forum or another community (I’m very active on DailyMile.com, which has a lot of runners, cyclists, swimmers etc).

So let’s hear it from you — where are you active on the ‘net? Do you “think less of” a blog if it doesn’t have comments?

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Comments

  1. says

    I wouldn’t say that I think “less” of a blog with no comments, but I just don’t think it’s a blog. It’s like when one of my favorite authors and bloggers, Jen Lancaster, stopped taking comments on her blog — true, she has such a huge following that she was getting thousands and thousands of comments (which had to be a headache), but even though she’s on Twitter and Facebook and you can get in touch with her via an agent, there was still a key thing missing, which is that feeling of instant connection via a blog comment. To me, a blog is a conversation, so when you take out the other side of the conversation, it’s just a dictation. Now, I will say that being available on social media does blur that line, but not enough IMO.

  2. says

    I wouldn’t say that I think less of blogs with few comments, but I tend to (without even realizing it until now) measure a blog’s success by how many comments it has. Definitely not an entirely fair way to judge. I might be inclined to think that the blog is newer or hasn’t developed much of a following yet. I don’t use comments as an indicator as to the quality of the blog’s material at all–I’ve definitely found blogs that had awesome content and few comments, as well as very much the opposite (hugely popular blogs that had content that was kind of…meh.).

    I think you can tell a lot about the blog by the quality of the comments as well–are they thoughtful responses that inspire conversation, or are they just generic comments?

    I plan to keep the comments open on my blog, but I think it’s most important for me to remember not to let the number of comments totally dictate what I write about. If a particular post is successful, great! But that doesn’t mean that all of my future posts need to be similar in hopes of getting more comments. It’s still my space.

  3. says

    I have never actually been on a blog with comments always turned off. Seen it for a post now and then. I think it comes down to the blogger and why she/he blogs. For me, comments are a very big piece of blogging because it really is about a conversation and I get some amazingly thought provoking comments. Love the support that comes that way too. But I have a very narrow focus on my blog and I think it lends itself to that as a forum.

  4. says

    i really like having the ability to leave comments on blogs – i can interact with other readers at the source, instead of taking it to twitter, facebook, etc. i can also see helpful information that relates to the post but that the author may not have included. it’s nice to have it all there in one place!

    i do agree that i tend to feel bad if i don’t get many comments on a post, but like you said before, i know people are still reading it because of my pageviews.

  5. says

    for me, the comments are a huge part of what makes blogging so much fun for me. i have learned so many cool things from my readers (from sale tips to new music to recipes) and truly appreciate the time they put into reading/commenting.

    i’m surprised that this post didn’t bring up the realm of negative comments (the first reason that came to my mind when i saw the ‘why i removed comments’ title). i don’t moderate mine and have gotten a few stings here and there, but since the vast majority are positive ones, i figure it’s worth it to just allow for freedom of speech/expression of opinion.

    finally (i’m writing a novel here) — it’s so interesting to me that i actually have no idea which blogs get X hits. what do you think defines a ‘larger’ blog? what’s a ‘good’ bounce rate? obviously these are up for debate, but i’d love to read some represenative opinions.

  6. says

    I will admit that I glance to see how many comments a blog has, but it is not a make or break deal whether or not I’ll read it. There are plenty of blogs I read that only get 2 or 3 comments per post and then I read others that get hundreds. It’s about the content!

    I will say, that I really love receiving comments. It lets me know that people DO read and it makes me continue to do what I am doing. :D

  7. says

    I personally like leaving comments but am not 100% about doing in. In fact there is one blog that I read every single day without fail and I don’t think I have ever left a comment. So for me the ability to comment isn’t mandatory and I wouldn’t stop reading if the option wasn’t there.

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