Bye Bye Comments - It Was A Great Time But You Have To Go
Regular readers of my blog know that I experimented with all kinds of comment systems. Integrated in the blogging software, external services, social networks and just disabling them. After giving the last viable option I had a fair chance I finally came to a decision.
If you are looking for a final answer you have to look somewhere else. Many "great" bloggers already wrote why you should disable comments or why you need them. And as always they never agreed on any point. There are two ways to go and I think both have their place.
I will go with "no comments". This does not really hurt much. I received some, I responded to them and there were some great discussions. But over all the most interesting stuff was not discussed in my blog but on Twitter, HackerNews or via Email. Sometimes there was a response in form of a blog post.
My audience is able to use all those fancy things like, umm, Twitter or even have a blog. There is no reason to engage in a conversion "in my house", adding value to my domain if they could also achieve the same thing but with their own brand. I will also support this. If there are great discussions on Twitter or a follow up post I will just add it to original article and, of course, announce it on the usual channels.
Please do not start "but you will not have your community. Ever again.". I do not have a community. I have readers that, I do not know why, read my rants. (btw. looking at my statistics always amazes me, I am really thankful for every single one of you <3 so enough blabbering for now) This is everything. My rants, my opinion. Of course comments can add value to readers but also decrease it.
When Should You Have Comments?
I believe if you have another audience comments are a great thing. One of the major problems with a technical audience is that they
- are always right
- do not care about something called "manners"
Do not get me wrong, I love you all, but I already took position on this topic. Some form of being polite, not calling other people names,… everything people defend with "but we are so much more efficient when we are assholes". The main reason for decreased value of comments in technical blogs.
But if you are running a community for old people, housewives (and for the sake of political correctness since my nerves on this topic are already racked: housemen - yeah I know I just made that up. -.-) or some kind of audience who has a real advantage and no other viable way discussing your content and forming a community: comments are teh way to go.
Most of the time those communities are polite. They are happy to have a chance to engage with other people. They need this one option and do not have tons of others so they take care of it and try to look good. You need less time moderating comments and you provide a service for people they need and want. Everyone is happy.
I am sad to say it but regular comment systems are dead. They do not link comments to a specific person. You cannot easily claim stuff you wrote nor can anyone be sure you wrote it. There is just a missing link to you as a person.
Facebook solves this. If you want to build a community, a true community not just a collection of opinions and comments, go with Facebook. It is really sad that I said this, I know. But nearly everyone who fits in the "not-technical" category is on Facebook, uses it, maybe the confused ones even like it.
It is a great tool, no matter if you like Facebook or not. A bit less facebookish and still great would be Disqus. It is not the same thing and looks less like "community" but still fits for most of us. I would still go with Facebook if I had to build a non-technical community.
(We should come up with another term - a community is, at least for me, something totally different from people reading and commenting on a blog. Not sure why everyone started using it)
What Will Happen With My Site
If you did not know it because you are still reading this article: I disabled comments. I currently do not think they will ever come back. I still have them and maybe I will add an archive.
Please do not see this as "he does not want to talk to us anymore". I would love to discus everything I write with you. Just send me a tweet or a mail. The next few days I will also setup irssi and screen so you can always drop me a line on IRC. Write your own blog post. With GitHub and gist.io it was never as easy as today to write something and make it look good. You do not even need your own tumblr account or some other third party service. Use HackerNews. Most of the technical stuff is posted there. I think I would prefer Twitter over HN over everything else. But do not stick to my preferences, feel free to use whatever you want. I am also open for a coffee invitation. Heidelberg, Mannheim, Leipzig - I am regularly in one of those lovely cites. Or just say "hi" when I am in my office.