Today, I have decided to shut down the commenting feature on chrisbrogan.com. My reason is very basic: Since moving to a new platform, comment spam has fallen onto my site like a ton of bricks. And people are sending me lots of very polite and well-meaning emails telling me that my site is overrun with spam.
But that’s not the whole truth.
The Evolution of Online Discourse and The Value of Blogs
I’ve been blogging since 1998, when it was called journaling. There weren’t comments in the old days. Then, years later, Blogger.com showed up, and I could do comments. Eventually, I moved to WordPress. I was the #1 responder on my blog. I did everything to make sure people felt heard and acknowledged.
A few years later (around, say 2010), people started using the comments section for something else: self-promotion. Some of my biggest detractors would lovingly come on and explain all over my comments section how wrong I was and how much better they were. This used to bother me a lot (I was going to lie and say it didn’t, but it did). But then, I realized that in most cases, these people shared a common and reasonable challenge: people weren’t giving them the attention they deserved, and they were giving me a lot of attention, most of which I probably didn’t deserve.
A year or two after that, comment spam became the norm. I had to clean it out daily. It became a bigger and bigger challenge.
But now, there’s even more to think about.
Two interesting and co-related circumstances have taken place. Comments have scattered to the winds. If you want to know what people are saying about your posts, you have to scan Facebook and Twitter and Google+ and everywhere else a conversation can be had. People complain to me all the time that folks will chat up the link in Facebook but leave no comments on the blog, as if the comments on the blog are the gold. (They’re not. Nice to have, but not revenue-affecting. You’ll live.) I just told people: engage where the people engage. Fair enough.
The SECOND detail is that we tend to want to add more opinion than before, and many people’s comments have become blog posts or social network posts in their own right. This, by the way, is lovely. This is also something Seth Godin talked about way back in (I think) 2005. Once again, Seth, you’re way ahead of me.
We Will All Survive
I love hearing from you. You know how to reach me. If you subscribe to my newsletter, and have hit reply, you know I write back. Comment all you want. I’m listening and happy to hear your thoughts.
I promise. We will all be okay.
Comments off. Wishing you all love.