Over the past few months, I’ve started noticing, if not a trend, a sort-of trend: blogs shutting down comments. While I’m sure there have been many other instances of this happening, the first I really noticed was Popular Science last September. The move was controversial and got them a ton of coverage in both the traditional media and blogosphere. Granted, I’m not a scientist, but the whole blog comment thing was about the first and only time I’ve read anything about Popular Science in...well, maybe forever. Their reasons for turning off comments seemed valid to me--too much spam and also that disagreements between commenters were impacting readers' perceptions of science presented in articles.
Then a few weeks ago, Copyblogger, announced they were turning off comments. Why? Again, spam and the time it takes to manage blog comment spam even with filters, and also because they think commenters should be writing on their own blogs, not in the comment section. And, of course, linking back to Copyblogger.
Then more and more blogs announced that they, too, were sick of spending time weeding through spam. Also, there are so many places to comment now, why spend a ton of time moderating comments on the blog when you’re also having to moderate and respond on G+, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
I get it and totally see where they’re coming from. As someone who has been blogging for almost a decade and has managed company blogs, I know how time consuming keeping up with both spam and comments can be. I also know the feeling of writing something you think is really spot-on, only to have *crickets* going on in the comments--it can be depressing, especially when you compare yourself to other blogs where every single post generates a party in the comment section. Especially as the Internet has become more and more crowded with places to share thoughts on any particular topic, I would imagine that for the majority of blogs, comments have been on a steep decline. So I can see how once-popular blogs in terms of comments might feel self-conscious or whatever if those comments started dwindling. Not saying that’s what happened for any of these sites, but I have a hunch it might have something to do with it.
How do I feel about the topic of turning off blog comments? I guess mostly sort of meh. Some people are super passionate about the topic--check out the comments, in particular on this post. People who feel that blogs aren’t social media if you shut down the comments, people who feel you can’t call yourself a social media professional if you don’t enable comments on your blog, people who feel it’s a terrible idea to push your reader community to public social media sites rather than house it in the comments section of your blog. I get all that...but, to be fair, there’s a big difference in the “community” of blog commenters on a really high-traffic blog that gets tons of comments and one that barely ever gets any. For the vast majority of blogs, if comments were turned off, nobody would notice or care.