Blogger and Yahoo employee Russell Beattie has been taking a fair bit of flack for removing comments from his blog – and seems more than a little defensive about it, from what I can see. Fair enough. As he points out, it’s his blog and he can run it however he wants to. He says he got fed up with having to weed out the flames and spam, and also was spending too much of his time responding to comments, so he’s returning to “old-school blogging.”

With all due respect to Russell, I’m not sure blogging without comments constitutes “old-school blogging,” although I admit that the blogosphere’s eminence grise, Dave Winer, kind of screws up my argument by not allowing comments on his blog. But even Dave has come around of late, it seems, since he has a second WordPress blog where he does allow comments. In fact, I would argue that a website isn’t even a blog at all unless it includes comments, and I know that others agree. Don’t get me wrong – a blog without comments might still be valuable, but it’s not really a blog.

Russell says that now everyone has blogs, they can just respond to him on their blog if they don’t like something he says, or want to get in touch with him – and other than that, they can hunt for his email address in his “About” page and get to him that way. As more than one person has pointed out, it’s ironic that Russell decided to do this only days after a new comment-tracking feature called CoComment.com came out (which I am beta-testing and so far quite like, but more on that another time).

As anyone who has read my previous posts will know, I think the “conversation” is part of what makes blogs so powerful (even if it’s more of an argument :-)), so I’m disappointed Russ has done what he’s done. It’s his blog, and so I wouldn’t presume to tell him what to do, but I still think it’s a mistake.

Update:

Kent Newsome has some thoughts on the subject too (thanks for the compliments, Kent) and it’s probably a fair point that Russell’s views might have been influenced by the cease and desist letter he got recently – although he didn’t mention that in his post. I would also recommend – not surprisingly – that anyone reading this should look through the comments. There’s more good stuff in there, which kind of helps make my point.

Dave Winer has also clearly caved in under the convincing weight of my arguments and decided to get back in the comment game (hat tip to Kent Newsome for noticing). Just kidding about the caving part, Dave.

About the author

Mathew 2391 posts

I'm a Toronto-based former senior writer with Gigaom and my favorite things to write about are social technology, media and the evolution of online behavior

59 Responses to “Is a blog without comments still a blog?”
  1. […] The reasons above are very understandable, but if you can, I encourage you to allow comments. It’s the best way to hear back from your readers. You still have a blog if comments are turned off, but you will have to work extra hard to build conversation and community with your readers if comments are disabled. […]

  2. […] To Matthew Ingram, imho, whether a blog has comments or not does not effect its blogness. For one thing, when I point to a post that has comments then basically I have comments. For whatever reason, people seem to be more polite when posting in someone else’s space (as opposed to my space). As you climb a tree, the higher you go, more people want to throw stuff at you, pretty soon all you get is the junk. It usually seems to happen in Year 2 if the blog is growing. Before that they say things like “It’s not a blog if it doesn’t have comments.” Then they start appreciating why it’s actually more fun and interesting (and liberating) to write without having a critics section stinking up your living room. Basically mail lists are conversations. Blogs are something different. In fact I think blogs with comments aren’t really blogs. How about that! […]

  3. […] a couple of problems with that, and it’s something I’ve thought a fair bit about and posted on in the past (raising the ire of Dave Winer, among others). The first is (obviously) that not everyone has a […]

  4. […] I know from personal experience, Dave is notoriously thin-skinned — kind of surprising for a guy who has been blogging since […]

  5. […] has been a long-time proponent for comments on blogs. He says, . . . I think the “conversation” is part of what makes blogs so powerful (even if […]

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  7. […] I’ve continually made the argument (as plenty of other people have as well) that comments are an integral part of a fully-functioning blog. As part of my new job as communities editor at the Globe and Mail […]

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