Getting Rid Of Comments

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If there’s one dead horse that’s not worth trotting out when it comes to Social Media, it is the one about "comments." Should you have comments on a Blog? Should you respond to comments on Twitter or FriendFeed? The staple answer is, "yes. Always." But that tide may soon be turning…

Here’s a personal rant: each (and almost every) day, I take a chunk of time to think about something that may be important to people like you (those interested in New Media) and write an article about it. It could be about a news item, a trend or something that happens to have come across my desk. Because I can’t publish a book everyday, or have the content I am producing published in a mass media channel when I want it and how I want it (like a newspaper or magazine), I post it here on this Blog, Six Pixels of Separation. A lot of times, I am interested in how people can contribute, debate, comment on and extend the piece of content. I even take the time to let the people in my two primary online social networks (Twitter and Facebook) know that I’ve posted something new, so they can check it out and pass it along (if they liked it).

Many of the times I don’t add anything additional to the Blog post in the comments section because I have said everything I wanted to say about the topic in the Blog post.

In short, if you think differently or think I’m acting like a jerk in my posts, yes you can feel free to leave me a comment about it, but it doesn’t really motivate me to want to continue Blogging (especially when I do everything in my power to be kind and always think of the value to you first). So many people have dumped on great thinkers like Seth Godin for not having comments activated on their Blog, but I wholeheartedly disagree with those who say, "it’s not a Blog unless you can comment on it." I don’t like waiting a year (sometimes longer) for new Seth Godin or Tom Peters content, so if they’re going to provide additional thoughts and insights and publish them on a Blog platform without comments, I’m just thankful for access to that content (oh, and did I forget to mention that the bulk of this content is 100% free?). I don’t feel any particular right to that content (or a right to question them). These thought leaders (or anyone else) do not need to "open up" their content for discussion or criticism – it’s a personal choice. In the end, if you have something to say (whether you agree or disagree with them), you too can start your own Blog, Twitter feed or Facebook Page to publish your own thoughts.

Don’t get me wrong, the Internet is an amazing platform to share ideas with, but there is a little part of me that sometimes thinks about disabling comments.

Is that too grumpy?


  1. It’s your blog and you can crab if you want to (to paraphrase an oldie.) Blogging is a publishing platform for those unfamiliar few. As editor, you have the right to publish any way you want. Even traditional publishing houses can’t control reviews.

  2. It’s your blog, they’re your rules. If comments don’t add value to your experience of writing, you’re welcome to disable them.
    But, to act as devil’s advocate: is feedback from your readers NOT something that adds value to your experience? Comments seem to denote the desire (actual or not) for a 2-way conversation; NOT having them would imply no desire for a 2-way conversation — thereby turning a blog into a column.
    Not that there’s anything wrong with that — especially if the quality of the comments you’re receiving isn’t worth the effort to support them, or if someone’s gaming your system to increase their own visibility. But I always wonder if the immediate issue (like the burden of comments) doesn’t speak to a larger issue (like a changing motivation for writing).

  3. Not too grumpy at all and a necessary post.
    I would bet that those who complain about not being able to leave a comment, don’t blog themselves. And if they did, they wouldn’t have a comment section.

  4. Totally agree. I would read your blog, same as I read Seth’s, comments or not. The flip side is that some commentors on some blogs bring interesting shades of grey on some subjects, additionnal info or exemple that add value to the original post… Overall, what I think is important is to let the creator of the blog be a “creator” and respect the method he choses to communicate. No rules.

  5. Hi Mitch,
    Social media is about community, in my opinion, as the user and a community interacts…comments on blogs expand the interaction and make people feel like a valued part of one community – a blog.
    I think blogs without comments are more like proclamations. Blogs without comments to me mean ‘I don’t want you to debate my ideas for fear my argument or opinion might not stand up under the scrutiny of your facts.’
    Certainly the author has every right to exclude comments, “your blog, your rules”. Take it or leave it.
    But I’ll note that, since you mention him, Seth Godin’s blog has always been a prime example to me of someone exuding – in my perception- a slight sense of unearned arrogance by not including comments.
    ‘Here is MY post that I will LET you read because normally I make people pay for my wisdom. Worship my words and ask no questions! If you don’t understand it, you are probably unworthy anyway!’
    I can’t tell you where that perception came from for me, only that I have had it ever since I first read his blog. I hadn’t thought about it in a while until you brought it up here.
    Did Seth ever say any of that? I don’t think so. Does he mean it to come of that way? I seriously doubt it.
    But without the conversation that comments might encourage, I’ll not truly know.
    Is it unfair of me? Possibly. But is it my perception? Yes.
    And oddly, I still subscribe to his blog but often scroll past without reading it. I’ll let the psychologists work that logic out for me.
    BTW, I like the comment section on your blog.
    Best always,
    – Peter

  6. Mitch, it’s your blog and if you don’t want comments, it’s probably not because you’re grumpy (although I can’t know for sure). But it seems odd for those writing on social media or the future of media and brands, and how it’s now about brands having transparency and two-way communication, not to have comments. What you’re saying is that there’s nothing more to add to the post. I guess you’re saying that you don’t care what I may say. That may appear to some as being hypocritical. Does it mean that well established and well reputed thought leaders have become brands that don’t want to interact with their consumers? Or, am I confusing authors with brands?
    Personally, I find great value in comments. Some of the best things I’ve taken from blogs have been found in the comments. Sometimes, it’s the interaction between author and people commenting that brings out more points.
    (Now, for me, a relatively new blogger, I welcome comments. I don’t have your experience or reputation to receive a lot of comments. But it makes my day when I do. That surely affects my perception.)

  7. I don’t think of dumping comments on my blog more than once a day. 😉
    Seriously, I would read your content with or without comments as I do Seth’s. But for every negative comment you get, I’ll bet you get tons of positive ones.
    Don’t let the tail wag the dog. You’re doing a great job!

  8. Comments are certainly a personal choice. For many months I’ve been of the opinion that blog posts and comments are like peanut butter and chocolate (what can I say, I’m a Reese’s fan), but if I think of a blog merely as a tool to publish content, then comments are certainly an option.
    With regards to Seth Godin, I think there are two main reasons why non-spammers would like to comment on his blog posts:
    1. They honestly want to provide Seth with feedback and see what his response is so they can understand him better.
    2. On his blog, Seth is not facilitating a two-way conversation (again, his choice) and the directness of his prose leaves some people frustrated because they feel they don’t have a way to respond to his often bold, controversial, or contrary thoughts.
    I’m grateful that he does provide the world with a daily dose of his writing. I’d be even more grateful to feel like there was some kind of conversation going on. And, to be fair to Seth, he’ll engage in these kinds of conversations by other means, just not on his own blog.
    One point of disagreement, though: of course “thought leaders” should be open to debate, being questioned, and occasionally having to explain themselves. Trust and reputation do go a long way, but the day that anyone is above being questioned is the day that they start losing the privilege of being listened to.

  9. Why does everything have to be about comments? What if this Blog had no comments but we have plenty of two-way conversation in other spaces (like Facebook and Twitter)? Can’t the Blog be about instantly publishing ideas and other channels about conversations and other channels about community?
    I’d also argue that someone who does not have comments activated in a Blog isn’t saying that “there’s nothing more to add to the post,” but they may be saying, “I have nothing more to add to it, and I don’t want to have to debate or dissect what my own thoughts were/are.” I’m not sure I understand why it is hypocritical to use a Blog platform to publish one’s thoughts and perspectives.
    That all being said, I have no immediate intention of not having comments and I do feel that – more often than not – there are some amazing new perspectives in this part of the Blog. Like there are right now 🙂

  10. “of course ‘thought leaders’ should be open to debate, being questioned, and occasionally having to explain themselves. Trust and reputation do go a long way, but the day that anyone is above being questioned is the day that they start losing the privilege of being listened to.”

  11. Obviously it’s your blog and you can do whatever you want with it, Mitch. But I think removing comments is a mistake. I think Seth is a smart guy, but — as Mark Dykeman notes — he isn’t so smart that he couldn’t benefit from testing his ideas against criticism, or even just interacting with regular human beings a little bit.
    There is something pompous and arrogant about not having comments, something that is a lot more like the old world of one-way media than the participatory world of social media. I think the benefits of the latter far outweigh the disadvantages — I have often gotten far more value out of the comments on a post than the post itself, and that includes some of my own 🙂

  12. I like what you contribute whether I agree with you or not. Thanks for the opportunity to post a comment.
    If you have something interesting, informative or entertaining, then I’ll read it regardless of a comment section. I don’t allow a comment section on my site because of information overload. There are way too many distractions in my world, already, and I’m not interested in creating another community where either fans or chronic debaters hang out to weigh in on my mind dump.
    Just because I’ve made my opinions public doesn’t mean the visitor has any right to scribble on my refrigerator. Put up your own site that slams me, if you wish, but you’re not going to steal my electronic ink and tag my monitor.
    I welcome feedback and will gladly post longer form comments or critiques, but I refuse to wade through spam or spontaneous blog-bangers who are just marking territory without contributing anything of substance. If you like what I share, then you’ll come back regardless of my lack of a comment function.
    True, some might say that I fear critique or an opposing opinion. Bah! If you’re real, engaging, interesting and have something to contribute, then that will rise above the mechanics of whether I have a comment section. Send me an email. I’m used to critique and don’t try to please people.
    I’m far too busy to even read the nice comments. I study my stats and I can tell how many read, come back or click away quickly. I get plenty of interaction and feedback in my life, but that can be paralyzing, too, and keep us from doing what we’re here to do. I’m here to express myself. Your liking it or hating is irrelevant.
    Time is the only commodity. Are you wasting it or using it wisely. Reading a hundred comments filled with either applause or rotten tomatoes does not add to my day. I write to release the energy, feel the flow and find any sapphires in the mud of my own mind. If others benefit, cool. If not, c’est la vie.
    We’re all trying to rise above the dissonance to be heard, to be involved or be included. Yes, I laugh at the irony that abounds in this comment section about whether it is worthwhile. I laugh at my own, alleged, contribution.
    I’m always writing just for me. The room is empty. The mailbox is empty. The phone is silent. If you believe in something and feel like expressing it, then do it because you must . . . not because anyone’s in the audience.
    The truth is there’s no one out there. There is no spoon. I’m not trying to change the world. I’m just trying to make up my mind.

  13. Mitch, two more thoughts…
    Reading the comments today has improved my appreciation for the original post. I find myself many times tweeting a post and telling followers to read the comments as well. And because of reading your comments and others’ since I originally commented, let me say that I understand the issue of time-management. Putting myself in your shoes, I know it must be an issue.
    Thanks for this post and for your blog.

  14. Because people get hung up about the differance and distinction between “Community” blogging and “Commentary” blogging. The comments section is an invitation without an obligation or a guarantee of reply or appreciation/adoption.

  15. A brilliant quote from a blogger who I read faithfully …
    “If you had to choose your #1 rule for what it takes to create a successful Blog, what would it be? Mine is: create real interactions between human beings.”
    Mitch – that blogger would be you (November 19, 2008)! I thought it was a great rule and have based my blog on following that rule (as well as other rules).
    My question is whether or not you can create real interactions between human beings without allowing comments?
    My answer would be ‘yes, you can”. As explanation, I would submit one example. I am a huge fan of Seth and it does not bother me that he doesn’t allow comments. I often share his blogs on Facebook and end up engaging with friends on our take on Seth’s ideas. And that may or may not be online. It is often over a coffee or a beer.
    I think that the interaction doesn’t always have to be between the blogger and his/her readers – it can be anywhere the ideas get discussed.

  16. I think a blog has more functions than “just” a way of bringing your content to the world. It’s a gathering place for like minded people to read what you have on your mind. And that gathering place has value as a place of discussion amongst others on top of the valuable content and insights you share on it.
    I can tell you that lots of people gain additional value from reading comments on top of the initial post. Yes, even on this blog. Yes, even for this post.
    So in my book comments are a must. Even if your blog is all about adding value to your readership, the comments sections holds so much value that you need to enable it for the sake of your readers.
    That’s what’s so fascinating about the new media. Even if you only facilitate discussions and not moderate them, even if you’re not the one actively interacting, your readership is.
    In short – your comments section is a must.

  17. That is where I was going with this post Karen. Thank you for bringing it out in a more salient way. It’s not about NOT having conversations about this Blog… it’s about having the “conversations” where the conversations are happening. For me, the more chatty/conversational stuff is happening on Twitter and Facebook for me these days.
    In the case of Six Pixels of Separation, I can’t see myself disabling comments any time soon, but I can see it happening if other platforms engender those real interactions in a more flowing way.
    It’s funny, I know people think it’s a lot of work to read something on Facebook, come to this Blog, read the full post and then comment. They would probably prefer the conversation happen where they are.

  18. I have nothing wrong with blogs disabling comments, but too often I think that bloggers do this thinking that it will stop people from voicing their opinion on their posts. Clearly false. It just disperses those conversations into smaller bits in other channels.
    I rarely reply to comments on my own posts, but usually continue the conversation through email or Twitter DMs for the same reason you stated. Everything I want to say, I already said in the blog post.
    I think that comments are also probably a better resource for readers to connect with each other than readers to connect with the blogger. Even if the blogger doesn’t comment or respond directly, I don’t see their value taking a big hit.

  19. I just find it strange that some people have an issue with a blogger disabling comments on their blog. That’s especially true with Seth Godin. He’s certainly not shy about his opinions, but how can someone not appreciate the breadth of topics and insights he shares freely on his blog?
    If anything, I think that it’s a personal choice to allow or disallow comments. By turning them on, the blogger is saying that he’s open to them, to the conversation that will ensue. Perhaps Seth, as noted by Mitch, is engaging the community elsewhere.
    I’m absolutely certain that Seth is aware of responses to his blog posts on Twitter, in other blogs and other spaces. With his popularity, I’m sure that allowing comments on his blog and participating actively there would be a huge commitment. It’s understandable that he chose to spend his time differently. I prefer more frequent posts even if that means no discussion.

  20. Blogs don’t have to be about comments. Seth’s blog is a platform to disseminate his thoughts and ideas. it’s not a discussion and certainly not a “two way conversationâ€?. In fact, people can comment on his posts elsewhere. By his own admission “Part of what Chris, Malcolm and I do for a living is make sweeping, provocative statements that don’t always include every nuance. It’s the only way to make a point effectively in a short window of time.” And with that, there’s no added benefit of opening comments on his blog. But look at the free debate, from which I pulled that quote. 30+ blog posts around the free debate, happening elsewhere, in the blogosphere. If you consistently publish thought provoking posts the response/commentary will happen whether you leave comments open or not.
    One quick point about the “two-way conversation”. Let’s be realistic, I’m not saying anything groundbreaking here, the “two way conversationâ€? does not exist. It’s a farce. The two-way conversation is an overused “web 2.0” SV and marketing cliché. This blog post is a presentation by one person directed at a group. How is it possible to have a two-way conversation with almost 10,000 followers on Twitter? That’s Tim O’Reilly giving a keynote at Web 2.0. A discourse, yes, a conversation under a broad definition (in the form of text), perhaps, but SN’s and blogs are not viable platforms for “two way conversations.â€? It’s the greatest gaffe of the “web 2.0â€? era. If anything blogs and SN’s are push and pull models of content creation and consumption, with a layer of commentary (think Amazon reviews) dry extensions of the real the “two-way conversationâ€? in person, between friends and new/old acquaintances. I read a number of comments on this post, all great thought provoking points, on both sides of the fence, with good takeaways, but they’re all one paragraph opinion pieces in response to a two paragraph blog post – another opt ed. piece. I certainly won’t leave here believing I just had a “two way conversationâ€?.
    I liked the way you positioned it in a previous comment. “chatty/conversational stuff�

  21. When you sit down to think about it, there are a ton of good reasons not to have comments on a blog. I’ve seen a lot of the criticism about Seth not allowing comments on his blog and I’ve also been through his recently ended SAMBA program. I’ll just have to say that he is one very productive person who has a ton on his radar. Having to deal with comments, most of which do not add value, would lessen his creativity and efficiency.
    Comments work well for me because I don’t get that many. When you become a thought leader and tons of people want to comment just to be associated with you – a lot of it will be vapid and meaningless. Why deal with it?

  22. Feel free to delete comments from your blog as “obviously you are the smartest person in the world and have nothing to learn from anyone else in the world”.
    While you are at it – why not surgically remove your ears and ear drums (mmmm nice and quiet), that way your mouth will still be able to talk…. but you wont be forced to listen.

  23. I must listen to you too often, as I’ve seen this post coming for a while 🙂
    I was re-listening to Media Hacks #13 yesterday — the part where you were asking about Facebook and how hard it was to get people on Facebook and Twitter to come back to your blog to comment. Now this post and your replies.
    I get the sense that your question is not ‘whether’ to have a conversation about your ideas, but ‘where.’
    There’s no harm in having multiple conversations going on about one idea. If some are sharing on Facebook, and others here on the blog, what’s the harm? People are connecting around your ideas. It might not be all neat and tidy but oh well.
    In case the core issue is ‘whether’ to have comments — your posts don’t come across as 100% perfect Gospel According to Mitch, etc. I like that. When your post is especially interesting, provocative, etc, the comments really flesh things out, whether you participate in the conversation or not.

  24. If you look at the comments following this post (26 at the time that I submitted, 4 from Mitch) you can see how much these posts add to the discussion.
    Mitch, I think you are a great writer with a sharp understanding of the online space – as a result, you attract an equally insightful audience, many of whom have thoughtful comments to share. Your posts are the starting point for a dialogue on topics that impact online marketers and communicators. It is a forum where thoughtful people can hear from thoughtful people.
    You should see yourself as the Sensemaker – the person who puts ‘it’ out there and lets people try ‘it’ on. Once people make the effort to connect with your idea, it’s good form to let your readers respond – in many cases the posts may just be personal reactions that are a result of a reader considering a new thought for the first time. That is secret of moving people from the intellectual to the emotional – allowing people to express how an idea impacted them – affected them.
    For my part, I find your participation in the discussion to be a key benefit. I’m interested in your thoughts; I’m intrigued by your replies…and we know that the emotional connection always trumps the intellectual.

  25. You have created a stream of feedback on this one. Interesting question, but in my mind the whole idea of a blog is to create an online community and you make yourself accountable to the world with your views.
    If you dont want comments then is it not almost becoming a glorified static website.

  26. I don’t mind a blog without comments. These days there are so many ways to comment. If you like it or dislike it, you can post it to FB and talk about it with your friends there.
    The only time I object to not having comments is if it’s on a blog that usually does have comments but, due to an obviously offensive post, comments are disabled. That’s just a punks way out of a fight 😉
    However, a no comment blog is fine. If it’s something that bothers me, then I’ll just avoid the blog.

  27. Isn’t this post richer because of the comments?
    Readers pay with attention. Isn’t it courteous to reciprocate by paying attention to their thoughtful comments? There may be reasons to ignore your readers (e.g., impairs productivity, too many comments, meaningless comments) but nurturing two-way dialogue has many merits.
    Since few readers leave comments, there probably won’t be much impact on your overall readership. How will the readers who spend time commenting feel? Will they go elsewhere to share their thoughts?
    Your blog. Your call.

  28. If there are no comments, there’s no interaction.
    It’s just a static web-cast.
    That doesn’t make it wrong.
    It’s just not social media anymore.
    Ultimately though, it won’t be the comments or lack thereof but the quality of the content that brings people back or forces them to stay away.
    Great post, Mitch…as always (I wonder if that negates the need for me to comment ever again. LOL)

  29. I say do what you want with comments. I’m not too sure which social media God listed the commandments of “thou shalt not turn off comments”. There is a case to be made based on inability to act on comments, not opening up to every voice in the room or wanting a private forum.
    You and I both recognize that if you did it, you’d be fighting a perceptual battle of Mitch just doesn’t get it. Part of that is based on social media reactionary blowback and part of that is real and legit. If Six Pixels has benefited from the social web and people going out of the way to champion your content and personality then shouldn’t there be a forum where they get to voice that back and connect.
    I have a lot of credence for the latter point – there is a give and take and as Matthew says – oftentimes there is as much good content in the comments section as there is in the post….(always my approach when I chew on mashable to read through the comments for reaction).
    Just one person’s thoughts – glad I could voice them here :))

  30. If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.
    If staying out of the kitchen means disabling comments or ignoring comments, then go for it.

  31. It’s really up to the author how much interaction he/she chooses to have, on which platforms, or if at all. We didn’t used to be able to easily publish our comments on a book way back when, did we? It’s nice that the various tools and platforms allow us to comment or dialogue – it’s a great enhancement – but how much we engage in one-way publication or two-way dialogue is really a personal choice. As is how much we leave the comments to others, rather than continually expanding.

  32. It’s obvious that the conversation will happen either way. Just now, I saw Todd Defren’s tweet:
    “Check out @mitchjoel’s grumpy vent about commenting on blogs. I agree with some but not all of his points.
    To which I replied:
    “@TDefren in hindsight, I don’t agree with all of them either. It’s ironic that it took the comments to help me think otherwise ;)”
    And, that’s the point isn’t it? Comments on a Blog or not… the conversation is going to happen anywhere and everywhere.

  33. I think you make a good point, but in the end I think disabling comments closes part of the conversation that exists on a blog. Perhaps you never feel the need to make a follow-up comment, but I’m sure that commenters start a conversation with each other – it allows your post to have a debate around it, and ensures further conversation. I doubt that the lack of comments is the only reason Seth Godin publishes his blog – he writes it because he believes in the material and wants to share it with the community at large. I’m not exactly sure why he doesn’t have comments, but I know I’ve looked for a place to share my opinion on one of his posts and was disappointed not to find one. If the reason for disabling comments is that you’re receiving ones that are irrelevant, offensive or spam then it’s simply a case of warning the blog community that continued abuse will result in deactivation – but give people a chance. I think you’ll find that people just want to feel like they’re a part of the conversation – I know I do.

  34. The irony of this page is hysterical.
    I think comments can provide a deeper insight when it comes to local and social issues.
    As for personal rants etc.
    It sure would be great is we could filter our comments by different variables like age, country.

  35. Yes! It’s too grumpy! Understandable, though. But don’t do it, please.
    It would be a shame to disable comments on a thought provoking blog like this one. The things you write inspire discussion, and comments allow all those great ideas to flow through on a single platform. It’s quick and easy to follow.
    I often find that the comments section of a blog post is more interesting than the initial blog post itself … this blog being a noteworthy exception, of course ;).

  36. The internet isn’t a ‘content’ medium, it’s a ‘communication’ medium, and not treating it as such is realizing only a fraction of its potential.
    I am not saying that the author should spend all of his/her free time reading/responding to comments, but many times someone elses POV can add so much more to the actual blog entry.
    I read several blogs a day, and honestly, those that don’t allow comments I find the least interesting.

  37. I just came across this post today, quite a few days after the original posting of this writing. I love the comment section of provocative or inspiring blog posts. My prime example of this is Will Richardson’s (Weblogg-ed blog posts and comment threads which are enlightening and intriguing in my work as an educator.
    However, I just have to disagree with the concept that you cannot comment on Seth Godin’s blog posts. Under his blog posts, there is a way to add comments in the Digg section. Recently I read Seth’s post about Winning on the Uphills at It was brilliant and touched something deep within me. Seven days later I went back and added a comment. I was one of four people to comment on that blog post. It did take a few days for my comment to show up but it is there now.
    If Seth did not have that Digg aspect on the bottom of his blog posts, I would agree that he does not allow comments. However, he does have it there. AFter you read his posts, you can go there to comment and later see your comments when you click on comments under Digg.
    Have others attempted to use this feature and their comments been disallowed? Or is the use of Digg comments seen as somehow unworthy since it is not directly at the bottom of Seth’s blog posts?

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