Is a Comment-Less Blog a Blog?

I think we hashed this out a few years ago but I think it’ll probably pop up from time to time.

Is a blog without comments really a blog?

Zoli went out on a limb and said that Google’s Official Blog isn’t really a blog because they don’t have comments. His argument: (via extensive coverage on Blog Herald)

The Google Blog does not allow commenting. They claim they love feedback: but the only way to leave feedback is by emailing them. Hm, not much of “love” here, if you ask me.

If he wants love, I think he should rub himself up against Google’s extensive groups for each and every one of their products and services (Reader, Checkout, yadda) that connect developers and employees. I think that’s a lot of love. But still – the owner of Blogger and it’s brazilians of blogs should be more amenable to commenting. But still – some prominent Google employees represent Google very well in the blogosphere.
Yahoo does have comments for their blogs and have dealt with negative comments before.
Prominent bloggers like Seth dispense with comments altogether:

I think comments are terrific, and they are the key attraction for some blogs and some bloggers. Not for me, though. First, I feel compelled to clarify or to answer every objection or to point out every flaw in reasoning. Second, it takes way too much of my time to even think about them, never mind curate them. And finally, and most important for you, it permanently changes the way I write. Instead of writing for everyone, I find myself writing in anticipation of the commenters.

I’d never though of the anticipation thing but it does make sense. But Seth does have TrackBacks turned on so he still has his blog open to feedback and linkage – just indirectly.
Jeremiah opines:

Forget the tool for a minute, It’s not about comments, nor is it about defining what is a blog. It’s about the willingness to have a dialogue (by definition suggests two-way), dropping the PR schlack, avoid MarCom happy talk, to have an open, transparent conversation with your audience.

I purposefully sidestepped this in my definition of blogging (‘a frequently, easily and instantly updated website’) because it gets caught in the cosmetic features of blogging – the how it looks – instead of the how.
And immature asshole commenters always ruin everything and always will. Some people simply see your site and blog and world as their own personal graffiti board (tell them to GYOFB).
Yes you can have a blog and have someone write it. Like Tom Delay did.
Yes you can have a blog simply because it is the ‘sexy thing’ to have and simply post the same boring sterile lifeless crap that you purge out onto your corporate website and then be all surprised when your blog does absolutely nothing for your marketing dollars.
Yes you can have a blog and have no comments. Like Seth Godin does. Plus, he has the fastest Send button in the west – whenever I email him he is back with a reply within minutes.
Yes you can have a blog and have comments, and let commenters become bloggers on the site and create even more content like DailyKos.
But the open attitude of blogging is where the crucial difference is at.
Are you willing to listen to ideas and criticism and feedback about your thoughts, feelings and ideas or are you just a stuck up twatnozzle that would rather shovel the same marketing horseshit into the same community chamberpot?
The paid blogging, the bribed blogging, the fake blogging – it is against that open honest attitude that has drawn millions to write and millions more to read blogs and further proves how deathly afraid companies are about criticism of their precious little faux-grail products. It degrades blogging and turns bloggers into corporate fluffer girls. But as I’ve said before:
The great thing about blogging is anybody can say anything. But at the same time anybody can say anything.
You take the good you take the bad you take them both and there you have the blogosphere. That’s what I’m talking ’bout Willis.
The sooner the marketingpricks ‘give up’ on blogging and move on to the next ‘ooh shiny’ the better.
Flag this post because I think in another year or so we’ll have this discussion again.
Is a comment-less blog really a blog? Yup. Is a blog with comments better than one without? Yup.

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About Andy Wibbels

Andy is an award-winning blogger and author of the book Blogwild! A Guide for Small Business Blogging. His work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Entrepreneur, Wired, Business Week, Forbes, and other national and international media. He was worked at several San Francisco startups including Get Satisfaction, SAY Media, InMobi, Keas, and Mindjet. Currently, Andy is Director of Marketing at Lucidworks. Tw · Fb · G+ · Li

6 thoughts on “Is a Comment-Less Blog a Blog?

  1. Lena L. West

    Me doth think not.
    Seth doesn’t have comments enabled. Not that he’s the gold-standard blogger but, I say that because it can’t be all that bad to have them turned off once you’ve developed your platform. But, Guy and Tom leave theirs on. Hmmm…
    IMHO, part of the purpose of a blog is to – as one of my recent interview subjects so eloquently put it – “weave a fabric of conversation” around your product/company/widget.
    It *is* called SOCIAL media, after all.
    -Lena

    Reply
  2. Sharon Sarmiento

    It’s also very hard to build a community around your blog if you’re unwilling to interact with your readers.
    I’ve learned so much recently from Mack Collier over at The Viral Garden–he said that when he first started his blog he was disappointed that he wasn’t getting comments left on it as much as he’d like.
    So, to figure out where he was going wrong, he started visiting other blogs to see what they were up to and he started leaving pertinent comments on other folks’ blogs.
    He quickly found the more he interacted with other blogs and their communities via comments, that the more his own interactive community at his blog was built up.
    I don’t think a non-famous blogger would have much luck trying to launch a blog and build a community without allowing folks to leave comments (only trackbacks). Seth is just special.
    Sharon

    Reply
  3. Havi Brooks

    What a terrific post!
    Ultimately it will be interesting to see if the value of discourse wins out over not wanting to be subjected to harassment and general idiocy. . .
    I know that Annik Rubens who is pretty much *the* German podcaster is now having people get personally okay-ed to leave comments on her blog — schlaflosinmuenchen.net — so that she can separate the talkers from the yellers. Maybe that will end up becoming standard?

    Reply

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