The Argument for Keeping Those Blog Comments Open

“The comments are what differentiates a blog from a website, ” they told us. “Engage!” they said. “It’s about building community…”

…And engage we did. Ever since I published my first blog post in the late 90′s, I lived for the interaction. It was the spirit of community that really made it all worthwhile. I’m a chatter. I like to talk to people. So when people I didn’t even know became regulars -first on my humor blog, then on my freelance writing blog – it was a great rush and a truly valuable experience.

I can honestly say I owe my entire social media career to the people who commented on my blogs over the years. So why would I shut down comments?

To me, shutting down comments is silencing all the people who helped me to become a success.

You matter

Compared to my past successful blogs, this one here receives very little traffic and fewer comments. In fact, I’ve gotten so busy lately that I don’t always have time to respond to the people who do comment on my sporadic posts. Still, I see comments here  and value every single one of them. When someone has a question, I am there for them and I hope I always will be. Comments tell me people are reading and they care what I have to say. They also tell me when I’m off the mark. I have received the most awesome feedback from people all over the world via  the comments on my blogs.

So now closing blog comments is a thing and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Actually, no, I do know how I feel about… I’m not a fan. It smacks of “I don’t need you anymore.”  While this probably isn’t the case, as a reader of popular blogs that closed their comments sections, the option to participate is what makes the experience more pleasant, educational, and memorable. Knowing I can ask a question or interact with others,or just read more tips and ideas from other blog readers is the best part of a blog.

Now I know folks can interact elsewhere, but I’m not a fan of “read it here and talk about it there.” If I have to go somewhere else to comment, I’ll probably pass and I know I’m not the only one.  Unless it’s something I’m passionate about, I don’t want to have to Like a Facebook page just to comment and I certainly don’t want to join an exclusive community just to comment. It’s a very rare blog post that incites my passion anymore, anyway.

I get some of the reasons for not wanting to deal with comments. Spam and negativity certainly put a damper on things. They’re an inconvenience but not so much that I would tell all the people who followed me since day one that they can no longer comment on my blog.

Community Last?

I guess what really worries me about cutting off comments is  whether or not it signifies a decline in community. People gave up forums for the social networks and now even the social networks are changing the way brands can communicate with their friends and fans. Algorithms are changing, social networks are getting spammier, and it’s getting more difficult to find a true conversation that isn’t centered around links and promotion. Retweets are now more important than comments, blogrolls, and the general sharing that endeared blogging to many of us back in the day. Maybe I’m just too old school for all of this anymore.

I don’t have a wildly popular blog, I don’t have a huge Facebook page, or an influential Twitter account, and I have never been a person who sells, but there are people who honor me by reading what I have to say every time I post. In return, I will continue to honor them by giving them a place to have a voice, even if it’s not so convenient for me at times.


Are You the Real Deal?

In the mid-90′s I had the opportunity to work on a marketing campaign with a famous rock star. After several long phone calls, I realized he was a personae, not a person. He was flashy, he was a showman, and he was a shrewd businessman, but he was mostly flash. What he showed me and the rest of the world is not the person he really is. To me, he was not the real deal.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because it’s so easy to be dazzled by what isn’t really real.

I love this online world we’re in. I love being part of a community and interacting with so many different people. I love making new friends and even meeting them offline. However, I’m noticing a difference between the way some people are online and who they truly are.  These discrepancies have made me very conscious of who I am and how others see me.

Am I the real deal?

I hope so, but maybe you don’t think so.

I think sometimes we spend a lot of time working online get caught up in the wrong things. I know I have. If I’ve learned any lessons recently, it’s not be dazzled by people or numbers, but to focus on results and relationships.

Are you defined by your numbers?

If your top accomplishment is accumulating a lot of friends and followers, all you are is someone with the ability to collect many fans and followers.  Numbers can be bought and sold and while popularity isn’t necessarily a bad thing in the online world, it can’t be all you have going for you.  It’s what you do with your numbers that counts. Do you expect everyone to share your stuff? Buy your products? Retweet your news? That’s terrific but one sided relationships don’t last.

What do you give your friends and family in return?  (Hint: The right answer here isn’t a blog post or something to buy at a discount). When people are buying your books, or seeing you speak, or following you on line, they really just want to spend time with you and learn from you. Take some time out to get to know the people of your community. Ask them questions, shake hands, and get to know folks by name.

The people who support you don’t see themselves as numbers and you shouldn’t either.

Are you defined by your friends?

How cool! You have many famous friends and you make sure everyone knows it.

Every time you have a drink with a famous friend, or talk on the phone with someone who is taggable, or wave across a crowded room you tell the world. Friends are more than famous names., though. They’re the people who have your back, while you have theirs in return. But being on your side through thick and thin doesn’t mean you haul them out only when you have something to sell or promote. Friends are  just there to stock your conferences or add content to your ebooks. Eventually people get tired of carrying a heavy weight on their coattails.

Before you call someone a “friend,” make sure you’re truly being one in return. When you treat your friends like friends and not just people who do things for you , you’re the real deal and not just someone with a bunch of famous friends. Don’t collect people, build real relationships.

Are you defined by some vague, unproven claims?

Does your resume or LinkedIn make claims of having Fortune 500 clients or major named brands without actually coming out and listing them by name? Do you forget to mention that these places you worked for fired you after a week or two? Do you make claims of growth and revolutionary thinking without providing facts or numbers?  I don’t want the people who hire me to do it because I know people or because I worked for this person or that. I want them to do so because they see me as a person who walks the walk. Your work shouldn’t be defined more by who you worked for than what you did.

Are you the real deal?

When I want to work with someone or befriend someone, I want more than name dropping or some vague details about working with “brands.” Let’s talk about the real you. What are your likes and dislikes? What makes you tick? What do we have in common?  How does all the stuff that you talk about relate to me?

Don’t just talk or put on a show. Do.

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