Is a blog a blog if there are no comments?

I read an interesting article today on Marc Prensky’s blog. He was presenting an idea about an experiment he’d like to pursue. I had an immediate reaction and went to post a comment only to find he doesn’t allow for comments. He did offer his email address within the post and so I emailed him. To his credit he responded quickly and even included his reasons for not having comments…spam.

Seth Godin posted about why he doesn’t have comments,

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’m already itching to rewrite my traffic post below. So, given a choice between a blog with comments or no blog at all, I think I’d have to choose the latter.

“it takes way too much of my time”….I just read Mark Cuban’s blog. He gets up to 200+ comments. I’m sure he doesn’t read them all, if any, but he’s willing to allow a conversation to happen. He also seems to have figured out how to handle spam.

At least Godin turns trackbacks on which, if you’ll look, has generated quite a bit of discussion and I suppose is part of the conversation. It just comes across as arrogant. (a term that comes up quite a bit in these trackbacks)

“it changes the way I write”…. that’s the point. Writing for yourself is important but I believe blogs are about conversations and not simply individuals writing their experiences and ideas. I don’t write for everyone and hope I’m confident enough to write about what matters to me but also consider what matters to others. It’s like going to a dinner party and only talking about things you like and not allowing others to share their thoughts. A blog without comments is more like a diary and that’s just what we as educators are trying to dismiss.

For someone who is supposed to be cutting edge he’s pretty old school.

2 Pingbacks/Trackbacks

  • I have so many thoughts about comments, guess I’ll just have to leave you one, from the perspective of a classroom teacher (grade three)…

    interesting how comment, as a verb and a noun, has changed with blogging…

    with kids, getting comments is a huge motivator, so a teacher who knows how to get that happening, well, you get the idea…

    the act/art of responding to another person’s writing – especially about your own writing – is something new, at least in my third grade curriculum this year…

    I love your analogy of the conversation at the dinner party – and that a blog is (can be) so much more than a diary. Lots of people just don’t get that…

    ps – thought you ought to know your blog was blocked in my school district up until a couple of days ago. I made a request to have the block lifted (since you left a comment for one of my kids!) and we can now get to you from school. All the best – Mark

  • If comments aren’t turned on a blog I won’t read it. Even if I won’t leave a comment. I believe it stops being a blog and becomes a soapbox and is uninteresting. This is just my personal view of course. But I see this blogosphere as people powered, hence requires participation.

    I remember way back when I had a crappy web page on the 5MB storage space provided to me by my ISP. I was trying to make what is known today as a blog. But I had no tech knowledge on how to incorporate comments other than those crappy guestbooks. It’s the beauty of the internet, it’s interactiveness and immersiveness in this giant ocean of information and knowledge.

  • Hi Dean, I tried to comment here yesterday but your blog rejected me (smart software) and I lost the comment. So I thought I’d post on this topic and trackback to you – no luck either (this blog is very perceptive) so this is a manual trackback/comment rolled into one. (if it works this time, that is!) Or I’ll have to get really primitive and e-mail you…..

  • Hi guys,
    Mostly for Graham here… I have had the same bad luck trying to leave comments on your blog lately. The one I left here for Dean was meant originally for you, but it wouldn’t stick 🙂 – Mark

  • I would disagree with the assertion that a blog without comments is not a blog– if so what is it? Do not get me wrong, I agree that comments are highly desirable, I get frustrated when I cannot “bark back”, but they are not really a necessary condition.

    And really what is more sufficient is that a blogger gets to make a lot of choices for their self-publishing- the two psuedo celebs mentioned here have made a personal choice, one that I think is inane and a bit snobbish, but I support their freedom to make… inane choices.

    I’ve oft repeated that commenting in other blogs is as essential, maybe marginally more, than just what you write yourself. It’s not only Read/Write web it is Read/Write in My/Other’s spaces that makes a nice matrix to move around in.

    I only hope someday to be so Big and Recognized that I can sht off comments, and sit on a lofty mountain top just Thinking Big Things.

    And I hope I can submit this comment, fingers crossed.

  • My comments are somewhat late. I had looked for a trackback option but didn’t see it (I see it now), so I just responded on my own blog. Dean read my post, emailed me, and called me to task for misrepresenting him on one point, that of calling trackbacks “old school,” when what he meant was not allowing comments. Yes, I was careless there.

    Still, it seems that most in favor of comments are not thinking through their position. Let me explain by looking at the points in the initial post and in the comments.

    Why would educators “dismiss” diaries? Many compositionists recommend learning journals (i.e., diaries) to promote reflection and self-evaluation of one’s development.

    Motivation should be a consideration. Do we know whether direct comments will motivate more than a trackback that explores more thoroughly what someone posted? And if they do, is the difference significant enough to prefer comments over trackbacks?

    If trackbacks are allowed, then isn’t the blog more than a “diary”? In the age of RSS, if all students have feeds from classmates (or educators from others) and from others outside the classroom, and must take those outside posts into consideration, how does a blog remain a diary? Isn’t there “participation” and “interaction”? Isn’t there a “conversation”? Must all blog parties be of one type?

    Isn’t not reading a blog without comments like judging a book by its cover?

    Finally, whether or not a person is “arrogant,” whether or not a practice is “old school”; whether or comments changes one’s writing; none of these should cloud the basic argument of whether or not disabling comments is appropriate for education blogs.

    My basic position is fourfold: 1) Whether or not there are comments depends on the purpose of the blog; 2) comments (more so than trackbacks) facilitate confirmation bias; 3) trackbacks tend to be more thoughtful; and 4) the primary purpose for educators should be learning.

    I’ve been thinking through these issues in a series of posts on my blog. Initially, I was against comments because of confirmation bias. It’s a well-known phenomenon that “rich” networks of communication promote confirmation bias, which is not what we want in education. However, I’ve also seen that some sorts of posts are better with comments. And with most posts, the thoughtfulness of the comments depends on items other the structure of the conversation (i.e, comments vs. trackback): It depends on the content of the initial post, the author’s tone and expertise, the audience, and so on.

    Whether or not it’s preferable to have comments, trackbacks or both is not clear to me yet. I’m still thinking through these issues. But even if I stay with my initial position, I won’t stop reading blogs with comments. 🙂

  • As an audio publisher and someone who helps others self publish their own audio books — I would liken a blog without comments to creating audio books in a format where the listener can listen to the audio book. In other words, what’s the point?

    I strongly encourage all of my clients to start a blog, turn on the comment section, engange those who visit the blog and take the time to write something — this is how you know what people are thinking. This is how you know what they’re interested in. Otherwise, just post some pages about yourself and forget it.

    Blogs are a key tool for creating interactiveness with others who share your interest. Perhaps you don’t have to read each one or respond to each one. But allowing visitors an opportunity to discuss the topic among each other is beneficial to both the person who owns the blog and the ones who visit.

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  • Personally I think that comments are necessary. The owners of the blogs should know what other people think about the things written in the blog.

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