There are certain hazards in running a weblog. There’s the GOSH I DIDN’T KNOW MY MOM WAS READING moment. There’s the JESUS YOU MEAN I HAVE TO TEST MY LAYOUT ON MULTIPLE BROWSERS weekend. Then, there’s the I AM TURNING COMMENTS FOREVER AND EVER realization.
In order, my advice for each situation is as follows:
First, your Mom probably knows you’re bisexual.
Second, HTML is never easy no matter what Macromedia tells you.
Lastly, when you decided to turn comments off, you’re basically choosing to stop engaging in a conversation your weblog was supposed to start. That’s ok if you think you rule the weblog planet, but, chances are, you don’t.
Comments in weblogs are a burden. For every fifty coherent replies, there is one which, for some reason, gets under your skin. Maybe it’s an angry ex-lover, maybe it’s a co-worker who happens to be right, or maybe it’s just that incessant troll who just won’t shut up.
More often than not, when faced with a comments controversy, webloggers bail on comments completely or fall back on Trackback-like solutions to improve the credibility of those they allow to comment. Either choice does the same thing, it hinders the conversation your weblog was intended to begin. This is a direct contradiction to the reason you started weblogging in the first place… to share your own little version of reality with the rest of the world and see what the rest of the world thinks.
You ask, “Rands, I don’t care what the rest of the world thinks.”
I respond, “Then save yourself a lot of time and sanity and move that journal back to paper.”
There are three obvious ways to figure out if what you’re saying via weblog is relevant. Hits, links, and comments. Ego surfing your access logs gives you visibility into what how many people are visiting your site and what they’re looking at. Link review via referral logs or Technorati-like services gives you another dimension on who cares about what on your weblog, but it’s still simple content… THEY LINKED TO ME. ALERT THE MEDIA.
Folks may choose to write about your entry in their weblog, but that is still within the comfort of their own home and for their own gratification. Actually taking the time to comment on the weblog where the entry resides, is a selfless act of creativity and, let’s face it, that’s a big deal in a world where the limelight is so readily quantifiable.
A comment on your weblog takes actual thought. A comment means that someone took a few minutes out of their day to string together some words in response to something you said. Given the tremendous amount of incomprehensible crap present on the Web and in weblogs, a comment is a big deal. However small, you altered the day of a person you do not even know.