I’ve been an advocate for robust online conversations since I started blogging over a decade ago. But I’ve recently decided to remove the comment section from my blog. Here’s why.
I’ve used the third-party Disqus commenting platform for several years now. I love its functionality and the way it facilitates conversation. But I don’t love the company’s new advertising strategy, which places content-related ads in the comment feed of blogs and publications like mine.
As if fighting spam isn’t hard enough already.
It’s been in the works for a while, but the ads just recently started appearing on my site. I didn’t solicit or opt-in to these ads. And, apparently, you can’t opt-out without assistance from Disqus Support.
Aren’t We Missing the Whole Point Here?
I bring up this terrible move by Disqus because it highlights a growing issue with comments that ties directly to my decision to discontinue them.
The point of a comments section is to facilitate community and make space for a conversation. But if readers think it’s just another commercial platform, they’ll disengage. It’s conversational clutter, like someone leaning over your table at a cafe trying to solicit business while you’re connecting with a friend or a colleague.
Because it is so intrusive, Disqus’ strategy makes the comments section a less than ideal space for conversation. And that means it will go elsewhere.
Honestly, it already has. I have two primary reasons I’m pulling comments. And that’s the first.
Social Media Is Eclipsing Comments
The move by Disqus is not only obnoxious; it’s also late to the party. Conversations have already migrated from blogs into the social space—Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, and others.
Almost every blogger I know has complained to me about the drop in the number of comments per post. That’s been happening here for months, which is what started me thinking of a change in approach.
As recently as two years ago, I would get a hundred-plus comments on almost every new post. I would occasionally get hundreds of comments on a single post. My all-time record was 1,390. And as you can see from the chart above, comments per post declined while my traffic shot up—74% last year alone. So it’s not like my blog is dying.
Based on what I’m seeing and hearing, these conversations have simply moved into my social media channels and especially those of my commenters, among their Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and others. This one of the big reasons CopyBlogger pulled comments.
I’m Dethroning Clutter as King
The second reason is that I’m working to eliminate clutter in my life.
The incoming spam in comments is now relentless. Disqus does a reasonable job of quarantining comments it thinks are spam (when they’re not busy adding to it). So do other services. But I still have to deal with them.
I spend about ten minutes a day culling the spam. It may not sound like much, until you add it all up. That’s five hours a month or sixty hours a year. You know me: I can do a lot with sixty hours.
Ever since reading Greg McKeown’s Essentialism, I have been on a mission to eliminate excess noise, clutter, and cruft. Right now, I’m commenting in a variety of spaces—too many—and need to consolidate these.
How We’ll Do It Going Forward
I’m grateful for the community we’ve cultivated here. You’ve been encouraging, inspiring, and challenging me for years. I’m counting on that continuing even if the comments section doesn’t. How?
I will continue to end my posts with a question, encouraging you to carry the conversation into your favorite social media channel. I will participate on Facebook page as I am able. Beyond that, I will be investing more in the Best Year Ever and Platform University communities.
Speaking of platform, this does not mean that I think bloggers and other sites should start yanking their comments sections. Christianity Today canceled comments on some of its content. Popular Science did it across the board, just like CopyBlogger. Meanwhile, Seth Godin has never featured comments.
It all depends on the behavior of your readers and what makes the most sense for your community. The stats tell me what’s right for my audience. What are they telling you?
The key thing to remember is that conversations matter. But that doesn’t mean comments sections are the best place to have them.