A few months ago I started to completely rethink my website. During this time, I also took the time to think about the comment functionality which is included in my current blog software WordPress. One of the outcomes of my thoughts on my websites was to change my blogging. Completely. Both from mental as well as from a technical perspective.
From 'mental' (or practical) perpective, I'll change my blog gradually from a non-directed, spontaneuous blabbing, ranting and random thought disposal instrument towards a more topic-oriented and directed writing. I won't start to write technical or theoretical articles or books. I want to keep my blogging small since I like the concept of small, chewable chunks of information for a specific topic.
Second, from technical perspective, I'm going to completely change the platform and infrastructure of my website (again). I'll move off from WordPress and use a static website generator instead. I don't have much interactive content or even applications. Hence, static webpages serve my purposes quite well. However, there's one little dynamic thing I have until now. You guessed it already, it's my blog comment functionality.
What Is A Comment?
Ok. From technical perspective, comments aren't much of an issue, since there's a number of external providers for commenting, i.e. the popular Disqus. Nonetheless, I wanted to rethink everything on my website. Hence, I chewed on the comment thing as well. After a couple of days, I came to a conclusion I hadn't thought I'd come to before: Just don't do it.
Yes, that's right. No more blog comments on my website. Even more, I'll remove the blog comments from my old entries as well. The reason is quite simple. On-site comments are simply wrong. From almost any perspective it makes no real sense to me to enable commenting on an article/blog right just where the article is. And to be honest, this conclusion is quite new for me as well. I didn't care much about it until recently.
The fundamental question for me to be answered was: What is a blog comment? To me, a blog comment is a published opinion or statement regarding the content/topic layed out in the original article. Such a statement must have an author - be it disclosed or undisclosed. As a side note, I never allowed anonymous commenting. But surely, impersonated or fake name commenting is/was possible as well.
As for the activity of commenting, the author writes and publishes her thoughts in the internet. Now hold on for a second and re-read that last sentence again. The important thing to notice is the internet. That's actually what makes me believe that the entire concept of on-site commenting is wrong. The culture and nature of the internet is distributed and free information. Now, if information is useful or related to some other information, it's simply interlinked. I'm a firm believer that the concept of linking is crucial for the internet.
I think that instead of posting a comment on the same site where the article resides, the comment actually needs to be published somewhere else on the internet and then interlinked with the original article. This is the natural way of information sharing on the internet. Yes, it's the culture of the internet. The author can simply post her comment on her own website or blog. Nowadays, it's just a few clicks to get a free personal blog.
Thinking a little more about the topic, one might inevitably notice that actually there's a trend towards off-site commenting in recent years. With the rise of the social networks (you know, this Facebook, Twitter and G+ things), sharing links and quick commenting has become both popular and usable. Just post the link of the article or page in question, write your statement and fire off a new conversation.
Moreover, sharing on social networks is beneficiary for all parties involved. Be it the author of the original article, the commenting author, the social network platform, or the readers of the comment embodied as "social network status message". Perhaps the best thing about it is that the comment (and a potential conversation) about the topic in question is being made intentionally and directed. The author of the comment makes many useful and helpful decisions before sharing her comments.
After it was clear for me that off-site commenting is far better than on-site commenting, I thought about a second, related decision. I asked myself: "Why should I limit my readers?". And of course, that's a very valid question. Why should I, as author of an article, limit the feedback and conversation possibilities for my readers?
At first sight, I thought that it's not a good idea to limit feedback channels. Even more, just switching off the comment feature on a blog is - well - quite unnatural, since most of the blogs out there have (excellent) on-site commenting. Additionally, from a open communication perspective, it's counterintuitive to simply block a communication channel. Especially for someone like me, who really is very dedicated and passionate to develop and foster communication and feedback all the time. However, I finally decided to disable this communication/feedback channel and go for the hard way. The key argument here is based on a very simple idea: Providing a wrong option doesn't improve anything.
That's why I'll no longer provide on-site comments on my website. You can share your feedback with me and others at any time. Write your thoughts on your own website, post your comment on a social network, link to original or related sources and let me know about your comment if you like. You can surely just send me an email as well.