When people first visit my site, they ask me why Comments are turned off. Do I really think I know it all and don’t need any feedback? Do I really not care what other people think? Do I just yak my head off without listening?
The quick answer to those questions is NO. I have comments turned off because it serves three specific goals that I believe will help you, help me, and – I feel – improve the internet in general.
Your Thoughts Matter
I am very much interested in what you think, what you say, and your opinions on the topics I write about. Part of the reason I write is to spark conversation, which will expose me to other viewpoints, that will in turn help me understand people (and diverse opinions) even better.
I love language and a well turned phrase so much it can me goosebumps. Yes, I get a physical, visceral reaction when my brain does its interpretive dance, spurred on by those light and dark marks that the rods and cones in my eyes see. Case in point.
So I clearly enjoy the act of reading, and will therefore enjoy reading what you have to say.
But in these days of one and two-word YouTube comments, the inability to even add a line-break to Facebook posts, and Twitter’s 140 character limit (don’t get me started on Twitter!), people don’t even have room to type out a complete thought! Even if they had the inspiration to do so.
Therefore, if you simply like what I said and want to show your support, then click the Like or Tweet button. I will see your support, your community will see that you like something I said, and you will have touched your social media profiles at least once today.
But if you want to say something, and add to the conversation…
Say Something Important
My career – and my passion – is about helping people express themselves. Sometimes that involves me massaging words together, crafting the message, sculpting the story. And sometimes it comes from you.
So if I have said something that has inspired you to comment, then open your blog and write! If you link to my blog post anywhere within your post (and it would be rude not to), then I will be notified automatically by the software I use on my website. If you mention me or my company name in your blog, then I will be notified by Google Alerts.
And I will read what you write. I promise.
It is important to note as well that, Hey, look at that! You are writing! You will be inspired to do exactly the thing you told me you want to do more of! So we both win.
And most importantly, you will have improved the internet by actually creating something new and valuable. (And karma-wise, I think one good bit of content negates 3,800 inane YouTube comments! Your math may vary.)
Own Your Opinion
If you have an opinion, regardless of whether it supports mine or not, I want to see your name and a picture next to it. Put on your big-boy pants and speak to me as if we were standing face to face. Anonymous posts are like someone else’s garbage that blew into my front yard, and now I have to pick it up.
So if I have pissed you off, I want to know that. And I want to know why. And I want a chance to respond to your well-reasoned and thoughtful post on the topic.
If I have moved you to action, or to a new level of understanding, I want to know that, too.
And if I have gotten it all wrong, I want to know – in detail – where I was wrong and why.
It’s Good For You, Too!
Finally, the power of the internet and Google comes from links. If you link to me, and I link to you, we share a bit of Google Juice. Also, if you are reading my blog and found something worthy of comment, then your readers might want to take a gander at my content, too. And vice-versa.
Polite public discourse is in short supply right now. So let’s make an example of ourselves and proudly state our opinions, insights, discoveries, and foibles. It simply makes our story richer.
(Footnote: I am also following in the footsteps of two of my favorite bloggers, Seth Godin and Bob Lefsetz, who both have comments turned off on their blogs. On the other hand, I am also running directly counter to what my two other favorite bloggers do: Chris Brogan and Amanda Palmer. Life is like that sometimes…)