A major influence in my becoming a blogger was Michael Hyatt. His blog on leadership mentored me as I grew in my role as a leader.
Eventually, I took on the role as one of his community leaders. As such, I helped moderate and respond to comments.
That’s why it was such a shock to see his blog post announcing he was disabling comments on his blog.
One of the things I LOVED about Michael’s blog was the fact we had direct access to him. Not only were we able to read his thoughts, we were able to discuss what he shared directly with him.
He’d take the time to read through the blog comments, eventually turning part of this over to his community leaders, and respond to those who commented. It was mind-blowing.
I grew to really admire Michael and his ability to interact with his blog audience directly on his blog. Now that’s changing.
Ever since Copyblogger made the choice to remove blog comments from their blog, I had a feeling it was going to trickle down to other online influencers. The time has come where it’s really happening.
I’ve been processing this decision all day. I’ve come to the realization Michael Hyatt was wrong in pulling blog comments from his site. Michael was also right…
Why Michael Hyatt Was Wrong In Disabling Blog Comments
I know Michael has thought deeply about disabling blog comments. He went so far as to poll his audience on Facebook. I give him major props for getting input from his community.
This poll shows he cares about his tribe and wants to serve them best. But I think Michael Hyatt is making a mistake.
Disabling blog comments water downs the leadership conversation: Michael Hyatt’s blog was known as a hub for leadership conversation. Leaders from all around the world would congregate around the site and discuss the leadership musings Michael would post.
Now, this is being encouraged to happen on social media platforms.
With the conversation happening on Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIN and Google+ and any other social media platform Michael is using, it makes following the conversation more difficult.
You no longer have a central hub to discuss the leadership topic. You’ve got to find a social media platform and begin discussing on those mediums.
Disabling blog comments takes away from Michael Hyatt’s platform: In his book Platform, Michael tells us there are outposts, embassies, and home bases.
Embassies are platforms such as Twitter or Facebook. You have a presence on there but you don’t own the content. And they could be gone tomorrow.
Home base is your blog. You own this space and the content posted. This includes blog comments. As long as you keep up on your home base, it will be there until you say “No more.”
By taking comments off of his home base, Michael no longer has the control over the content. It’s a free for all and much harder for people to join in the full conversation.
Disabling blog comments because of a plugin seems shortsighted: Michael has long been a proponent of the Disqus commenting system. Because of recent changes to Disqus, Michael has fallen out of love with this great tool.
Sure, Disqus has not been great as of late. They’ve introduced paid content into the comment stream and their service has been lacking.
However, there are other choices for blog comments. Michael could have made the switch to the native WordPress commenting system. There’s also the LiveFyre comment system. Or others such as IntenseDebate or Social Media commenting systems.
The choice could have been made to keep comments but use a different system.
Why Michael Hyatt Was Right In Disabling Blog Comments
Before you think I’m totally against Michael Hyatt’s decision to kill blog comments, I’m not. Reading his post, I can see his side of the situation and can agree with his points.
That’s where Michael is right. He’s doing this because he believes it’s the right thing to do.
A decline in blog comments: Over the past couple of years, Michael Hyatt’s blog comments have declined while his visits have greatly increased. This is a great point.
More people are getting value but they don’t need to comment do receive the great content he’s putting out.
An increase in his time to moderate blog comments: With the amount of comments he receives, Michael has to spend a lot of time moderating inappropriate comments. He even formed a group of community leaders to help with this task.
Policing the comments of a blog takes a lot of time. Michael’s put in more than enough time trying to make sure things are running smoothly in the comments. He’s done a great job but he’s tired of that.
He’s also sensing his time can be spent in better ways elsewhere. That’s cool.
Taking the conversation elsewhere: While Michael said social media is eclipsing comments, I sensed another reason as well. His creation of Platform University and Best Year Ever has taken the conversation to other places.
Both of these resources has a place to comment and share thoughts. being that these are paid resources, his time is better spent engaging with audiences in those locations.
What’s The Right Decision For You?
The million dollar question is whether or not disabling blog comments is right for your platform. I can’t answer that question for you but I can give you a few questions to ask yourself before removing comments.
Do I want the conversation to happen on my site?: Conversations can engage readers and bring them back to your site. This is one thing to consider.
Am I up to the task of moderating comments?: The larger you grow, the more likely you’ll see comments grow. With growth comes spam comments. Can you see yourself spending time moderating comments?
Is my topic something that deserves a commenting system?: Not every blog topic requires a commenting system but some do. Think about whether or not the topics you’re discussing even require a commenting system.
Do your readers desire the ability to leave comments?: More than anything, I think you need to consider your audience. Do they want to engage with you on your blog? If so, keep the comments coming. If not, it may be time to say adios to comments.
The biggest thing I want to drive home is to not make a knee-jerk decision and remove comments because big name bloggers have. You can’t follow every decision they make.
Their decisions may not fit with your blog. Weigh the pros and the cons and make an informed decision for yourself.