Sparked by a move that is now the topic of much discussion in the blogosphere, popular blogger Seth Godin has decided to shut down the comment sections on his blog posts. He says he’s done this because he just doesn’t have the time to manage them. So he’s going to stick to something a bit closer to monologue in favour of the more dynamic comment-driven conversations that have arguably built the blogosphere’s popularity. And he’s not the only one.
To me, online conversations, especially in the blogosphere, are not just about comments. They’re about trackbacks, pings, tagging and aggregators, which are all opening up conversations in a more dynamic way.
Sure, having someone comment on my blog post is nice. It shows me immediately that I have engaged my readers. But why don’t my readers ping me and use a trackback instead? Then the conversation would be much bigger. Or they could tag the same topic that I’ve discussed then blog it themselves? Then we’d both be up there in Memeorandum or Technorati.
For the mainstream, there are times when comment sections will always be useful and popular. Anyone questioning their worth should just go and take a look at MySpace or Digg. Comments are perfect for casual web surfers who stumble across a blog, MySpace or Digg story, and leave feedback. My post on a broken iPod is an example of that (and I hope it’s comments are saving many an Apple victim for years to come).
So for the vast majority of bloggers I do think comments will be a permanent feature on their sites. But in Seth’s defence, I believe the digerati may well begin moving away from the ‘comment first’ model en masse more quickly than some might think.