If you've been following the blogging and social media scene over the last five or more years, you know that there's one heated debate that keeps on showing up: the debate about comments on blogs. Should blogs have comments? Should these comments be moderated? When has a comment gone too far? Judging from a couple of recent events, it's once again time to rethink these issues.
Popular gadget site Engadget has recently shut down comments. It's a temporary measure, it says, but the blog took it because the "tone in comments has really gotten out of hand."
On the other hand, one blog that's famous for not having comments – John Gruber's Daring Fireball – has just gotten comments against its will. More accurately, the folks behind MacHeist have launched a mirrored version of Gruber's site that includes free commenting, called DaringFireballWithComments.net.
Gruber has a very interesting (and very personal) reasoning behind the lack of comments on the site. "It's totally egotistical. I want Daring Fireball to be a site that you can't skim if you're in the target audience for it. You say, 'Oh, a new article from John. I need to read it,' and your deadlines go whizzing by because you have to read what I wrote. If I turn comments on I feel like it's two different directions," he said.
The counterargument is usually the notion that blogs, at their core, are about two-way communication; a blog is simply not a blog without comments. The folks at Engadget seem to discard that notion: "Luckily, our commenting community makes up only a small percentage of our readership (and the bad eggs an even smaller part of that number), so while they may be loud, they don't speak for most people who come to Engadget looking for tech news."
Without taking sides, we'd like to hear what you think. Do you sometimes feel that some comments are simply too much? Is a blog without comments still a blog? How important are comments in this age where a lot of commenting is happening off-site — on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks? Please tell us what you think in (heh) the comments.
images courtesy of iStockphoto, mattjeacock