During the month of November, I conducted an experiment with turning off blog comments. You can read my original announcement post on that here. In the post, I mentioned the pressure that is often associated with blogging and comments and page views. I wanted to see if and how turning off comments would affect the way I blogged.
I will start by saying that although I am very glad I tried it, I will not be turning off comments on this blog. Surprisingly, I found that there are many pros to turning off comments. There is, however, one giant con: if you turn off comments, you won't get any. Thank you, captain obvious.
But more on that later. First let's start with the pros of this experiment.
1. More Free Time
Although as a reader it annoys me when bloggers don't respond to comments, I can see why: responding to comments takes time. A lot of time. Because I turned off comments, I suddenly had a lot of extra time that I would have spent replying to comments or visiting the blogs of people who had commented on my posts. That was time I was able to put into writing and scheduling blog posts, crafting witty Tweets, and doing dishes. (Kidding but not really on that last one. Adult life.)
2. A Clean Inbox
No comments = no emails. Hurrah! Instead of constantly checking my inbox for a new comment, I almost completely forgot about it and checked maybe a few times a day. It was kind of revolutionary.
3. Less Pressure to Comment on Other Blogs
I suppose this could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it, but something I noticed was that when I wasn't getting comments on my posts, I felt less desire to visit other blogs and leave comments. I still read blogs, but I definitely commented less. Maybe this is just me, but if someone leaves a comment on my blog, I try to visit their blog and leave a comment back. This doesn't always happen, of course, but especially for the people who consistently visit my blog, I just think it's nice to return the favor.
That's not to say I want people to feel like the only reason I visit their blog is because they visited mine, but I do see blogging like a friendship of sorts, and friendships work best if both people make an effort to be friends. Someone could have the best blog ever, but if I've visited and left comments and even linked up with you, and you never reply or visit my blog? Goodbye.
4. Less Anxiety about My Stats
This is ridiculous, but I'll just be honest: if I am consistently getting 20+ comments on a post and then I write something and it only gets 5 comments, I do feel bad. I start wondering, What was wrong with that post? Why did everyone hate it? Why is my follower graph on Bloglovin taking a nosedive into a fresh blogging grave? Why does everyone hate me? Why am I even blogging at all?
You can see how this line of questioning is completely unproductive, not to mention dramatic.
When I turned off comments, I felt the weight of comment anxiety lifted from my shoulders, and it was awesome. It also served a double purpose of making me feel LEGIT when I published my next post and turned comments on. Since I'd gotten a big fat zero on my previous post, I felt like a blogging rockstar when I got 5 comments. Perspective for the win.
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Okay, so those were the biggest pros to turning off comments. But again, the one con pretty much outweighed all of those. The truth of it is: I missed getting comments. And if the feedback I got from some of you on this experiment of mine is any indication, I think you missed having an easy way to give them.
Sure, you could email me or tweet me (and some of you did, which I loved!). But for the most part, I didn't see a huge jump in "shares" or emails or tweets. You probably just read the post (or not) and moved on. I felt bad denying you an opportunity to comment if you really had something to say.
For the record, on the posts where I turned off comments, I had a noticeable decrease in page views. My theory (although there's no way to prove this) is that a lot of you read my blog in email or through a blog reader like Bloglovin or Feedly. If you aren't going to leave a comment, you don't click through to the actual post, so a page view isn't registered on the stats. Again, that's just my theory.
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I'm so glad I did this experiment. If nothing else, I feel like it gave me some much-needed perspective on blogging. Listen: stats aren't the end of the world. When I wrote my first Blog Talk post about how to get more comments, I said that leaving comments and replying to comments is the best way to get more comments. I still believe that, but I don't think I feel as strongly about that now. Or, I guess maybe I should say that I don't feel as strongly about doing any and everything to rack up my number of comments.
Comments are fun, but they aren't everything; and we shouldn't judge our worth, our writing ability, or our blog's awesomeness on the number of comments we do or don't get. That is the first thing I learned from this experiment. Here's the second: Instead of focusing on how many comments you didn't get, try being thankful and excited for the comments you did. Do you know what a comment means? Someone took time out of their day to come to your blog, read your post, and find something relevant to say about it that they wanted to share with you. Whether it's one person or fifty, that's pretty darn cool. Especially when you consider all the other blogs that are out there they could have been reading instead of yours.
I would be very interested to hear from any of you who have thoughts about my experiment! Feel free to leave a comment below with feedback on my experiment, questions about what I've discussed in this post, or to just say hi!