Where are the Comments?

Websites without comments feel barren, like there are no visitors or no one is home. Reader reaction makes a site feel lively, and it generates energy—desire to participate. More importantly, comments can extend the storytelling. But as you survey my site, most posts stand solitary, creating, perhaps, impression that no one reads them. So why should you?

For numerous reasons—among them my putting priority on social networks during 2011-14—interaction is so seemingly limited. Engagement takes place, but mostly on social networks like Google+ where I have audience and where links to posts from here also appear. Readers engage where they share community, so the majority of interaction is elsewhere. I could flush out more commenting here by using Disqus, which spreads community across many thousands of sites. The choice to stick with WordPress’ system is quite deliberate. 

Some reasons:

1. Posters are identified. There is no anonymous commenting here. Readers register to post, and aren’t obscured—as they likely would be if I used Disqus. Registration deters many commenters, even when they aren’t anonymous.

2. I curate comments, and I am long-ago on record stating so. This site bears my name. It is my home. I don’t allow anyone to come in, crap on the living room rug, and stink up the place. Where I write professionally, free speech is the rule. I don’t censor or curate. For the record: Even here, I am unlikely to nix a comment from someone who is identified, rather than anonymous.

3. I lost comments before. Years ago, I used Disqus for some time, but stopped after putting in moratorium on anonymous responses. The service didn’t then provide means by which I could import comments within the same domain to WordPress. The largest chunk of historical comments are missing as a result. That also is reason why I hesitate to use a social network for comments, something possible with ether Facebook or Google+. Where will they be in a decade? I have posts going back to 2002; if needed they currently can be exported entirely, with comments, from WordPress to another blogging system. I can safely secure what’s here for a future uncertain at social networks.

I don’t know that commenting will ever be a big part of the storytelling here. In October 2014, I shifted my personal content hub from social networks to this site. That’s quite a recent change, and this isn’t where people are used to responding to my content—and, more importantly, where they can easily engage others. My largest audience is at Google+, and I wouldn’t discourage it staying there, where interaction is easy and lively.

Photo Credit: Wes Peck