Is a blog without comments still a blog?

Blogger and Yahoo employee Russell Beattie has been taking a fair bit of flack for removing comments from his blog – and seems more than a little defensive about it, from what I can see. Fair enough. As he points out, it’s his blog and he can run it however he wants to. He says he got fed up with having to weed out the flames and spam, and also was spending too much of his time responding to comments, so he’s returning to “old-school blogging.”

With all due respect to Russell, I’m not sure blogging without comments constitutes “old-school blogging,” although I admit that the blogosphere’s eminence grise, Dave Winer, kind of screws up my argument by not allowing comments on his blog. But even Dave has come around of late, it seems, since he has a second WordPress blog where he does allow comments. In fact, I would argue that a website isn’t even a blog at all unless it includes comments, and I know that others agree. Don’t get me wrong – a blog without comments might still be valuable, but it’s not really a blog.

Russell says that now everyone has blogs, they can just respond to him on their blog if they don’t like something he says, or want to get in touch with him – and other than that, they can hunt for his email address in his “About” page and get to him that way. As more than one person has pointed out, it’s ironic that Russell decided to do this only days after a new comment-tracking feature called came out (which I am beta-testing and so far quite like, but more on that another time).

As anyone who has read my previous posts will know, I think the “conversation” is part of what makes blogs so powerful (even if it’s more of an argument :-)), so I’m disappointed Russ has done what he’s done. It’s his blog, and so I wouldn’t presume to tell him what to do, but I still think it’s a mistake.


Kent Newsome has some thoughts on the subject too (thanks for the compliments, Kent) and it’s probably a fair point that Russell’s views might have been influenced by the cease and desist letter he got recently – although he didn’t mention that in his post. I would also recommend – not surprisingly – that anyone reading this should look through the comments. There’s more good stuff in there, which kind of helps make my point.

Dave Winer has also clearly caved in under the convincing weight of my arguments and decided to get back in the comment game (hat tip to Kent Newsome for noticing). Just kidding about the caving part, Dave.

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