This is a guest post by Marty Reardon.
If you're the owner of a blog, whatever topic it might be on, some of your biggest questions will probably revolve around whether to allow comments or not and how to manage them if you do. This is no small issue consider and you need to carefully weigh the benefits and costs of allowing comments before making any choices either way.
You're opening yourself up to feedback
By having comments enabled on your blog, you are letting all your fans give you their input, criticisms, corrections and positive feedback. You as a writer simply can't cover all the bases or write everything to 100% factual perfection every time. Your more informed fans, however, can help you enormously with this and provide you with their intelligent points of view or more informed additional sources of information. They can also help you improve your arguments and writing by responding to their suggestions or honest criticisms.
Face it, some of the people that are going to read your blog will actually know even more about some of your topics than you do, their input is extremely valuable.
You Can Build Friendships through Comments
Another benefit of allowing comment posts is the potential for interesting friendships. Your blog is presumably going to be dedicated to a niche you're passionate about; the people that read it will often share that same passion and your comments are an excellent conduit for the kind of mutual exchange between you and these readers that can build lasting friendships under some circumstances.
For example, if you run a blog on hiking and mountaineering in your area, your fans will likely be local, and you've just found a number of potential hiking partners.
Business Partnerships and Joint Ventures
Similar to friendships, you can also create business and joint venture partnerships through your blog by getting to new others who are serious in your niche. This applies particularly well to business related blogs since the Meta-niche is full of people who are frequently on the lookout for a profitable opportunity to promote their own products or services in exchange for the same form others. Additionally, you might be able to get to know others who are in fields that are compatible with your business niche and merge products or services in a way that benefits both of you.
Again, through frequent commenting, and familiarity, these kinds of relationships form all the time.
Expand on your Expert Status
By allowing comments in which your fans can ask questions and make arguments based on your posts, you as the moderator can give your own input and do an even better job of showing your readers your expertise in the subject. This will build trust, confidence and make them more likely to either take your advice or buy from you if you happen to own a blog that's an offshoot of your business niche.
Expanding on your expertise through comments and the resulting perception that it creates of you as someone who knows what they're talking about makes other niche related blog owners who read your site more likely to share backlinks to your content on their pages; this is great for link based SEO.
Personalized Communication with Clients and Customers
If your blog is a part of a bigger business products and or services site, then you can use the comments section below your information rich posts to respond to customer questions and complaints. More importantly, you'll be answering the questions of potential customers who are still indecisive and looking for reasons to buy.
If there is anything that a potential client loves, it's feeling like their being listened to and their opinion considered; your responses to comments from these people give you an enormous wellspring of that kind of goodwill and public relations value.
Cons of Allowing Blog Commenting
However, not everything is always going to be peachy about allowing comments. In some ways, a blog that let's its readers say whatever they want is putting itself at risk off all sorts of minor and not so minor problems.
Abusive Comments and Insults
The anonymity of the internet in a situation where people can debate can quickly lead to all kinds of horribly rude arguments, insults, racist, sexist or downright offensive comments and other general stupidities being slung back and forth. By allowing comments of your blog, especially if it's a more general interest type page and very popular, you risk seeing a lot of abusive idiocy being slung around.
The result can cause your blog to look less professional and can cause newcomers to mistrust your credibility based on the nature of your audience.
Spam, the massive flowing sewage system that lurks beneath the surface of the internet certainly doesn't leave blogs unscathed. They're also fair game and if you're unlucky or not well protected, your comments can quickly become inundated with links to strange dating or Viagra websites, comments that are generated by comment bots and other random spam trolling from actual human beings.
There are filtering mechanisms you can use but they don't always work and removing spam can take a lot of your productive writing time away.
If you allow comments, especially if your blog is more popular, then you are going to be spending time on them no matter what. Letting free, uncensored commenting means you have to constantly watch over everything that's written to make sure it follows the rules; filtering comments through an approval process means the same thing but in your backlog of approval pending comment posts -filtering also irritates readers and breaks up the flow of comment threads in way that can ruin good argument. Both options will cost you lots' of time if you have plenty of commenting readers.
Additionally, even if all of your commentators behave and your spam filters work well, you still have the constant problem of responding in the comments and answering questions, at least if you want to build relationships with your fan base.
You final option is to open up free, unrestricted commenting and not bother responding to anything or monitoring your posts' threads. However, this is a risky idea and you could end up ruining your blogs credibility or reputation as a serious place on the web; a lot of people enjoy blog posts as much for the value in the comments as in the original post.
About the author
Marty Reardon has been writing for Next Door Self Storage for some time now. When he’s not busy writing or working, he can be found fishing and spending time outdoors with his friends and family.