By Heather Angus-Lee

I’ve been working under the assumption that a blog is only a blog if it lets readers post comments/questions. But spending a whack of time researching the blogosphere as one of our company’s social media analysts, I occasionally stumble across “blogs” that I don’t think deserve that label. Apparently, by the strictest definition of the word (i.e. Web + log) a blog can be just that: an online journal, no way to write in the margins of the logbook. All talk, no action.

Hmm. No comments = no conversation, that’s what I think. I mean, what is a comment-less blog but a glorified electronic brochure?

Speaking of which… I read in Media in Canada about student blogs of the University of Manitoba launched recently for the purpose of recruiting new students. Cool, I think, and go to check it out.

Oops, these are not “blogs”, but rather testimonials from 17 students in 13 faculties, beautifully packaged and carefully written. “It’s the only place I’ve ever wanted to go to school!” “First year is terrific!” .. you get the point. Glowing endorsements and squeaky clean anecdotes. What they don’t have is:

  • Comments, trackbacks, or any form of feedback.
  • Any contact info – nary an email.
  • An invite from the school’s blog network to would-be bloggers (as I’ve seen done by other schools, such as the University of Western Ontario).
  • Any links to a Facebook group, Twitter account, YouTube video, MySpace page… isn’t this kind of social media and networking what college-age kids are all about??

Hey, if the University for Manitoba wants to run online testimonials, at least they could use a more hip format, such as the videos of students at Seneca College. (Alas, you can’t talk back to a video, but it beats static words and photos!)

To see a real student blog, check out the musings of this computer science student at the University of Waterloo. And he’s got the metrics (traffic, number of comments, volume of incoming links) to prove it!

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10 Comments

  1. Heather

    I’m interested in your statement of “no comments = no conversation”. I have been reading blogs for years, but its been a passive one-way experience until recently – I have now started adding to the conversation with my blog and comments such as this.

    So no conversation means a glorified brochure….how does a blog like Seth Godin’s fit in? He has no comments, but I feel he adds some value to the conversation. He would add more value if he opened up to comments, but is that the type of value he is after?

    Paul

  2. Hey, Paul. Value is subjective, of course; I personally see the value of blogging as contributing to the concept of open dialogue for ALL – I stress all since trackbacks are useful only for people with their own blogs. (I suppose there’s always emailing the blogger (how web 1.0) IF you can find an email address ;)

  3. Heather,
    I have to agree that comments are a big part of the charm of a blog. I may not always comment, but I like knowing the option is there.

    Here is a “blog” that not only doesn’t allow comments, but last time I checked didn’t have a RSS feed either.
    http://www.cuisinart.com/baby.

    I hate to call out the company I work for (I work in the Canadian office) – but as a blogger and social media evangelist (if I may say so… myself)- I found this “blog” difficult to understand. Why not call it a newsletter? Or just a baby website…

  4. Hi Michelle – cute play on words: a “baby website” when it comes to social media … and it’s about (feeding) babies! Well, at least the site offers the “Interactive Baby Brochure” function (personally I would have called it My Baby’s Recipe Book”) where Mom/Dad can upload photos of their little sweetie, place them in a branded recipe book, then print it out. As for the rest of the site? Baby steps! ;)

  5. Heather, thank you! thank you! thank you! for this post. I’m putting together a special report on the basics of marketing a new blog and (excuse my ignorance) was surprised at the sheer number of blogs that don’t allow comments (or require you to register, which is almost just as bad).

    I, too, agree with your statement “No comments = no conversation… what is a comment-less blog but a glorified electronic brochure?”

    The worst part is, most blogs I observed were by so-called marketing experts. I’m not talking about the Seth Godin’s of the internet (“pro blogger” snobs) — they are in a class of their own and do what they want, when they want, because they can.

    I’m talking about run of the mill marketing coaches, consultants, trainers and writers.

    The hypocrisy of these marketing experts who preach the virtues of relationship-building, gaining visibility, networking and sharing their other marketing strategies, but refuse to allow comments on their blog really cheeses me off.

    One in particular was so blatantly using her blog as a glorified brochure (or article submission site and SEO generator) that I removed myself from her affiliate program, removed her from my blogroll and deleted her sites from my bookmarks.

    To me, not allowing comments is tantamount to saying “What I have to say on this subject is the final word.”

    Not everyone will have such an intense reaction. But as a marketing coach myself, I find it makes the rest of us (those who working hard at practicing what we preach) look bad, so that’s why I’m so passionate about this topic. (I ranted about it on my blog today — BTW, my blog allows comments, unmoderated!)

    Thanks again for such an honest conversation on authenticity and for allowing me (and others) to join the conversation. Sorry for the rant… it felt good!

  6. RaiulBaztepo

    Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language ;)
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

  7. Hi !!!! :)
    My name is Piter Kokoniz. Just want to tell, that I like your blog very much!
    And want to ask you: is this blog your hobby?
    Sorry for my bad english:)
    Thank you:)
    Your Piter Kokoniz, from Latvia

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  9. Personally, I allow open commenting on my website. I might turn on moderation if I find I am getting destructive or hateful posts, we’ll see.

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