Are comment-less blogs missing the spirit of blogging?
It seems to me that the most significant development about blogging is the idea that anyone can write. Prior to blogs news-papers were the only method of writing topical articles for a mass audience. To be able to write for a news-paper you had to be employed there or get a guest writing spot (not sure how you achieve this but examples are common).
Anyone can start a blog, if there is a community that you are part of which has a planet then it’s not difficult to get your blog syndicated and have some reasonable readership. Even the most popular planets have less readers than most small papers, but that combined with the ease of forwarding articles gives a decent readership.
It seems to me that the major characteristic that separates a blog from an online newspaper is the low entry requirements, anyone can create one.
Every news-paper that is remotely worth reading has a letters column to publish feedback from readers. Of course it’s heavily moderated and getting even 50% of your letters published is something to be proud of. But it does create a limited forum to discuss the articles that are published.
It seems to me that creating a blog and denying the readers the ability to comment on it is in some ways making the blog less open than a news-paper column. When such blogs are aggregated in a community planet feed it seems that they go against the community spirit. It also drives people to make one-line blog posts in response, which I regard as a bad thing.
The comments on my blog are generally of a high quality, I’ve had a few anonymous flame comments – but you have to learn to deal with a few flames if you are going to use the net, and people who are afraid to publish their real name to a flame don’t deserve much attention. I’ve had one comment which might have been an attempt to advertise a product (so I deleted it just to be safe). But apart from that the comments are generally very good. I’ve learned quite a few useful things from blog comments, sometimes I mention having technical problems in blog posts and blog comments provide the solution. Other times they suggest topics for further writing.
There are facilities for moderated blog comments that some people use. If you have a really popular blog then it’s probably a good idea to moderate the comments to avoid spam, but I’m not that popular yet and most people who blog will never be so popular. At this time blog moderation would be more trouble for me than it’s worth.
In conclusion I believe that the web should be about interactive communication in all areas, it should provide a level playing field where the participation of all individuals is limited only by time and ability. Refusing comments on blogs is a small step away from that goal.