Can You Build Community Without Comments?

NPS Photo by Robb Hannawacker

What Is The Value of A Comment?  I’d argue that question is a universal truth/question among bloggers. I’d also argue that comments aren’t currency and are not indicative of whether a blog is successful or not.

But I am not the sort of fellow who can just look at a rock without wondering what is underneath or what the view looks like from on top of it. Heck, if I were the chicken the answer to why I crossed the road would be because I could and because curiosity drove me to see what it was like over there.

When it comes to blogging I can’t help but spend a few minutes trying to determine what I love about it and why. The obvious part is that I love writing and I love the learning that comes from blogging about my thoughts, feelings and ideas.

But the communal aspect drives me too. The more I think about it the more obvious it becomes to me. But it isn’t just me. Other bloggers are writing about it. Other bloggers are thinking about it.

Can you build community without comments? I don’t think you can. More on this in a few.

Technology and The Remote Office

I have spent the last six years working out of a home office. I rarely spend any time in a traditional office setting. My days of wearing a suit and tie are many years behind me. Most of the time my work attire consists of a t-shirt and shorts, no shoes.

For the past two years my sole companion has been the family dog. Other than that unless school is out I spend most of my time working alone. Twitter, Facebook and blogging have replaced going to lunch with colleagues and or hanging out around the water cooler.

Sometimes there is a reason for me to head into an “office.” I throw on a collared shirt and some khaki slacks and take care of whatever needs to be done. It is a nice change of pace and a reminder that one day I may be back in that situation on a regular basis, but that is neither here nor there.

I do very well by myself. I am a good companion. I never interrupt myself and I laugh at all my own jokes, but I would be lying if I said that I never notice the quiet.

Can You Build Community Without Comments?

The benefit and beauty of working in solitude is that it has really helped to cement my belief that comments are a big part of building the community that surrounds and supports a blog.

I love and appreciate the personal feedback. It is great to get all the emails and to hear from people.  I value that and am grateful for your time, but that sort of communication plays a different sort of role in building the community. It helps provide some guidance for what people would like to read about and an overview of where they would like things to go.

The comment section is different. The comment section is where you get to meet other readers. It is where the readers get to interact and that sort of regular interaction leads to community. That sort of interaction builds relationships. The readers get a chance to talk to each other and become friends. It is a big part of what helps to make more people comment on my Facebook fan page.

What About The Lurkers?

Dear lurkers, I am not ignoring you. I never do and I never forget about you. There are lots of you who read and never comment. I am always curious about who you are and what you think. I wonder why you don’t comment.

I understand that there are lots of different reasons why you might not. I am not judging or criticizing you for not doing so, but I would be grateful if every so often you came out and said hi. Just let me know you are there.

And don’t be afraid to be a part of things here. When I wrote on the FB page today that blogging has introduced and exposed me to some wonderful people I meant it. If you are among the long time readers you know that I don’t just say things like that. I don’t like everyone I have met. I don’t expect that everyone will like me either.

That is ok. We can’t be all things to all people. It is foolish to try and will only create issues. But it is also foolish to ignore the people who sit in silence.

My son hates being called upon in class. He will rarely volunteer to answer a question, but if you ask him to participate he will. He always knows what is going on and most of the time he knows the answers to the question. I tell him that he should participate because he adds value.

You do too.

Reach out and click someone sometime.

The floor is yours now. What do you think? Can you build community without comments? Is there a point to having a blog without comments?


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