Recently, I’ve had the question come up of whether business’ websites should have the ability for the public to comment on their articles or not. The answer, of course, is “it depends”. Comments can be either fantastic or horrible, depending on the reach of the website and the audience.
Comments Can Help Build a Community
Often, allowing the public the ability to comment on your website can lead to great conversations. Conversations that can help you build your business as you become a respected resource in the community.
Comments can also add further insight into what your audience is thinking. How can you further refine your message so that you’re speaking directly to them?
In general, having comments available is great for small businesses and entrepreneurs websites. At this stage, your audience is small enough that you’re not attracting the type of people that want to derail your message.
Comments Can Quickly Go Awry
On the other hand, comments can water down and lose the focus of the original article. Especially on larger sites.
Anyone who’s ever visited a major news site can see that they eventually turn into a political debate, even if the original article has absolutely nothing to do with politics.
Popular Science eventually shut them down because “They’re bad for Science”.
When To Turn Comments On
- For small to medium, or more focused sites, comments can help spark a discussion.
- Comments can help you gain further insight into what you’re writing about.
- Comments can introduce you to people you would otherwise never have exchanges with.
- Comments can make your website more personable.
When to Turn Comments Off
- For companies that are distributing information, comment spam can be a nuisance.
- Comments can derail the focus of your audience.
You Can Always Change Your Mind Later
In the end, keeping or removing a comment system is a business decision. In most small business markets, you’ll likely never see a problem. In the case my own websites, I’ve never run into problems, so I’ve always kept them on.
The bottom line question is this: do the comments on your website provide value to your audience?
They should. Always.
Unless you find your voice getting lost in irrelevant discussions, I think a good rule of thumb is to keep them on. You’ll learn a lot about your audience and get further insight into what’s on their mind.