In 2015, when I transferred this website from Blogger to its current home on a self-hosted WordPress installation, I made the decision to disable comments across the entire site. Today I am reversing that decision.
The rationale was good at the time. Conversations were shifting to social networks, and it felt redundant to have a comment system here on the blog as well. I was also tired of dealing with a never-ending wave of comment spam. I have always striven to achieve a focused minimalism on my own website, paring things back to leave only the essential elements. This ruthless focus has resulted in the clean, calm, readable space you see today.
However, I failed to take one big factor into consideration. When you shift the conversation away from the blog and onto the social networks instead, you help to accelerate the hollowing-out of blog communities. This may seem obvious, but without comments, blogs are no longer places for discussion and community – they are more like magazines, or lists of articles.
I thought this was what I wanted. But I have been gradually withdrawing from social media. I no longer use Google+ or Facebook, and am cutting back on Instagram and Twitter. Why? Because they are toxic environments by design, and I have witnessed them growing stronger as the blogging community grows weaker. I also resent the amount of time Twitter steals from my daily life. I’d far rather pour that time into this blog, a space I control down to the last pixel.
So I’m going to start allowing comments on new entries. I’ll start commenting on other people’s blogs again. I’ll further reduce the amount of time I spend on Twitter. Who knows? Maybe in a small way this will help to bolster the community spirit of blogging that I once appreciated so much, back in the early days. They say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone (or going), and that’s very much the case with the ‘blogosphere’.
If you’re a regular reader, please drop a comment and say hello!