Seth Godin’s post today was about digital hygiene, five online habits he believes are worth adopting in order to keep you productive.
Here are a couple of the suggested habits:
- Don’t read the comments. Not on your posts or on the posts of other people. Not the reviews and not the trolls.
- Spend the most creative hour of your day creating, not responding.
A few months ago Fred Wilson, another wildly popular blogger, wrote a post titled “Getting Feedback and Listening to It“.
Here are a couple of points Fred made:
- “That’s the thing I love about the comments here at AVC. I appreciate the folks who call bullshit on me.”
- “So I would like to thank the entire AVC community for being a sounding board for my ideas…”
In another post that Fred wrote about the value of commenting, a reader commented:
“With regard to AVC … having been a reader since the start, comments are at least as valuable as Fred’s posts – I’m not sure how he’s maintained the level of integrity of the community but other publishers would be well served to follow his lead.”
So I’m torn, what’s the best way to deal with comments on a blog?
Seth famously does not allow comments on his blog, and based on his digital hygiene message, he apparently does not spend time reading the comments section of other blogs.
Fred, on the other hand, has an active commenting section on his blog, which his readers seem to value, and which Fred participates in as well.
But Seth has also written a good deal about the value of feedback, stating “…if you want to improve, you should actively seek feedback” and “genuine, useful, insightful feedback is a priceless gift.”
But then Fred recently commented on one of his more controversial posts, “I am tempted to close the comments here at AVC. I am just sick and tired of this shit.”
So even though it’s clear what Seth’s and Fred’s policies are regarding commenting, I’m guessing that deciding on such policies was not easy for either one of them. Getting feedback can be quite helpful, but at the same time, some feedback is off-topic, or perhaps even vicious.
I admit that I look forward to seeing what types of comments I get on my blog, and try to respond accordingly. I also read the comments on other blog sites, since as noted above, sometimes the comments are as valuable as the original post (or at least there’s the occasional really funny comment).
I do agree with Seth that when it is time to create, that time should be spent creating, and not doing non-creative tasks, such as reading or responding to comments.
But I also believe, like Fred (and Seth really), that there is value in looking at the feedback that you get, and engaging with your community.
When you look at the two different approaches to blogging used by Seth and Fred, it appears that allowing comments or not, or actively engaging with your readers or not, are not the keys to building a community.
I thought about what Seth and Fred have in common that has enabled them to build such loyal fans, and it comes down to the quality of their content.
So I’ll continue to work on improving the quality of what I post, and when the time for creating is over, I’ll spend some time focused on reading and responding to comments.
And thank you to those of you who have taken the time to comment on my posts in the past; it is greatly appreciated. I value all types of feedback; if you think something I wrote is nonsense, or you disagree with something I write, please let me know.
But if you liked something I wrote, I’d love to hear that as well. As Seth says, “Applause is good too.”