I fell out of love with comments.
Once upon a time, oh about two-and-a-bit years ago, I cherished my post comments. I courted them, I made languorous invitation, I flattered and anointed and eulogised them.
I did this because my business was not yet a business. It was a shiny-new website that started with four subscribers (including me, and my friend Cass), one offering, and zero sales.
I did this because I needed some feedback to keep me going until I made some money.
I did this because I had no idea what the fuck I was doing and data was vital.
I did this because I was needy, and smart enough to know I was needy.
And it worked.
Until it didn’t.
I got bored with answering every comment when at least half would be the empty ”This was a great article, thanks” puffery that my ego had grown sturdy enough not to need any more.
I got exasperated at seeing people who read every article, left appreciative comments, but never actually implemented… anything.
I started to ruminate how much my comments really mattered, epecially now they were chock-full of polite flattery. Whether the conversation was just another distraction from the real work, for my readers and for me.
Oh, and I slid down into a major depression, too.
(These things are probably related.)
Now the comments on my articles are fallow, and shallow.
Instead of 20 comments per article, I get two. Conversations no longer flourish.
It’s a persistent itch. Wondering:
Should I shut the comment system down? Reinvest the time and attention to make it rock? Do it differently?
I don’t know. Let’s try an experiment.
The Grand Commenting Experiment
The purpose of the comments on this website
- To build on and explore the idea of an article.
- To make it less scary. (Or more scary!)
- To explore possibility.
- To find other amazingpants people.
- To get clear on how to apply it to your particular situation.
- To laugh.
- To tell me I’m full of it, and why.
- To transmute ideas into action.
- I solemnly swear that I
am up to no goodwill respond to every (worthy) comment.
- I will never reply with ”Thanks!” or ”Good point!”.
- I will respond in a timely manner, although most certainly not the trigger-reflex way I did it back in the old days. But probably within… 24 hours? 48? Let’s say: as soon as I can do it well.
- I will go back through the archives to catch up, too.
- I will craft thoughtful, meaningful answers to drive the conversation – and transformation – onward.
- I will write articles that invite conversation and exploration.
- I will not pull my punches when asked for feedback.
- I will not give feedback or advice unless I am asked.
- You will only comment when you have something to say that is useful, or at least wildly entertaining.
- You will not comment just to give me a compliment.
- You will ask questions, offer your own related story, challenge my ideas, ask for feedback, or spot the Firefly/Terry Pratchett/Tank Girl reference.
- You will not offer feedback or advice to any other commenter unless they ask for it. Encouragement and sympathy are always awesome.
- You will not be a dickbag just to get attention, ’cos you’ll get deleted.
- You will come back and tell me how you used something you read to make a change. (Oh please yes)
- You will not whine if you write a comment that I do not reply to. Pretend to be me for a second and ask whether you could craft a reply that wasn’t ”Aww, thanks!”.
- You will go forth and rock it the fuck out.
Let the experiment begin! Come start it by telling me what you think of it, in the comments.