Think of the last time you got together with friends, or family, or even colleagues from work.
You enjoyed the company, you laughed, you caught up on missed life events, and – hopefully – had a really good time, right?
As you reflect on that time together, there’s probably a good chance that the key takeaway for everyone is that you all enjoyed both the company and conversations.
Because, let’s face it, conversations – and those that help make us more educated, or filled in, or even better people – can make all the difference between a drab experience and a fun one.
So why don’t we treat blog comments the same way? In fact, why do we continue to even call them comments when, in truth, they’re very much the same as the awesome conversations we have offline?
Ever since blogs were set up to enable comments in the Web 2.0 era, they’ve been a mainstay of many a blog. And rightly so.
From opening up an extended dialogue around the post itself to fostering friendships within the blog’s community, blog comment sections have been one of the unsung “heroes” of the blogging world.
And yet…. all too often, they’re either looked upon with disdain due to the belief it’s just a breeding ground for immature trolls or spammers, or they’re ignored as being a tacked-on surplus area that no-one really cares about.
The first reason is down to the blogger – yes, there are trolls and spammers, but if you really care about your blog and your audience, you’ll handle these issues the way they should be dealt with. The technology exists.
The second reason is a fair one – and, for me, it’s all down to the use of the words “blog comments”. Specifically, comments.
Think back to the opening part of this post, and the example of a great time with people you like, and the wonderful conversations that sprung from that.
Now, imagine if, when looking back, you’d described the evening as “oh, yes, we all commented really well together, and left such great comments after everyone had said their piece.”
How ridiculous does that sound? Right? Stupid ridiculous!
So why do we take conversations after our posts and call them comments? Because that’s exactly what we should be calling comments – conversations.
Comments, by perception, are throwaway snippets of soundbites that are soon forgotten.
Conversations, on the other hand, are true one-to-one and one-to-many sharing of thoughts, agreements, disagreements and more, and can live as long as there’s a new thought shared.
And comments as email? They don’t get much more conversational than that.
Although a few years old now, there’s a reason The Atlantic called email “the best thing on the Internet”.
From that piece:
Email is a refugee from the open, interoperable, less-controlled “web we lost.” It’s an exciting landscape of freedom amidst the walled gardens of social networking and messaging services.
Simply put, it’s the simplicity – and, most importantly of all, privacy – of email that enables true conversations to take place, as opposed to the guarded, stilted ones that can be found on social media and groups.
Email’s usage is ubiquitous across so many cultures and generations, and the buy-in is minimal. And that fact you’re sitting in a comfy spot to send and reply to an email makes it easier to settle into a “this is a personal conversation” mindset.
I see it here in the conversations around my posts, due to my use of Postmatic.
Comments are thoughtful. Caring. Educational. Raw. Real. Honest. Fun. Happy. Encouraging. And so much more.
Because if there’s one thing I truly believe, “blog comments” are deserving of so much more than the reputation and perception they have.
They’re more than a breeding ground for waste and hostility. They’re more than a throwaway line at a second-rate comedy open night.
They’re true conversations, pure and simple. It’s time to start treating them as such.
A version of this post first appeared on the Replyable blog.