Closing Blog Comments at PE
Hi everyone! Today I’d like to announce the closing of blog comments at PE. I’ve actually already made the shift a month ago, but am only announcing it now as I’ve been thinking about the best way to break the news (and also I’ve been busy with Soulmate Journey, coaching and other work).
This is a decision I feel divided about, even today. However, I feel it needs to be done. For a while, I’ve felt burdened moderating comments at PE. Having run the blog for 6.5 years, I’ve seen many kinds of comments, from the good to the bad, from meaningful to pointless (say, spam). As I look at my plans for PE ahead, I realize that comments may not have a place here, in that they may not add the kind of value I originally envisioned.
Why I’m Closing Comments
1. Too many dead weight comments (despite good commenters)
Firstly, where PE blog is concerned, my goal has always been to dispense my best insights on personal growth for you guys, such that you can reflect and apply whatever insights are relevant to you. With regards to comments, I’ve always seen them as an important way for me to connect with you. For me to know how you found the article, for you to share your thoughts and results from applying the material, and for me to know you better.
Yet, in the past few years, I’ve received many “dead weight” comments that don’t really add value to the PE platform:
- Spam — you may be surprised to know that they form as many as half the submitted comments these days. While the spam filter does a good job and it doesn’t take more than a few seconds to detect and delete spam that gets through, it’s still tiring to combat with spammers each day.
- Snarky responses that add no value to the conversation except negativity and spite. I’ve shared some of these here, here, and here.
- Critical comments that tend to focus on the negative vs. positive. While I’ve found critical comments helpful in the beginning of my journey, they stopped helping after a long time of seeing them over and over. Rather, they just add negativity and “noise” to my mental space and the PE community.
As I look at conversations around the web, I see the same thing happening — lots of negative conversations everywhere, people criticizing one another, sniping at one another, making sarcastic comebacks, and so on. When I thought about why this could be happening, I realized that the web is becoming smaller, in that more people are using the web today (than ever) and content is now more easily accessible than before (thanks to Google). It feels “congested” online these days, if you know what I mean. Combine this with the no-filter nature of the net, and there seems to be more knee-jerk comments and snark today than before. Unfortunately, I’m beginning to see signs of this in PE comments too.
As PE grows larger, becomes more well-searched, etc., I feel there’ll only be more of such negativity to come. Truth be told, I’m not sure if I want to deal with more of this, at least in terms of the blog. Because PE blog comments is a direct channel to myself and I take everything posted here very seriously, often times the negativity posted on PE gets passed onto my consciousness, which in turn affects what I can produce for you guys.
2. Unable to allocate the time to address comments anymore
The second reason is that as I grow PE and get busier, I no longer have time to tend to every comment. This is probably my biggest regret in PE’s journey — that even though I wish to be there for everyone, I don’t think I’m able to do this anymore, because it’s causing me to neglect PE, my Q2 goals for PE, and also myself.
Remember Dunbar’s number? I mentioned this in my 2014 review. Dunbar’s number reflects the cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. It is proposed that humans can only comfortably maintain 150 stable relationships. In my 2014 review, I mentioned that I’ve long exceeded the Dunbar’s number, and I still feel the same way today. Every day, I feel stretched, burdened, and pressurized into being there for everyone, responding to every communication that comes in, and being a good person to others, so that no one gets neglected. In fact, at times my heart feels stretched (like physically, not metaphorically), which I don’t think is a good thing. I feel like I need to make a call and start saying “no,” starting with closing the comments section and prioritizing my communications.
So, how about ignoring blog comments, responding to selected ones, and making it clear that I’m not able to respond to every comment? While I can do that, my first thought is that most comments left on PE are usually directed at me, in hopes or with the expectation that I’ll be reading them. (This is different compared to YouTube, where commenters usually comment to interact with others or just to air their thoughts.) I don’t like others to feel that they’re being ignored or left hanging, especially if I no longer plan to dedicate the time to moderate PE comments. Where PE is concerned, I hope that everyone’s time here is well spent, and I want to be very deliberate in my decision to enable or remove comments, as opposed to having comments just because every other blog is doing so.
3. Keeping PE’s focus as a content platform
The third reason is that when I look at the future of PE, I realize that comments may ultimately not have a place here. Firstly, PE’s value lies in the articles. Where comments are concerned, their value to the site vary — there are posts where comments have contributed to the article’s value, and then there are posts where the comments segue into individual discussions with little relevance to anyone but the commenter and myself. Because of this, most comments rarely add value to the overall PE site, with the exception of comments posted to challenge and review posts.
Next, I asked myself, What will happen if I remove comments from PE articles? Will it change the value of PE? Will it make PE any less desirable/useful?
Funnily, despite my preset assumption that every blog MUST have a comments section and the blogs that don’t will eventually die off, the answer that came to mind was… No. No, not having comments will not change PE’s value. No, not having comments won’t make PE any less desirable (except to perhaps a very small group of people, who aren’t at PE for the right reasons anyway).
In fact, I feel removing comments will increase PE’s value in the long run, because as opposed to getting distracted by others’ comments, readers can now focus on reading and digesting the message of each article. For myself, by removing comments, I can focus on writing more articles for you — which is really why I started PE to begin with. I also no longer have to deal with internet noise, which will help to clear up my mental space for better writing. Compared to before where I would spend hours each week moderating and responding to comments, I can now use this time to write new material and build the blog. And this makes me excited and happy.
As the thought of a PE without comments became more real, I found myself heaving a sigh of relief, much to my surprise. A PE without comments sounds like a PE 2.0, a new phase where we are now getting back to the basics — the articles, the writing, the content, the very reason why all of you subscribe to the blog to begin with. Just as Wikipedia and various news sites do not have commenting channels because the focus of those sites lie in their content vs. the discussions, I’d like this to be the same for PE too (as opposed to trying to create content, moderate discussions, interact with readers, and trying to do everything in one go). I feel that this will help me to focus on what matters and give me the space to create more great quality content for you guys.
Outsourcing? Other Measures?
Some of you may wonder, Why not outsource? Why not moderate comments less frequently? Why not just ignore comments/spam altogether? Etc.?
For all these suggestions, I’ve tried them before. I have tried outsourcing before. In fact it was from having my PA moderate comments for a month that I realized how pointless it was. I realized the real issue was that comments don’t really have a place on PE, as opposed to them being something to be outsourced. Because of that, the real next step is to make the hard decision and do what needs to be done, as opposed to using alternative measures which will only patch the issue.
Interesting, when I look around, closing comments is something many prominent content blogs have done. I never thought this day would come for PE, but as I make this decision, I realize that these bloggers probably faced the same dilemma and decided it was best to close comments for good.
My only regret as I close comments is that those of you who’ve been commenting may feel the loss of a familiar channel to leave your thoughts (Calae, Lina, Jade, Maria, Laurel, Monisha/Apu, fufu, all of you — you know who you are). However, please don’t fret:
- I still plan to enable comments for certain posts, on a case-by-case basis. These include review posts, challenge posts (when I run new challenges), and ad-hoc posts.
- Comments on my YouTube channel remain open and I plan to create more videos moving forward, so there’ll be plenty of opportunities to post your comments. At the moment I have no qualms about having comments on YouTube because it’s outside of PE and it is intended to be a social platform.
As for the blog comments, most of them have been removed from the site along with the commenting forms. Exceptions are
- Comments for past challenges have been retained since they were a key part of the challenge experience/content. Commenting is closed though since the challenges are over. You are welcome to do the challenges in your own time, as always. 🙂
- Comments have been left intact for review posts (where I review a service/product). There have been other readers who posted their own reviews which I feel will be valuable for future readers. Commenting is also open so that new visitors who try the services can share their own reviews which will help future visitors.
- Comments for PE courses/product pages have been kept open as well so future buyers can refer to past enquiries and post new enquiries.
That’s about it from me. I hope all of you can support me in this decision; I truly do feel that this will help me to focus on writing better material and create a better PE for you guys. I do not see this as an elimination in the ways we can connect — as I’ve shared above, there will still be YouTube and Facebook where we can connect with each other. Dealing with blog comments has been draining me for a while before, and by closing blog comments, it’ll help me focus on the more important things and create more great stuff for all of you. ♥