Trackbacks – A Better Reason to Not Have Comments

Seth Godin’s been getting some heat for not allowing comments on his blog posts (despite trackbacks being turned on.

Seth’s reason is something about not having time to respond to and “curate” each an every comment. Eh. Sure. But there’s a better reason. One consistent with Seth’s position and the fact that trackbacks, as I mentioned earlier, are turned on.

Comments (blog responses hosted on the original blog) don’t allow the comment-author to take ownership and responsibility for their statements. They can start a fire and leave, sticking the blog author with the mess to clean up.

Trackbacks on the other hand have all the benefits of comments without the drive-by issue. The pre-requisite being – the commenter needs a blog themselves. Not a terribly high obstacle these days. Plus, the comment is then presented to another group of readers – in addition to the readers of the original blog (i.e. readers of Godin’s blog see this and readers of the Work Better), thereby connecting communities via conversation.

Last November, 37Signals pulled comments from their popular Signal vs Noise blog. In my response posted at MNteractive, I used Seth Godin’s use of trackbacks as an example for 37Signals to follow.

To repeat myself here:

“[Trackbacks distribute] the conversation across many blogs rather than the hoisting the entire comment burden on the original blogger. Trackbacks eliminate the risk that one anonymous commenter will control the comment thread.”

Godin has no obligation to publish anyone’s views on his blog. Not even his own.

27 March 2007

“This is why I have no trouble whatsoever deleting anonymous comments. Identity matters. If people don’t feel the need to be held personally accountable for their words, I don’t want to talk to them.” – Hugh MacLeod

06 Nov 2007

“…unless you let me know what was up with deleting my comments.” – Steve Borsch

Dave Winer’s never been a big fan of comments on his blog. He doesn’t believe they’re necessary for something to be defined as a blog or for a conversation to occur. Steve’s complaint on his own blog proves that.

3 thoughts on “Trackbacks – A Better Reason to Not Have Comments

  1. and what if the the blog writer starts with a drive by and their is no way to defend yourself?

    or what if the trackback is genuine but to a site or blog you disagree with?

    trackbacks drive traffic, comments mostly do not. it seems to be about spreading the word.

    think about it like this…a newspaper quotes anyone and when the statements are questioned, the answer is no comment, yet the newspaper is the trackback.

    kinda sucks doesn’t it.


  2. In my world, both are moderated. And should be.

    It’s the blog authors discretion as to which comments and trackbacks are publicly visible on their site.

    Trackbacks allow a level of responsibility that comments do not. But that doesn’t mean either should be automatically accepted.

    I’ve – happily – deleted both from the blogs I maintain.

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