Why Do We Allow Comments?

Jonathan Dalton, Phoenix Real Estate AgentA couple of weeks back a local real estate blogger posted what I thought was a great entry. I tried to tell him as much on his blog but the post was closed to comments. It seemed this was a post intended to be part of a larger library, a personal wiki as it were, and he didn’t want contrary comments to detract from the overall theme. Fair enough.

In general, however, most of allow comments because without comments a blog is nothing more than one person pontificating unto those willing to listen. And maybe there are some who are willing to listen without saying a word. But most people prefer actual conversation (intelligent and otherwise) … they don’t just want to hear your message but want to know they are being heard in return.

Whether to allow comments is a tricky subject at times on real estate blogs. There seem to be an inordinate amount of flamers – those looking to insult, injure or otherwise stir up the pot without adding substance to the conversation. Some use profanity. Some traffic only in banalities. Some comments probably don’t deserve the light of day.

But they still get it here – the only comments I edit or delete contain profanity or are blatant attempts to pimp a product via the links. Other than that, the store’s open for business.

Tupac ShakurSadly, not all blogs operate this way. And some choose the role of flamer without allowing any opportunity for those being roasted to comment. Without the ability to comment, the debate turns into 2Pac writing Hit ‘Em Up to answer Biggie Smalls.

(Would they both still be alive today if only they’d blogged and commented rather than written songs and packed a gat? The world will never know.)

It’s rather interesting to read a post criticizing those who dare be critical. It’s even more interesting to see out-of-context excerpts be used to prove a misguided point.

No one was rubbing salt in the wounds of Active Rain, John. What I was doing, and what many others of us who once wrote there were doing was asking what it was they were selling. Was it a product of their work (i.e. a free blog with a point system) or the product of the collective work of all the bloggers who have posted content there?

It’s a legitimate question, one that anyone posting content to another site ought to ask themselves. As I said, most of those asking that critical question over the past few days have asked ourselves that question … and then stopped contributing.

Most of the blogs on Active Rain are poorly written, not because of a lack of effort but rather because of misdirected effort. The goal is the points not the enlightenment. Surely someone as astute as yourself would know this, John.

There are hallmarks of quality writing. Some are more involved than the impressive use of the registered symbol after Realtor – like realizing the actual trademark is to have Realtor all in caps, a choice I intentionally decide not to make.

One error, two errors, three errors, four. Five errors, six errors I’ll read that blog no more.

(That last line might have been Eazy E, actually. Still sounds West Coast.)

Maybe buyers and sellers don’t care about some of these things. But they should. They should know whether they’re reading someone with legitimate knowledge or simply a yen for some artificial points. They ought to know whether the garbage being passed of as “the best blogs in real estate” by Realtor.Com have the slightest modicum of insight.

We traffic in knowledge, John. Experience. Insight. Expertise. These comprise all of our intellectual property. Would you trust the largest purchase of your life to someone who can’t see the wolf in sheep’s clothing right in front of them? I wouldn’t. Would you decide to place your home in the hands of someone who can’t turn a critical eye at the blathering of the sacred National Association of REALTORS? I wouldn’t.

There are many amateur writers in this nation and this world, John. I’d comment further but I’m currently off to the bank with one of my checks I earned through my free-lance writing work. I say this not to brag … sportswriting for the Associated Press will not be the catalyst for my retirement.

Rather, it’s more a case of chiggity-check yourself before you wreck yourself.

(That one was Ice Cube, pre-Are We There Yet?)

Happy commenting. I allow that here.

[tags]real estate blogging[/tags]

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at allphoenixrealestate.com.


  • Chris 10 years ago

    Blog Spam is terrible. The Blog on My wife’s real estate page got swarmed with trackbacks selling pure smut and enhancement medications. Can’t we just sell Real Estate.

  • Jay Thompson 10 years ago

    I’ve never understood the point in having comments disabled in a blog. Seth Godin does it, and gets away with it. Sort of… even Seth can’t pull off a two-way communication with a commentless blog.

    A blog without comments, or at least the *capability* to comment, might as well just be a print ad or a billboard.

  • Maureen M. 10 years ago

    Too many comments on a blog is the problem with ActiveRain according to some of the critics of ActiveRain. Not being able to comment on John’s blog criticizing you for criticizing ActiveRain. My head is spinning!

    I loved John’s entry I wanted to comment there too.

    I have looked at ActiveRain carefully recently. Or maybe I looked at ActiveRain critically. What a mess.

  • Jonathan Dalton 10 years ago

    Chris – Akismet seems to kill off most of the spam. Not all, but a large portion.

    Jay – Seth can do whatever he wants because he’s Seth. As for the rest of us …

    Maureen – I liked it aside from where he mischaracterized what I wrote, implied I was an amateur writer and wouldn’t allow me to comment. Other than that, it was a delightful look at the world of AR.

  • Maureen M. 10 years ago

    Gee I did not take it that he was singling you out, I guess I read it that he was characterizing bloggerdom as amatuerish. Of course I forgot you are a sports writer… and did not get the last paragraph on this entry.
    Duh! I’ll have to go back and reread it to see how he mischaracterized what you said in your entry.

  • Jonathan Dalton 10 years ago

    Check the link out in his sentence about pouring salt in the wounds.

  • Dan Green 10 years ago

    I recently turned off comments on my blog after two-and-a-half years of allowing them.

    I did this because when I blog, I do it with my clients in mind. My daily posts are written for their collective benefit and many of my clients are subscribers of my blog.

    When my clients/readers read something and have something to say, my personal experience has shown me that they prefer to email me as opposed to opening the discussion up for the world to see. Revealing your FICO score, marital issues, and/or job loss just isn’t the fodder for a blog commenting area.

    In the world of mortgages, there is rarely such a thing as a “general questions”. And even THOSE can be highly personal.

    The same idea holds true for new clients that read my blog and decide that they want me to service them. They don’t post their life story in the form of a comment; they email me offline.

    In other words, when my readers want to start meaningful dialogue, they are opting to do it with me privately and I appreciate that.

    Looking back, then, I see that three-fourths or more of my blog’s collective comments are spam or some other form of junk. The remaining percentage is overwhelmingly filled with “Great post!”-type stuff.

    We all love that pat on the back but those types of comments add nothing new, either.

    I can count on one hand the number of blog comments my blog has received that have led to a deeper discussion about the original blog post I wrote. In two years! So, because of that, I disabled comments — even using spam-limited tools, there’s too much junk to sort through.

    My role as a blogger is to educate my clients and my trusted partners. To me, commenting has no bearing on that job whatsoever.

    Then again, like I said — I am in the mortgage industry and not real estate. Maybe it’s a little different for guys like you.

  • Brian Brady 10 years ago

    I thought about what Dan did. I received a question on Trulia for very specific financial planning advice; the forum wasn’t appropriate.

    Dan has me thinking even more, now. Would a heart specialist open his blog up to comments?

  • Jay Thompson 10 years ago

    I don’t think Jonathan or anyone that opens their blog to comments is suggesting they be used to exchange personal / private information.

    I think lenders typically get more personally specific types of queries than agents do. A lot of what an agent needs to do is build rapport, and comments can help with that.

    Yesterday I got this comment on my blog:

    “We are interested in lake property in or around Pheonix area and would appreciate any help you can provide. Hope to talk with you soon. Thanks. Cheryl and Ken.”

    Yes, there is a contact form with my phone number on the blog. But these folks were reading about lake property and the comment was right there and didn’t require them to look for other ways to contact me.

    That in and of itself is a pretty good reason to have comments. BUt I really keep them to encourage exchange. As on most real estate blogs, most of the comments are left by other agents. But I know for a fact that no-agent readers have learned from and appreciated (for the most part) the comments on many posts.

  • ProGasCasMash 9 years ago

    I have been reading here for a while now and thought it would only be fair to register and contribute instead of being a silent reader. So – I am looking forward to be a full part of the community!

    Take care!