Should I Allow Comments on My Corporate Blog?

It’s funny, I can’t tell you how many Web development projects I have started with a client and during the planning phases they are very excited to include a blog and comment system. They dream of their team writing award winning content and people visiting from all over the internet to read and make intelligent comments. I have even had politicians explain how we should allow comments on every page of the site, to encourage an open forum, and not just on the blog portion of the site. Then reality kicks in, usually in one of four ways:

  1. The concept of writing good and regular content becomes a daunting task
  2. The fear that people will actually comment, and not be kind
  3. The fear that people will not comment and the empty comment section at the bottom of the blog pages will be perceived as a negative
  4. The lawyers get a hold of the plan

So our great plan of providing an open forum and dreams of engaging an audience were many times destroyed as we got closer to launch date. Discussions of moderating comments (approving all comments before they are made public), not including a comment section and even designing systems and methods that allowed only a trusted few to make comments were had.

These issues are very real when including a blog on a corporate/organization Web site and your primary objective is to attract new business, donors, members, etc and not just an audience for your blog. I found myself with the same challenges (minus the whole lawyer thing) when we launched our new site and even did a little research on the subject. Two articles really caught my attention:

You Are Not Seth Godin. Your Corporate Blog Needs Comments’ from Outspoken
This article, despite being a couple years old, makes many valid points that are true today regarding corporate blogs and engaging and learning from your audience.

Debate! Should You Allow Comments on Your Blog? Find Out What Two Remarkably Popular Bloggers Think’ from ThinkTraffic
This debate between two high traffic bloggers bring up great points on each side of the argument. However for me the arguments against allowing comments simply do not apply to more moderate traffic sites, such as a corporate site where the primary function may not be the blog. The arguments in favor of commenting, tend to align with the previous article – audience engagement.

So despite the fact I rolled my eyes for so many years as clients turned on their own great plans and aspirations by rolling out safe and conservative sites, I recently found myself in the same position.

My thoughts are now simple as I enable comments on this blog; one comment is better than no comments, a negative comment may lead to a good and relative debate and just maybe I will be encouraged to write more.