On Feedback

Photograph of a microphone

Feedback is something bloggers ask me about a lot. What is the etiquette for responding to comments? Does one need to respond to comments at all if a response does not seem obvious? Is one obligated to entertain comments at all? To which I say, emphatically, NO! A few of my favourite blogs don’t feature comments, and sometimes I even appreciate that as reader—like, just getting out there and reading blogs is a whole lot of work. And so not having to write anything in response to them is just one more thing knocked off my to-do list.

Of course, in the early days of blogging, comments were highly important influential, the single space where the writer and reader could intersect, but this is very different in the days of social media, which is basically early blog comments brought to life. So much so that you might feel as though you already have enough people yammering on in your ear that your blog might be a place where there could be quiet.

One of my favourite bloggers, Rebecca Woolf, doesn’t blog anymore, but her Instagram is definitely her blog in micro-form, and she wrote about this recently in a post responding to questions about why she sometimes turns comments off: “Immediate feedback has a tendency to push me in directions that are less honest and more performative. I will find myself naturally leaning my words in the direction of affirmations which, a lot of the time, isn’t my truth./ Anyway. When I close comments it’s for me. So that I can write without wondering if people will understand me or like me or want to scream in my face about how wrong I am. So that I can share without reinforcement./ It is the only way I have found I can write freely. The paradoxical beauty of boundaries is that, when set with intention, they allow us to unbind.”

“When I close comments it’s for me.” I love that. The same should be true if you welcome them. If you respond to them. Your blog is your space, and how you proceed with the matter of feedback depends on whether or not the feedback serves you—brings you traffic, or insight, or connections. And is it useful? You get to decide.