Are there times when it is acceptable to have a one-way message? Sure, but blogs are not the place to do it. If you believe you should block comments on your blog, maybe you shouldn’t be doing one. And when you’re purporting to tell people the best ways to blog, maybe that’s the dumbest move of all.
Jordan McCollum from Marketing Pilgrim had a great post Friday called “a How Not to Corporate Blog Guide,” which justifiably rips into the Blog Council for its strange way of advising companies to blog while not seeming to have a grasp on the basics itself.
Sure their first few posts are dripping of the kind of PR-inspired lameness that lots of groups struggle with when they start blogging, but hey, some of my posts stink on ice, too. Yeah, it would be nice of these self-described blogging experts knew better than to start that way.
But geez Louise, they blocked comments?
I mean, what were they thinking? The quickest route to excoriation in the blogosphere is to show you’re not listening. Anyone with even a passing acquaintance with blogging knows that people comment on them. For them to be experts in blogging and not accepting comments is laughable.
What’s more, one of the blog posts contains frequently asked questions. Uh huh. Questions from whom, exactly? I know they’re not accepting questions from the folks who read their blog, unless they fill out a contact firm. How very Web 2.0 of you.
Starting a blog with an FAQ post and not accepting comments for additional questions is the stuff of parody. There are some very solid companies involved here and I hope they are just off to a bad start, because we need corporations to wake up to real best practices in blogging.
I hope that by the time you read this, the embarrassment may cause these experts to open up comments. If they do, I promise to take another look to see if this could become a useful community that exemplifies best practices rather than just talking about them. In the meantime, however, you might want to look for best practices elsewhere.
Now, it’s possible that this is an error. I know I’ve been embarrassed when something on my site wasn’t working. I had a bug a few months ago that was rejecting comments for some Firefox users and I still don’t know what happened or why it went away. And when I looked at the Blog Council site in IE, it did not render properly, so maybe it’s just not ready for prime time yet.
I don’t want to appear uncharitable. Doing it wrong quickly is my idea of the right approach, so I hesitate to be so critical of anyone trying anything, no matter how far off the mark they are. But these folks are setting themselves up as experts. If any of them want help from me, I’d be happy to assist. And if they think I am off the mark on this, well, they can leave a comment here.
December 12, 2007 Update: I spoke with Andy Sernovitz of the Blog Council yesterday. He explained that the council was merely using blogging software as a rudimentary content management system and that they never intended the two pages posted on the site to be blog posts—they intended them to be flat Web pages. The council has since updated the site so that the pages no longer resemble blog entries. Andy also expressed surprise about the amount of attention the site had received, but I think he was pleased about it even though some of the attention was critical. In my original post, I had wondered if blocking comments was a mistake and it looks like it was. I am still willing to give this group a chance to prove its value and I hope Andy will keep in touch as developments warrant.