What makes a website a blog? Are comments necessary?

Recently, I found some time to revamp the comments section of my own blog after being inspired by Christian Watson’s suggestions on how to improve the comment section of a blog. I implemented anonymous comments, added a CAPTCHA (you know, that image you’re asked to read the letters in and type in to try and stop spammers), styled the comments and provided permalinks to each comment, added Gravatars … I did a lot. Why? Because I wanted to encourage readers of my blog to leave comments. Why? Because I like to hear what people have to say.

I just wrote some thoughts about Russell Beattie’s recent removal of comments from his blog. Mobile Jones called the move “antisocial” (as a pun on “social media”), while Ben Metcalfe says, “[...] a blog isn’t a blog unless it has comments.” This got me thinking: exactly what is a blog, then?

Right now, the beginning of the Wikipedia entry for blog reads: “A blog is a website in which items are posted on a regular basis and displayed in reverse chronological order. [...] A blog comprises text, hypertext, images, and links (to other web pages and to video, audio and other files).” Comments are only later described as a “feedback comment system.”

So, is Wikipedia wrong here? Exactly what is sufficient and necessary for a web site to be a blog? I really can’t believe that comments are necessary and it’s certainly not sufficient, because you can implement a comment system for any page on any web site and that doesn’t make that site a blog. More importantly, why do we even care what color the bikeshed is?

Comments

  1. Paul says:

    I tend to lean towards comments being necessary for the definition. Without that, it might as well just be a feed.

  2. Dossy says:

    That’s an interesting way of looking at it, Paul. But, what about comment feeds, like mine? What you’re consuming is still what it is, regardless of how you’re consuming it, no?

  3. John Havard says:

    Let’s break the word down. Blog is a bastardization of weblog, which is shortened form of “a journal of some sort that I keep on a web site as I’m a big attention whore and maybe I want to be trendy too.” Although comments are a great way to find out if people care about what you write, I’d say they are not a requirement for a blog.

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