Should your law blog allow for comments? Here are two better questions: Do you want engagement, and do you have time to moderate?
You've started a law blog. Good. You write regularly on topics of interest to your target audience. Even better. You write response pieces to other blogs' posts to further the conversation. Well done.
But do you have comments? Here are two considerations when questioning whether to open or close your comments section:
1. Do You Want Engagement?
One reason to consider allowing comments is the conversation, the community, and the return visits that can potentially result from engagement -- one goal of blogging and social media. A comments section full of regular readers can take on a life of its own -- typically with some banter, some inside jokes, and some give-and-take with the authors.
If you are writing to further a conversation, allowing comments can help to foster that dialog. You write the posts. Folks comment. You comment back. Eventually the conversations turn into relationships. And maybe those relationships will turn to referrals and business. If not, at least you'll have a few more Internet friends.
2. Do You Have Time to Moderate?
Engagement is good, but trolling, spam, and even holding intelligent conversations with visitors takes time. Ask anybody who's ever had a blog and you'll hear about battles with spam bots -- and if the posts were popular enough, regular visits from "courageous" anonymous kids behind keyboards who like to post inappropriate comments and insults.
The biggest problem with a comments section is that it takes time. You have to weed out spam comments (though many anti-spam tools, like Askimet, will nuke nearly all of such comments), hold conversations with readers, and figure out how to deal with trolls. It's a lot more work than writing a few posts, and if someone really wants to get in touch with you about your article, they will -- via Twitter, email, or by looking up your contact information on the state bar website.
Don't ask me how I know. Three years into this blogging thing, and I've been cold-called by lawyers, pro se litigants, prison inmates, and somebody's grandmother. Perhaps if we had comments, I'd receive fewer phone calls and letters, but then again, we'd probably be spending hours per day weeding out spam and trolling.
For you and your firm, however, it might be worth it.
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