Yesterday Google posted the yearly stats for the Official Google Blog. Not bad – 294 posts, 7.6 million unique visitors and 15 million page views. Technorati ranks the Google Blog as the 16th largest among all blogs, and it is by far the most popular official company blog. Just one accidental deletion and a couple of hacks added a bit of spice and drama.
But today bloggers are starting to ask if the Official Google Blog is even an actual blog. The reason? It doesn’t allow readers to leave comments. The Official Google blog does list links to other sites referencing any given post (a sort of trackback), but that’s it. The conversation ends there.
Yahoo, in contrast, does allow reader comments on their official blogs. At times it has been painful for them, but I believe having this direct user feedback mechanism is helping them make better products.
Other prominent bloggers have removed comments, too. Seth Godin, no. 19 on the Technorati list, rarely allows comment on his blog. He says that comments affect what he writes, and “So, given a choice between a blog with comments or no blog at all, I think I’d have to choose the latter.”
The current definitions of “blog” in most dictionaries don’t mention reader comments at all when defining the term. Wikipedia says only that “the ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs.” According to these sources, the minimum requirement for a web site to be a blog is that it have content, and that it be sorted in reverse chronological order.
I believe the term “blog” means more than an online journal. I believe a blog is a conversation. People go to blogs to read AND write, not just consume. We’ve allowed comments here on TechCrunch since it started. At times, user comments can be painful to deal with. But they also keep the writer honest, and make the content vastly more interesting.
Should the definitions of “blog” be revised to exclude journals that do not allow reader comments? Yeah, absolutely. And Google may think so, too. At the end of their post, they write “And before long, perhaps you can begin leaving comments directly. We’re working on that.”
What do you think? Leave a comment, or answer the poll below.