Ever since WordPress, YouTube, and Facebook, the ability to comment on almost anything online has been wide spread throughout the internet. Read a cool article and have something to say? Go for it. Watched a funny video and want to share just how funny it was to you? Alright. In theory, having a group discussion on topics where people from all over congregate isn’t a half bad idea. Communication is the way that ideas get formed and spread around which is one of the things that the internet does best.
But in reality, what is the true value of online comments? You may have seen several channels on YouTube like Jacksfilms that literally make fun of all of the comments that people post online. For whatever reason, many comments tend to be low quality, full of spelling and grammar mistakes, and have very little to add to a conversation. At best, most comments tend to boil down to a “Good work” which can be nice to see. It doesn’t hurt to be appreciated for the hours you’ve put into a particular project but at the end of the day, it might as well have just been an additional video like or even better yet just sharing the content with friends and family. As someone who posts quite a bit of YouTube content, thanks and praise feel great but shares are what actually give something back and help my channels grow.
In the worst cases, comments can be full of spam-like content. It’s a well known and overused tactic that many bloggers love to use to post a generic comment on someone else’s blog with a link back to their own site. Especially on those blogs about blogging, its rather sickening to see how many people are just desperately trying to build a little more traffic. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why they’d want to. Building traffic is by far the hardest part of website ownership. If you can build a website from scratch – So what? Without the ability to get it in front of an audience, even the best website is completely worthless.
I do think that the quality of the comments you receive has a lot to do with the quality of your work as well. On websites and channels where people produce high quality, long, thought provoking media is where I generally find people commenting who spent at least thirty seconds or a minute coming up with a real response. This also applies to the tone of the work. If a video is intimidating or offensive to people, you can definitely expect some level of public out lash.
On average, I’ve found the quality of comments on the internet to not be particularly worthwhile but perhaps that’s also because the average article on the internet is of poor quality. Some sites have chosen to block comments all together and others try to respond to every comment they receive. If comments do nothing else for you, they do give you an idea of who your audience is and what they like or dislike. I do find analyzing that information to be quite useful but I respect other’s decisions for not wanting to deal with them whatsoever.