Are blogs without comments good blogs?

When is just having an RSS feed != to a good blog?  This question came up recently on an internal DL regarding executive or other high profile blogs that don't enable comments.  Personally I think these "blogs" set a bad example to lower profile blogs for the wrong reasons.  If you are not steveb, Ray Ozzie, Scoble, etc I don't believe that enabling comments on your blog really costs you much considering what you lose by closing a connection channel.   Here are some excerpts from the mails I've sent on the subject. 

<regarding the value of trackbacks versus blog comments>

Part of the issue we have here is one of scale. Not every exec is billg or Ray or Scoble. :-) Sure, once you reach that level you’re likely to have formed your own community in the blogosphere that orbits your every word. Thereby ensuring you’ll hear everything if you open your ears.    

The cost/benefit analysis (where dollar signs, attitudes toward, satisfaction with, and opinions about are all forms of currency) works out very differently at that high a level.

It doesn’t cost every exec who blogs the same thing to have comments turned on and the potential for missing benefit from comments increases exponentially the smaller the audience you have. If you aren’t Ray, Bill, or Steve you should probably just leave comments turned on and set expectations appropriately.

Here are a couple of good reasons for execs to turn on comments.

In the last few months I have had the opportunity to interact with many of you. Thanks for your encouragement, comments, feedback and words of wisdom. Your comments have helped me change the way I think about several things. Like I mentioned a year ago, if there is one thing that I have consistently noticed in these interactions, it is the passion that folks have around our products - both in terms of what we are doing well and more importantly what we can do better.

First of all, I want to thank the dozens of people (well-wishers) who sent me super encouraging mails welcoming me to the blogging world. I should confess that I was reasonably nervous about my first blog posting, but all the words of encouragement did wonders for me. Thank you for that.

<Regarding execs looking aloof by not replying to comments and trackbacks in place of comments>

I think we worry too much about execs looking aloof. If the blog is clearly coming from an executive its been my experience that customers have an understanding that it’s not exactly a job with a lot of free time. Also, keep in mind that the exec isn’t the only person who is looking at the blog comments to make things happen as a result of them.  

As simple as trackbacks may seem… not everyone wants to create a blog and new blog entry to comment… you miss out on good comments and feedback without comments enabled.   

As far as blog search services go, I’m sorry, it’s just simpler to have the comments right below the blog for the readers of the blog. Trackbacks and search services are not perfect. They miss a bunch of posts from bloggers who’s sites might not be correctly pinging their services or fell under the radar.  

I agree that one solution, as Scoble mentioned, is to go create a discussion on channel9 for every post. But then why not just enable comments?

Back to my first point, it’s not just about the executive reading the comments. Take Soma’s blog entry on MSDN Benefits as an example. I’m sure the MSDN Benefits team is reading the comments, trackbacks, and blog searches for feedback. Why cut off one channel? Of course, maybe this is a bad example since Soma replied to the comment. :-)

The short story is that I'm think I currently fall into the "Comments can't hurt" camp as long as you set expectations to your readers.  And I guess I also think it's pretty cool our VP blogs regularly and also replies to several comments.  Even if he doesn't reply to all the comments I know he forwards them on to the right teams... and it generally causes good things to happen.

Your thoughts?