For years, Dilbert creator Scott Adams could not speak like most people. His voice was cut off by an extremely rare condition called spasmodic dysphonia. He eventually found a way around it.
Are you cutting off your audiences’ voices? If you don’t allow comments on your blog or news site, you are. The bigger question you might be asking is, why should I care?
Because your audience will find its voice, whether you want it or not, whether you facilitate it or not, whether you like what they have to say or not. So you can either empower them and help shape the conversation that arises, or ignore them, hoping they’ll just go away — which is precisely what they will do.
Case-in-point: I have been a fan of the Annals of Improbable Research since before they were even called that. I attend the Ig Nobel free talks as often as I can, and wrote about them frequently on my old website. Marc Abrahams is the editor of AIR.
I subscribe to the feed for Marc’s blog, in which, today, he called attention to a FOX News columnists’ usurpation of the term Ig Nobel in the title of a rant against 76 Obama-backing American Nobel laureates. Marc, who normally has a sense of humor, took Steven Milloy’s use of the term a little too personally, claiming that the “column discards the basic Ig Nobel notion of laughter and thought.”
I wanted to comment on this claim, but found nowhere to go. Marc’s AIR blog does not allow comments, nor—not surprisingly mind you—does the Fox web site which hosted the column. So I’ll post my thoughts here.
Mr. Abrahams, your blog post “discards the basic Ig Nobel notion of laughter and thought.” Do you feel like you need to pass the Kleenex test and defend your brand? Fine, do so, and tell us that’s the reason. But if you’re seriously offended at anything FOX News puts out, then you need to get out more often.
To both Mr. Abrahams and the webmasters over at FOXNews.com: Keep your audience on your site! Increase stickiness. Reduce churn. Do what both the New York Times and Reader’s Digest do and turn your comments on.
By now, well more than one third of American newspapers allow reader comments. You should too. Read this article by Mark Glaser if you’re not convinced—an article, by the way, which I can comment on.
Photo courtesy of Meredith Farmer and Flickr.