The official Google blog doesn't take comments, is it still a blog? Some say it's not, others that it is - just a less valuable one (via Bloggers Blog). David Winer revisits the question and concludes that it is not the form but the voice that makes or breaks a blog (via Adriana):
If it was one voice, unedited, not determined by group-think -- then it was a blog, no matter what form it took. If it was the result of group-think, with lots of ass-covering and offense avoiding, then it's not. Things like spelling and grammatic errors were okay, in fact they helped convince one that it was unedited.
I've often pondered calling my blog 'Kristine unedited' as the journalist in me frequently is embarrassed when I go back and spot how I've been less than stringent, used the same word several times in a paragraph, left out commas or overlooked typos. But I guess that primarily highlights the challenge of coming to blogging from a journalist background, and I must admit that in my early blogging days I succumbed to a lot of offense avoiding, maybe I still do, as I felt, and sometimes still feel, constrained by the very structured way of writing that you're trained to do as a journalist (and because I started my media career as a very opinionated columnist I tried extra hard to be less me after I graduated from journalism school).
On the issue of allowing comments or not my friend Adriana, a social media consultant and founder of one of the first blogging companies, adds this useful perspective to the debate:
Things like comments, trackbacks, RSS and other features do not make or break a blog - they are there to improve on the communication and distribution that is already happening. It is the quality of the voice, ideas and most importantly, the freedom and independence that is blog gives to individuals
I agree. I have set up several blogs for different purposes: with and without comments, some internal or non-public, some set up to drive as much a possible traffic to the site – it all depends on the purpose of the blog, as the functions you add to any medium depend on what you want to achieve with it. Saying that, you do of course have to respect the nature of a medium, and setting up a blog to show off your fluency in corporate jargon would clearly be counterproductive. Here's David Winer again, on one aspect that really separates a blog from other media:
I sat next to Steven Levy the other night at dinner in NY. He volunteered that in his whole career he had never written a word that wasn't approved of by someone else, until he started a blog. I applaud him for crossing the line. I give him a lot of credit for writing without a safety net. It really is different. Comments wouldn't make the difference, what makes the difference is standing alone, with your ideas out there, with no one else to fault for those ideas. They are your responsibility, and yours alone.