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The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 3 million readers. As featured on: ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, TODAY Show, NPR, Forbes, The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and National Post. They live in Missoula, Montana.

Comments Killed the Internet Star: Why The Minimalists Killed Comments on Their Site

Seagull

I realized I had a choice: I could have a blog with comments and no posts, or a blog with posts and no comments. —Seth Godin

What Happened to the Comments at The Minimalists?

A couple months ago we were listening to an interview with Seth Godin on Zen Habits. About twenty minutes into the interview Leo asked Seth why he removed comments from his website (something Leo had already done as well). Seth talked about how hard it it was for him, but he gave some good reasons why he had to do it.

During the interview Seth talked about a part of his brain that distracted him from his writings when his blog had comments. This voice would constantly tell him that his writings weren’t going to be appreciated by his readers. So Seth would argue with himself about a sentence here, or he’d add an extra sentence there to justify his point of view and avoid offending his readers. Seth said, “I realized I had a choice: I could have a blog with comments and no posts, or a blog with posts and no comments.”

That was our lightbulb moment. We felt the same way: we could have a website with comments and no essays or a website with essays and no comments. So we killed the comments.

In short, we had to kill the comments before they killed us. Kill or be killed. We turned off comments because we didn’t want them shaping our writing into something inauthentic. If that happened, we’d be doing you a disservice. Plus we were spending 20 to 25 hours a week moderating and responding to hundreds of comments, which wasn’t adding as much value to our lives as it was taking. The comments were meant to engage readers, but let’s face it: less than one percent of the people who came to our website actually left a comment. There are better ways to stay engaged.

Staying Engaged with The Minimalists

There’s no doubt that we appreciated the kind comments from our readers, the feedback we received, and the valuable discussions that occurred in the comments. On the flip-side of the coin, we didn’t care much for the belligerent comments we received from the occasional seagull (i.e., a person who flies by your site, shits on it, and flies away). The point of our website is to engage with others to help them live a more meaningful life, not provide anonymous seagulls a forum to to vent their frustrations because they are unhappy with their lives.

But that doesn’t mean we won’t stay completely engaged with our readers in the future in myriad ways:

This site has always been about the content contained herein. Our essays are meant to engage our readers. The best way to stay engaged with our consciouses is with free essays via email or RSS.

As always, we’ll continue to engage with our readers via Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, where some of our most meaningful conversations already occur. You can always comment there, where we listen closely and interact with everyone.

If you run a website or a blog and want to comment on a particular essay, feel free to link to that essay; we always read the sites that link to ours (and we share the most meaningful stuff on social media).

And we’ll continue to find new ways to engage our audience. Take, for example, our 33-city meetup tour, where more than 1,000 people have RSVP’d to engage with us face to face.

Plus you can engage us via email.

Engage your friends and add value to their lives by sharing our essays via email and social media.