Today’s post was inspired by a question we got recently from a physician reader.
Should I turn on “comments” on my blog?
Blogs are widely considered a form of social media, their origin as an online diary or “web log” with a comments section being interactive in nature, and their continued use by many sparking a wide range of written interactions, from catatonically boring to outright scathing. Blogs allow private citizens and companies alike to reach out and connect with the wider world, whether for personal or commercial gains.
Having now been adopted by corporate players like Coca Cola, Walmart, and Whole Foods, blogs are no longer necessarily intended for live interaction at all, having the comments section turned off altogether or closely controlled. Some might even say that the blog has become just another form of mainstream media, like a magazine article, newspaper column, or TV program, intended for consumption only.
All that is to say, comments are now optional for bloggers, with most blogging platforms allowing you to turn them off completely, or set them up to require review and approval before going live on your site. This is a good thing now that medical practices and hospitals have jumped on the blogging bandwagon to connect with and attract patients.
It is good because, unlike many other professional service providers, medical practitioners are bound by ethical codes of conduct and HIPAA laws, that when broken, as they can be by allowing open uncontrolled discourse in the form of blog comments, can result in loss of licensure (and huge fines). Further, an open blog comments section can be a ripe forum for spammers, disgruntled patients, and outright trolls.
I am not saying you should NEVER allow comments on a medical blog, they can be a great way to attract and keep readers. I just urge extreme caution if you do. Make sure you carefully monitor every comment before it goes live, and make the time to stay on top of them. It can be a big turn off to your readers if you allow comments but never approve them or respond.