Why I allow comments. And why you should too.

When I first started blogging almost 5 (!) years ago, I listened to the advice of other bloggers and kept my “allow comments” button turned off.  I was told that I would get swallowed up in reading the comments, get irritated by the ones I didn’t agree with, not be able to sleep because of people that poked fun or found typos, and so on.  “Reading/responding to comments can be a full time job,” it was said, “and blogging is already a pretty big time suck!”

Then, one day, I just realized that concept didn’t make sense to me.  This blog, especially, is not about pushing content.  It’s about conversational content.  It’s about hearing from you, whether you agree or not, and continuing the conversation so that it fulfills my mission statement: to amplify the conversation about theater.

See, think about it this way . . . if two people are talking about theater at a party, a few people might overhear them and want to join in.  If ten people are talking about theater, then even more people will join in.  And if twenty people are talking . . . and so on and so on.  And the more people talking, the more people going.  Simple.

So, I switched them back on.  And, because I’ve got the smartest readers on the planet, the comments are awesome.

And then, something really cool happened.

I learned . . . a lot . . . from reading them.  I realized what subjects you liked.  And what you didn’t.  I learned what data you needed, and what you didn’t.  Simply put . . . I learned how to write better blogs.  And I’m learning every day and with every comment.

Which is why I believe all writers out there should “accept comments”, not just blog writers but playwrights and screenwriters, and Wikipedia article writers.   When you finish a draft, get lots and lots of friends to read it.  Get lots and lots of enemies to read it.  Frankly, I’m thinking about starting a website called YouReadMineAndIllReadYours.com which would be a quid pro quo site that guarantees you a read and comments as long as you return the favor.

And it’s not just writers.  Theaters, Box Offices, Restaurants, Airlines, etc. should all not only accept comments, they should encourage them.  Don’t just put out a suggestion box, beg your customers to fill it.

All feedback is great.  As long as you a have thick skin and know how to filter, because no, you not only don’t have to modify what you do based on every comment/note, you shouldn’t.  At the end of the day, it’s your blog/play/whatever, and you have to write what you want to write the way you want to write it.  (A filtering tip I use is that if I hear the same comment three times, I know I’ve got an issue that I need to look at.)

So thicken up your skin, and turn your comments on no matter what you write.  There are very few artists out there that are good enough to succeed without feedback.

And frankly, they’d be even better if they got some.


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below!  Email subscribers, click here then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)



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  • Kathleen says:

    I love commenting! and I agree wholeheartedly that a lot can be gained from them. I don’t write a blog, I’m not a writer at all but I do have a facebook page and enjoy the art of conversation through text. Any comments? 😉

  • Gil says:

    I’ve been meaning to ask for awhile; why do you send your e-mails out at the end of the day instead of when the posts go up? Sometimes I read a post when it’s e-mailed, mean to comment, and then feel like I am 3/4ths of a day behind. 🙂 Internet seems to move faster every minute…

    • producer says:

      I tried emailing earlier, and actually got “comments” that said people preferred to get it in the eve. If they didn’t check the site during the day, they were reminded later. Also, the email goes at 8 PM. Curtain time. 🙂

  • I actually like reading the comments that other people leave on your blog as well (except for the occasional rude comment. You’re better than me cause I’d probably just delete it). I’ve learned soooo much from your blog, comments included. Thanks for being a data gathering junkie that doesn’t hoard his findings 😀

  • Amy says:

    Comment comment comment.
    I’ve been called an IDIOT
    (and worse). How wonderful
    that someone took the time.

    I moderate for SPAM.

    I love this: YouReadMineAndIllReadYours.com

  • janiska says:

    Another excellent blog. Thank you for welcoming our comments and encouraging communication among us all.

  • Paul Argentini says:

    Cliffort Odets walked into his playwriting class, looked around, and said, “Why are you here? You should be home writing your play.” Comments without authority keep gas in the atmosphere. Better theatre comes from better writing. Better writing comes from understanding how better writing can be made best writing. Who’s got time to give for that? Those that can do it are all home writing their scripts. I found too much incestuous script-blind leading the script-blind, pardon the bromide.

  • Marina Barry says:

    You know I am a huge fan Ken but you always amaze me – love this ‘have a field day with your writing – invite everyone’ idea. That’s why I love the theatre – it’s a group effort, and yes sometimes you disagree, sometimes you don’t like your partner but if you are smart and can wait…….boy do you get a life lesson, and usually you come out on top even if only to re-affirm yourself!
    And a thick skin helps. The more people talking the more interested, right? That’s what the theatre needs – interested people! But please no talking during the show.

  • Gillien says:

    You use the same filter I use with my acting students about their monologues when they show them to people in the profession: if you hear the same comment 3 times, pay attention to the feedback.

  • I like this idea, too, and I wanted to let you all know something about videos that could be helpful.

    I’m a songwriter — in the folk world — but Betty Buckley, Sutton Foster, and Susan Egan all sing songs of mine, so I’ve been drawn into the theater world and love it. Last year I taught myself how to make videos on my Mac using iMovie. Some of my videos have gotten thousands of views, and I’m starting to make videos for songwriting friends, too. Not for money, but because it’s fun and a great way to get people to HEAR a wonderful new song. I post both on youtube and vimeo.

    Vimeo costs a bit to join (not much, but youtube is free) — vimeo has more serious people making videos and gives you interesting information on the numbers of views your videos get.

    One of the things they will tell you is how many “total finishes” you get. I wasn’t sure exactly what that is, so I asked, and it’s how many viewers watched completely through from beginning to end (duh, I should have figured that out).

    I was shocked to find out that some videos, which have been seen by a few thousand people, had very few “total finishes” because when the credits start to roll when the song is over, many viewers have clicked away.

    When I learned this, I made sure that if there was any REALLY important info I wanted the viewer to know about this video I now NEVER put it at the very end knowing how many people will click away. I try to start the credits just as the last note is sung so there’s no lag time between the song and the credits. Although I like the stateliness of music ending, a moment of silence, and THEN the credits rolling, I don’t do that anymore.

    One of my videos was in a weekly contest held by WNET in NYC and it contained a joke at the very very very end of the video. Miraculously, that video did win the competition that week, but I am sure that many people who viewed it as the winning video never got that joke because they clicked away. Had I known how often that happens I would never have put that joke where I did.

    In case you want to look at it and see exactly what I mean, the song is “Roses From The Wrong Man” and that’s the name of the video at vimeo.

    Remember that we are living in a short attention span world. As if we need to be reminded of that!

  • A Contrarian says:

    It’s not the speed of the reply, but the thoughtfulness of the response that matters.

    It’s also WHO says what that matters. Ofttimes #2 agrees with #1 and #3 agrees with #2 so may not be very helpful if you think there are three “separate” opinions.

  • Mary Jane Schaefer says:

    Yes! Comments/feedback: you can always tell which plays didn’t get any. The playwright has been on his journey all by himself. Not that I think plays should be written by committee. The voice of the playwright has to inform the play. But we all make mistakes, and some we’re very fond of.
    I have a mentor who’s insisted on lots of revision, specific revision (the scene right here has to accomplish this!), this scene isn’t working; get rid of it, etc. But he also said to me, after Draft II, “Now you have to pare down, and just follow your through line. Lots of this good stuff has got to go. Other writers couldn’t do it. But you can!” That kind of criticism is a real spark for a writer.

  • Henrik Hartvig Jorgensen says:

    I really like your article and I agree on your views in it, I believe that theatre generally needs to expand its relation to its audience and partners.
    I’m in the process of building a development company within musical theatre and when we eventually get a show going, part of our marketing efforts will be “exit polls” and having the audience providing their opinion of a show, also on websites as they will be given leaflets with information on where – and why. Along with reviews from the papers etc these opinions will form part of what’s going to be an artistic statement, parallel to a financial one. Adding internal “reviews” from staff on and off stage it’s also going to be a vital part of the toolbox for the management. As it will contribute to the writing of the company’s/theatre’s biography.
    Greetings from Henrik, Denmark

  • Diana Lipkus says:

    I really love your blog,I learn a lot from it,and look forward to reading it daily. I have fun writing comments and I have fun reading other people’s comments.
    I anxiously awaited your decision for a winner of last week’s contest! Then I was sincerely bummed out when I was not the winner.Boo-hoo!!

    What I really want to know is this: do you really have a pocket full of ghost writers?? How in the world do you have these daily posts, come up with great ideas and contests, all the wit, and still run your worklife?? Come on , confess! Or if it is just you, I will imagine you taking a grand gesture bow as you read this and realise how really great you are to do this blog!Thanks a bunch!

  • Lester says:

    My grandmother used to say, “If three people tell you you’re drunk, it’s probably time to lay down.”

  • I’ve already learned a lot from just the comments on this blog Ken, never mind from what you also say. Comments are sometimes hard to take, but as an actor talking, you get used to it, and it can be very helpful.

    Like Diane……where do you get the time? do you have ghosts? If you don’t…..BRAVO!

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  • You’re so interesting! I do not believe I have read through anything like this before. So great to find another person with genuine thoughts on this topic. Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This site is one thing that is needed on the internet, someone with a little originality!

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