Seems like most retroweb (think Neocities) websites have a guestbook. This got me thinking about blogs and the question, Should blogs have a guestbook? Of course this is a matter of personal preference but I cannot think of a reason why a blog should not have a guestbook. And I should point out that there is a difference between a contact form which is a private communication and a guestbook which is public.
##Guestbooks Fell Out of Favor
Things fall in and out of favor all the time. I’m not sure guestbooks were ever a big thing in blogging but they were around. For instance blogrolls also fell out of favor in blogging but have had a recent resurgence. The evidence of guestbooks on blogs is that there are a number of old guestbook plugins for Wordpress.
Guestbooks were folksy and folksy became uncool in web 2.0.
One huge reason for guestbooks falling out of favor was spam both human posted and robotic. If you are going to have a guestbook today, make sure it has anti-spam protection.
##Who Should Consider Having a Guestbook?
A guestbook is an invitation. It is an invitation for feedback, greeting and meeting. Almost all corporate sites have a blog but they are not going to have guestbooks. A guestbook is a signal that your blog is written by a real human being and visitors sign it as real human beings.
Blogging can be a lonely pursuit. Sometimes a little feedback, just to know people are reading, helps keep a blogger writing. It’s a good way to get a remark in passing without the expectation of a reply.
- Some blog hosts have no comment feature so visitors have no way to respond.
- Some bloggers turn off comments.
- Topical blogs might benefit. If you have a blog about a single subject: gardening, 1930’s movies, Godzilla or whatever, people may want to express their appreciation about the entire blog, not singling out one article.
- Some bloggers are better networked than others and receive comments all the time. But if you are alone, shy, new to blogging and just don’t know anybody you might try one.
- Any blogger. It makes the Web and the theme driven Blogosphere seem less impersonal, less cold and uninviting. Fun is a big part of the non-commercial web. Non-commercial blogs are a part of that web. If you think adding a guestbook might be fun, do it. You don’t need permission from anybody. :)
##Where do I get a Guestbook?
*If you are using self-hosted Wordpress there are several free plugins available. This is the easiest and IMHO best option. *There maybe scripts available if you are on a server with access to Php and if you know how to install these scripts. *For the rest: Micro.blog, Wordpress.com, Blogger, etc., you may well need a hosted guestbook. You can find some hosted scripts here.
Note: all of these are advertising supported. Also you want one that has protection against spam posts. You also want one that you can delete abusive posts from.
Ultimately it’s up to you. Guestbooks are common in the self made static site web. We are all part of the non-commercial Indiependent Web maybe bloggers can take a hint from them on this.