Are You Still Using a Guest Book?

Filed as News on April 26, 2007 6:28 pm

As I was reviewing some out-of-date, faded-into-the-past style websites and blogs recently, I ran across some guest books. Are you still using a guest book on your blog?

Why?

In my mind, a guest book is a place where people can sign in and say hello. Right? Like you would have at a wedding, funeral, or special event. It’s a glorified sign up list. A formal sign up list. It keeps a record of all the attendees to a special event.

Thirty years from now you will pull the guest book out from under the bed, wipe off the dust bunnies breeding on it, and open it up and think back. “Oh, wow! Uncle Robert was there. You know he died ten years ago. Sad. And Aunt Bertha! She’s in the nursing home now. I need to go visit her. Where did the time go?”

Do you still have your autograph album? The youngest in my family just got back from their first trip to Disneyland. The two kids were so thrilled to show off their autograph album with all the signatures they had worked so hard to get from Snow White, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Winnie the Poo, and Buzz Lightyear. While I cheered for their numerous and hard won successes (tracking down Winnie the Poo behind a building), in a way, this is their guest book. A book of memory moments meeting these “people” who figure so greatly in their childhood stories.

The desire to preserve the moment with a signature has been around for a very long time in modern cultures. How does this need translate to the web? And to your blog?

I have never seen the need for a guest book on a blog. I barely saw the need for one on a website, but at the time, there were few ways to comment. If you wanted to leave a message, that was the only way.

Today, there are blog comments, contact forms, and various methods to get your message across to the blogger. I don’t see a guest book as useful in any way. Do you?

Today’s guest books are the comments. When you leave a comment on a blog you are acknowledging your presence at the blogger’s party. You are recording for all history that you read what they wrote and had something to to say. And you certainly had more to say than “Robert Knapp was here.” Didn’t you?

Does your blog have a guest book? Why? What good does it do for you?

If it doesn’t, have you considered adding one? Why?

People can now Twitter, and new communication technologies are coming out very fast, changing the very way we communicate and share information. I’m not sad that the guest book has faded into uselessness on the web, but what other methods of communication has also been lost to time and technology? Is there still some value to these? Or is newer better?


Lorelle VanFossen blogs about blogging and WordPress on .

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  1. By Chris posted on April 26, 2007 at 10:59 pm
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    Well, I think my last guestbook on a personal site was around 1997… but I sure don’t see Twitter as any sort of improvement or upgrade!

  2. By Anne Helmond posted on April 27, 2007 at 1:55 am
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    I can’t remember ever having used a guestbook. It used to be rather spam-safe to leave your e-mail address on your website. We then changed to puzzles like “e-mail me at myfirstname [at] thisdomain.com.” I think the contact form has replaced the guestbook although they are two quite different things. In a guestbook all the comments are stored for everyone to see and with a contact form they vanish into a big black box called e-mail. I prefer guestbooks for this reason because often you receive messages (from people you lost contact with or old colleagues) that you don’t necessarily want to display on your webpage. And those who want to say something in relation to the content of your blog are more than welcome in your comments section.

    I’d pretty much forgotten about the existence of guestbooks, nice retro thought food!

  3. By Nicholas posted on April 29, 2007 at 11:24 am
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    I have to admit, I have a guestbook on one of my blogs. I thought it would be a nice place for readers to introduce themselves. Usually, when people comment, they stick with the topic at hand. For some commentators they don’t have blogs themselves, so it’s always nice to have an idea as to who they are.

    But, in the end, I think if you have loyal readers, you get to know them along the way anyways, so it can be redundant.

    Maybe you can just call me grandpa.

  4. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on April 29, 2007 at 1:28 pm
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    Well, grandpa ;-)

    Do people really sign in on your guestbook? You’d think that the best place to introduce themselves would be through your post comments. If you are using your guest book like a contact form, then that makes sense. Still, do people look for “guest book” or “contact” when using your blog?

    Good point, though. Thanks!

  5. By John Winslow posted on April 30, 2007 at 5:43 am
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    I have one. Some use it, some don’t… Why do I have it when I have open commenting?????

    I freaking hate OFF TOPIC commenting on my posts…. Put your off-topic stuff in the guestbook, or send me a private message on my contact page (yup, have one of those too)….

    I just think comments on the entries should be relevant to the entry, not hellos and hihowareyas.

    Call me anal (then again… DON’T) lol