Umm Zaid had a recent post about several changes at her blog: a new (old) background (she's back to her "veryplaintxt" theme), turned-off comments, and no blogroll. She asked, "Should I turn comments back on? Return the links to normal?" but then neglected to turn the comments back on for that particular post. These are some of my thoughts regarding her changes:
For long-time readers, backgrounds don't matter and will probably become even less important as more people switch to RSS feeds. I've got over 30 blogs linked to Google Reader now, which keeps me updated far better than if I visited each blog separately. Google Reader doesn't show me the background for any blog, just the contents of the posts. And that's what's most important to me anyway, the content. Not whether you've got your cartoon pirate showing up or not. Still, for the first-time or casual reader, a nice looking background may be important.
Likewise, I think blogrolls will become less important over time due to RSS feeds. Still, they're important to maintain over time. For me, the blogroll is an indicator of the company a blogger keeps. Who do you read? Yes, I do judge bloggers by who's on their blogroll (especially if they write often about religion or politics).
As for comments, I can't really imagine not allowing comments except under special circumstances. I don't have a problem with bloggers who censor comments coming onto their blogs; I do it myself. I don't have a problem with people who turn off comments for specific posts. I can even understand why a blog like Islamophobia Watch keeps their comments off all the time; I'd probably do the same if I had a similar blog. But to shut comments off willy-nilly? No, not my style. I don't know about Umm Zaid but I want to encourage a community of people visiting my blogs, to read and comment about my posts. To cut off commenting for no good reason is a slap at the readership. "Sorry, I don't care what you think!" No, that's definitely not my style.