Are you comments open for business?
In “You Must Be Logged In To Comment” I wrote:
Why do people turn off open, unregistered comments to require people to login in order to comment? I’m not talking about member-only or private blogs. I’m addressing normal blogs.
Not every blog post needs comments. Turning off or closing comments is different from closing them off from easy public access.
One school of thought is that this protects the blogger from horrid comment spam. With today’s excellent comment spam catching tools available, this is no longer necessary.
Another school of thought is that this regulates who will comment and who won’t. In other words, if they go through the ordeal of registering, then they really must be fans or have something worthy to say, so we’ll let them in and keep out the rest of the riffraff.
One of the reasons I can’t stand commenting on Blogger blogs is the funky way comments are handled, taking me to a separate page and making me jump through hoops. I do it, when I’m really serious about making my comment, but I don’t like it. If you want comments on your blog, then I think you should make it easy for people to comment.
All the silly games people play with moderation, CAPTCHAs (which have never worked and continue to not work), quizzes, and other forms of comment torture tests, I call them Commentum Login Interuptus, the process of interrupting our ability to comment which drives commenters away.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been inspired to comment, to continue the conversation, argue back, defend rights, speak my mind, say thank you, say something on a blog, only to feel dismissed when comments don’t work, I have to jump through hoops to leave a comment, or comments are closed. Total commentum interuptus.
Does your site suffer from this?
Today’s blog exercise is to truly examine your comment status and evaluate whether or not your comments are open for business.
It is up to you to have comments turned on, moderated, or off. Just know your options and be really clear about why you have made your choice.
There are many reasons why you may choose to have comments turned off. In “Is Your Blog a Conversation Blog or Answer Blog” I offered ideas on what types of blogs and blog content would make a blog appropriate for comments, or not.
A conversation blog is one that incites a dialog between the blogger and the reader. It doesn’t give you all the answers. It leaves room for you to answer. It challenges you to come up with answers. It is designed to get you thinking and invoke a response. Each blog post develops a relationship with its readers.
There is another lesser known style of blog that features little or no dialog, yet can inspire a different level of conversation: inner dialog. I have many names for these types of blogs, information blogs, thoughtful blogs, inspirational blogs, thinking blogs, but these descriptive names can apply to other types of blogs.
These “inner dialog” blogs need little or no response. Comments are often turned off. They are unnecessary to the success of the blog. The blogger is just providing information, be it their personal story or a way to communicate in a one way direction.
If you don’t need a response, turn off comments. If you do, turn them on. Just know why and be prepared to defend yourself either way.
It is fine to moderate comments if you wish to ensure only the appropriate comments get through. There is a feature in WordPress to moderate comments the first time someone comments. Once approved, the commenter is approved for life, so to speak. This isn’t perfect but it tends to keep out some of the riffraff.
Many bloggers think that comment spammers go after old posts more than new posts, so they turn off comments after 2 weeks or so. This isn’t true as spammers will go after anything they find, dates not stopping them. I find that comments on posts even 10 years old still have value as the information is often timeless.
Here are some more things you should know before you turn off your comments.
- Learn how to comment and how to recognize a good comment when you see one. Set an example for others to follow on how to interact on your site and others.
- If comments are open, say so. If you choose to moderate, warn commenters that comments will be moderated so they don’t worry if their comment doesn’t appear right away. If comments are closed, add a note to your About Page explaining why comments are closed on the site and point people to your contact form so they may contact you if they need. If comments are closed, remove the “comments are closed” text so it doesn’t annoy people and the site looks like a magazine site rather than an interactive site. There are several WordPress Plugins and design techniques to hide or remove the comments closed notice.
- CAPTCHAs don’t work. These are the graphic torture tests, quizzes, and silly tests people put on their comments to force the user to type in before they can comment. Don’t do anything that gets in the way of a commenter.
- Mark comment spam as spam and protect the good comments. This keeps legitimate commenters from being in the spam comment queue, sends comment spam to the comment spam database to help all of us fight comment spam on our blogs, and keeps our blogs clean for our readers.
Share your self-discoveries about comments and these blog exercises here or blog about this on your own site, sharing your insights with your readers, giving a little hat tip back here for us to follow in the trackbacks, or leave a properly formed link in the comments so participants can check out your blog exercise task.