Getting a new comment on your blog can feel like a small victory. After all, it means that someone read your post and cared enough to type out a few words. That’s pretty cool! Unless it’s spam or someone trying to be a troll. Then that’s not so cool. Even so, comments on blogs have become sort of a mainstay. Yet more and more people are opting out, and I can’t help but ask “Why?”
The biggest reason? Managing blog comments is time intensive. There’s no getting around it. Yes, there are tools that make them easier to manage but they still take time and for some developers or blog managers, it may not be time you want to invest. Disabling comments is a quick way to wipe your hands of the situation altogether.
Let’s take some time to evaluate both sides of the argument — pro-comments and not — to see what works best.
Comments: Yay or Nay?
There are cases to be made for both the pro- and anti-comment arguments. Let’s look at both now.
The Case Against Comments
Many bloggers have turned off comments altogether on their WordPress blogs. Why? It’s just too much work. Even with comment moderation plugins and the promise of engaging conversations, the work involved can be overwhelming. Some people just aren’t up to the task of adding comment moderation to their daily workloads. And we can understand that.
There’s also the added headache of opening yourself up to criticism. If you write about something controversial you might not want to have comments open. You’re inviting people to express their opinions and while that can be productive in some cases, it’s also time-consuming to keep up with. And it’s not unheard of for people to attack in blog comments with profanity or slurs. If you can’t keep up with proper moderation, these comments will remain public until they’re addressed and that can reflect poorly on your site.
Including a comment section may also reduce your reach on social media. It may not reduce the number of shares your post gets but it may reduce how many people discuss its content on social sites. If someone leaves a comment on your blog, only those who visit the post will gain access to that comment. However, if someone comments about the post on Facebook, everyone who follows your page or profile will see it — the potential reach for the latter is much greater than the former, which may be enough to encourage you to turn blog comments off.
In a nutshell, avoiding comments altogether means you have one less thing to worry about and you can instead spend your time creating engaging content and running your business, which are arguably more important tasks than sifting through spam comments and flame wars.
The Case For Comments
Despite the perceived hassle of dealing with comments, they can actually be rather useful and are generally worth the effort and time it takes to manage them (in my humble opinion). The best comments serve a very important role in building your site’s reputation and status in your niche.
As I mentioned above, allowing comments opens yourself up to criticism. But that isn’t always a negative thing. Sometimes, people can be very helpful and constructive, and they comment with a critique because they want to add value. That’s worthwhile, if you’re open to it. Furthermore, it’s always nice to hear when you’re doing a good job, and the comments are a place for people to leave compliments, too.
Another benefit of comments is that you make yourself appear more authentic. When someone leaves a comment with a question and you answer promptly, you demonstrate that you care about your blog and your readers. Over time, this simple act can help to build your readership by leaps and bounds and work to establish your blog as something to pay attention to. (I’ve always followed this strategy with my own blog.) The web is social, after all! A blog with a lot of comments is engaging to readers and encourages their engagement as well.
Plus, it establishes a dialogue. Comments are your readers’ way of connecting with you directly and by responding back, you show that you’re not just shouting down at them — you’re willing to listen and willing to discuss. These are important attributes to display if you want to set yourself apart in your niche.
Additionally, you never know what opportunities you’d be missing out on if you opted out of comments. Many friendships and business connections have been formed in the comment section of blogs across every industry. I can say that from personal experience.
Managing Blog Comments
If your site gets any sort of traffic and you do decide to include comments on your site, you need to utilize the most effective comment management tools. Otherwise, you’re going to be up to your eyeballs in spam with no easy way to sort through everything in a timely fashion (if at all). There are several plugins you can use, but I always find myself returning to old faithful.
I am referring primarily to the built-in commenting system for WordPress; my favorite way to manage comments by far. Since it’s part of the WordPress Core, it’s seamless in terms of form and function. You don’t have to worry about any added bloat that a plugin would cause. Also, it has a familiar interface. Those who want to comment would be able to do so with ease.
Additionally, activating Akismet is a must. This will provide spam filtering without you needing to do anything. Every once in a while, you can go into the dashboard and see how many comments Akismet blocked. Just be prepared for your jaw to drop. Without Akismet in place and comment moderation on, your blog would be flooded with spam comments in a matter of hours. So yes, I don’t take this suggestion lightly: if you’re going to use WP Comments, use Akismet, too. No ifs, ands, or buts!
Pro-tip: Couple this comment system with the Jetpack module enabled and the Advanced Comments Moderation plugin to create a truly intuitive and simple way to handle all of your comments through the dashboard that allows guests to identify themselves using their existing social media accounts.
So, are comments worth the effort? In my opinion, they are.
Furthermore, beginner bloggers should embrace the concept wholeheartedly by commenting on other people’s blogs. Yes, I know, it takes time. But this is a task you should be spending time on. It’s a great way of encouraging engagement, creating a loyal readership and establishing yourself as a thought leader in your niche.
Do you allow commenting on your blog(s)? If so, what moderation system do you use? How often do you check and respond to comments? You can let us know — rather appropriately — in the comments.