Do I Want to Keep My Blog Comments Alive?

 

You’re thrilled when you get a comment from someone about one of your blog posts.  At least when you were just starting out.  You were excited that people were reading your posts and cared enough to leave their own thoughts in the form of a comment.

You probably found some comments useful.  I know I did, and I still appreciate input from others.  Comments might have even been the spark that gave you a great new idea for a different post or gave you a perspective you wouldn’t have otherwise considered.

Blog Comments Can Become a Chore

 

If your blog gets a lot of traffic.  Comments may become less of a delight and more of a chore.  If I am responding to five comments on every post it might take only ten minutes.  That’s no big deal.  But responding to fifty comments could take you the better part of an hour.

If you’re like me, writing four posts a week, that’s four hours spent on responding to comments.  You could have written another blog post during that time.

 

Hire someone to respond to blog comments

Even if I hire someone to respond to comments on my behalf, I’m still paying for their time.  That’s money I could probably be spending to get help with something else.

 

Some Bloggers Have Shut Down Comments

 

It’s no surprise that some people who run blogs decided not to have comments at all.  Back in 2005, Steve Pavlina closed comments on his self-development blog.  

So this isn’t a new thing.  In 2006, Seth Godin closed comments on his business blog.  However, recently it’s become more of a trend.  Several blogs I read a lot have closed their comment sections.  

Some bloggers acted years ago.  Copyblogger removed their comments in 2014 and then brought them back in 2016.  Blogger Michael Hyatt removed comments from his blog in 2015 and then brought them back a year later.

Not long ago a favorite blogger of mine, Carol Tice from Make a Living Writing, made the decision to close comments on her blog. I’ve often glanced through the comments there, and I was always impressed by how often and thoughtfully Carol responded.  But I understand that it wasn’t sustainable.

 

What Should You Do With Your Blog?

 

What about your blog?  Should you shut down comments altogether?  Or do you believe that it’s important for blogs to have comments?  Deciding what to do about comments on your blog is not an easy decision.  And you can change your mind.

When you launch a blog, often comments are enabled by default.  It’s easy to run with them enabled, but there’s no rule that says blogs must have comments.

 

Blog comments can provide valuable feedback from your blog readers

This is just a short list of things you might want to think about.

  • Do you get any value from your comments?  Do you get thoughtful, engaged readers who leave comments that make you think?  Or are most of the comments spam or very short comments that don’t really add value?
  • Are you happy with how much time you currently spend moderating and answering comments?  This might be something you enjoy and find to be rewarding.  You have to decide if this benefits you.
  • Would your readers prefer to interact with you on your Facebook page?  There are obvious pros and cons to doing this.  But some blogs encourage readers to leave feedback on social media platforms.  This could result in comments being more helpful and more widely read than by commenting on posts themselves.
  • Do comments get you worried or stressed?   Even if it doesn’t take you long to respond to comments, they can still cause a lot of anxiety.  Especially if you’re writing in a niche where readers tend to be snarky or critical.

 

There is No Right or Wrong Answer About Comments

 

There Really is no right or wrong answer.  Bloggers will come to different conclusions about what to do.  Take a look at these useful perspectives:

Blog Commenting Isn’t Dead – It’s Different, Charlie Gilkey, Productive Flourishing

This is a detailed look at comments and whether they should be disabled on blogs.  It also provides an in-depth explanation about the “Campfire” Facebook group Charlie runs for his readers.  It explains the role it plays in encouraging conversations.

Do Comments Actually Increase Your Search Traffic? A Data-Driven Answer, Neil Patel, Quick Sprout

Neil’s post digs into whether comments benefit your blog in terms of search engine traffic.  It concludes that they have a small impact.  You may be looking for entirely different benefits from comments.

Removing comments isn’t a decision you have to stick to forever.  Like Copyblogger and Michael Hyatt, you may experiment with removing comments.  You can always re-enable them.

 

Keep the Conversation Without the Comments

 

You may not want to completely switch off comments.  Instead, you could reduce how much time you spend dealing with them.  You might want to think about these alternatives:

#1: Installing a Robust Anti-Spam Plugin

Removing spam comments can take up a lot of time.  To save yourself a lot of time and effort.  You could install a good anti-spam plugin such as Akismet.  It will remove almost all spam comments before you even see them.

#2: Closing Comments on Older Posts

You don’t need to leave comments open forever.  Many blogs close comments on older posts after a set period of time, perhaps a week or a month.  Readers can all join in the discussion when the post first goes live.  But readers who find it a year later won’t be able to comment.  This can cut down on the spam problem.  It also means you have a smaller number of conversations to keep track of at any given time.

#3: Using Disqus, Facebook Comments, or Another Plugin.

While many bloggers are happy with WordPress’ built-in commenting functionality.  Others prefer to use a different solution.  Disqus and Facebook Comments are popular, however, there are many other options available.

For a look into the pros and cons of each, check out James Parson’s post  Facebook vs Disqus vs WordPress Comments: Which to Use?

 

Keeping Comments is a Personal Decision

 

Ultimately, what you do about comments is entirely up to you.

Some bloggers have strong opinions and feel that comments are very important and define their blog. But most people are more pragmatic about it and agree that comments are valuable.  Comments add to the discussion and can bring in interesting ideas or alternative perspectives.  Comments can also give a buy-in sense to your readers.  They also may even help increase search engine traffic by providing extra content.

But comments also come at the cost of your time and attention.  It’s up to you to decide whether they’re worth it.

Do you currently have comments enabled on your blog or not?  Are you thinking about changing this?  Let us know your thoughts below.

 

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