Blog Comments: Stop The Madness!
Blog comments is one of the subjects that came up over and over again in the reviews that I received in the Review Contest that took place recently here at Dukeo.
Seeing the kind of information about blog comments that circulates these days, it’s really not a big surprise that my somewhat different approach to blog comments made people wonder why I was doing things this way.
Regarding blog comments, people kept saying that:
- I should use Disqus or another comment management system,
- I should use CommentLuv,
- I shouldn’t require a minimum blog comments length.
I can see why everyone would ask me these questions about blog comments… I’m taking a direction completely opposite to what everyone else is currently doing in the blogosphere.
In the first part of this post, I’ll speak about blog comments management systems, and in a second time, I’ll address the more controversial subject of CommentLuv and my minimum blog comments length requirement.
Blog Comments Management Systems: Eye Candy & Automated Spam Control
Let’s start by addressing the question about Disqus and other blog comments management systems: I do not and will not use Disqus or any other comment management system anytime soon.
The first reason why I refuse to use these systems is that I want to keep full control over the way things are displayed on Dukeo, incuding blog comment design. Disqus and other blog comment widget add fancy things to your comments: hovercards, colapsable things, voting system. Why would I need any of these? I try to keep the layout of Dukeo as unclutered, clean and simple as possible, so I’m definitely not going to add something that’ll make it more complicated.
Secondly, some of these systems create a new layer of services where your visitors have to create an account… Seriously, who needs yet another account?
Lastly, blog comments management systems are supposed to help prevent automated spam. Yet, like any other system that spreads like wildfire, there are people smelling the opportunity of getting easy backlinks by creating spam bots specifically targeted at these services.
On Dukeo, I’m using the basic WordPress comment system, and Akismet is doing a very good job at stopping automated spam. Sure, there is a false positive once in a while, but it’s really marginal compared to the number of spam comments it’s stopping.
Here are a few more tricks that I’m using to keep my comment section clean:
1. Navigate to
Settings > Discussion
Comment Moderation to hold a comment in the queue if it contains
1 or more links
3. In the
Comment Blacklist box, paste the following:
goo.gl bit.ly tinyurl.com
Recently, I’ve seen some bots that are using shorten links in comments. I don’t know any legitimate commentor that would do that, so it keeps spambots and manual affiliate links spammers away.
Other comment settings set WordPress to
Automatically close comments on articles older than 14 days.
Spam bots usually target pages that are ranking for certain keywords. Since it takes a little time for Google to update rankings of fresh pages, you’ll give enough time to regular readers to comment while stopping bots when you start ranking.
Blog Comments: CommentLuv & Minimum Comment Length
Now that I’ve got automated spam out of the way, it’s time to focus on another problem: the huge pile of BS about blog comments that’s being spread by a lot of bloggers.
You see, there are people who are hoarding blog comments like crazy. They keep being told that it’s the way to go, that nothing beats comments in the 3 digits to show how active their community is… And then, they make peanuts from their blogs.
Once you’ll undertand that people have been shoveling blog commenting BS down your throats for years, maybe you’ll have a better understanding of my choices about blog comment management on Dukeo.
First of all, you have to realize that most of the people that comment on your blog have their own agenda. Sorry to put you in front of the harsh reality so bluntly, but you have to stop living in your fantasy world.
Why do people post blog comments?
When you ask people why they comment on blogs:
- 80% reply that they do it to interact with others,
- 20% reply that they do it to get links back to their own website.
Are you sure you don’t have ANY not-so-hidden agenda of your own?
Then let’s take a couple real-life examples, shall we?
A while ago, John Chow got his blog redesigned. Before the redesign, he was displaying a sitewide list of Top Commentors in the sidebar of his blog. As a result, he was regularly receiving 50+ comments on each blog post. After the redesign and the removal of the plugin, he is now receiving an average of 10+ or 20+ comments per post. Since his search engine rankings don’t seem to have tanked a bit, the only viable explanation to the drop in comments is that people can’t get sitewide links from him anymore so they don’t bother commenting.
My second example is even more obvious, check some average blogs (I don’t mean “average” in a negative way here, just average in terms of size), and compare the number of comments on blogs with CommentLuv enabled and without CommentLuv. See a trend yet? Blogs with CommentLuv tend to receive tens or even hundreds of comments on each post. I concede that they can publish some epic content from time to time, but every single article they publish is receiving tons of comments.
To me commentLuv is a community faker.
Sure, when you use CommentLuv, you get plenty of comments, but it doesn’t necessary convert to leads and sales because commentors are not there to be part of your community. They are there to get backlinks.
I understand why people use it: receiving so many comments is good for ego, and it shows that you have an amazingly active community.
Now, I’d love to see any of these medium-sized blogs removing CommentLuv for a full month (without saying that it will be re-enabled in the future) and see if their community is still so active and still loves them as much.
I think the truth behind why people post blog comments is more likely:
- 20% to interact with others,
- 80% to get links back to their own website.
I have absolutely no problem with people getting a link back to their website when they post a comment on a blog. That’s what the URL field is made for. But it gets me to my last point: requiring a minimum length for comments.
As much as comments such as “nice post“, “loved it“, “great content” or “will use that info soon“, are great to inflate your comment count, I find it funny that people who post this kind of comments never (like never ever) forget to fill the URL field in the comment form.
I mean, do people who own websites are the only ones who can appreciate great content and sum up their whole opinion in a short 5 words? (irony inside)
Or maybe they’re not posting this comment to express their opinion… But simply because they think they’ll get a quick and easy link back to their own website.
Everybody knows how to post a comment, but it seems that knowing how to write good comments is a whole different beast.
I think people misunderstand what the value of blog comments really is. Before trying to get as many blog comments as you can (and possibly ending up spending whole days moderating and replying to comments), you should ask yourself what is your real goal with your blog.
What is YOUR vision?
Is it all about getting as many comments as possible (because someone told you that you should have lots of comments on your blog) and figuring out later what you’re going to do with all that?
Or is it about identifying your goals and aligning your whole blogging strategy with your vision?
You see, my vision for Dukeo is to have a community that expresses ideas and opinions, that interacts in order to bounce ideas at each other to get something bigger out of the discussion.
And while I always appreciate receiving positive feedback, I prefer asking commentors to write at least 200 characters and bring their own ideas and experiences to the discussion rather than just approving with a simple “nice post“.
If an article, that you just found interesting enough to comment on, doesn’t inspire you to write a comment that has to be barely longer than a Tweet, I don’t know what will…
If receiving less comments because of the minimum comment length means less “nice post“, “loved it“, “great content” or “will use that info soon“, I’m in, any day of the week.
I may receive (a lot) less comments than (a lot of) other (CommentLuv enabled) smaller blogs, but comments on Dukeo are genuine quality comments posted by genuine quality people who like to share their thoughts and have a rich discussion.
As such, I’d like to thank the readers who take some of their time to share their thoughts in the comments on Dukeo. Having you around means the world to me.