I thought the value of blog commenting is obvious but… I still encounter blogs with closed comments section so I decided to share my thoughts on the topic. Read on.
Why leave blog commenting open for everyone
If you are a regular blogger, chances are you spend quite a lot of time not only researching and writing your content but promoting it, too. So what a better way to attract and keep readers than let them speak their mind and converse with you? Here are a few reasons off the top of my head about why leave blog commenting open to everyone.
It is the quickest and easiest way to let your readers send you feedback about your content
We all have busy every day routines (I suppose) so the moment you ask me to register to your blog to leave you a comment, you lose me.
Make it easy for your readers to speak their mind – and they will 😉 Leave blog commenting open to everyone.
Blog comments are a great source of future blog post ideas
Not one or two of my posts are as a direct result of readers’ comments. After all, when a reader asks a question in the comments, there’s a good chance more readers are asking themselves the very same question. So why not blog about it?! If my comments were closed, I might have never thought to answer the questions which I never got asked in the first place.
Remember though to put all those comments’ blog topics ideas in your editorial calendar so that you don’t forget who asked what when…
Blog commenting helps you build an engaged community around your blog
Provided your content is good, readers will follow, it is inevitable. But how do you know your readers are there? How do you build upon your existing readers to attract new ones as well? Blog commenting helps you with that.
When I find a new blog, I usually check if there are comments on the blog posts, what type of comments, are there author’s replies to the comments, etc. This information helps me decide what type of blogger I am about to interact with and what type of readership the blog has. I already mentioned the busy daily routines we have – I am no exception.
So if I see more negative comments or rude replies by the author to valid questions or remarks, I move on. I find blogging (and blog commenting) to be a great adventure of meeting and interacting with new and interesting people. So I am not wasting my time interacting with people, whose responses I don’t like or who treat poorly their readership.
Blog commenting is a way to support fellow bloggers
And I am not talking about occasional comments like “great post, keep up the good work” and such. Those we can all leave to everyone and anyone. I am talking about meaningful comments which bring value to the blog post itself and to the conversation. Check out one of my first posts – dos and don’ts of blog commenting.
Once I was “accused” of being skeptical – but I am just curious and not always settle with what’s often perceived as “common knowledge”. I ask questions (a lot of them) and I am often the counter part in the conversation. But my only intention is to spark the dialog and find the truth somewhere in between. I appreciate such comments the most – primarily because in a single comment like this, I often find much food for thought and many future blog post ideas 😉
The more comments you have, the more comments you’ll get
Imagine you go to a blog post with zero comments – would you leave one? Maybe… if you are super loyal reader of that blog and you really have something smart or interesting or funny or inspiring or else to say.
Now imagine if you go to a blog post and there are some comments on it but you need to register with the blog, then verify your email, then answer a few questions and only then, your comment goes into moderation and it may or may not be approved. Would you go through this cumbersome process only to leave a comment? I don’t think so. I know I wouldn’t.
Bear with me – last one. Now imagine you go to a blog post with some comments and it is super easy to leave your comment. You just type in your name, email, (URL if you want), comment – and viola. Some blogs are even smart like that – they remember you, if you return to leave another comment in time. How cool is that?! So then would you leave a comment?
The bottom line is – make it as easy as possible to your readers to comment on your content. And they will 😉
Which leads me to my next point.
Blog commenting made easy with connected accounts
I will not bore you with technicalities but there are plenty of ways to make blog commenting easy for your readers.
My blog is a WordPress one and I use the Jetpack plugin (it has a module for managing blog comments). It has some handy features like logging in and commenting with your WordPress, Twitter, Facebook or Google+ account. Or as mentioned earlier – just entering your name and email will do the trick as well 😉 Also, an option to subscribe to other comments to the blog post – if you’re truly interested in the conversation…
I have seen on other blogs services like Disqus and IntenseDebate which do a pretty good job when it comes to making it easy to readers to leave comments – with or without social media profiles integration.
You are still (relatively) safe from spam
The most commonly used anti-spam plugin I have seen people use is Akismet. To be honest, I have no idea if Disqus or IntenseDebate, or non-WordPress blogs altogether have some other way to anti-spam protection – please, tell me in the comments if you know 😀
But I can say that Akismet has been pretty accurate so far and even if there are some hiccups around major WordPress and/or Akismet updates, those get resolved fairly easy with a quick email or two to white-list the email address which has triggered spam filters for no apparent reason.
You can always put some kind of captcha, too – or a neat checkbox saying “Confirm I am not a spammer” 😉
Jeri Walker-Bickett (@JeriWB)j says
I’ve always kept my blog open for commenting, and I’m amazed by the variety of people I’ve met via my blog. Awhile back it seemed a good handful of bloggers closed their comments out of fear of getting penalized by Google…
thanks for your comment, Jeri! ah, this big G+ – it can certainly trick people into wasting an opportunity to network and “meet” new people for the sake of penalty fear…
and funny thing is – if we(bloggers) write content for our readers, G+ would not penalize us; and to write good content specifically to our readers – we sure should use the comments section as a source of feedback. 😀
Lorraine Marie Reguly says
I have never closed comments on any of my posts. I doubt I ever will, either. I think that freedom of speech should be encouraged. However, I do have certain rules for those who wish to comment on my blog. They’re simply common sense ones; like no swearing and posting links (there’s a time and place for that).
Google ranks pages according to what the content is in the post and also what the content is in the comments. If comments add value to the post, it’s better for you, and if someone leaves an unrelated comment, you are penalized.
Commenting is encouraged by many bloggers, although I’ve run across a few who are for closed comments. There was a post on Dear Blogger about this a couple of months ago. I cannot recall their reasoning for being pro closed commenting, but I know that some of the points they made did, indeed, make sense. However, even though I might agree with them, I feel more strongly towards open commenting.
Thanks for your comment, Lorraine!
I can see cases where blog comments should be closed (or if not should at least, it is ok to be). But i like you think that the default position of comments should be open 😉
Jeannette Paladino says
Great idea for a post, Diana. I encourage comments and enjoy when a real dialogue gets going. I wish bloggers who use it would top making people fill out the Captcha form that requires you to type in unintelligible letters and numbers. I never get it right the first time and will give up after 3 tries. Captcha discourages comments. It’s much more user friendly to simply have a box to check that you are not a spammer.
When someone comments on one of my posts, I craft a personalized response. I think it’s only polite if someone went to the trouble of posting a comment. I also use CommentLuv, so that other readers can click on the commenter’s latest blog post. It’s a nice little perk by way of thanks.l
I hear ya – about the captcha. I have that very same problem with bloggers com blogs. I have even reached the point that i simply don;t comment on blogger com blogs because 9 out of 10 times i end up not being able to post so i am wasting my time. i read, but i don’t comment…
While on the captcha topic – i too like the check-box “i am not a spammer” confirmation – but i never knew how to put it there, maybe a plugin, maybe something else. Truth is, that my Aksimet is working pretty well – i don;t have problems with spam although i use neither captcha, nor check-box or other anti-spam challenge for comments. how cool is that?!
Thanks for stopping by, Jeannette!
Closing comments on my blog post would make me feel guilty as if I have put my blog post on ventilator. Comments make our blog live and I don’t have any intention or plans to close my comments, at least not till date.
After all, commenting is a simple tool to debate and make our posts interactive. Many points do pop up during the interaction that might not have been covered in the blog post. I completely agree on the point that commenting helps us get new ideas that can be later on dealt in another post separately as a new topic.
I consider blogging being dynamic due to its commenting feature and without comments, a blog would feel like a boring static website, which is only used to push the thoughts of the author. Readers must be given a fair opportunity to question and even challenge back the thoughts expressed by the authors.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts about commenting and opening one more opportunity for our interaction. 🙂
I totally agree with you, Ashutosh – i am happy to see we are on the same page! Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog!
Sherryl Perry (@KeepUpWeb) says
You mentioned building an engaged community. That is an excellent reason for keeping comments open. Reader engagement can be a key element in driving traffic to our sites.
I don’t see too many blogs with closed comments, other than blogs on news sites where sometimes the comments can turn ugly. Then again, most of the sites that I visit are from bloggers like you who recognize the value of fostering communication and building relationships.
I’ve been using CommentLuv Premium for years now and I’m a huge fan. For a short while (about a week) I turned off the do-follow feature because I was in the process of a massive link cleanup. I’ve now turned that back on. Quite a bit of my traffic comes from other blogs that also have CL installed with the do-follow tag active.
As for Akismet, I believe it’s vastly improved in the last year but I don’t use it because GASP is built into the premium version of CommentLuv. (It’s also available as a free stand-alone plugin.)
Nice post! You may have just inspired me to write a post on this myself. (I’ve written about this several times in the past. It’s a favorite topic of mine.)
Thanks for your comment, Sherryl! CommentLuv pops up sometimes in the comments on my blog related posts… I have been playing with the idea of writing about it – but then, i don;t feel knowledgeable enough LOL
When i was starting the whole blogging thing, i did a bit of research on the plugin and i found that in the long run, it could potentially create more work for me and bad influence through broken links and such (as i don’t have control over the links that people post through the plugin). If a website goes down for good – then i have X links to that site which appear broken and eventually, this might lead to a penalty from the big G. So i never gave it a try…
I am using the plugin on other blogs (like yours) to link back to my content but only because it’s there. I am afraid that having it would attract some spammers, too – especially since writing about freelance attracts plenty of spam and generic comments as is 🙁
But thanks for your insights about it – i see many bloggers use it so it must be good 😉 Thanks also for telling me about GASP – didn’t know about it and certainly didn;t know it;s part of premium CommentLuv 😀
Sherryl Perry says
You’re absolutely right about CommentLuv creating more work. Spammers are definitely attracted to the do-follow attribute. You’re also correct that lots of links that are left in comments are good but eventually can result in 404-errors or even worse links to bad neighborhoods.
CL definitely contributed to my losing organic search traffic due to the Google Panda, Penguin and Wooly Mammoth updates but I blame myself for that not the plugin. I knew I should have been more diligent about cleaning up links than I was. It’s a catch-22 though. I have over 10k comments on my blog and I believe that I would have a fraction of that if not for CL. So, it’s a tradeoff. To me, it’s still worth using.
As for GASP, there’s also a free stand-alone version available (as there is CL). Even before I installed CL, I replaced Akismet with GASP. Although, at the time Akismet was not as effective as it is now.
thanks for your follow-up comment, Sherryl! Your insights are invaluable and you sure give great info to the reader who is contemplating on the choice CommentLuv – to use or not to use 😀
Debra Yearwood says
I love receiving comments on my blog. The comments are often the best part of my blog. They are where ideas really take off. I love seeing what people do with the ideas that I put out there. There are so many life experiences and so many perspectives that the comments add a dimension that no one person could ever achieve on their own.
When I see a blog with closed comments I often wonder what the point of creating the blog was. Why not just keep a journal or a word document if you don’t want to interact? Yet another great post!
Thanks for your comment, Debra! I never thought of commenting as adding another dimension to the whole blog – brilliant! Thanks for sharing your insights 😉
I always open my comments. I love engagement and I feel that an empty and quiet blog is rather boring in fact. And commenting is also a great way to build more relationship between your readers too.
Thanks for your comment, Reginald! I don’t think the lack of comments makes a blog boring – it can be really interesting of the content is really interesting 😉 But lack of comments does make it a one-sided platform for preaching only your own thoughts and beliefs and nothing else – which is neither inviting, nor quite interesting… such blogs will lose readership fairly quickly, i am sure – as people like to speak their mind and to be heard. 😀