If you have a blog or news section on your web site, one decision you will need to make is whether to have user comments turned on or off. Here’s something that might help you decide.
There are two good reasons to turn comments off
The first is that you don’t have to moderate comments; the second is you can forget about spam.
There is one main reason to leave comments on
And that is, that the ensuing discussion encourages a sense of community.
The best blogs have visitors who are interested, and who comment on the content. The bloggers themselves are involved in the discussion, and there is a real sense of a community and returning readership.
It also demonstrates to other visitors that your blog is a good place to be.
Leaving comments on: Moderation options
Moderating comments needn’t be a complete hassle: there are specific settings that can make your life easier. You can choose to:
- require approval if there are too many links
- always moderate first-time commenters, but allow subsequent comments through
- auto-email to yourself when there is a new comment
- restrict comments to registered users.
You can also choose to close comments on old posts after a period of time. Some sneaky spammers like old posts; but once discussion has finished, there is no point having them open.
Comments and spam
Spammers absolutely adore comment fields on blogs. They are usually either thinly disguised sales pitches or a grab for “Google juice” – links back to their own sites that increase their visibility in Google.
Yet it is getting difficult to spot what is and is not spam. Many spammers have worked out that their comments get deleted. So, you find yourself with lots of compliments about your blog post or your site, and the only way to work it out is see what links the spammer drops.
The best way to beat the spam bot or the spamming human is to have a good anti-spam program. We really like Akismet on WordPress because it catches pretty much everything.
Good commenting practises
If you leave comments on, make sure you are active in your blog’s discussion. Reply to other people’s comments, and keep the discussion moving along.
It is also a good idea to leave comments on other people’s blogs. Real comments, not spam comments. Often you’ll find that if you leave a link to your own site, you will get return traffic. Needless to say, it’s also a good way of becoming part of a community.
Make sure you have a plugin on your blog that allows people to get follow-up comments by email. It keeps your blog in your visitors’ mind, and reminds them of a discussion they may otherwise drop into, and then depart from.
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