Comments pros and cons

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The issue of whether or not to enable comments is a point of contention for many bloggers.  While some believe blogging is all about community and conversation – and what would be the point of blogging at all if you don’t encourage people to engage? – others are firmly planted in the no-comments camp, where spam moderation is a distant memory.

If you’re wavering as to whether to turn comments on your blog on or off, consider a few of the comments pros and cons before you go opening the floodgates, or turning away genuinely enthusiastic fans.

Pros

Comments foster a sense of online community. Engagement on social media is great, but it’s also separate to the original content. If you want to create true engagement right where the action is, and foster a conversation jam-packed with different voices and opinions all in the one easily-accessed space, allow comments on your posts.

Comments create loyalty. If you want to turn occasional readers into true fans, you need to allow them the opportunity to share their point of view and add to the conversation.

Comments add value for your readers. Yours is not the only opinion and voice that matters – opening up comments from other voices gives readers can offer a wider, more complex, and at times even more balanced, view of a topic.

Comments provide social proof. If new readers can see that your last post got 20 comments, they’ll get an instant sense that what you’re writing about is not only thought provoking, but is so interesting it incites others to share their stories.

Comments provide food for thought… and fodder for further posts. You may be an expert on your subject, but that doesn’t mean you can’t mean a thing or two from your readers. The conversation you create with your audience can bring up ideas and facts that inspire new content – and every blogger loves finding new post inspiration.

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Cons

Yes, there are 50.7 million new comments posted by readers on WordPress sites each month (for the numbers on this, and a pretty cool global real-time snapshot, check out these WordPress stats), but it’s still only a minority of readers who will ever actually comment on your posts. Some experts point to what is referred to as the 90-9-1 rule – estimating 90 percent of readers never comment, 9 percent comment occasionally, and a teeny-tiny 1 percent will account for the majority of comments.

Comments encourage impulse responses in an environment of anonymity. Or, at least for some readers, they do. The problem with this is that comments can invite language and tones ranging from the aloof and vaguely rude to the downright abusive. Who wants to deal with that?

Comments carry the burden of moderation for you, the blogger. Leaving comments un-moderated is risky business for bloggers, and unadvised. Unless you want a slew of spam and ugly links cluttering up your webspace. There are some great systems and widgets available for managing comments, but any kind of moderation is time consuming – particularly if you have the good fortune to have a good number of genuine comments, in which case it’s only polite to respond.

Still not sure which side of the fence you’re leaning towards? This Think Traffic debate between bloggers Pat Flynn and Everett Bogue offers some interesting insights from both points of view.

What’s your view on blog comments?

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Nikki is a professional freelance writer and story teller with a passion for the web and technology. She writes for WP Dev Shed and amongst a roster of other clients.

2 thoughts on “Comments pros and cons

  1. Avatar Jeff Goebel says:

    I can’t believe you made an article about commenst without discussing the onky real problem. FAKE comments. Whenever I make a new WordPress site, and enable comments – within HOURS (literally), it starts filing up with fake comments. Within days, I am getting 5-20 a day. Some try hard to look real, but most are just random copy and paste garbage with a link – often to a link that doesn’t even work. Every day now, my morning is spent deleting fake comments. It’s crazy. Captchas don’t even get rid of them, because many/most of them are now being posted by humans making cash money as a low paying online mindless drone job.

    1. charles charles says:

      Hi Jeff, thanks for the comment, completely fair to raise this. Believe me, we are well aware of the issues around comment spam. In this article we were focussed on other questions around comments, but we have posted about alternatives to native WordPress comments in the past, and one of the main benefits to using an alternative is they are generally less vulnerable to spam.

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