March 14, 2016

Why did we stop receiving comments on ITB? What should a blogger really do?

comments-on-blogsTill a few years back commenting on blogs was the in thing. Why not? Blogs were the most interactive public spaces besides forums and communities. When Livejournal, Blogger and Wordpress gave away free blogging platforms, blogging spread fast; since every other person had his ore her blog, the volume of comments on blogs rose exponentially. Some newspaper columnists received many hundred comments on each of their posts.

When a good stream arrives in social media, exploiters come riding on it. So came trolls and spammers. Many with an outright ulterior intention and many with poor understanding of how the social media works.

Then came social networks riding on technologies that delivered content instantly - first text only, then images and audio, then video. These have massively dented the traditional way of commenting. Blogs do still receive valuable comments, but too few and in only some niches.

Should I remove comment box from my blog?

We wrote on this sometime back. We also experimented with Google Plus comments when they claimed it was far superior to the traditional way and it removed spam. We analysed the trend of commenting on personal, group, professional and media blogs. We tracked new social habits of some bloggers previously active on blogs as commenters. We checked blogs in different countries - mainly the US, the UK and India.

Based on our little research, we share this practical advice relating to commenting on blogs:
  • Google Plus commenting is neither here nor there; it is restrictive, it needs many setting changes to decide what is shown and what not, it auto-posts unnecessarily, it takes away control over individual comments. Say 'no' to it unless Google improves it.
  • Retain the traditional comment box at the end of blog posts if you get useful comments. I there are some trolls and spams, handle them (linked posts on comment spamming and trolls if you don't know about these).
  • Retain commenting facility if you are able to check comments and respond to them. If you do not have the inclination to take the comment-discussion forward, you are wasting serious commenters' time and being rude to all such commenters.
  • Consider that if not properly displayed / hidden, comments might add to clutter. A few mindlessly managed newspaper sites hide a major part of post but show a hundred comments, and put off readers.
  • It is even worse when you display age-old comments as 'recent comments' due to either not getting many comments of late or showing a large number of comments. Automated widgets for 'recent comments' also show up abusive comments before you remove them.
  • If you get a lot of spam, useless comments and hateful criticism and abuses, remove the comment box forthwith. If this is only a recent phenomenon, remove comment box temporarily and open it again after a fortnight to see if you are off abusers' radar.
  • Contact with visitors is of paramount importance. So if you have stopped receiving comments, encourage visitors to comment through social shares / on social networks. Show the email ID prominently.Think of a 'contact form' that allows instant emailing without need for opening one's email client. Contact forms come in a variety. Choose a simple one that does not need filling up too many details.
You may like to visit this post discussing the relevance of commenting on blogs.