August 12, 2017

3 types of comments can hurt your blog, and what should you do?

By default, blogs have the facility to invite comments. Some blog, especially those maintained by newspapers or big media houses, avoid comments. Some bloggers by design want no reactions to what they write. But their number is small. Most blogs allow comments.

Comments, indeed, are an integral part of blogging. In earlier days, when social networking sites were either not there or were not too popular, comments led to good social dialogue. However, now the role of comments on blogs has diminished. Yet, some blogs receive huge number of valuable comments. Personal blogs usually get comments of  'I comment on your blog, so you comment on mine' type, but don't we human beings love appreciation? So, such comments too have utility in boosting our morale or maintaining a minimum level of interaction on a particular subject.


When comments hurt the blog


In the following situations, comment do no good but hurt the blog, mostly in terms of reputation of the blog or blogger.

1. When comments have been made with the intent to hurt. 
These are the most damaging. They are made by trolls and online abusers, by people who hate you and want to fill your comment box with harmful content, by your competitors, by hackers out to spoil your party...These comments damage your reputation and blog's SEO, demoralize you, provoke you into stating things that you should not, and even steal your blog's private information with the intention to hack your blog and blackmail you.

2. When comments have been made with the intent of selfish gain. 
These are comments that look either absurd or innocent, but have been made by spammers to gain backlinks to their own sites. You can recognize them with non-human type names (e.g. 'great-insurance'), linked websites and content (that mostly talks of their business) and sometimes a link inside the comment. In many cases, such comments are generated automatically, using bots. These people are not particularly interested in harming you but gaining traffic points from your blog so that their sites get higher on search engines. However, they end up hurting your SEO and reputation and clog your comment stream. If you do not remove them, genuine commenters would not take you seriously.

3. When comments are made with no bad intent but still are bad.
There are comments that happen to hurt because of extreme opinions, undue criticism, inappropriate wordings and so on. The commenter - due to his cultural background, poor language skills, lack of etiquette, bad temper or just the tendency to over-react - hurts your blog.

Comment moderation helps in keeping all such comments in check. 

Before you can moderate comments, you need to stop them from directly appearing on the blog. For that, you need to change comment settings (Blogger and Wordpress have it inbuilt). Then you need to check the usefulness of each comment and approve comments that you want to appear on the blog.

On ITB, we often do experiments on ourselves. So, we stopped taking comments, changed over to Google Plus comments, and had a comment box in the sidebar. For a short while we also had Disqus-based  comment facility on ITB. Finally (as of now), we are back with regular comments, but with comment moderation before we allow them to appear on ITB. 
 
Say NO to bad comments!

If you have opened your blog recently, please follow this advice from the beginning: have full control over comments and not think that initially you need to have as many comments as possible and would start moderating them once the blog is popular. In any case, in this era of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, you cannot expect many comments on the blog, isn't it?


Relevant links from ITB on the topic:

How to avoid spammers putting links on comments
Pros and cons of different types of blog commenting
Discussion on whether comments have relevance on blogs in 2017
An old post on comment spam

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