Tag Archives: comments

Comments oh! comments!

I’ve missed blogging in the last 2 days so with this post I hope catch up on the editorial calendar. Day 4‘s assignment topic was: Are there sections online that I refuse to read? Day 5’s assignment topic was: Would you read a personal blog without a comment section? How do you feel when a comment section is closed? This post combines the two.

Matt Groening, famous for co-creating The Simpsons, said about comments: “If I have one technology tip of the day, it’s this: No matter how good the video on YouTube is, don’t read the comments, just don’t, because it will make you hate all humans.”

I generally skim through comments on blogs and sites, mostly on articles that I like or am interested in. I like to see what other people thought of the post and if they’re in agreement with me. If I don’t like the article I don’t go to the comments section.

I admit to sometimes feeling like Matt Groening. Some of the comments are unbelievable.

When I started blogging I didn’t think about comments. All I was focused on was getting content published regularly and visitors to my blog. As I got more experienced I thought that comments would be nice, especially after reading that site rankings go up the more comments there are.

This didn’t stop me from getting the Akismet spam filter because I was getting a lot of spam. And before deciding to hold them in moderation some spam made it through, which I deleted.

Akismet has stopped 9,898 spam from getting though, and I have received a total of 37 real comments over the course of 2 years and 5 months.

Spam is a scourge of the internet. Just like I protect my home from those ill-intentioned people with high walls, an alarm system and 24-hour private security armed response, I so protect my blog from spam, and in the process I could be coming across as unwelcoming.

After speaking with a more experienced blogger at work some time ago I decided to close comments off after 30 days. This drastically decreased the amount of spam. I especially got a lot of spam mail on a blog post entitled “Hooter Tooter” about the usage of the hooter by drivers in India – I wonder why…? But it also means that visitors to my site who like what they read can’t comment if they want to on articles that are older than 30 days.

Still, it is a conscious decision I made, and no matter how much I dislike spam, I’m not blaming anyone.

She also said that initially she wanted to get comments and visitors but that now she blogs for herself and if no one reads her blog then it’s ok.

American rapper, Lupe Fiasco, once said: “I do this for the sake of myself. It’s a selfish process. I don’t really have any expectations from anyone for your comments or your reviews or your previews.”

It’s great to be in that space – but I’m not and I still want comments because of the vision I hold for my blog and future as a writer.

I’ve visited some blogs where the comment section was closed and I must admit to feeling a twinge of disappointment because I really wanted to comment and couldn’t. It wouldn’t stop me from visiting them but they would rank lower in my “blogs to visit list”.

So this begs the question of the person reading this post at the moment – How do you feel when a comments section is closed, and should I leave comments open indefinitely?


Have you ever deleted a comment?

I’ve deleted comments, yes I have, but not for the reasons you may be thinking. Some spam made it thru the Aksimet spam filter. So they just had to go!

The one question to consider here is about freedom of speech. Deleting comments is very subjective and the decision to delete comments should have to do with the vision you hold for your site or blog.

Off course you could also delete comments because you don’t like them. But if this is the case then don’t invite comments.

Depending on the nature of the blog, people will be very honest and rant and rave about something – usually politics, the price of petrol and bank charges. Any comment needs to add value to the discussion being had, even if difficult things are being said.

There’s a South African news site with a section for readers to post their own articles or opinion pieces. This invariably leads to lively debate because of the diverse readership this site has, which represents a microcosm of the culture that South Africa is.

Recently, a reader wrote a controversial piece that had both black and white people up in arms. It elicited dozens of comments and 90% of them disagreed with him. Some comments were insightful and thoughtfully presented. The others were just plain rude – phrases of between 3 and 5 words that added absolutely NO value other than just create more annoyance and backlash.

This type of piece is just what the news site wanted because the story was shared on social media and drove traffic to the site (incidentally it is the biggest news site in South Africa).

There are 2 instances when deleting a comment is justified:

  1. When the words libelous, and
  2. When it is spam.

The best way to not have to delete comments is to hold them in moderation but this doesn’t encourage discussion.

The comment section is to engage with your readers and create a community. As site owner you don’t have control over what your readers comment about, but you do have control over the type of community you build.

As mentioned in my first post of this month’s NaBloPoMo, comments are like flowers happily received. It is entirely up to you if you throw the flowers in the trash or put them in a vase occupying centre stage on your mantlepiece.