Over the years there has been a debate as to the value of allowing comments on your site -- or not. Enough clients have asked me my opinion on the topic that I thought I would write this post to share with you my decision making process for my sites.
Comments on or comments off is a decision that really has to be made on a site by site, business by business basis.
Why I've Turned Off Comments for Years
For me, I've been turning comments off site-by-site for several years now. Why?
- Majority of comments were either self-serving or spammers.
- Monitoring comments took time I didn't have.
- On certain sites users didn't take the time to communicate clearly (typos, all small case or all caps).
- On one site in particular, while hiding behind these screens, folks were were pretty darned rude when they disagreed with something I wrote. While I enjoy a good debate, the name calling and profanities just turned me off.
- For this site, folks wanted free advice and detailed how-tos. While I don't mind helping here and there, giving advice pro bono to those who had no intention of ever hiring me took away from those clients who had already given me their trust.
Seems Google's Webmaster Blog agrees. The most recent addition to this saga occured on January 11, 2019: An Update on Google Webmaster Blog Comments. Comments closed.
More history for you to consider...
03.24.14: Copyblogger Removed Comments
So, imagine my surprise when one of my favorite Bloggers, Sonia Simone at Copyblogger, posted: Why We’re Removing Comments on Copyblogger.
While I didn't do so for all the same reasons, I agree very much with what she wrote. She ends the post with "Let the experiment begin!". A quick search will show all the varying opinions everyone had on this move by Copyblogger.
01.11.16: Then Copyblogger Reversed and Opened Up Comments
The experiment is over. That was then, this is now. As part of relaunch of the new Copyblogger, comments are back on -- but only for two weeks after a post is published. I get it -- they missed the feedback. Feedback, trends and knowing what their market wants is how Copyblogger evolved to what it is today.
Everyone has to do what works for them. My approach may not be for everyone. You have to choose what works for you. For my sites, direct e-mail works best as I prefer one-to-one communications. I'm not in the business of building communities -- or catering to those only looking for free advice.
For some sites not having a comment section would mean they would not be as popular. Their popularity is built on the discourse provided with the comments section being a primary draw to the site.
Those comments, the ensuing discussions, that community, are the heart of the site. And, then for other sites, there is a middle ground. Comments are enabled on a post by post basis and/or a limited time-frame.
08.07.18: Goodbye Blog Comments
A blogger I've checked in on over the years, Kevin Muldoon, has come to pretty much the same conclusion I have.
Test and See What Works for Your Site
You can test which level of commenting or if no comments at all will work for you. You can always test the waters, just like Copyblogger did, and see how your site visitors react. The advantage of having a Website is that site visitors do let you know what they like or don't like.
Inevitably it is up to you to weigh the pluses and minuses as they apply to your business model, goals -- and available time. When folks noticed that I had removed all my comments, they asked why which was then followed by their next question...
How can I remove all my WordPress comments and do the same?
- Review your discussion options located in Settings > Discussion. Unchecking "Allow people to post comments on new articles" will turn commenting off for all future posts.
- If you want to only turn comments off for certain posts, go to the post's page and at the bottom of the page under Discussion, uncheck Allow Comments. Don't see a Discussion box? Click the Screen Options Tab at the top right of the screen and check the box to the left of discussion.
- If you are on a framework like Genesis, there are also global commenting settings (Genesis > Theme Settings) to turn comments on or off for your theme.
Once you have your settings in place, next comes how to remove all those old comments on your site? This too is something that is easy for your to do yourself.
- Go to phpmyadmin in your hosting control panel.
- Choose your database from the left: wrdp1 for example.
- You will see wp_comments on the main page.
- Check the box to the left and page down. Select: Empty.
- All comments will be deleted from your database.
Now, You Can Make Your Decision...
You are now armed with both sides of the story and the info you need to make a decision that works for you. To comment or not to comment; only you know what is best for your Website!
At your service,