A Crash Course in Comments

 

A Crash Course in Comments

Last year and at the start of this year when I started my technical blog, I was skeptical to enable comments on my blog. Why? Because I feared I wouldn’t get time for myself and the other things I want time for, if I let others comment on my blog. I had gone through quite a few high-traffic blogs in the past and knew how many comments they got. Also, I had read on Steve Pavlina’s blog about why he disabled comments and how that was the biggest time saver for him.

Now, I had only started to blog and traffic wasn’t (and isn’t even now) something to think about. But I was just being skeptical. And so, I found a WordPress plugin to disable comments. Not surprisingly, it’s called “disable comments”. It lets you disable comments on posts or pages, or on both. It also has an option to keep the setting persistent. So. even after you uninstall or delete this plugin, your blog still would retain the setting and won’t enable comments.

Anyway, early this year I also read and posted on a few forums about disabling comments and learned that it’s not a good idea, if I wanted traffic on my blog. So, I enabled them. Got only a single comment at that time. And after that, I stopped blogging. So, didn’t get any more. It was only now when I started writing more posts and getting comments from UBC group members.

I remember about a post by Chris Brogan though, which I had read sometime ago, about comments. He named that post the same as I did – “A Crash Course in Comments”. He says comments are currency. Shouldn’t we agree with him?

Here are some of the reasons why comments are currency:

1. We are missing a lot, if we don’t leave good comments on blogs related to our own. And they should be good and meaningful comments. Not just “Keep wrting” kind of short comments. These are not of any value. We should give something of value in our comments. Once we do this, those blog authors will surely visit our blogs and comment back. You all know this from experience on UBC, right? Even I have and still do sometimes, comment very short on blog posts about which I have hardly any idea or can’t seem to comment. But if I understand some blog or post well and is of interest to me, I’m able to comment nicely. How about you?

2. Okay, I remember yesterday or the day before, I saw a comment form with a simple captcha. Simple captchas are better than difficult ones and even I had a simple captcha plugin on my tehcnical blog, but I removed it only after reading Chris Brogan’s and others’ recommendations. If you want to eradicate spam, it’s better to use Akismet and other good spam blocking plugins like GASP (Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin) for WordPress.

3. This is a good idea and it occured to me yesterday while commenting on Melissa’s blog. She has a link to “Leave a comment” at the top of her posts. Very nice, I thought. But I also thought, we could have the link both at the top and at the bottom. And Chris Broagan also recommends to have it this way – a link to comment at the top and at the bottom.

4. Sometime ago, in another post, after being a little frustrated seeing different comment platforms on everyone’s blogs, I mentioned in a post that I won’t signup for Disqus and Livefyre like services. I didn’t know much about these so called comment systems or services at the time. These are good services which spread our comments. I already have signed up for Disqus if you know from one of my previous posts.

5. You should regularly check your spam section for non-spam comments. Although, Akismet and GASP work good, they are still computer programs which can file non-spammy comments under spam too. So, check it for good comments and approve them if they aren’t spam.

6. Your blog posts should be short, so that people stop by to read them. Most people would try to avoid very long posts. I will have to pay attention to this too because my posts tend to get longer. I have written posts going well over 2000 words in the past. I think anything less than 1000 words should be a good post. On this blog, most of my posts are in between 400 and 800 words.

7. Write posts which are of value to your readers. If I talk in a post just about myself and what I like, where I went, what I did, how I handled situations etc, sooner than later, they will go to read other things. But, if I provide a post that is valuable to them, they will surely stop by, read it and even comment on it. We all know this by experience, don’t we?

8. It’s good to ask questions so that people will answer and provide you feedback in the comments. And, we should ourselves reply to most of the comments too. I’ve been a little lazy on this, but will be more active now on. We can get more follow up comments this way. And I’d recommend one of the plugins I talked about the other day – “Send email only on Reply to My Comment“. It even has a setting which allows us to keep it checked by default and email any replies to the commenter. Note that he’d get emails only when his comment is replied to. This plugin doesn’t keep emailing every time there’s a comment on the post. Also note that this plugin doesn’t work if “Subscribe to Comments Reloaded” is installed too. So, install only one of these.

Speaking of comments, I just checked my blog email address which is also registered with FaceBook. It contained 30 MB of just FaceBook commens. I said “Whew, that’s too much to handle and a waste of time to go through”. I turned the FaceBook comments off and deleted all these FB notification emails.

9. One more thing. Sometimes, we don’t have much time to comment and that’s why many people don’t comment, even though they can. So, what can they do? They can still help us. They can help us by sharing our posts on social media. For them to be able to do this easily, we should provide easily shareable social links. This is why I put the shareaholic social icons at the top and at the bottom of each post on my blog.

These are the points I liked in Chris Broagan’s post, so I talked about the ones I liked. Have you tried any of these strategies about commenting? I’d love to know, if you’d like to share it in the comment form below. And, if there’s anything else that you try or have tried, do let me know too.

 

Photo Credit: miss miah  (via flickr)

Photo Credit: rport  (via flickr)