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Should You Disable Comments on Your Blog?

Posted By Ali Luke 8th of September 2017 Build Community 0 Comments

This is a post by ProBlogger expert Ali Luke

When you started out blogging, you were probably thrilled when you got a comment. People were reading your posts, and cared enough to leave their own thoughts.

As time went by, you probably found some of the comments very useful. Maybe they sparked off an idea for a different post, or gave you a perspective you wouldn’t have otherwise considered.

But if you’ve been blogging for a long time, and your blog gets a lot of traffic, those comments may be starting to become less of a delight and more of a chore.

Responding to five comments on every post might take only ten minutes, so it’s no big deal. But responding to fifty could take you the best part of an hour.

If you write two posts a week, that’s two hours you’re spending on comments. You could have written another blog post in that time.

Even if you hire someone to respond on your behalf, you’re still paying for their time. And that money could probably be better spent getting help with something else.

So it’s no surprise that some people who run large blogs decide not to have comments at all.

This isn’t a new thing. Way back in 2005, Steve Pavlina closed comments on his self-development blog. In 2006, Seth Godin closed comments on his business blog.

In recent years, it’s become something of a trend. I’ve seen several blogs I read (avidly!) close their comments sections.

Copyblogger removed their comments in 2014, and then brought them back in 2016.

Michael Hyatt removed comments from his blog in 2015, and then brought them back a year later.

A few months ago one of my very favourite bloggers, Carol Tice from Make a Living Writing, decided to close comments on her blog. I’ve often glanced through the comments there, and I was always impressed by how often and how thoughtfully Carol responded. But I completely understand that it wasn’t sustainable.

What about your blog? Should you stop taking comments altogether? Or do you think blogs should have comments?

Deciding What to Do About Comments

When you launch a blog, chances are comments are enabled by default. It’s easy to run with them enabled, but there’s no rule that says blogs must have comments.

Here are a few things you might want to think about.

  • What value do you get from comments? Does your blog attract thoughtful, engaged readers who leave comments that spark off great ideas for you? Or are most of the comments spam or very short comments that don’t really add any value?
  • Are you happy with how much time you currently spend moderating / answering comments? You may well be. On my Aliventures blog I post only once a week, and rarely spend more than ten minutes a week answering comments. This is perfectly sustainable for me.
  • Would your readers prefer to interact with you in a different location (e.g. on your Facebook page)? Obviously there are pros and cons to doing this. But some blogs encourage readers to leave feedback on social media platforms instead of (or as well as) commenting on posts themselves.
  • Do you get worried or stressed over comments? Even if it doesn’t take you long to respond to comments, they can still cause a lot of anxiety – especially if you’re writing in a niche where readers tend to be snarky or critical.

There are no right or wrong answers here, and different bloggers will come to different conclusions about what to do. For a couple of useful perspectives, take a look at:

Blog Commenting Isn’t Dead – It’s Different, Charlie Gilkey, Productive Flourishing

This is a thoughtful, detailed look at comments and whether or not we should disable them on blogs, along with an in-depth explanation about the “Campfire” (a thriving Facebook group Charlie runs for his readers) and the role it plays in encouraging conversations.

Do Comments Actually Increase Your Search Traffic? A Data-Driven Answer, Neil Patel, Quick Sprout

This post digs deep into whether comments benefit your blog in terms of search engine traffic, and concludes that they have a small impact. (Obviously, you might be looking for different benefits from comments.)

Of course, removing comments doesn’t have to be a decision you make once and stick to forever. Like Copyblogger and Michael Hyatt, you may want to experiment with removing comments for… say, a year. You can always re-enable them.

If you don’t want to switch off comments completely, but want to reduce how much time you spend dealing with them, you might want to think about:

#1: Installing a Robust Anti-Spam Plugin

Removing spam comments can take up a lot of time. (And if you don’t weed them out promptly, they make your site look bad). To save yourself a lot of effort, install a good anti-spam plugin such as Akismet. It  will remove almost all spam comments before you even see them.

#2: Closing Comments on Older Posts

There’s no rule that says you need to leave comments open forever. Many large blogs close comments on older posts after a set period of time (e.g. two weeks, one month, etc.) Readers can all join in the discussion when the post first goes live, but readers who stumble across it a year later won’t be able to comment. This can cut down on spam, and means you have a smaller number of conversations to keep track of at any given time.

You can change this under Settings –> Discussion in your WordPress dashboard. Look for the line that says “Automatically close comments on articles older than (X) days” and set (X) to whatever you want.

#3: Using Disqus or Facebook Comments (or Another Plugin)

While many bloggers are happy with WordPress’ built-in commenting functionality, others prefer to use a different system. Disqus and Facebook Comments are both popular, though there are other options as well.

For a look into the pros and cons of each, check out James Parson’s post Facebook vs Disqus vs WordPress Comments: Which to Use?

Ultimately, what you do about comments is entirely up to you.

Some bloggers have strong opinions, and feel that comments are a defining feature of a blog. But most people are fairly pragmatic about it, and agree that comments are valuable. They add to the discussion, can bring in interesting ideas / alternative perspectives, and create a greater sense of “buy in” for readers. They can even potentially help with search engine traffic by providing extra content.

But comments also come at a cost – your time and attention – and it’s up to you to decide whether they’re worth it.

Do you currently have comments enabled on your blog or not? Are you thinking about changing this? Let us know your thoughts below.

About Ali Luke
Ali Luke blogs about the art, craft and business of writing at Aliventures. She has two free ebooks on blogging, Ten Powerful Ways to Make Your Blog Posts Stronger and Ten Easy Ways to Attract Readers to Your Blog … And Keep Them There. To get your copies of those, just sign up for her weekly e-newsletter (also free!) here.
  • Excellent post Ali.

    I am a huge fan of blog commenting. But in the same regard, I keep comments closed on my travel themed posts for the sheer volume of comments I receive already.

    I see comments as a fab community builder on my blogging tips post and realize that I need to scale more, respond in fewer words and become more efficient in deleting spam comments. Now you need to catch my eye or I delete that sucker LOL. I have no time for any other strategy. Address me by name. Use an avatar. Engage me with at least 3-4 lines of authentic commenting. No need to write the next War and Peace but in the same vein you better put forth some effort or else you will wind up in the spam queue ;)

    • Because comments are a community builder, Ryan Biddulph, I think it’s important to note the difference between spam comments and lame comments.

      Spam comments are blatantly advertising something that’s not endorsed by the site or the writer of a post–often something tacky.

      Lame comments are the ones like “Hi, nice post,” where the commenter obviously has nothing to say beyond “I was here.” (At one site for which I used to write I got comments like that, pasted into all my posts and all of a few other people’s posts, often containing an irrelevant personal status update…that lasted for a couple of months while the commenter had a broken arm.)

      Some writers see this kind of thing as clutter. I can see it that way, but then I remember that some people have a whole complex of attention-craving and shyness about commenting. The fluff comment may feel to them like an introduction; if the writer and/or other commenters tolerate some fluff and gently engage with them, they may start interacting in a more valuable way later.

      On some sites I saw a lot of the complex young commenters. On my own site, it seems most of the comments have come from a group of mostly middle-aged, mostly women who are trying to “be nice” with one eye on the clock while frantically promoting their own work…not the most “professional” writers, just practicing while nursing disabled relatives and/or rearing children and/or fighting diseases. Their comments are lame because their minds are lazy and/or distracted, but they’re still nice people who even *buy things* when they can, bless their hearts.

      I wouldn’t want to lose either type of reader. The thing is that although obviously Scott Adams or Suzette Haden Elgin couldn’t take the time to thank each one of them for each little lame comment, they actually engage with one another and generate that sense of having fun at the famous writer’s party *for* the famous writer. So, if anyone here is reaching that level of fame…something to keep in mind!

      • I’m personally fine with comments that just say “thanks for the post!” or “nice post!” or similar — as Priscilla says, it may be all someone has the time or energy to write. I’m also mindful that quite a few of my readers don’t have English as their first language, so writing even a sentence could be quite an effort for them.

        I don’t tend to respond to very brief comments, but I don’t delete them.

        Ryan, I think closing comments is a perfectly sensible strategy if you’re getting overwhelmed with them — readers who REALLY want to get in touch will always find another way!

  • Carrie Mcguire

    Super interesting and informative article. Correct me if I am wrong but isn’t commenting good for your SEO and also leaving comments is great as well? I really like to connect with my audience although I don’t have a HUGE fan base like some do so I could see how it could be overwhelming. I kind of feel that turing comments off is not letting your audience have a voice and maybe as a perspective commenter I would feel that the blogger doesn’t care about what his/her readers have to say. I guess like you said, it is up to the individual and their needs for each blogger. Something to definitely think about!

    • The last blog post I read that had disabled comments was a’zine trying to pass for a psychology journal. A “contact” button where the comments would normally be offered to match readers with counsellors! I was like, “Dang, I wanted to share this post, but if THAT’s what this writer thinks of his/her/its readers…”

      • There’s a lot of debate, I think, about comments and SEO … I know many bloggers have the impression that commenting is good for SEO (due to being able to put a link to your URL) but actually, many commenting systems “no-follow” the comment links by default — this means that they don’t have any direct SEO benefit.

        So there are plenty of reasons to comment — like getting to know a blogger and their readers, and adding a useful perspective to a conversation — but the SEO benefit is likely minimal at best.

        Certainly don’t switch off comments if you enjoy receiving them and responding to them (I know I do!)

        Priscilla, that does sound like a pretty cheeky approach! As a reader, I really don’t mind comments being closed on a blog, but something like a social media link or an invitation to email the blogger would be a lot more welcoming and friendly.

  • Gemma W.

    My blog is almost ready to launch, but I don’t intend to have commenting enabled.

    Firstly, I can use my time in better ways than moderating and replying to comments. Secondly, people who comment on blogs in my niche tend to leave comments that don’t really say anything valuable.

    I don’t feel that by having comments turned off, that my audience won’t have a “voice”. They do. They can voice their opinions when they share the post on social media. They’re also free to respond with a post of their own. My niche does very well on social media, so engaging with my audience isn’t going to be a problem.

    • That’s fair enough, Gemma! It’s your blog and it sounds like you’ve figured out what will serve you best.

  • Hi Ali,

    Personally, I still accept comments on my blog and love visiting other blogs to comment. I use this method to help me build relationships with people who visit my blog and other people’s blogs.

    Now I don’t always comment on the blog if I can’t add anything of value. I don’t want to look like a spammer and I know how annoying it can be to get those one-line comments.

    I personally love it when someone leaves a comment on my blog. My blog is still new, less than a year so any type of interaction gives me motivation.

    However, I always manually approve my comments. I don’t get too many yet, but I can definitely see how this will get annoying after a while. I am using the Akismet plugin and it does a pretty good job of filtering out the spam.

    Good tip on closing the comments on the older posts. I may end up doing that as my blog traffic continues to grow.

    For now, I am a huge fan of being able to comment on blogs. This helps us get to know our audience and build relationships.

    Thanks for sharing this eye opening post. Have a great day :)

    Susan

    • Thanks, Susan!

      I let comments on my blogs post automatically, so I’ve no experience of manually approving them … so long as you’re not getting too many, and readers aren’t having to wait a long time for their comment to go up, there’s no problem with that.

  • I have a spam blocking system and truthfully I can’t remember the last time one of those little buggers got through. Even so, I manually approve every comment because I reply to each one. There was a time I considered shutting comments off, but I soon realized I’d created the problem by getting involved in a blogging community where everyone commented on each other’s posts and many of the comments were worthless and self-promotional. I left that group and now I have a good mix of comments, and I especially love it when someone from another country introduces themselves. How fun it is to know people in India are reading and benefiting from my work!

  • Hi,
    I am also a Blogger and supports blog commenting.
    Personally, I think that blog commenting is a must because it shows the opinion of other users on that topic. If you are someone who is running an authority blog then may be you can disable comments.
    But if someone, who has just started writing blogs then one should include comments, as it shows that you really want to contribute to the community and are open to suggestions.

    • Yes, I can’t see much reason to switch off comments when you’re just starting out — they can be very motivating and encouraging, they may give you new ideas, and you’re unlikely to get loads!

  • Thanks for discussing this topic. Yesterday it prompted me to post about how it happens that some people can post comments (however lame) while others whose comments would probably be more relevant, e.g. authors whose books I’ve featured, *think* they can’t.

    What I’ve long dreamed of replicating would be something like Ozarque’s Live Journal or Scott Adams’ independent blog (not necessarily as contentious as Glenn Beck’s Blaze), where no matter how good the original post is, the readers/commenters nearly always add even more value with supporting or dissenting links, anecdotes, poems, song lyrics, conversations with one another…

    Maybe you have to have sold a million books to get that kind of blog response; what I get from the people Google/Blogger encourages to comment has generally been “I wuz ere.”

    Occasionally, extremely sensitive material becomes bait for the poor slobs who get paid to post spammy comments on titles without seeing the content below. Someone posts “How Scam Site X Hurt Me” and the poor slobs bang out “Thank you for recommending Scam Site X.” I can understand why people would close comments after *that* happened.

    Except for posts like that, I think it’s not a Real Blog Post if it doesn’t allow comments…and attract a few. The computer tells me 400 people have read something, but if they don’t comment I think, “So *all* of them are hackers?”

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Priscilla. I personally want my readers to feel free to comment whether they have a profound insight or just a brief response … obviously spam is a right pain, though, and needs weeding out.

      The vast majority of readers don’t comment — something like 1 in 100 readers may leave a comment (at least according to the statistics I’ve heard). That could be for a whole variety of reasons: I know as a blog reader myself, I often don’t comment simply because I’m busy and/or can’t think of anything meaningful to add … but if I loved the post, I might well tweet it or link to it instead.

  • Hello Ali,

    Spam and junk comments are really a big headache for the blog owners. I personally also receiving these type of comments more often. I am using Askimet plugin and it is a good plugin to stop spam comments. But As you have said in the post that comments are solely depends on blog owners and how they take it. Thanks for bringing up these great insights.

    Enjoy your day :)
    Vishwajeet

    • Thanks! Akismet is fantastic … don’t know what I’d do without it. :)

  • I would recommend using Disqus or FB accounts for comments with spam blocking facility.

  • I see no reason to disable the comments

    Comments with high secured spam blocker should help.

    In addition, you may engage Disqus as this Website does!

  • Everything have a good as well as bad side and enabling comments on your blog has same. Good thing is people read your blog and write their feedback, view, suggestions and more and talking about bad side is people earn back links from your site and only for this reason they do commenting.

  • I am a blogger and I do support having comments on every article. Because of the following reasons:
    1.) It develops relationship
    2.) It can show an opportunity to explore
    3.) It can help us to analyze our content performance
    4.) It will give new blog post ideas
    Last but not least,
    5.) You will learn more from your blog. As learning never ends.

    To avoid spending more time on comments, we can use Spam blocker. Also, we can schedule a time either every day or alternative day to reply to comments.
    I spend 1Hr every alternative day on replying comments and I do love to hear from my audiences. In every industry, staying updated will help for survival.
    Staying updates on your blog audiences will do the biggest support in my view.

  • Hi Ali,
    I believe a blog can’t be a blog without comments. We can learn different things or the things that we have missed through the comments.
    So, it was good post to read and learn some new things.
    Thanks for the share.

  • The title of your post caught my eye because I was using Comment Luv which was wonderful but some how a couple of my posts got hacked via the comments section so I turned commenting off. Currently I do have Askimet for anti spam but I don’t have comments enabled until I can find a better solution. Disqus could be an option but people would have to sign up for it and that process might deter them. When I did have comments I always approved them first. Thanks for your post:)

    • Hello @toni_nelson:disqus ,
      I read your comment and you have mentioned that some of your posts got hacked. What does that mean? Actually in this digital era, all digital contents can be hacked easily.
      I do recommend you to re-enable comments because it is the only way to know your audiences? May I know your website name.

  • Trish LeSage

    I don’t allow comments on my blog articles anymore. People were leaving sexual comments, vulgar language, useless links to other sites, writing comments that didn’t make any sense, etc. I was wasting too much time babysitting the comments. My time would be better spent elsewhere (selling my books, etc.). So, I don’t allow comments anymore.

  • Yes it is really hectic when replying to comments over blogs and the quality time is wasted in responding to each visitor but as blogs are meant more for interacting with users than just posting content for good read, it is required to handle them in best possible manner.

  • I do say for beginner bloggers to leave your comment section on. As a beginner you want to start building engagement and a community. How do you do this? You want to comment on other blogs within your niche to start off. For me when I was a beginner, this is what i did, and people did come to my blog to comment as well. For others it may be different,
    but so far I haven’t seen this for myself.

    Now once you get to the point where you’re getting hundreds and hundreds and thousands of comments, then it might be safe to turn off your comment section. At this point you’ve already build a great reputation and trying to reply to all of those comments can be by far overwhelming. This is at the point where your shares become more valuable than your comments. I myself haven’t got into this point yet, but would more than likely turn this section off it it does!

    Thanks for sharing your opinions on this subject!

  • Unless you are a really popular blogger… and even then I think turning your comments off is blog suicide.

    You laid out all the reasons in your post, and I completely agree.

    I think a blog is all about community and your readers and without comments how else will you build your community?

  • Hi, Ali!

    I do accept comments on my blog. Comments allow the blogger and readers to interact and bridge the gap. It’s true that there are spam problems; you’ve already mentioned Akismet plugin for that. In fact, I also close comments on older blog posts, especially which attract spam comments.

    I agree that it could consume your energy, but the opportunity of listening to the readers is bigger than the problems that comments may cause.

    So I do favor having comments on a blog.

  • I am obsession with reading comments even on social media. I accept it on my blog because it helps visitors express themselves about a particular post

  • I think comments play a huge part in blogging. As a reader I read comments right after I read the whole article, maybe to find some additional understanding or basically see other readers insights of the article. It is also very important for engaging and serves as the connection between the author and the reader.I can see Commentluv and Disquss mentioned here in the comments as well and I do side with most of them. It was a fun read! Thanks for bumping up this one!

  • Ghana News

    Approving comments manually may be the best way to prevent spams…however, this approach depends very much on the number of traffic to the website. it will be a whole day’s work to manually check all comments. That is where Disqus comes in to provide better comment system without the need for anti-spam system.

  • I think the comment section should be kept enable in order to check how engaging our blogs are. I t will also help in finding niche audience for guest blogging.

    • Yes But it is not required for the branded blog because their brand name already saturated.

  • Jade Spin

    I use to have a forum, but I got rid of it due to spam.

  • Ademola Abimbola

    Great post. I’ve toyed with the idea of disabling comments on my blog. Maybe I’ll give it till the end of the year and see how it goes.