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Signatures in Comments – Poll Results

Posted By Darren Rowse 18th of September 2005 Pro Blogging News 0 Comments

A week ago I started a poll here at ProBlogger.net asking readers whether signatures in comments should be allowed on blogs.

The poll was in response to a post that I’d written arguing against the practice which generated a lot of comments both agreeing and disagreeing with my argument. I realized pretty quickly after the comments started rolling in that this was a touchy point and that while many agreed with my stance that quite a few felt passionately that I was wrong.

I wanted to test this in a more anonymous way (I suspected that some disagreed with me but were not comfortable to do so publicly in comments) – so I started the poll.

My suspicion was correct. It seems that quite a few readers are Pro signatures in comments – 56% in fact with 35% against them and 8% undecided.


While I will admit to being a little perplexed by the result (when I wrote the original post I was convinced most would agree with me) I’m willing to publish the result and say that I’m in the minority. I’m not sure there is really a right or wrong here – but after the discussion and poll I’m a little more open to the idea of signatures in comments.

I still have these reservations about Comment Signatures:

– I still have concerns that such practices makes fighting spam comments difficult

– I do wonder where the practice will end up (I really hope we don’t end up with comment threads being like the terrible mix mash of signatures that we see on many discussion forums)

But I do take on board the arguments of many of my readers in the comments of the previous post and can see that if used responsibly it could be argued that signatures are a good thing.

I have decided to change my policy on them here at Problogger a little. If you’d like to leave a signature I’ll allow it if your comment is relevant to the post concerned. I will delete links in comments that are obviously just trying to get a link from my blog or who leave too many comments that don’t really add to the conversations taking place. I guess what I’m saying is that I’m happy to give you a link in return for your comment and participation on this blog – but please don’t abuse the privilege – if I sense you are your comment will be edited or deleted.

Commenters should also realize that I have spam filters in place which may or may not regard comments with links in them as spam. They filter comments on numerous factors – links in comments are one of these factors so you do increase the chances of being filtered with signatures. I use these filters because I get thousands of spam comments on my blogs per day – I’m sorry for the inconvenience but its a sad choice that I’ve had to make to use them.

A Final Piece of Advice

Lastly let me say that I’d urge bloggers to consider the fact that 35% of bloggers are anti signatures in comments (a further 8% have indecision about them). This is good to keep in mind as you comment on blogs (this one and others). It means that over a third of the blogs you leave comments on could be offended, annoyed, angered or put out by the practice.

I’m not sure about you – but this figure alone is enough to make me hesitate before engaging in the practice. My advice to bloggers is to only do it if you know its ok or if you have some kind of relationship with the blogger concerned. I only ever leave links in comments if they are relevant to the topic of the blog concerned – and even then I think before I add them.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Could you not amend you commenting system to allow people to add signatures which could be turned on/off by readers. So people can say I don’t mind the comments whilst others say I hate them and I don’t want to see them. You can then say all sig’ outside the signature system will be removed.

    I am still not keen about the “user name” being the link to my blog/site etc.

  2. Well Darren, I guess the numbers speak for themselves. I for one am in the 35% but that won’t affect my readership of blogs where the blogger is in the 56% unless like you mention above “(I really hope we don’t end up with comment threads being like the terrible mix mash of signatures that we see on many discussion forums)”

    Here’s my sig:

    Paul Short – Blogger
    Comment Spam Sucks!

  3. That’s the way blogging is heading I guess, Darren.

    I’m all for networking but I can easily see “me too” comments flooding in just to get the sig views. It could easily devalue the effectiveness of comments. I read most comments here beacuse I know that 99% of them add to the topic. With sigs, people might start getting lazy and off-topic.

    Why would people be worried about publicly disagreeing with you Darren? You’re not that big ugly monster that will bite anyone with differing views … or are you ;-)

    I think I’ll still stick to no sigs in my comments – I believe the vast majority know where the link is.

    Also, Darren, you didn’t answer my question (at the original post) on your views about having my blog name after my name in the name field: ie Martin (HomeOfficeVoice).

    Would like to know your view on this tactic (it’s obviously a little branding tactic).

  4. After skimming through that lengthy exchange, I still don’t see a whole lot of point to allowing “signatures”, since the software itself provides a uniform signature for each person who comments. And it actually gets me a few hits. I don’t know what the click-through rate for comments is for others.

    I don’t need the hits, but you never know who might stop by, read what I have to say, and become a regular.

    So I’ll have the website box filled in, but you won’t ever see me using a signature.

    I’ve had people use signatures on my blog, and it’s rare that they aren’t thinly veiled attempts at comment spam.

    And speaking of comment spam, you still haven’t tried Bad Behaviour, have you? :)

  5. Sorry, Paul, we kept up with who voted in the minority on this super-critical issue. Since you were against it, you don’t get to use a sig.

    As Bill The Cat would say, ” pppp-hhhhhh-lllll-fffffff-ttttt ! ”

    Kiddin’, of course ;-)

    Thanks for publishing the results, Darren.

    Although they don’t bother me, YET, I don’t believe you have to put up with them. It’s still your store, I mean blog, and you can run it as you see fit.

    If they get out of hand, like Paul ;-), put some parameters on them.

    Otherwise, let’s hope this doesn’t open a wound we can’t close. I HATE those.

  6. I’ve been using a signature with my name and link back to my blog when I place comments, but I will refrain from doing so when I know the owner of the blog doesn’t like them.

    In the future, I might be a little more reluctant to put signatures on my posts in the future, because I didn’t realize that a lot of people associate them with comment spam. Why alienate people needlessly.

    On a side note related to signatures, what do you think about BA codes people place at the end of their post for traffic credits? Should they restrict those to only those sites they read while using Blogadvance? The administrators of that site say they keep an eye out to prevent comment spam, such as comments that only say “great site,” and will suspend users who engage in that kind of commenting.

  7. I don’t think that they should be allowed either. I mean, people already get a link back with the way blogging software works. I think it just wastes space in the discussion. It just makes me feel like people are contributing just to throw their name out there, not to provide anything valuable to the conversation.

  8. I’m struck by the fact that many of those arguing against signatures in comments cite reasons that are to do with them and often their own blog as reasons why they don’t like them.

    But the point is we should be putting our readers first and signatures make it easier for them to find out more about a subject and other blogs that might be of interest to them.

    Just because a blog is personal publishing platform it doesn’t mean it’s all about you. Always put your readers first.

  9. I’ve had people comment on my blogs that leave sigs and links to their own on semi-related topics. I’ve seen these same people do the very similar comments on other people blogs. I find that annoying. Almost as bad as graffiti artists that tag. If your unique, cool. I love cool graffiti. But repeating oneself is a blight on the scene.

    p.s. Darren, I love the new Weekly Newsletter subscription positioning! Maybe consider adding a subscribe via email plugin for posts and comments people post on too.

  10. I still think that the best solution here is to modify your comment template such that the automatic link back to the commenter’s url is spelled out explicitly. Such a system might look something like this:

    Darren (ProBlogger.net) Says:”

    (or something like that)

    That way people who complain that it’s not clear that commenter names are links won’t have a leg to stand on. Short of that, I’ve just started using my sitename as my name when I comment. I think that using ‘fivecentnickel.com’ instead of ‘nickel’ makes it more clear that it’s a link.

    On an unrelated note, you really should uncapitalize the word ‘Says’ in your comment template.

    cheers, nickel

  11. I can see Nickels point of view, perhaps there is some merit is adjusting the way the heading on the comment is, but I also think its important to note that Problogger does provide links to others sites in the comments, just as I do and many others do. Personally I think signatures in comments is being gready on blogs that already give you a link. Sure, some blogs don’t and if they don’t, go for it, but as much as we are all for promoting discourse through comments and similar there really isn’t the need to abuse the right. Darren’s right: the more signatures in comments the harder it will be to ascertain what’s comment spam and not, if people start using signatures and I cant tell the difference they are just going to get deleted and then you wont get a link either way!

  12. I agree with Duncan that just giving a link of any sort is great. And just to clarify my suggestion above, it would actually look like this:

    Darren (https://problogger.com/) Says:”

    The way I wrote it originally suggested that you’d have some way of diving the site name. Rather, just put the raw url in parentheses. This makes it painfully clear that it’s a link, and it totally takes away that excuse for including a signature. And I say this as someone who used to include a link-sig in my comments.

    cheers, nickel

  13. […] Darren over at Problogger has conducted a poll of his readers and found, some what surprisingly that the majority of his readers support the right of people to put signatures into comments. […]

  14. […] Should this be allowed? Darren polled and fetched us the result: The majority would accept individual signatures, but I have one dearing problem with this: […]

  15. I agree with fivecentnickel’s point and like his suggestion of modifying your comment template. Although using your site name in lieu of your personal name is, well, less personal, it is clearer that it’s a link. But I suppose that only works for those who know that the commentor’s name is the hyperlink in the comment.

    I am definitely in the 35% of “no sigs allowed.” I would expect the comment sections to start looking like some forums do where somebody makes a single sentence post, but their auto-sig is 800 pixels high. I have stopped visiting certain forums simply for that reason alone.

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