Chances are you’ve seen it before. As you scroll to the bottom of a well-written blog post, you see several comments in response to the content. Some of the comments are positive or contributional, while others are negative and community-detracting. Deciding whether you want to allow or block comments on your website is a big decision that can impact the culture of your website for quite a while.
Before you start weighing the pros and cons, it’s important to focus on design and accessibility. The team that spearheads web design by EWR Digital stated that some websites have such unorganized user interfaces that comment boxes are difficult to find—or even more difficult to post. Regardless of your decision, user-friendliness and intuitive design should be of the utmost priority. No matter how great your content is or how much it sparks dialogue, if your first impression isn’t stellar, chances are your visitors will never make it through your most valued posts.
Now, onto the question, “Should I allow comments?” There are plenty of pros and cons to consider, and each decision comes with its own setup steps and best practices. Here’s what you need to know.
Pros Of Enabling Blog Comments
The primary benefit of enabling comments on your blog is to engage with your readers and cultivate a community. Keep in mind that the comments section and forums were a strong source of interaction within the online community prior to the proliferation of social media.
And today, although no contender to social networks, it still can be a great place for people to discuss a specific piece of content and share ideas and thoughts. Enabling comments also allows you to learn more about what your readers are thinking; this level of insight is difficult to find in any industry, across any blog or business.
Cons Of Enabling Comments
Of course, enabling comments doesn’t come without its drawbacks. The two biggest cons are negative (and troll-like) feedback and spam. While spam can be controlled automatically through plug-ins, there is some spam that slips through the cracks, like manual comments that are self-promotional. However, negative and troll behavior can be very difficult to control. Nasty comments can be discouraging to your work and can discourage other readers from joining the conversation.
Furthermore, if you enable comments but consistently have no feedback on your posts, it can create the illusion that no one reads or cares to comment on your blog—not to mention the personal ego hit you might take if no one’s commenting.
And lastly, comment moderation is no easy task—particularly if you have hundreds of posts. Even if you outline the rules for creating comments, you have to be actively available to enforce them. Otherwise, your blog comments section will go wayward. The time and resources you have available to monitor your comments should play a big factor in your decision. For example, if you have a small blog that posts weekly, you may be able to monitor it yourself or hire a blog editor/writer to manage your blog for you.
Comment Best Practices
If you decide to enable comments, there are several best practices you should follow. For starters, a “Community Guidelines” page should be clearly outlined. You need to establish which type of comments will be deleted and what behavior is not tolerated. You should also make it possible for other users to report certain comments; this peer review system can help you keep your comment section clean.
For example, here’s what GitHub says about their comment policy: “We want people to work better together. Although we maintain the site, this is a community we build together, and we need your help to make it the best it can be… Avoid name-calling, ad hominem attacks, responding to a post’s tone instead of its actual content, and knee-jerk contradiction.”
Another good practice is to encourage comments by asking the reader questions. In the last paragraph of your content, ask specific questions that invite readers to communicate their opinion.
Lastly, respond to as many comments as you can. Remember, enabling comments is about building loyalty, cultivating a community, and growing your readership. When you respond to comments, your readers will feel special and are more likely to continue reading your blog and making regular comments.
If you are interested in even more technology-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels, then we have a lot to choose from.