Comments Sense

There are as many ways to run a commenting system as there are ways to comment. In this post I talk about some of the main strategies and how common sense sometimes doesn’t apply.

There are main choices to a comment system:

  1. Turn comments off or don’t use them.
  2. Turn comments on with a website, but filter for spam.
  3. Turn comments on, but if a website is added, don’t allow.
  4. Turn comments on, allow all comments with or without a website.

Michael Hyatt, a popular blogger and public speaker, uses Disqus for his comments system and encourages people to not just comment, but to backlink as well. This means that he falls into the 4th category of allowing all comments with or without a website. Michael knows this helps the commentor with their SEO and yet he still allows it.

Douglas Karr’s site, DKNewMedia also uses Disqus for it’s comment system, but he falls into the 3rd category which doesn’t allow comments with a website. Doug is a social media guru and knows a lot about SEO and blogging so he probably doesn’t want his Google juice spilling out all over the Internet’s floor.

I don’t use Disqus, opting for the standard-issue WordPress commenting system. I use Akismet to help filter for spam and I manually approve or decline comments. I will allow links to websites in comments as long as they are relevant and not obscene. This puts me in the 2nd category.

And instead of giving an example of the 1st category of no comments at all, I wanted to mention Ed Dale‘s commenting system of choice: Facebook comments. Ed believes in the transparency that Facebook comments provides. He likes knowing exactly who is making the comment. In Facebook comments you don’t have the opportunity for a website backlink, just a link to your profile.

So which commenting system is best?

If you don’t want people backlinking on your site by adding a website, I wouldn’t use Disqus, since that is built in to the way that software works. I would instead opt for a “Name” and “Comment” box and have a script to scrub the comments for links. And if you’re worried about people stealing your SEO juice through backlinking, you might want to consider that Michael Hyatt, who advocates backlinking in his comments, gets over 100,000 visits per month. This is probably because great content is more important than SEO.

If you don’t care about backlinking, but you do care about transparency (knowing who the commentor is), consider using the Facebook commenting system. In WordPress, the easiest way to do this is with a plugin like Facebook Comments Points. Joomla and Drupal probably have their own systems as well in addition to the original scripts created by Facebook themselves. Another nice feature of this for the user over Disqus is the ability to not have to maintain a separate username and password.

If you don’t care either way and just want to do the least amount of work possible on your blog or website, then use whatever comes with it + a spam protection piece. In the case of WordPress, the standard is Akismet, but it also works for Drupal, phpBB, Expression Engine, PostNuke, and Joomla. In WordPress you can also change settings to ‘allow all comments’ or manually check them all, which is what is setup by default.

Update: Lorelle on WordPress just released a new post entitled 18+ Things You Can Do on the WordPress Comments Panel, which should be interesting to anyone reading this post.

Comment (1)

  • Matthew Stibbe (@TurbineHQ)| October 24, 2011

    It’s difficult isn’t it? I’m in category 2 but I’ve moved between other categories in the past. I use WordPress on my blog (and other sites too). On my main blog, http://www.badlanguage.net, I use a plugin that goes and gets a link to a blogger’s most recent post and adds it to their comment. I figured a bit of back link love might encourage people to comment. Comments are, for me, the most enjoyable part of blogging. Otherwise you could be a tree falling in an empty forrest. But I think people are commenting less now than they did – I guess there are more blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora etc. etc. to distract them.

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