“Blogging is not a business by itself. It’s only a promotional platform.” – David Risley
Unsure how best to handle or moderate comments on articles, or on the blog section of your website?
Wondering what the differences are between the different comment systems for websites and the various comment plugins? All is revealed below.
In this post we’ll talk about:
- The top comment systems and when to use them
- Encouraging conversation and engagement
- Tips for moderating comments
Read on to learn how to choose a great comment system and how to manage comments effectively on your blog.
Why Encourage Comments?
Engagement is key for any content creator and allowing comments is a great way to get people talking and debating ideas, elicit feedback and build relationships with your audience.
That said, it can be tricky to get it right. If you’re going to allow comments, you also need to commit to managing and replying to them.
Realistically, people comment for one of four reasons: they love what you’ve written and strongly agree, they take issue with something you’ve said, they have their own agenda they want to get across, or they just like to make their opinions known, whether or not these are necessarily relevant or helpful.
This can sometimes make dealing with comments feel quite disheartening. At times you’ll be bewildered by the vitriol levelled content you considered entirely inoffensive. At times you’ll tear your hair out at readers posting stuff that doesn’t connect to what you’ve written, or that is clearly designed to peddle their own products.
Persevere, though. Remove spam, make sure you’re polite and diplomatic with even the most hostile commenters, and focus on nurturing conversations with people who have interesting, positive or insightful contributions to make.
These are the people most likely to take on a ‘brand ambassador’ role by sharing your content or talking about your brand to others, making them potentially very valuable indeed.
Which Comment System For Websites (and blogs) Should You Use?
A top comment system balances ease of use with robust spam filters. Here are six options each taking a very different approach and each with its own set of pros and cons.
1. Base System
Some popular platforms such as WordPress do come with a pretty good built-in comment system. WordPress, in particular, is super easy to use. You can choose whether to allow people to post anonymously or with their name and (hidden) email address, and you can install additional plugins like Akismet to keep control of spam.
Beyond this, though, you can’t really customize the experience or integrate with social, which many people find too limiting. It also doesn’t send notifications when people get replies.
2. Facebook Comments
Facebook is enormously popular all over the world and the chances are that anyone posting comments will already be signed into their account. To some extent, they are also verified as a human – or at least, their comments are linked to their public, online presence. This tends to lead to a sharp decline in spam. What’s more, people are more likely to share the article, and even if they don’t, their comments show up on Facebook, widening your reach.
Bear in mind, though, that Facebook comments are really tricky to set up on your site, so you’ll need plenty of technical understanding. You also can’t really customize it once it’s there.
Disqus is one of the better-looking comments section systems out there and it’s very easy to use. People can post photos and videos in comments and can follow each other, which helps to build communities. Commenters also get sent notifications, comments are very easy to moderate, and people can sign in using their social accounts.
The only real downside is that you do have to sign in, though, which takes a bit of time and puts a lot of people off.
This is another excellent option that is rapidly growing in popularity. It comes with many of the same benefits as Disqus, with the added plus that users can chat in real time. This gets the conversations flowing extremely effectively. Mashable, for example, saw engagement in the comments section multiply by 40 after switching to Livefyre.
CommentLuv incorporates an element of bribery into their system, by giving people a chance to promote themselves through their comments. If the commenter fills in the ‘website’ section, they can display a link to their last blog post on their comment. This has a huge, positive impact on getting people to comment, but be aware that you’ll have to deal with a lot of shameless plugs as a result.
Final Thoughts: Everything in Moderation
No matter which of the comment systems for websites you choose, be aware that your work is just beginning. You need to moderate closely to remove spam or offensive content, and to engage with commenters. Even then, you won’t be able to control what happens in this space and removing comments that criticize you will only make things worse. Think carefully about whether you want to open up comments and have a strategy for dealing with them from the outset.