Should I Remove Comments From My Blog? Here’s My Answer

By Leslie Samuel | Blogging

Jan 12

I just took a look in my dashboard and saw some horrendous numbers. First, some background info.

Since I started blogging, it was easy to see that Spam comments would be a problem.

Even when I hardly got any traffic, I got Spam comments, many of which come from bots who scan the internet in a pathetic attempt to drive traffic to sites by automatically posting a bunch of links in the comments section of blogs all over the web.

One of my mentors recommended that I use the Akismet plugin to block those spam comments. This worked extremely well for a while, until it didn’t.

It seems that some of those spambots got a bit more sophisticated and started to bypass the akismet plugin.

I decided to install another plugin in addition to Akismet – I installed the WP Spamshield plugin. Once again, that helped a bit, but some comments still find a way through.

On to the horrendous numbers

2015_01_12_Remove-Comments_PinterestAccording to my stats, Akismet has protected my blog from 17,972 spam comments, with another 73 comments in my current spam queue.

Also, WP SpamShield has protected my blog from 41,910 spam comments with an average of 645 spam comments blocked daily.

Now, there are currently 15,176 approved comments on my blog. That means that there are almost three times as many spam comments than actual comments that have tried to beat the system.

That’s HORRENDOUS.

The ones that get through

Stop-SPAMAs I mentioned before, some comments actually get through.

Fortunately, if you go to the discussion settings in your WordPress Admin area (settings > discussion), you can specify that if a comment author didn’t post a comment in the past that was approved, you would have to manually approve the comment.

Unfortunately, as my blog has grown, I get more and more of these that I have to approve to the point where it has become a normal part of my everyday task.

The Question

Because of how annoying this has become, I’ve repeatedly asked myself the following question – Should I completely remove comments from my blog?

Question-manIt’s something I’ve been tempted to do on a number of occasions. It would definitely make my life easier.

No more being annoyed by spam (or hateful) comments. All I would have to do is create content and post it. Sounds almost euphoric.

If you are at the point where you’re getting a lot of spam comments, you’ve probably asked yourself that question at least once.

Also, when sites like Copyblogger announce that they are removing comments and make a very logical case for why they did so, it almost seems to justify the urge to remove comments.

Just this last week, I also saw that Michael Hyatt decided to remove comments from his blog, and he puts forward a pretty solid argument as to why he decided to do so. You should read his post for a different perspective.

The Answer

My answer to the question is – It depends.

communityThis is how I look at it. Your answer to this question shouldn’t be primarily influenced by how it would affect you. If you’re thinking in that direction, I would encourage you to rethink.

The beauty of blog comments is that it makes your content the gateway for a two-way conversation.

In some cases, it can go even beyond a two-way conversation as your readers start to interact with each other.

For a blog like this one, removing comments would significantly affect the conversation that I’m able to have with you.

You wouldn’t be able to voice your opinion concerning this content in a centralized location, adding to this ongoing conversation.

Yes, I can make you go through the additional steps of having to find me on social media to give your opinion, but quite frankly, I see that as an inconvenience to you – and I don’t want that to be the case.

With a blog like Copyblogger or even Michael Hyatt's own, they have TONS of followers, and I would imagine that if a few thousand people disengage with their content, it wouldn’t matter because they still get TONS of interaction.

With the little guy (like me), if a few thousand people disengage with my content, the only thing I can be sure of is that my mommy will still love me. My wife too, of course. Oh, and Noah 😉

Ok, I was just kidding on that last part – I know you wouldn’t hate me (or would you?).

So what do you do?

We are faced with the reality of Spam comments. It’s an unfortunate and extremely annoying reality. However
Spamthere are ways to deal with it. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Take advantage of spam blocking plugins. Yes, I know that this won’t eliminate all spam comments, but you will probably see that they’ll be reduced by 99% (my unofficial, unscientific guestimate).
  2. Have a comment approval policy. Doing this makes it much easier to quickly determine what gets marked as spam and what doesn’t. This is something I'm working on right now so you should have an example soon.
  3. Have a comment approval process. Here’s my process (or at least what I try to do) – in the evening, I go through all of my comments. I start by marking the spam comments as spam by ticking the checkboxes and then hitting the “Mark as spam” option once. I then tick the checkboxes of all remaining comments and approve them all in one go. Then I go through and respond.
  4. Consider using a commenting plugin like Disqus. This is what I'm doing right now on this blog. The system actually ends up reducing the amount of spam comments you get by a significant amount. I'm still evaluating Disqus and will give my full opinion at some point in the future.

Are there any exceptions?

Thumbs-UpActually, I believe there are. I’m pretty sure I will be removing the commenting option from my biology blog. Why? Because it’s a blog where I post content to help others, but am not actively engaged there.

I don’t respond to comments because my focus is currently Become A Blogger.

As much as it would be great to have an ongoing dialog there too, I can see that it can get frustrating for visitors who ask questions not to receive responses from me.

So, I’m 90% decided to remove the comments there, because they don’t add any value on that blog. I’m sure I can build it up into a community where people help each other out but I don’t have the bandwidth to make that happen at this point.

Your comments

As I mentioned above, what I’m sharing here is my opinion, but it’s not the only opinion. I want to hear from you. Can you guess where? In the comments area that is still below. Feel free to share:

  • What spam blocking plugin you use (if any)
  • Why you think my opinion rocks or sucks

I’ll be down there waiting to reply to your awesome comments 😉

  • Thanks for allowing comments on this post. 🙂

    I was disappointed that CopyBlogger and now Michael Hyatt disabled comments. That IMHO kills an important part of the experience for the reader. I can undersstand why they would want to do it, but I don’t think anyone has made a case that this is better for your readers. When I read an interesting post, I’m not going to hunt down the conversation on Google +, I just move on. There is less incentive for me to interact.

    I’m also puzzled because this breaks one of the core principles of blogging — don’t invest in someone else’s real estate. Facebook and Google + might be good places to drive conversations today, but who knows how their policies will evolve tomorrow. If they decide to kill your conversations, then what?

    I understand it might be a burden for high volume bloggers to maintain comments, but it is still an annoyance for me, the reader not to have the option.

    • Yeah, I definitely see your perspective, but I see their perspective too. I just think that it’s better to have that engagement, and to have it on your own blog. Difference in opinion.

      When I look at someone like Michael Hyatt, I really don’t think that he made this decision without fully thinking about the implications. It’s easier for people like us to say that when we don’t have to deal with as many comments as they do.

      However, I can understand that it all comes down to preference and where you choose to engage. We can’t engage everywhere, but we should definitely be engaging with our audiences. I know that he’ll continue to do that.

    • Thanks, Leslie. I never meant to suggest that Michael Hyatt hadn’t fully thought through the implications of his decision or that I didn’t appreciate the magnitude of an annoyance it might be for a blog with his level of volume. He has decide the best ways to spend his time. I get it.

      I was just responding from a reader’s viewpoint. You know when your favorite small company goes big time and stops doing the things that made them popular as a small business? MH and Copyblogger really had engaging conversations in their comments section. It was part of the draw on their best topics — just like we are having this conversation. It’s part of the experience. Your readers like to feel included. From a reader’s point of view, you have diluted the experience.

      I like that you asked for your readers’ input on this topic. I think that would have been helpful if MH and Copyblogger had done something similar. Don’t underestimate the value of buy in and participation. I still love MH and Copyblogger, but I have to work too hard to share this feedback with them now. 🙂

    • Yeah, I know. I didn’t think you were questioning whether or not they had thought through it. I was actually just adding more to the discussion.

      I fully agree with where you are coming from, but I also do understand where they are coming from. Don’t fully agree with their decision, but it’s within their right to do so.

  • lucrecer says:

    I had some major spam issues a few months ago and now they are under control. I tend to have more people lurk on my blog than leave comments, but there are those who do have questions and I like the ability to be able to help out. As people move past their websites being blogs, I would not be surprised to see them remove comments. It all comes down to why you do what you do and if you can even service your readers by answering their questions if you do have comments enabled.

  • Scarlet says:

    Hi Leslie. Thanks for sharing. I haven’t thought about removing comments from my site but I’m thinking about it now. I don’t get a lot of comments anyway. If I were to engage a bit more on Facebook then I could gather a large following there. But then again, my site only received 24,681 unique visitors in 2014 so I may need to keep the communication channels open until I get more traffic.

    • The only problem there is that you don’t own Facebook, but I can definitely understand where you’re coming from.

      Oh, and when you say your site only received 24,681 unique visitors, think about this – YOUR SITE RECEIVED 24,681 VISITORS in one year. That’s a lot of people.

      Can you imagine that many people showing up anywhere to hear what you have to say? That’s a blessing 🙂

  • Bill says:

    I read Copyblogger’s post back when they decided to go the way of social media for the comments/followup. I understood where they were coming from, but I thought it would break the flow. And I’ve found it to be much harder to follow a conversation through their comments since it isn’t conveniently there with the post. It gets spread around too much on Facebook, Twitter and G+.

    I don’t get the spam that they do, or the traffic 8=( but I also don’t have a staff either. I still don’t think they made the right decision.

    Disqus is something that I’m not convinced of yet. I don’t like the idea of having to sign in to leave a comment.

    One thing I’ve looked at is how some anti spam works to just block the spam. No spam queue or moderation queue to wade through. Just spam gone. This works against the bots, not human generated spam. But eliminating bot spam before it even gets there is the ultimate.

    Unfortunately, I haven’t found anything that works just yet. Anticaptcha was pretty good. I modified it to blackhole the spam rather than put it in the queue. But it didn’t get everything and it requires javascript to be enabled. GASP is what I’m using now and it seems to do an okay job. But I’d love to see something that uses nonces to detect the bots. Or a combination of factors.

    But until then, we either have to wade through the chore of moderating comments or get rid of them.

    • You actually don’t have to log in to Disqus to leave a comment. You can do it as a guest.

      And yes you are right – none of those automatic anti spam plugins work perfectly. I’ve tried a bunch and the result is always the same – spam gets through.

    • Also, even though they do have a staff, I can still see there being an issue of deciding where you want to invest your staff’s time. It’s all a matter of priorities and deciding where you think you add the most value.

  • Kerry-Ann says:

    Thanks for sharing this! I didn’t even realize that this was a “thing”. However, I agree that it largely depends on your blog and it’s audience engagement preference but I will definitely be keeping an eye out for whether I should be moving to this sooner than later.

  • Djai True-Kirk says:

    Thanks Leslie… it depends on the business. I think if the comment is worth making, it’s worth owning up to, so signing in to give feedback not only validates the comment, but makes the individual making the comment valued as a contributor. It further makes the “community” feel safer about interacting.

  • Mary says:

    Thank you so much for this very important blog Leslie.
    I know that when I go to a blog, if they don’t allow comments, I feel that they don’t care about the interaction. it is hard to be loyal–even if I bought a product.

    Does Disqis (sp) allow for comments back to the commenters email box? I seldom come back to a page I commented on if it doesn’t.

    Would it be possible to provide a link to the FB page and ask for comments there?

    Do you get a lot of spam on your FB page?

    This is a very important topic. I will look forward to your decisions. Best Wishes, Mary

    • Disqus does allow for comments back to the commenters email box. You will probably see that you get an email of my response 🙂

      Yes, it is possible to provide a link to the FB page and even a specific post on Facebook.

      I hardly get any spam on my FB page. I think it’s because most people use their real identity there and it’s harder to hide behind a fake name 🙂

  • RMGH says:

    I’m pretty much with Lynford on this one. I am not about to track someone down on FB or Google+ to engage in comments. I have done it, but something in the post had to motivate me very strongly. It definitely increases the “threshold” of participation which might be a good thing for a blogger attracting a ton of banal or even nasty comments.

    Here are a couple of very real issues that impacts my personal participation when commenting on social media:

    First, when I get to the destination site where I can post comments, I often find I want to look back to some point in the post. Then I have to go back to the post to find what I’m looking for then switch back to the social channel where I’m supposed to post the comment. Way too time consuming and if you are on a tablet or smart-phone? Deadly.

    Second, many people cultivate business on FB and Google+. For that reason, I really like to keep some of my ideas and thoughts on FB “neutral”. Commenting on certain topics can have business consequences. On FB, you are forced to use your FB identity and can not create a “firewall” between your profile and your comment response. On certain subjects, this will shut many people out of the discussion.

  • RMGH says:

    Sorry to be posting again. Don’t know about anyone else, but my blogs tend to have lurkers more true comments. I have two blogs, real estate and photography. They just don’t lend themselves to comments. In any case, I still don’t like to shut down comments. However, when I do get attacked by spam, it tends to be with a few select posts that have strong great long-tail SEO and rank on search engines. I simply close comments on those pages when it got crazy, and that stops the problem. Often I re-activate comments if the page still has good traffic volume. I generally wait about a month to do this. I don’t have TONS of traffic though, so that might not work for a bigger blog.

  • thanks for this impressive post. Really it is very useful and relevant to my blog

  • Kelita says:

    I don’t agree with the removal of comments. I think a blog is another form of social media. I also think that removing comments may come across as: I don’t have the time to deal with comments anymore… Also most people are way too lazy to jump on over to social media after taking the time to read a blog.

    I will keep my comments active even when my blog becomes huge 🙂

  • inzwanai says:

    thank youfor giving me a chance to learn way ahead .o these distructions.I think that it’s going to be a lot of work involved in this project–spam healer.I think that absence of comments would be a loss of power to any blog especially this one.That is where I learn the extra from.There must be a way to fight back.We can pray on it.We can brainstorm from the family and from those who are likely to be perpetrators.Somebody is trying to get you to buy their plug ins against spam.who do you know..simply approach them…………..

  • Thanks for sharing and allowing comments to your post.

  • Kashonia Carnegie says:

    Yet ANOTHER great post Leslie.

    The reason I LOVE blogs, over all other forms of 2.0, is because of the 2 (or more) way discussion on a very specific topic. I really do hate social media like Facebook and Twitter etc. There are not enough hours in a day to take time for those places and the millions of rubbish comments that continue to flow. To me blogs are far more relevant and personal and without comments it’s just another website and loses what is a major attraction for me.

    Now having said that, I do understand the SPAM issue and as with any thinking person SPAM makes me very mad. So maybe instead of removing blog comments, we all need to think of effective ways to foil the unwanted comments. The number one way would be if no one clicked on them or took up their offers. If they didn’t work they’d stop doing it.

    Kashonia
    http://www.CreatingHappinessToday.com

    • I wish it were that easy. There are many people who attempt to create solutions for this but the more solutions we get, the more people find ways to beat the system.

      So it ends up just being something we deal with if we decide to keep comments. It’s an unfortunate reality. However, I would rather that reality while allowing people to engage directly with the content.

  • LOL – Well I can’t make Rochelle sad. That would be just WRONG I tell ya. WRONG 🙂

    Glad to hear that your engagement is going up. To me – that’s what matters, whether you do things the way everyone says your supposed to or not. It’s about what works for YOUR audience.

  • Kashonia Carnegie says:

    Whilst on the topic of blog comments – Leslie I was in your very first BAB group and from the very beginning I’ve been incredibly impressed with the time you take to reply to most comments. On average, how much time a day do you spend answering blog comments?

    In fact I’d love to get an idea of your average day and the way you divide your work time, and I’m sure others would be just as interested.
    Kashonia
    http://www.CreatingHappinessToday.com

    • Thanks for the feedback Kashonia. I would say that I probably spend about 30 minutes/day responding to comments, but I actually end up skipping days every now and then. Then I go in and batch process.

      In terms of my average day, that has varied a lot over the last month and a half because I was in the Bahamas for 35 days and am still trying to catch myself. When I’m working normally, I wake up at 5, start work between 7 and 8, work till 12. Spend time with my son between 12 and 6, and then get back to work in the evening (that time is a little more flexible).

      That’s a general schedule, but it also varies from day to day. For example, Mondays are the days that I do my 1 on 1 coaching, so my schedule looks different on Mondays.

      But that gives you kind of a general idea. Hope that helps.

    • Kashonia Carnegie says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to share this with us all. Especially as it probably added another 10 minutes to your 30 mins comment time : – )
      It’s a wonderful insight.

      Thanks again
      Kashonia

    • Haha – I don’t mind at all. I enjoy interacting with you guys 🙂

  • Jo Anderson says:

    I can’t see the point of a blog unless you allow comments, you might as well switch to a website. It seems the point of a blog is interacting. And for those that don’t respond to comments, then of course they should turn them off. There is nothing worse than reading comments on a blog and seeing that the host never responds. If you don’t respond, but want to leave comments open for readers to have discussions then you should make a comment at the end of the blog saying that. Just don’t leave them hanging with questions you are never going to answer. When I go to a blogs like that, I NEVER go back. So if someone is not going to respond, please at least have the courtesy to turn off comments.

    • I agree with you. Blogs are supposed to be interactive. That’s the nature of what blogging is about. Now, I do know that it can get crazy to keep up with comments as your blog grows, so I can understand not responding to every comment. I think it’s important to set your audience’s expectations in a way that makes sense.

    • Jo Anderson says:

      I agree that you don’t need to respond to every comment, that would be impossible for some. Just the first few is usually enough to let your followers know you are there and listening to them. It’s always nice to read the comments and responses on your site, you really take a lot of EXTRA time to give of your self.

  • I am having serious challenges on this issue. I am still relying on few plugins to reduce the menace. I believe reduction is more possible.

  • rodlie says:

    I feel like I’m right on the edge of switching over to Disqus. I didn’t know this was possible, but it seems that somehow some malware links were being injected into two specific–and high traffic–blog posts that I have. They couldn’t be seen in the comments section at all. I was alerted to it by Site Lock, the service I pay for. It was hidden in the html. How it got there? I don’t really know, but my brother, who is in IT, suggested that they could be inserted through the commenting form in wordpress. So it seems that with something like this it would completely take care of those issues, not to mention the pure delight of being able to respond to comments by replying to an email. By the way, not sure if I’ve told you this, but you are my primary blogging mentor now. I used to have a different one, John Saddington, but you have taken his place. You’re welcome. 😉 lol

    • I haven’t come to a complete decision on Disqus as yet, especially for blogs outside of online marketing. Every so often I get emails from people saying that they want to comment but don’t want to use Disqus. I think for my niche, a lot of people are used to it so it’s not as difficult to convince most to use it. In other niches – not so sure.

      About the mentoring – I’m honored 😉

  • abhay says:

    Great article. thanks for sharing this information in different way

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