Tuesday, January 8, 2008

How To: Optimise Your Comments Page In A Blogspot Blog

We all know how important comments are to any blog, comments reflect the involvement, participation of its readers in a blog, you can talk to your readers, get their suggestions by way of comments. But then not more than 10% of readers think about commenting in response to a post, and a even lesser percentage will end up leaving a comment finally. This is cos' sometimes though you might keep inviting your readers to comment, your comments page might actually throw them off, i'm talking by experience here, i've always disliked lengthy comment procedures ( a few blogs require the reader to sign in someplace before commenting) and most of the time i just decide to leave cos' i don't want to waste my time commenting if the blogger does not realize the importance of making it easy for readers to comment.

So, i try to provide a nice commenting experience to my readers, and here are a few ways you can make life easy for your visitors too,

I use Google's free blog platform Blogspot, so these suggestions are written for Blogspot blogs, but most of these guidelines are universal.

1. Try and keep the Comment moderation option disabled, there is no reason to enable moderation unless you get a lot of spammy or abusive comments on your blog, and even if you need to filter the spam or trash that comes in once in a while, you should delete them at the end of the day and leave the comments unmoderated. This is cos' sometimes people have a problem with their comments being moderated, it could have something to do with the thought that their effort needs to be approved by someone else.

2. You should enable Open Id commenting, Now what is Open ID commenting ?

With Open Id commenting, your blog visitors can use their accounts on other blog platforms like Wordpress, AOL, Live Journal etc. to sign in and comment on your blog, this is to make sure a visitor has to sign in someplace before he can comment.

Or you could even go the extra distance to make commenting easy, by enabling Anonymous comments, this is for bloggers who believe the visitor has a right to keep his identity a secret if he chooses to, but allowing anonymous comments has a big extra use too, visitors could leave a direct link to their blog this way. Here is how you do it.

If use your Google account to comment in another blogspot blog, and if someone follows your comment link they are taken to your blogger profile, but then you might be blogging at a different platform, to that does not make sense, right ? In such a situation if anonymous comments are enabled, you could use a nickname and link directly to your blog home page.

Try this in my comments page, when you comment just check 'Nickname' instead of signing in using your Google account,and enter your blog URL below to give a direct link to your blog page.

3. If you notice the space above the text box in my comments page, you'll see that i've added a comment policy, even you could customize this space to display your comment policy and also maybe thank your readers for taking the time off to comment. I've seen a few bloggers write a very interesting comment policy in this space and sometimes that prompts me to leave a comment, cos' i can see how much effort has gone into helping the commenter and how much the blogger values comments.

4. Blogger gives you a option to use word verification or CAPTCHA in your comments page, this is to prevent automated comment spamming from bots, but then sometime people(like me) find it very irritating, cos' i can never ever get the letters right the first time, and it usually takes more than three tries for me to break the CAPTCHA ( i guess my eyes are pretty screwed up). So disable word verification unless you get a lot of automated spam messages. If you are a newbie blogger(like me), no one is really going to waste time spamming your blog, if you get a little bigger then you'll realize the amount of comment spam that comes in. So till then it is better to keep word verification turned off.

5. If you have multiple blogs, or write interactive posts all the time, you might need to keep track of comments not only on your new posts, but might even have to reply to comments received in a older post. In that case you could use a 'Comment notification by mail' option, to keep track of all comments you receive.

6. If you didn't know this already, blogger has this option wherein you can choose a comment policy for each post, you can either 'Allow comments' or 'Cancel the commenting option, and hide existing comments' or ' Cancel comments, but show existing comment entries'.

You get to choose this in your 'Create post' page, just below the text box where you enter the body of your post, click on 'Post Options' to expand the list, and choose the option you need.

Thats pretty much all i have for now, You could use these few suggestions to optimize your Comments page, and give your readers a better commenting experience.

This is my first post about commenting, Did you like this post ? If Yes, please don't forget to comment and even if you don't agree with my post, feel free to enlighten me with the right facts.

Happy Commenting !!

8 ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:

Arun Sundar said...

Off-topic comments would be nuked, huh?? lol...

Neways, good effort there to consolidate u'r knowledge on commenting on blospots...

And I did like this post :)

vijay said...

machan aniyaayam da idhu....wats happenin Up ter

Holly said...

Good post! Philosophically, I agree with you, but you're wrong - spammers don't just spam the blogs with 10,000 hits an hour. They spam the blogs that have good keywords, and they spam anyone who will let them. Yes, it's an inconvenience to readers who would like to comment, but so are locks an inconvenience to good neighbors who might be welcome to drop by for coffee in the morning.

My blog does require you to register. Thing is - and maybe most people don't realize this - I can only see the ID you registered. I can't see your password. You don't have to fill out a lengthy form with a lot of biographical info. You don't have to give me any personal information. You only have to have one previously approved comment before moderation is off - for you. (Abuse that, and I can easily remove you from the users list and we can start all over again.) It's a little extra trouble, but having had 10 spam comments in the first few days after setting up my new blog, I felt it was necessary.

It is easier with Blogger, but you still do have to log in (with most sites). And I did turn on Captcha there, too - unfortunately, the Spaminals made me do it. I don't like to log on to find a dozen (or a hundred) ads in my comments that offer to enlarge body parts I don't possess!

Guru said...

@Arun: hmm.. Does that sound too lame ? Infact i picked that up from some blog recently, liked the expression a lot, so thought i could use that here.

Do i need to change that now ?

@Vijay: Chillax bud. We'll talk about this tomorrow okies ?


@Holly: First of all, thanks for the long response.

And about the topic itself, i'm a total noob with anything related to blogging. I'm still at the base of the learning curve.

So i assumed high traffic blogs are usually spammed, buy you say spammers target blogs based on keywords, that makes sense cos' the only way a reader is going to follow a spam link is when the spam is related to the topic he is reading. And i've no experience of being spammed, not yet. Now, i'm actually waiting to be spammed, weird ? Cos' i'm thinking i could use that as a index to determine how popular my blog is. Maybe then i'll understand the need of word verification ( But, still i'm very poor at breaking CAPTCHAs, so i would prefer a simple arithmetic question instead, i think that plugin is available with WP ).


And about your comments policy, it took me quite sometime to find out i had to register before i could comment. So if you can, please announce your comment policy in your sidebar. I spend almost 15 mins looking for the comment entry form, a search engine visitor who wishes to drop a small comment might find it very difficult. But then i guess if i saves your time and protects you from those stupid ad spam.

BTW does anybody on the internet still fall for those enlargement scams ? I thought by now everyone should've realized how crappy the whole idea is. But then on second thoughts i can see why this till works, we men might still be tempted to follow these links sometimes, even inspite of knowing there is no way this can work, men sometimes just get curious. hmm..

And also you should probably start give a direct links to your blog, when you comment on anonymous comments enabled blogs like mine.

Holly said...

And thank YOU for returning the favor. Actually, it's not the links and backlinks I'm looking for just yet - just readers and good conversation. It's a little lonely without some interaction, and a little weird to look at the stats, see that there are readers, and NO COMMENTS. It's like, "Okay, folks, do I have spinach in my teeth, here? Someone gonna TELL me what's causing the resounding silence?"

And maybe you did. When you're not registered and logged in, do you not see the "Read a comment or leave your own" link on posts? Is it not THERE, or is it just not clear? (I should try visiting as a visitor, I suppose!) I'll try to make that clearer, and thank you for the tip. I really hadn't thought of that.

Do people really click the - er, Viagra ads? Oh, surely they MUST, else why would there be so MANY of the stupid things? Curiosity is a good thing, but it's a bottomless pit to Hell on the Internet, sometimes. I'll never forget my first email spam. I know why I started getting offers to enlarge body parts I don't have: I clicked the horse. 'nuff said? Thought so. If you ever clicked the horse, you'd know. All I have to say in my defense, when asked, "Why in the name of all that's holy would you DO that?" is, "Morbid curiosity."

The spammers rely on that.

And see? I'm not into shameless self-promotion (keep coaching me - when my book is launched in March or April, I'm going to need to get better at it) - I keep forgetting to leave breadcrumbs - links - for people to follow!

Holly - click here to visit my blog. It's lonely. (I'm not.) Had to add that last bit, you know - there ARE some weirdos out there. ;)

Holly said...

Okay, I think - I hope - I made the invitation to comment clear. Maybe I went overboard. LOL! Should I shorten it? Maybe later, I'll do a post, and change half that to a link to the post.

Guru said...

Nah.. Thats fine, i'll be very pleased to send my visitors ( very few) your way, cos' i know i'm sending them someplace good and not to some random MMO blog.


And i've come across these situations lots of times,

Good blogger - Nice blog - Awesome Blog posts- No comments - No Interaction - No response.

I've seen some very good writing go unappreciated this way.

That could either be cos' the blogger has a pretty huge ego ( to go about promoting his site, asking people to respond etc), or the blogger does not understand the importance of networking or reaching out to other bloggers. Networking with other bloggers gets you quality traffic, people actually read your entire post, participate by commenting and even follow up on their comments. That is the kind of traffic we all need, right ?

Thankfully, i have my friends around me, to support me, rather we support each other. We have a blog network among ourselves, to follow each others blog posts, cross comment, subscribe to feeds, give link backs to each other etc.

We need this cos' the initial phase is the toughest for any blogger, he is not sure whether he wants to continue writing cos' the response is not so inspiring, and when he is able to wade through these mucky waters and reach the other side, he's hooked for life.

And about your comments policy, i sure saw this 'read comments or leave one' but when i followed that link it had no instructions on how to leave comments( at least i couldn't find anything), after looking around for a while i was actually going to mail you asking for help on this.

Or maybe it was just me, i'm pretty dumb when it comes to WP related stuff, i never knew anything like signing up for a site ever existed. So i guess people who know WP will start looking for a register link when they find there is no comment entry form.

But then you'll still get visitors like me(total noobs), so you should write up a small comment policy or instructions if possible.

And self-promotion is never shameless, you need to stop using those together in the same sentence, or you should probably try out my way, by using a 'never' between those two words.

Thats cos we really don't have any other choice but to self promote our work, but then you cannot keep self-promoting yourself forever, right ? That is when the good stuff gets separated from the crap.

When the self-promotion is stopped after sometime, from there the good stuff goes on to become even more popular, while the crap gets thrown out.

So you need to self-promote your work ( no choice really ), then if you don't like the word self promotion ,why don't you try Networking.

Cheers..

Arun Sundar said...

Guru,

:)

U dont have to change that. I kind of like the word "Nuke" myself and thats y it caught my eye.

 
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