[Mistakes #6] Five Common Comment Form Mistakes … and How to Fix Them
This is the sixth post in our Mistakes series, a guest piece from freelance writer and blogger Raspal Seni. (You’ll find his bio at the bottom of the post.)
Your blog’s comment form is how your blog visitors communicate with you and other readers, perhaps to ask questions or share something.
The more comments on your blog, the better! Comments show that your blog is popular, give you valuable feedback, and even help turn your blog visitors into regular readers. But what if commenting on your blog is difficult? Visitors may not bother, and might not even visit your blog again.
These are five common comment form mistakes which, if you fix, more of your blog visitors will become regular readers of your blog:
Mistake #1. Not Even Using Your Own Comment Form!
This is a mistake many bloggers make. They work hard on their blog, write great posts, share them on social networks, but then don’t reply to comments.
This doesn’t make your blog look very welcoming. Traffic to your blog will decline as new visitors may think you’re not interested in your readers.
Comments are currency for your blog, as Chris Brogan says. If you reply to them, more and more visitors will become regular readers.
Fix it: Visit your blog and reply to any unanswered comments, then do this regularly. You don’t have to reply to each and every comment, but at least reply the ones which directly ask you something.
You can even reply to more than one comment in a single comment, like Ali and Daniel do here on DBT.
Mistake #2. Using a Captcha System
This is one of the mistakes which I made when starting my first blog: using a difficult captcha system.
I realised later what a mistake this was, especially recently during my 31 days at the Ultimate Blog Challenge, where I’d get irritated, when I had to read and type a difficult captcha to comment on other people’s posts.
Once, I even lost a long comment I had typed, due to typing the captcha answer wrong. I just left that blog and didn’t bother commenting again.
Fix it: If you’re using a captcha plugin, disable it! Akismet is quite good at eradicating comment spam, and in recent WordPress versions, it’s installed by default.
Another good antispam plugin is G.A.S.P. (short for Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin), which presents a checkbox below the comment form, to check before submitting a comment. Since bots can’t check it, they can’t comment.
Mistake #3. No Option to Subscribe to Comment Replies
Many blogs have a “Subscribe” checkbox below the comment form, letting readers subscribe to any new comments the post gets. Some even include another checkbox to subscribe to new blog posts.
But hardly any have an option to subscribe to just replies to your comments. Readers may not want to subscribe to all the comments, but they’ll want to know when you’ve replied to them.
Mistake #4. Not Moderating Comments
This is more of a problem for new bloggers, but even some expert bloggers fail to moderate their blog comments. [Ali’s note: Some DBT readers will know I could be better at this…!]
If you don’t check the moderation queue regularly, it’s frustrating for readers who’ve tried again and again to leave a comment.
Fix it: Check and moderate your blog comments on a regular basis and don’t forget to check the spam folder occasionally. Sometimes, legit comments will land up in there.
Mistake #5. Enabling Links within Comments
By default, WordPress is set to allow one link per comment. But, spammers take advantage of this and use it for building backlinks.
Usually, there’s no need for commenters to post links in their comments. If it’s really important, they can e-mail the blog owner with the relevant links.
Fix it: Check under WordPress Settings -> Discussions, to make sure links in comments are disabled. Set WordPress to hold the comment if it contains 1 or more links (see the screenshot below).
If they are legit comments, you can periodically check your spam folder and approve them (edit them to remove the link first, if you want).
Have you noticed any other comment form mistakes, you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below.
Raspal is a Freelance Writer and Blogger at RaspalWrites, where he has just published a follow-up post to this, 5 Additional Comment-Related Mistakes to Avoid. He enjoys helping people, is interested in technical content writing and blogging and available for hire. You can follow Raspal’s personal and business ramblings at @raspalwrites.
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23 Responses to “[Mistakes #6] Five Common Comment Form Mistakes … and How to Fix Them”
Boo on CAPTCHA! Garbage system which restricts engagement and hurts your brand.
Deal with spam. At some time you must let go. When I experience a wave of spam I delete and let go. I want to make it easy to comment on my blog and will deal with the other stuff after….ie, deleting some legit comments that wind up in spam.
Respond folks! I cannot respond to each comment – too many money making activities lined up – but i do respond consistently to build rapport and power up my brand.
Thanks for sharing!
What a useful article. I have disabled comments on all my sites because of the span comments – hundreds per week – all containing links.
Now I know that I can fix the problem via WordPress’s own settings I can get some interactions going.
Thanks for the advice.
James R. Halloran
Good thoughts about the Captcha system in comment fields!
I find that to be one of the most annoying things, especially when you can’t read it. I find it annoying that Google is implementing them now in a lot of their search fields now.
However, I think some Captcha systems are good. For example, on my personal blog, the Captcha system is a basic math problem like 2+8=?
I think those are a lot easier than typing in blobby looking words.
Kundan Raj Bhattarai
I agree with the fact that many of the website has difficult captcha system. It sometimes takes many trial to type the correct captcha. It is sometime really frustrating.
I use Defensio to keep spam mostly out of my comments. I moderate all of my comments daily, anyway, but it keeps me from seeing a lot of the garbage!
Thanks … links in comments now reset!
@Ryan: Are you using G.A.S.P.? After using this plugin, at least the automated bot-spam kept to a minimum. Manual spam is still a problem which lands inside the spam queue.
@Margaret: Disable the comments …. but only on pages, not posts. 🙂 There are many other useful settings on the Discussion page under WordPress settings. Do have a look at them. Many are self-explanatory.
@Kundan: Yes, it sure is frustrating and using a very difficult captcha system certainly means you’re driving away your visitors from commenting. Just a day ago, I was trying to register on a popular forum run by someone whom I know well. It had such a strict and difficult captcha that I couldn’t solve even after ten retries. I just left and sent an e-mail to the owner and she removed the plugin, and now does the registrations manually.
@Widdershins: Nice to know, the link removal setting was useful.
Hey, Good points there.. While some of these, I too am guilty off, there are some that I have a slightly different opinion about..
While links in the comments can be one reason for people spamming, it is also an incentive for people to comment on your blogs. Because all blogs do not have commentluv or, keyword luv installed, dropping a link in their comment could be an attraction of people to come and comment in your blog. So disabling links in comments is not completely recommended.
I have also seen that using something like Disqus instead of the normal commenting system can also help build more engagement in your blogs.
Nice Post , Yes its Important to engage with visitors who comments on our blog, If we did not reply on their comment than those visitors will never come back to our blog.
I find it really irritating when author do not reply. It makes the readers feel ignored and defeats the purpose of the write-up.
Great tips! I thought I wanted a captcha system to begin with since I was getting so much spam, but now i use Akismet and it’s super effective.
Great post, Raspal. You touched on a couple of things that really irritate me, one being that darn captcha thing. I also have had bad experiences with trying to figure out the letters and wasting so much time re-doing it because what I’m seeing is apparently not what’s actually supposed to go in the box. A couple of times I have wanted to comment on a blog or send a support ticket and it says to type in the captcha and there isn’t even a captcha to copy!! There’s nothing and no way to generate one. That really ticks me off.
The other thing is when the owner of a blog will ask readers to leave questions, but then even after a few days the questions left haven’t been answered. I know it’s difficult when you have a lot going on and you have a lot of readers and people posting questions, but a possible way to deal with that would be for the blog owner to maybe hire someone to answer the blog comments and questions. I know it can be time consuming. I haven’t had that problem to deal with yet!
I do like Akismet. I think it does a good job of catching the spam comments. As far as link setting, I just changed mine to 1 instead of the default of 2. I’m hoping that doesn’t mean that every comment with a link in the person’s name will be held because I think that’s fine to have that link within the name. I guess I’ll find out and can always change it back.
Well, I didn’t mean for this to be so long. I just like your posts and like the way you offer “fix its”. And you’re also good at interacting with your commenters. I see what you mean about how you can actually reply to several of them within one comment.
Comments do boost interest in a post and should always be encouraged – I might just add, that whoever invented the ‘captcha’ idea should have been shot – some of the newer , simpler ones are ok, most drive me to despair – after 3 or 4 goes at getting the letters right, guess what? I go somewhere else. Turn these nasty captchas off today.
True that. I never understood captcha and the benefits of it. Sure, you need to make it hard on spammers. But some of the Captcha systems I’ve seen are so hard even humans cannot bypass them.
That said, it becomes ever harder to moderate the comments with the number of spammy ones that are added every day, every hour. And some of those bots become more and more clever. My blog is in French, so I know that English comments don’t belong there…simple. Some bots however know my blog is in French and start posing spammy comments in French…they keep changing the game!
Biggest mistake: making people log in to comment, using disqus or other comment plugins. WordPress has its own great comment form, you don’t need anything else. Make it easier for people to comment and they’ll be active.
Nice post definitely.
But among all I think number 2 and 4 is more important you talked.
Overall it was good.
@Dojo: If you use Disqus, you don’t have to make commenters log in. There’s an option for that.
@DailyBloggingTips: Do you know if there’s a comment subscription button plugin for those of us who use Disqus?
@Dev: Sometimes, the blogger may not get much time to comment back soon, even though they read your comment and wish to reply. This is why it’s a good idea to have a plugin like the “subscribe to replies to my comment”. The visitors get an e-mail when the blogger or anyone else replied to their comment(s).
@Alicia: Even I had that kind of thinking when I started blogging. You should give the G.A.S.P plugin, a try too. If the visitor/commenter doesn’t check the checkbox before commenting (yes, a bit irritating), they get an error message.
@David: Spare the poor guy who invented the captcha. He did it for eradicating spam and had good intentions. 🙂 Simple math captchas aren’t much of a problem as the ones which contain two word images and one of them is very difficult to read. Anyway, stay away from them.
@Geert: For minimizing the bot spam, use G.A.S.P (link in the post above). It sure helps a lot.
@Joseph: I haven’t used disqus, but just Googled and in one of their help pages, Disqus mentions:
By default, you receive notifications for all replies to your comments. You can also subscribe to entire discussions on which you comment at Edit Profile > Notifications > Personal Settings.
So, yes, it’s possible. I think they recently added an option to subscribe to only comment replies (like the two plugins I mentioned in the post above). You can also subscribe to the whole thread (e-mails on each comment posted).
@Karleen: The link in the name (what commenters type in the website text box) is allowed, and usually won’t send the comment into the spam queue, unless it’s really a spam comment. But, blog owners can edit and remove this link if they wish.
I’ve also read the author of CommenLuv plugin having plans to reject any comments, from anyone not having a gravatar image associated with their e-mail. As per a study, commenters without a gravatar are usually spammers.
Its very useful information about comment form. Using difficult captcha is one of the mistake which I used to do in my blogs.
But now I realized and disable captcha plugin for difficult captcha system. Akismet is good solution on it.
Great post 🙂
I have made it a mission to reply to every comment that gets added to each of my blog posts. Sure, it means I will spend a lot time reading comments especially on the more popular ones but I see a benefit in that as well. Blog comments can = new ideas for more blog posts so ignoring them might mean you are ignoring potentially viral post ideas! That is a mistake I just don’t want to make.
So I reply to all comments…even if its just a “Thank you, -insert name- for your comment! :)” type of response.
You have shared a fantastic and I believe all the shared point to be valid ones.
I mean I hate it when I leave comments on blogs only to realize that my comments were washed out by the blog author by not replying to the comments I took time in typing down. What a shame!
Thanks so much for being a change agent man!
Captcha, I think, is aptly named. Sounds a lot like gotcha! 🙂
Seriously, you’re right. It can be very frustrating to write a very long comment only to rewrite it over and over because you’re getting the code all wrong.
And then there’s this WordPress widget other bloggers install. Despite my frustration, I had to chuckle when I got the message, “… you are a spam bot.” Wow, and I didn’t even know I was one. LOL.
Great post, by the way!
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