About blog comments

I have a couple more posts to be published in the ‘SEO – Link Building series‘. Unfortunately I have been suffering from a very bad viral fever for the past two-three days and I could not spend time on converting those long drafts into publishable posts. In fact, I could not even moderate and reply to all my comments yet (The biggest loss though was missing out on today’s Bangalore blogger meet)

blog commentsTalking more about comments, I always thought that the blog commenting mechanism was never designed to encourage discussions. Until recently, most blogging platforms had comments listed in the chronological order. Then came in those threaded comments or nested comments plugins to improve the effect of discussions. Drawing inspiration from those threaded comment implementations, now WordPress has incorporated this feature into their 2.7 platform release.

Along with the nested comments, the blog comment area also became a place to highlight the commenters branding. Avatars were nothing but an example of this kind of branding. After branding, the marketing and SEO opportunities of comments were exploited – CommentLuv and KeywordLuv respectively being examples of the same.

More comment related extensions…

If you scan through your WordPress plugins panel, chances are that five or more plugins sitting there will be related to comments. Whether it is email commenters, top commenters, contact commenters, subscribe to comments, comment relish or commentluv, it is clear that the blog comments play an important role in the online life of the blogger as well as the commenter.

Over to you…

The long preamble was just to set the context for the following survey questions. I would like to have your opinion on the following:

1. Do you think that blog commenting is effective in its current form?

2. Have you ever felt that the new WordPress nested comment feature is forcing you to answer on a 1 to 1 basis?

3. Do you think blog comments area has become a SEO and marketing battleground that the real purpose behind comments is often neglected?

4. If you were to redesign the blog commenting look and feel, how will you do that? (Any crazy idea like post and comments side-by-side etc)

Awaiting your comments while I take some rest :)

Comments

  1. I think blog commenting is a good way to have a discussion with reader. The nested comment feature is quite helpful for one to one discussion . But yes, ever since the release of so may plugins like Commentluv etc, it is also being used to market and promote the content. Many users may be using it just to promote there content but it is still a good way to have a nice discussion.

    Madhur Kapoor’s last blog post… Download a Website with WinHTTrack

  2. Hi Ajith – I hope you feel better soon :-)

    I find that the comments serve three main purposes; 1. people who are supportive of you and your blog so they comment on many articles 2. people who have questions, need assistance, or have a opposite opinion they want to share 3. people who want to simply promote themselves through links, commentluv and the list of top commentors. I have done all three. I’ve found when I do number 3 I either lose interest in the blog or I end up becoming a supporter of it.

    Blogs without comments would certainly not be the same and blogs that make it difficult to comment will not get any. For example, I follow the publication Scientific American on Twitter. They posted a link to an article, I read it and then responded to the article via Twitter. I didn’t comment on the article because registration was required in order to do so.

    I’m still of two minds about nested comments. On an article with a normal amount of comments they really aren’t necessary. But on an article with say 30+ comments, people start having discussions and the nesting makes it much easier for the conservations to occur.

    Comments next to the post is an interesting idea. I bet it could be done although I can’t recall seeing it anywhere.

    Kim Woodbridge’s last blog post… How to Embed Flickr Photos in Your WordPress Posts

  3. First, I hope you feel better.

    And in response to your questions, I don’t really know how to improve comments. And I am not a fan of threaded comments at all. I think it makes it harder to track the conversation… And I don’t like how some opportunists use it as a way to bump other comments further down the list and get ‘preferential’ placement. So my ideal layout of comments would be chronological comments with the ability to quote previous comments. (eg. like phpBB forum comments)

    And yes, comments are now used for SEO and marketing. That’s probably the main use. When I first started commenting on blogs, I never used my url. But now, even though my main purpose is not marketing, I always use my url because if I am going to comment, I like the benefits that leaving a url will give me.

    @Kim: That is a good idea. I think comments next to the post is a great way to layout a blog page. However, it isn’t really practical because sidebars are typically in high demand. They house widgets and advertisements…

    Shirley’s last blog post… Is Video The Future Of Blogging?

  4. I am a fan of CommentLuv and look forward to adding threaded comments as my intention is to interact with my readers. Not all of their comments will require a response but most do and threading them makes it easier to keep up with them and for others to skip conversations they’re not interested in to focus in on those they are.

    Comments are as effective as the authors who leave them. Some have great ideas while others are clearly commenting to keep themselves on the Recent Comments or Top Commentators lists or to win a Top Commentator contest. The rest may not have much to add but at least they do participate.

    Your idea of having the comments next to the article is an intriguing one. I suspect we’d have to see it to decide whether we preferred them that way or not.

    Internet Strategist’s last blog post… Take Our TwtPoll: What Methods Are Bloggers Using to Generate Income

  5. Richael Neet :

    Lets face the reality. In almost 90% of cases (unofficial stat, btw) blog commenting serves only one purpose… getting backlinks to your site. Some people also bank on getting a trickle of traffic by making it to the top-commentator list, etc.

    I myself comment on different blogs with SEO in mind. But that is not all I expect from commenting. Some of my comments often compile up to become a post of its own…if the topic really interests me. Comments should encourage discussion while providing a new perspective to the original theme of the post. After all, blogs are another form of online community (as are forums and other discussion groups) so comments form an integral part of the everyday discussions.

    Off topic, I hope you are feeling ok now, Ajith. I am also down with flu…but not so down that I have to keep away from internet 😉

  6. Dennis Edell :

    I think it’s only gotten better. As for SEO and marketing being somewhat detrimental to commenting….the blog owner always holds the power of deletion for any comment that doesn’t truly add to the mix.

  7. Hi Ajith,
    Great Article. Thanks for sharing it.

  8. Often when I am reading blog posts on peoples blogs I find i spend alot of that time reading the commenst as well.. I personally think they increase traffic for both parties, the blog owner as readers like reading them and keep coming back and also for the commentor..
    Two benefits..
    I hope your feeling better soon by the way.. :)

    Timon Weller’s last blog post… Many Websites is Better than One

  9. @Madhur, I do agree that 1-1 discussions wherever needed can be promoted by the nested commenting. But don’t you think sometime it gets so cluttered that you loose interest in tracking?

    @Kim, thanks 😛

    I totally agree with your views on the need for commenting. The problem is that regarless of nesting/otherwise, it seem to be still difficult to track the topic. For example. I had a habit of quitckly scan through the post as well as the comments (in a linear way) before commenting myself. With nesting, my linear scanning is somehow interrupted :( and sometimes I wonder where to hit the ‘Reply’ button 😆

    @Shirley, I am in the same boat…though I know that currrent structuring of comments may not be ideal, I do not exactly have a real suggestion :) Also like you, initially I wasted a lot of comments without putting my URL as well.

    I agree on the role played by the sidebar… I was thinking of some crazy stuff on where else comments can present 😆

    @Strategist, Somehow, I am yet to digest the threaded comments. I had implemented it on this blog long ago and removed it after a while.

    Rightly said on the participation part. Regarless of whether it’s fore SEO needs or due to genuine interest, there’s participation!

    @Richael, 😆 that’s the reality! I think we are all with the population as well.

    You are absolutely right on the ideas generated by comments. The article that I just posted were based on queries on my comments in the last two or three posts.

    (Hope you have gotten rid of that bad flu)

    @Dennis, true…the discretion can be always applied while moderating. However, isn’t it a bad thing that the marketing side of commenting overtook the genuine intentions? Blame Google?

    @Indo context, thanks buddy.

    @Timon, I do the same.. i mean, the comment reading. And as you rightly said, commenting can create some long term relationship and patronage.

    Thanks everybody, I am already feeling well and that’s why the replies :)

  10. Raju :

    This post and the comments followed must answer your questions. I loved the conversation here. Personally I encourage commenting on my blog, since it helps me in mind-mapping and also helps in expanding my network.

    Raju’s last blog post… Top 10 Product Review Websites

  11. Dennis Edell :

    I wouldn’t say overtook, at least not yet. I still think genuine useful comments still far outweigh the crappy marketing ones; at least on my blog. :)

  12. u guess Blog commenting is effective in its current form. It could be a little more advanced (the possibility of quoting would be nice) but I’m satisfied with it as it is. I’d think of redesigning them to look more like digg comments. With “moderation” done by users – that’s usualy more effective than one person having to moderate everything.

  13. Nihar :

    Ajith, I must say. Commenting is very important as it connects you to the reader virtually. I totally agree with you with #2. I now tend to comment from admin and i reply to each comment there by increasing the number of comments.

    Comment Luv and Keyword Luv are good in a way. It encourages commenting and also in exposes your posts.

  14. Harish :

    To be honest comments are the best methods to get backlinks. In today’s blogging trend commenting is one of the most important aspect.

  15. George :

    @Harish I agree with you.All new bloggers choose commenting related blogs are a good way of boosting traffic/backlinks.By the way it is very essential too.Blogs without comment is equal to a graveyard.

    George’s last blog post… Mahindra Renault Upgrades Logan To Edge Connect

  16. @Raju, absolutely… Blog commenting is a way of networking with people of similar interests. And it tends to be more focussed…

    @Odzyskiwanie Danych, digg like commenting sounds good… Moderation done by users…hmm, I dont know the impact of the same on individual blogs. Thanks for your thoughts anyways.

    @Nihar, thanks for your views…and I am glad that you agree on the difficulties related to threaded comments. Some blogs where I saw an average of 10-12 comments per post before WordPress 2.7, now have 25 comments per post :)

    @Harish, yes… blog commenting in its ethical form is the best mean to build backlinks. I checked out your post on backlinks as well :)

    @George, I liked your simile -> ‘Blogs without comment is equal to a graveyard’ 😆

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