RT Cunningham


Comments and Comment Systems - Is It Really Worth the Effort?

comments

I ask this question about comments and comment systems more for myself than anyone else. You see, people rarely post comments for any article on this website. And when they do, there’s a 50/50 chance that it will be pure comment spam. In the end, I think I’d rather have no comments than “iffy” comments.

WordPress, which I’m still using, has it’s own native comment system. A system I stopped using long ago.

Comments and a Short History

There was a time when I got really depressed about the lack of comments. And then I realized the reason (or reasons) why they started dwindling in the first place. I’ll get to that in a minute because I’m going to explain why it’s actually a good thing.

Way back when I started doing this, in 2006, controlling comment spam was a nightmare. Moderating comments was almost a full-time job. There was just too much comment spam coming from people and robots trying to inflate their own website search rankings. Many blog owners turned the native comments off because they didn’t have the time to police them.

Plugins and other methods were created to deal with the comment spam. I figured out a way to stop automated comment spam around the same time I started using Nginx as my web server. That was long before I wrote about it. I kept the secret of my success to myself until it no longer mattered.

Eventually, and because I started making my website more static, I switched to the Disqus comment system. By using a third-party system, I no longer had to deal with comment spam affecting my rankings in any way, good or bad.

The number of comments dwindled and I was happy. I didn’t have to deal with the comment spam or try to figure out whether it was comment spam in the first place. Disqus filtered the nonsense better than I expected. I now had more time to concentrate on what I needed to concentrate on, my content.

Dwindling Comments

The number of comments on this website dwindled to near nothingness. I’ll sometimes get a comment for something I’ve written, but it’s so rare that it shocks me when it happens. The comments aren’t really dwindling, they’re just not being posted with the articles at this website.

I share each article at Facebook and Twitter. I have more than a thousand friends on Facebook, not so many on Twitter. I used to post share them at Google+ but no one ever responded to anything there. The service is shutting down anyway.

People will sometimes comment on my Facebook shares. Sometimes they’ll actually follow the links back to my website and post them here. Again, it’s very rare. I recently found people sharing my links at other websites, including Reddit. While they don’t generate a lot of traffic, they help to boost my rankings for those articles.

The biggest reason comments are dwindling or almost nonexistent is because of smartphones. Some people are adept at using the on-screen keyboard but most are not. If something takes a lot of effort, it doesn’t usually happen. I recently read that mobile devices now outnumber desktops in usage, meaning smartphones outnumber laptops.

I don’t think laptop computers will ever disappear. The people posting comments at Reddit seem to be using laptops for the most part. But that’s just my limited observation - I haven’t been a member for very long.

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RT Cunningham
January 28, 2019
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