Tag Archives: comments

Disabling Comments on Old Posts, or How to Kill Discussion

With spam comments on the rise, it’s becoming more common of a practice for bloggers to disable commenting on older posts. (WordPress even provides an option to disable comments on posts older than x days.) This drastically cuts down on the spam, as spammers tend to target pages that have an established search ranking. Unfortunately, it also kills the discussion.

Guess which posts on this site receive the most new comments every week. Older ones. Not the latest posts, but the ones that have stood the test of time and still have people looking.

The terms sometimes used to refer to posts that remain relevant, and bring in traffic, for years are “evergreen content” and “pillar content.” I have posts that are a few years old, are still the most popular in terms of traffic, and gain a couple new comments every month. Occasionally a spam comment will appear on those posts, but they’re outnumbered by legitimate comments, continuing a discussion that has been going on for a long time. Does it really make sense to put an end that, and frustrate readers who arrived a little late but still have questions to ask or opinions to voice, just to avoid a few spam comments Akismet happened to miss?

That seems like a wasted opportunity. Instead, you could update your evergreen posts to remain relevant, and add some links to more recent posts on the same subject. Build user engagement and keep the discussion going.

Smaller blogs, especially, can’t count on timely social media-driven traffic. They tend to succeed more with long-tail traffic from search engines. Obviously you won’t get very many comments at all if the form gets disabled just when a post is becoming popular…

Fortunately, there is a nice middle ground. Some posts, especially ones that have attractive keywords in them but become less relevant later down the line, rarely see legitimate comments but are magnets for spam. I have a couple that seem to get a handful of spam messages that sneak past Akismet every week, but never have real comments anymore. With those kinds of posts, you could probably toggle the discussion off without inconveniencing anybody but spammers.

Should Comment Entry Forms Be Above or Below Existing Comments?

Traditionally, blog themes have placed the form to leave a new comment below the listing of existing comments. This still holds true in most WordPress themes to date. However, many sites now have the comment form above the comments. Notable sites include Mashable and Reddit.

I was pondering the reasoning behind this recently. The obvious answer is that it encourages more comments, as someone who just finished the article is prompted to post while the content is still fresh in their mind. Meanwhile, having the form below the comments requires that a user read (or simply scroll past) others’ messages—perhaps even seeing like-minded comments and deciding against leaving one.

Assuming this is true, you could promote a higher volume of comments by placing the form higher up, or on a higher traffic site, promote a higher quality of discussion by putting it toward the end. I assume someone has done tests, but I couldn’t find any publicly-posted results.


How to Defeat Cyrillic Spam in WordPress

Lately, I have been getting a lot of Cyrillic comment spam. It tends to slip past Akismet, as well as the built-in WordPress spam filters. They’re always spam, never legit comments. (As this is an English-language blog, there wouldn’t be much point for somebody to post non-English comments, anyway…)

It has been a minor annoyance for me, since I get a few every week and have to manually remove them.

Fortunately, Jeff Starr (of Digging into WordPress fame) has come up with a solution. Apparently you can put Unicode characters into the WordPress comment blacklist…which of course would include Cyrillic characters. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that to begin with, it’s so simple. :)

Anyway, his post includes several characters you can copy and paste into your blacklist.

10 Characters for Your WordPress Blacklist [Perishable Press]

Integrate Twitter @Anywhere into Your WordPress Comments

You may have noticed that, a few weeks ago, I added a new field to the comment form here on Webmaster-Source. A new “Twitter ID” field lets you input your Twitter username so it can be displayed next to the name you enter, complete with hovercards from Twitter @Anywhere.

I shared the code I had thrown together with Ben Gillbanks of BinaryMoon, who now has an easy to follow tutorial available on his site. Ben cleaned the code up a bit and made some enhancements, such as some sanitization and a cookie to make the form field remember the user’s input.

If you want to add some additional social media integration to your blog, be sure to give the tutorial a look.

How to Integrate Twitters @Anywhere with your WordPress Comments [BinaryMoon]

CommentBits: WordPress Comment Templates for Cheap

Styling comments isn’t exactly the most fun part of building a new WordPress theme for your blog. That’s the reason for CommentBits. For $7 you can get a pre-made comment template, complete with PSD files. Or you can get a lifetime membership, with access to all of the templates, for a one-time fee of $50.

It’s not for everyone, but it’s a nice niche business. They only need to roll-out a new template once in awhile, which is considerably easier than a whole WordPress theme, and process sales. The price point is low enough to be an impulse buy, too.

I wonder if we might start seeing more sellers of small theme components in the future?

Get the Average Number of Comments Per Post in WordPress

Comments are often a good metric of how engaged your readers are. The more comments you get per post, the better you are doing as a blogger. If you get a high average of comments per post, then your readers are interesting in your content, they’re reading it through, and they want to discuss the topic more.

Wouldn’t it be a neat trick if you could total up the average number of comments per post on your blog? It’s not too hard. WP Recipes has a little code snippet that does just that.

$count_posts = wp_count_posts();
$posts = $count_posts->publish;

$count_comments = get_comment_count();
$comments  = $count_comments['approved'];

echo 'Average '.round($comments/$posts).' comments per post.';

Design Your Way to More Blog Comments

StylizedWeb has an interesting post up on increasing the number of comments on your posts. It covers a lot of ground, and has some tips worth trying.

Engaging Readers, Design Your Way to More Blog Comments

First the post explains why people comment, and then moves on cover some theory and tips on how to maximize commenting by providing more incentive.

The primary reason anyone is going to leave a comment on a blog is they believe that their will be some pay off that is worth their time to formulate their response, edit it, etc… In most cases it is because they have a feeling about the content to the point where they feel the need to get their thoughts off of their chest, or maybe the author is well known enough where the idea of talking with them would be the reward.

IntenseDebate: The Solution We’ve Been Waiting For?

Automattic, the company backing the WordPress blog platform, recently purchased the hosted commenting system IntenseDebate. Like they did with Gravatar, they will likely make it ridiculously easy to make the service work with your WordPress blog, while keeping it open to other platforms. Gravatar had a big leap in usage after Automattic purchased the service, perhaps we’ll see a similar effect with IntenseDebate?

Now why is this important?

If you create an account with IntenseDebate (totally optional when you comment on IntenseDebate-equipped blogs), you are given a profile that keeps track of your comments. This means that you can easily see where you’ve commented, allowing you to go back and read followup comments.

Continue reading →

Moderate Comments With Adobe AIR

If your WordPress-based blog gets a lot of comments, it can be a pain to keep up on them.

Approving/spamming comments is sadly something that has to be done frequently, otherwise the unmoderated comments tend to pile up. Let’s face it, if you run a fairly high-traffic blog, you don’t want to trek over to the WordPress Admin to moderate comments.

That’s where Daniel Dura’s “Moderator” comes in. Moderator is an Adobe AIR app that brings the unmoderated comments to you. It sits in your Dock or System Tray and notifies you as the comments stack up in the queue. From there, you can approve, spam, or delete the comments after reading them.

The app requires WordPress 2.6+, and you must install a WordPress plugin before using the app. Once WP 2.7 is out, the developer will release a new version of Moderator to take advantage of 2.7’s comment API, which will make the plugin unneccesary.

Spammers Get Trickier

Now that automatic comment spam is becoming less effective, thanks to tools like Akismet, the miscreant marketters are addding a new few tricks to their their arsenal.

According to Mark Ghosh of Weblog Tools Collection, spammers are paying people to write long and intelligent comments on your posts. These comments look like any other comment, except perhaps a little longer, but the author link points to a spam site.

Since automattic spamming of blogs has mostly been reduced to a trickle due to the likes of Akismet, spammers are now individually targeting blog posts with highly relevant, and in many cases highly convincing comments. I moderated and subsequently spammed a comment today that was over a hundred words long, on the pros and cons of one of the themes on our daily theme posts. I thought the comment was a very well written review of theme until I looked closely. The URI of the poster was a refinancing Made For AdSense page.

In other words: It’s getting far to hard to tell the difference between a legit comment and a spam comment.

Continue reading →