Gini Dietrich

Why We Won’t Shut Off Blog Comments

By: Gini Dietrich | March 27, 2014 | 

Why We Won't Shut Off Blog CommentsBy Gini Dietrich

A couple of weeks ago, super smarty and witty Jay Dolan wrote a blog post about closing off blog comments.

His reason?

Spam (well, that and he was finding no meaningful conversation in the comments).

He knew bloggers (like me) would disagree with this approach so he had a message to us in the post: Too bad (in more colorful language).

Because I like him a whole bunch, I didn’t make a big deal of it at the time.

In fact, I probably wouldn’t have even mentioned it except, earlier this week, Copyblogger did the exact, same thing (clearly copying Jay, we decided during a Twitter conversation).

Yes, one of the biggest – and most popular – blogs in the marketing world is closing their blog comments.

I, I…just…wow.

Because I disagree so vehemently with this approach, I set out to keep an open mind. I read the blog post. Six times.

And I kept thinking about it. And I talked to some friends (namely Livefyre) whose jobs are to keep comments moving.

Shutting Off Blog Comments

A couple of weeks ago, we had a conversation about where you should build your community.

I stand very firmly on the side of building it in a place that you own vs. renting it out to one of your social networks.

But Copyblogger is doing the complete opposite.

We’re fortunate enough (mainly because we’ve been around for so long now) that we have a lot of thriving “outposts” where conversation happens, particularly Google+ and Twitter.

So we’re going to take the conversation there (and more important, to your own blogs), and see how that works.

They’ll continue to use the social networks to promote their new content, but will use Google+ and Twitter as an outpost for the former blog comments.

The blog will no longer be a destination for their readers.

It’s admirable and a curious test. I don’t agree, but it is interesting and I want to see what happens.

Is Spam Really the Problem?

But here’s the real reason this move bothers me: They say they spend too much time filtering out the spam.

In a little over eight years, Copyblogger has published more than 130,000 approved comments. Which is pretty amazing, right?

But over that period, that’s only about 4% of the comments that were left on the site. The remaining 96% were pointless, time-wasting spam.

Of course, we’ve had a lot of help fighting that deluge from our spam filters. But spammers have gotten smarter, and the practice has evolved to the point where it takes a decent amount of mental effort to figure out the intent behind comments that are actually cleverly-disguised spam.

Based on those statistics, I set out to look at the same for Spin Sucks.

In seven years of blogging, we have 122,443 approved comments. These are all real comments. There isn’t a single spam comment in there.

Another 12,096 comments were spam, but we’ve never seen them nor have we had to moderate the majority of them.

Every once in a while, one or two will get through. Once a week I go through the blog comments and send a handful of to spam. But it takes me just a couple of minutes.

What that means is, of 134,539 blog comments, only 11 percent are spam. Nearly the complete opposite of Copyblogger.

Where Livefyre Helps

Sure, we’re not as big or popular as Copyblogger. The traffic numbers probably don’t compare. They’re a much bigger target than we are.

But I credit Livefyre for the ability to create content and build community without having to worry about spam.

Since we started using it for our commenting platform in 2009, we haven’t had to moderate, delete, or spend time working through all the crud.

I asked Kristin Hersant, the vice president of marketing at Livefyre, why Copyblogger has had such a problem with spam and we have not.

We want our customers to focus on what matters – writing your blog – which is why we’ve built real-time moderation tools that automatically filter out spam, profanity, insults, hate speech and other types of bad content.

Spin Sucks and all of our blog customers get to use the same tools we’ve built to support major media sites such as Fox News and Fox Sports, which are frequently targets of similar troll attacks as Copyblogger. Whether you’re a blog or a major media site, you shouldn’t have to give up ownership of your community because of spam.

You shouldn’t have to give up ownership of your community because of spam.


Now it’s your turn. How do you feel about blog comments? Do you land on the side of Copyblogger or of Spin Sucks?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • I honestly think that it’s a link building scheme, not about spam at all. If they get others to get into the habit of commenting on their personal sites, then hey, more links!

  • In a blog like Spin Sucks, you are apt to learn as much from the comments as you are from the blog. It can become a lively, engaged, educational discussion. And with the additions to the blogging system we will be launching with Livefyre…. oh my…. I can’t wait until we can announce those!

    Take away the comments and this blog really suffers.

    I have long felt people have the right to express their views. Letters to the editor in the old days were one way, but now the blog systems that are in place are another.

    As a newspaper editor, we received a lot of “spam” in the mail and via email that was intended to try to sneak in under the radar and get published. We had to use people to filter it, but fortunately, a blog can use a variety of tools, such as Livefyre, which works really well, to help.

  • I love Livefyre and thank you for suggesting it as a good thing to put on my blog ginidietrich.  Since I added it, I’ve had no spam at all. I certainly don’t have anywhere near the traffic that you have but still it’s a relief! I don’t like when I get to a blog, have something to say, and the comments are closed. Thanks for keeping yours open!

  • ThePaulSutton

    Personally (and hey, WTF do I know?!) I didn’t really swallow Copyblogger’s rationale for doing this. Something didn’t really ring true in the explanation. For a site like Copyblogger, or Spin Sucks for that matter, it sounds like blogicide. 

    As you well know and have openly stated on many occasions, Spin Sucks is all about the community that exists within the blog. Sure, the outposts in G+ or Facebook or wherever are great. But split this community into different platforms and you’ll lose the ‘community’. 

    Maybe Copyblogger doesn’t really have a ‘community’ in the true sense of the word? It may get lots of comments (spam or not), but that doesn’t translate into community. So that’d be my guess on it.

    And for what it’s worth, I thought Mark Schaefer’s post on this was pretty good too:

  • ThePaulSutton  Yes, the debate over on Mark’s blog really attests to the value of comments.
    Also, Jay Baer announced there that he’s going to discontinue comments as well.

  • chelpixie  I think you nailed it.

  • RobBiesenbach Really? Is it some kind of in-joke among the power players? How come you’ve not been invited, Gini?!

  • JohnMTrader

    ClayMorgan  Well said Clay.

  • I saw the debate over on Mark Schaffer’s blog that ThePaulSutton referenced and it seemed to me the unspoken thing was not the pure spam comments but all the lame comments some blogs attract. As Jay Dolan said, commenters trying to position themselves, rather than add value.
    Copyblogger probably doesn’t need the comments for its business model, but maybe we should shift the debate away from bloggers to commenters’ responsibility for keeping a community thriving:Before hitting submit, ask yourself why you’re commenting. Is to make a valuable contribution or to get your name out there?Ask yourself if you’re moving the debate forward or just giving an “attaboy?” Understand that a generic “Thank you for sharing this valuable information” looks a lot like half the spam comments that get filtered and often need a second and third look by moderators.That link to your own stuff you’re sharing: will it make a valuable contribution or is it just self-promotion?Do you only comment when the blog owner posts and ignore the guest bloggers? Would you go to a dinner party and ignore the host’s friends sitting to the left and right of you? If the blog owner thought their contribution was valuable, give the guest blogger a longer look. (But then only comment if you truly have something valuable to contribute.)Also, don’t just engage with the blogger—engage with the other commenters as well. 
    Those are a few off the top of my head. A thriving, sustainable comments section is partly the responsibility of the commenting community.

  • ClayMorgan  People made that very point in the Schaffer thread and I totally agree. Sometimes I’ll read the comments as much as the blog to get a reality check and other perspectives on the blogger’s point of view.

  • Diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks, right?

    I’ve read Copyblogger for years and I’ve never left a comment on one of their posts. The tone and style of their team’s writing style (and guest contributors, for that matter) don’t often encourage active participation and dialogue, but Copyblogger content gets distributed far and wide, referenced in new blog posts.  Comments aren’t central to their business model, IMO, especially as they’ve moved from a blog into a media and product company.

  • To me, it’s the difference between sitting at a presentation or joining friends at a coffeehouse to discuss a topic.  I’d much rather go to the coffeehouse and will less regularly attend a presentation. I do think the community has to be genuine in order to garner comments. SS does a great job of replying to comments and eliciting engagement. I’ve made friends by connecting with other community members on SS and I try to model the same behavior in my own blog community.

  • RobBiesenbach ThePaulSutton  Wow. I’m impressed with what comes off the top of your head!

  • RobBiesenbach ThePaulSutton  This needs to be a post in itself!

  • ThePaulSutton I think the “community” thing is also an important point. There is the advantage at Spin Sucks that the community here, I believe, is made up mostly of marketers, communicators and PR people. So it’s natural that people would bond and interact.
    At copyblogger—and I haven’t checked out the comments in some time, so I could be wrong—my sense is the audience is business owners who are taking the marketing onus upon themselves. So a more diverse group.

  • jolynndeal Okay, it’s something I’ve been mulling, so not completely top-of-head thoughts!

  • jasonkonopinski  I think that’s just it… they’ve moved from being social media ( a blog) to just plain old-fashioned media.  Not necessarily anything wrong with that… just not particularly appealing if you’re into engaging conversations and give and take versus media monologue.

  • jolynndeal RobBiesenbach ThePaulSutton  I second that!

  • The irony that I see is saying the comments are closed because of spam, and moving to G+ and Twitter to continue the conversations there. Except… Livefyre already pulls in Twitter. Using a plugin like (which I have on my blog) allows you to have both Livefyre (with Twitter) and G+ Comments at the same time. On your own blog.
    So, for me, there’s no real issue with spam (heck, I’ve had over 300,000 spam comments in six years and comments remain open). 
    By all means, do what’s right for you, but the spam reasoning seems kinda weak.

  • jolynndeal RobBiesenbach ThePaulSutton  Me too;)

  • ThePaulSutton RobBiesenbach  Nah, it’s more like the big Twitter UnFollow a few years back. Gets people talking about it for  awhile, then disappears. Meh.

  • creativeoncall Aye. Like others have noted, the spam reasoning seems to be pretty weak.  Copyblogger content is well-written, researched, and useful, but I think it’s pretty clear that building a thriving, engaged community was a primary objective. This discussion would be taking on a whole new direction if there were actually a community to speak of.

  • wrightp1

    I enjoy as much from comments as I do from blogs. Not to say that’s the case with every post, but enough that I  feel more connected to the community and bloggers if I can be part of the conversation either by actively participating in comments or passively by just reading them.

  • KyleAkerman


    This should have been a blog post on your site linking to SpinSucks, Mark Schaffer’s blog and the Copyblogger post 🙂

  • I have been following this issue with Copyblogger and the ensuing blog posts by Mark, Jay et al and immediately thought about this blog community. I agree with everyone here, that Copyblogger is becoming more the model of media company, that blog comments on ‘owned’ property have tremendous value in building personal relationships and obviously that Livefyre is a platform that regards its mission with high ethical standards. 

    I also find the commentary on blogs to be fascinating, expanding the discussion and an invaluable tool, if you will, to find other like-minded individuals. Spam, whether it be in link building or unsavory comments, unfortunately seems to be an inevitable portion of social media and as Clay has mentioned holds a long history in different forms.  With attentive moderators as we experience here, I fear it would be a costly error for most bloggers. 

    Besides, if Gini were to stop the comments she may have to open up a withdrawal clinic for those of us who couldn’t handle the loss of our morning addiction. Isolation leads to depression so by transitivity this comment section is responsible for the health and well-being of many. It is a big responsibility on your shoulders Gini girl, glad to hear you will continue to act responsibly for global health.

  • Man, I blew it!

  • RobBiesenbach hat tip sir. that’s almost exactly how I’ve approached commenting these many years. Very well said.

  • Danny Brown  I send you spam quite frequently.

  • jolynndeal  That’s a GREAT analogy, Jolynn. 🙂

  • This has been going on a while now and agree w/ annelizhannan and others, in the case of Copyblogger it’s a media site, their model isn’t really based on community or advancing discussion – it’s eyeballs and auto-shares and click metrics.

    Like you, I find some of the rationale behind this move subject to debate. I wrote as much when I shared the post to G+ – and since CB doesn’t use a plugin like Danny Brown has, there’s really no way it contributes to the discussion for other readers or their community. (Unless I tag the author, who is gonna follow all those breadcrumb trails??) The post talked about using their posts as a jumping off point for future conversations elsewhere, which brings me back to the eyeballs and rankings and ads, as surely all those back links will be SEO gold. 

    The other elephant in the room – Comments are Work. See also RobBiesenbach fantabulous comment. Reading comments, managing them, engaging with others, that all takes time and (even w/ plugins and such) a human behind the keyboard. A true Community really isn’t what many of these sites want; as I said, I’ve been following this kind of move a while as it’s trickled down to the biz/brand side of things – and risk/work vs. easy to automate reward. End of the day I think it’s the social shares, the likes and views and clicks, the vanity metrics some blog/site owners are after. If they have fans who’ll feed all their content into their own streams, pump it out like candy.. what do they care from doing the work of managing a community (comments)? They’re now free to post any old thing – good or bad, hot potato or ho hum – and not have to answer for it. Anyway, off to rant on Mark’s post too. 🙂 FWIW.

  • jolynndeal RobBiesenbach ThePaulSutton  Me too! 😉

  • This certainly does seem to be “the latest trend” for all the cool kids (except for JayDolan – he’s not very cool), as Danny Brown mentions below. I love love love our community and can’t imagine having a “no comments allowed” policy. Frankly, when I reach the end of a post, and realize the company/author doesn’t have a commenting system in place, it leaves me cold, and instantly negates what I’ve just read – no matter how great the piece was. Weird, eh? I guess to ME it feels a bit insulting.

  • chelpixie  I think not just link building — but social site gaming too. As Facebook tries to set up a tollway for brand pages having increased interaction on those sites will enable their posts there to get more views. 

    It’s a strategy that says the social views we get are more important than the community in the comments — which for Copyblogger might be true!

  • makeaner1

    RobBiesenbach ThePaulSutton  Amen. Well said!

  • makeaner1

    Does anyone think this is due in part to driving their Google ranking? By having a really active Google+ page, what does that do for their analytics and ranking? Just curious.

  • belllindsay Thank you, Lindsay. 🙂

  • annelizhannan It’s for our GLOBAL HEALTH. Isn’t that all that needs to be said? 🙂

  • RobBiesenbach ThePaulSutton great bullet points re: commenter responsibilities!

  • ThePaulSutton RobBiesenbach One of the interns probably lost the invitation …… now they’ll get fired.

  • makeaner1  Probably…but it sounds like they already have a really active page. I guess they want to drive more conversation there. I may do a test to see if that will actually affect your ranking. Hmmm…

  • chelpixie  Wow. My brain just does not work that way. I don’t sit around and think, “Let’s find a way to get people to link to us!” But it totally, totally makes sense.

  • blfarris chelpixie  So, Brad, you think if they’re driving more people to engage with them on the social networks, they’ll be able to bypass the pay-for-play Facebook is moving toward?

  • ClayMorgan  Look at you, you tease!

  • LauriRottmayer  I don’t like it either. I’m not going to go to a social network to engage an author in conversation about something they just wrote. But I guess I’m not the norm.

  • RobBiesenbach ThePaulSutton  WHAT?!?! Jay, too? I quit.

  • ThePaulSutton RobBiesenbach  Seriously! I’m glad I haven’t been invited.

  • ThePaulSutton  What do you think is the real reason behind it?

  • ginidietrich and to answer the original question re: which side I’m on .. to me it’s not exactly a side — I think each of you has reasons you believe in strongly. As a “small” blogger, I always say I write to flex my writing muscle mainly but oh how a comment thrills me! (that includes yours recently Gini and ps the sham is in the mail from Baton Rouge, LA but I digress!!). And this community is proof of how to do it right …. I wouldn’t trade the SS model for anything.

  • Comments don’t add to my vision of The Anti-Social Media. That doesn’t mean that comments aren’t right for other blogs. They just weren’t right for me anymore.

    I’m not trying to build a community. I love my regular readers. But I don’t think many of them want their name associated with a blog that has a regular “F*** You! Friday” feature. Call me crazy that way.

    The other issue I have is I frequently find myself defending my points to people on my own blog. Who wants to read something funny and then see people arguing about it? That’s no fun and takes away from the spirit of my blog. 

    Every blog is different. What works for me may not work for you. And maybe I’ll change my mind in a couple weeks.

    But for now, I enjoy being a trendsetter. 🙂

  • RobBiesenbach  Guest post! Guest post! Guest post!

  • creativeoncall jasonkonopinski  But…so have we and we’re not closing our comments. Some of the things we’re launching this year will prove this isn’t just a blog anymore. I don’t get it.

  • jolynndeal  I second the great analogy. In fact, I’m going to steal it.

  • Danny Brown  On your own blog is so, so important. I just don’t understand moving people away from something you own. Giving a social network your community. Giving up your own data that helps you make decisions on the types of content you deliver. I don’t get it.

  • WrightP  I totally agree! When I read blog posts, I always read the comments and see where I can add value to the conversation.

  • While it depends on the blog, in general, the only thing worse than no comments is a comment section the blogger never comments in. Spin Sucks sets out to be a community and achieves that because the Spin Sucks folks don’t leave the rest of us out here to “talk amongst ourselves.”

  • biggreenpen ginidietrich  I can’t wait until your sham arrives!

  • ginidietrich creativeoncall I think the difference is you *led* with community. Once it’s there, you can’t shut it down without serious problems.

  • annelizhannan  Heck, *I* would have to go to that clinic! It would be like losing a bunch of friends in a horrific accident all at once.

  • jasonkonopinski  Good point and same for me. I’ve only commented a couple of times, usually to compliment the writer. I look at their posts as informational but never considered the blog a community.

  • belllindsay I agree with you. Even on big, big media sites, if I can’t at least read the comments from other people (I rarely leave one), it feels like it’s not worth my time.

  • JayDolan  People clearly are emulating you. You, trendsetter, you.

  • Word Ninja  There is a big debate about that, too. Mitch Joel and I have a long-standing argument about it. He believes the point of the blog post is to give the author time to make the argument and the comments are for the readers. I believe the opposite. As you can tell…

  • jasonkonopinski Good point.

  • ginidietrich I have them now and again. #evenabrokenclockisrighttwiceaday

  • ginidietrich Only a hunch, obviously, but possibly an SEO move? It’s no secret that Google’s placing more and more importance on social signals. So if you produce great content and encourage people to interact with it more and more on FB and G+ rather than on-site, that (in theory at least) is more beneficial to SEO than having comments on-site. Isn’t it??

  • I tend to stop reading blogs that don’t have comments (except for Seth Godin) because even if I rarely have time to comment, when I do it’s because I want to have a dialogue. When I’m not commenting on a blog that has livefyre, I subscribe to replies. 

    Comments are such a great opportunity. They can build community, assist with lead generation, and add incredible value to what’s already been said in the blog post. I’ve seen this come up every couple of years and I’ve never seen a convincing reason for turning them off (except for Seth Godin) and Copyblogger (even with 96% spam) hasn’t convinced me. I feel disappointed because they’re supposed to be one of the examples that bloggers look to for good advice. This feels more like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

  • StaceyHood

    How about this for a  “real” reason….They’re tired of moderating comments?  
    I don’t get a lot of traffic on my site, except for when I write a blog, but like Danny Brown, I use the tools to keep spam comments out. But I do get tired of seeing the occasional comment that has nothing to do with the post or something that makes me wonder if the person commenting actually read the post.
    I love having discussions after a post personally. I’ve had some great discussions offline with several people that are commenting here. That’s where the takeaway is because they will take our discussions and use them online. The beauty of comments is that you can learn a lot more than just reading the post. Remember, everything is an opportunity, whether it is a chance to learn, teach or build your community.

  • I haven’t read and written on blogs much at all over the past few years, so I’m a bit out of practice, and you can take this with a grain of salt, but — Spin Sucks is literally the ONLY blog that I read for both the content and the intelligent dialogue in the comments.

    You’ve taken the time and effort to build a community of smart, invested, courteous people, and that’s amazing. I love it. But it’s also something you can’t get most everywhere else. 95% of the time, anywhere I go on the web, I’ll read the article, then skim down the comments just to see if they look decent, but all I really ever see is the same old stupid stuff. Most of the time it’s worthless.

    I think if it’s mission-critical, and-or you’ve put in the work, leaving comments open is a great thing to do. But for most places, I think shutting down comments saves a lot of time and cuts a lot of noise. It’s too much work to mine that volume for the few positive nuggets.

  • KevinVandever

    These folks may be on to something. In fact, I’ve decided to shut off comments and replies to my speaking. No need for me to hear what others have to say. What I have to say is important enough for everyone.

  • ginidietrich That’s interesting. I realize it’s a huge commitment to spend time and energy interacting with readers, and you all do a wonderful job. I also believe what you do here also goes deeper. Your interactions speak to your character and the character of the great team you lead.

  • You can’t compare really. All of you do different things and draw a different audience, so just because you don’t get much does not make it a huge problem for bigger or different blogs. plus, I do think there are so many places to post these days that people are pretty much worn out, so they don’t. Or, it could just be the paradox of choice.

  • ginidietrich makeaner1  Yeah – they saw the value of Google+ early on and got to building out a presence quickly. Interestingly, they’re not promoting FB in the CTA at the bottom of the post. Just Google+ and Twitter.

  • ginidietrich What a compliment! Thank you!

  • StaceyHood  They’re a multi-million dollar company. They can’t pay an intern $20 an hour to spend an hour a day just filtering the comment section?

  • JayDolan  Jim Connolly did it a few years ago, you laggard. 🙂

  • jolynndeal It will go like this, “My friend JoLynn Deal has a great analogy about blogging and community.” And then I’ll make the statement. I’ll test it out tomorrow when I speak at #SMMW14.

  • ginidietrich Agreed. If Twitter, Facebook and G+ morph or disappear, where’s all the discussion going? Oh, snap.
    Speaking of which, I had to deactivate the Comments Evolved plugin as it was messing up email alerts. Hey ho.

  • StaceyHood

    Danny Brown I don’t know, that’s what I’m asking. Playing devil’s advocate more than anything. Sometimes the simplest answer is the correct one. I can see both sides of this and the reasoning, but if you close the comments, you take away the whole aspect of community, social, etc.

  • Ok Gert- survey… how many people who are “regulars” to the comments are NOT Spin Sucks Pros?

  • ginidietrich Thank you so much, Gini. That’s really kind and I look forward to the feedback.  Good luck with your presentation tomorrow.  Enjoy San Diego!

  • Honestly it depends. If Spin Sucks were to shut down its comments, I would be disappointed. Here the comments are an extension of the post itself. However if Huff Post shut down its comments I would rejoice. 

    Not all comments sections are communities and I think that is where the disconnect is. If there is no form of community building, no level of real conversation, but frankly trolls or people trying to promote themselves – why have a comment section at all?

  • ginidietrich I should tell you too, that I like the concept so much that I designed my marketing business around a coffeehouse. 🙂

  • Pete Herrnreiter

    I think that comment sections are a key force for audience/community building, however there simply are some content pieces that shouldn’t have a comment section. 

    That said, I’m not sure I can comment on why they did this, or if it’s a good idea for them, but what I can say is that this opens up a larger question of “should all websites that allow comments really be doing so?”.  

    Case in point:
    – The Chicago Tribune posted a very short (~200 word) article about the Bears signing Austen Lane.  Nothing special here, unless you read the comment section which VERY quickly turned heated and filled with insults which detracted from the article.  We’ve all seen this, whether it’s sports, politics, on YouTube or the NY Times.

    So again, my question is “should all websites that allow comments really be doing so?”.  

    Does the Trib or any other news outlet really NEED comments?  Does it detract from journalism? 
    What’s the value of comments if they’re nothing but an opportunity to engage in idiocy?

    I’d really advocate for people being a bit more cautious of the value of comments and how it either adds or detracts from the contents value.  If there is no value, then remove the comment section.

  • As mentioned below, the real difference is that this is a community; Copyblogger is a news source. Bloggers that have taken the time and pursued the strategy of true community-building (here, Danny Brown  markwschaefer  thesaleslion  among many others) cannot fathom turning off comments. It’s like severing an arm – or an aorta. 

    But if you think of your “blog” more as a daily magazine (which is what Copyblogger really is, and what Convince & Convert has become) comments are superfluous to the larger strategy. Which is why we’re turning them off as well (I think. I want to run it by our guest bloggers first). We were planning to do it anyway in our coming-soon redesign, but Jay and Brian doing it first gives me a little more confidence to do it. 

    The larger lesson here is that as blogging and content evolves, different styles and strategies naturally evolve alongside. To me, this comments question is similar to debating the merits of publishing your thoughts as a Linkedin, Forbes, Entrepreneur blogger, or writing on Medium. Good audience, but you’re renting it. 

    It’s all about being a digital dandelion and understanding (for you and your business) what is your stalk, and what are your seeds.

  • I have had the same response to this from the moment I heard it–nonsense. Comments aren’t currency but they are a significant part of how you build community.

    I don’t invite people into my house and tell them they are not allowed to speak because I am going to give a monologue.

  • Danny Brown JayDolan  I better go back to the drawing board.

  • jjudge

    I don’t understand that either. Comment systems like Disqus make this an incredibly simple problem to solve.

  • Some people (me) won’t return to a blog that has no comment sections. I realize that spam is such an issues that I’m one of those commentators that will flag spam continuously, just to help that blog. Thanks for staying the course.

  • stevenmcoyle If you are trying to build community a comment section is one of the best tools at your disposal.

  • KyleAkerman

    Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes  

    Yeah but Copyblogger did not invite me to their house.  I CHOSE to go their because I get utility from their content.  

    I don’t get a lot of utility from their Comment Community so little changes for me.   Readers who DO get value from their Comment Community have a right to be upset.

  • I don’t know and I don’t want to be disrespectful, but in this one you are right and he and Copyblogger are wrong.  You’re spot on with keeping them ON YOUR REAL ESTATE too. 

    Sorry, I just feel as vehemently as you do on this – had to chime in.

  • KyleAkerman

    Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes  

    I meant “there because”  🙂

  • KyleAkerman  I don’t think we agree on this. Copyblogger isn’t a personal blog. 
    They are marketing, selling and promoting products/services and part of how they built their reputation was by providing a comment section for two way communication.
    If they hadn’t had a comment section would they have reached this moment in time?
    I don’t think so. The comment section allowed that dialogue and helped them build credibility and that was the springboard.

  • TimPio

    Hi Gini:

    Was going to RT this post on Twitter but wanted to comment.  When I first started blogging six or seven years ago, my comments were my lifeline.  The traffic to my blog was terrible, but those comments helped me to understand and realize people read and sometimes appreciated what I was writing.  Through those comments on my blog (and my comments on their blog), some real, honest-to-goodness friendships emerged.  One commenter, who became my friend, ended up designing my blog header – something I’ll always be grateful for.  

    Yes, I fully understand why Copyblogger and other sites may be closing comments…but I’m glad sites like Spin Sucks and many others will keep the comments flowing.  Thank you for keeping comments on Spin Sucks!

  • Todd Lyden  You mean who comments regularly subscribes to our PRO version?

  • NancyCawleyJean

    For a long time I was totally pro social media networks and building communities there. But your thinking is spot on — we have to build our communities on something we own so we can have control over it. If not, we are just at the mercy of what the social networks decide to do. It doesn’t matter if we have a community of 100,000  followers, or a million for that matter, on a social network. As we have seen from Facebook’s limiting organic reach without advertising dollars going to them, it’s pretty plain to see what can happen to the community we’ve spent so much time building. And stopping comments on something you own to just move it to somewhere you have no control? Thinking it’s a reaallllly bad move. Thanks for another great post, Gini!

  • ginidietrich Todd Lyden and vice versa…  who comments regularly but is NOT subscribed to the pro version… or even a FREEBIE subscriber…

  • KyleAkerman

    Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes

    I see your point, but they did not eliminate a two-way discussion, they just moved it.  

    And those who get value from the Copyblogger comment community will either follow to the new locations to engage or will drop off.  

    The move may prevent Copyblogger from attracting NEW followers that are looking for community, but maybe they feel their community is big enough.  We can only speculate.

    Every site has different goals, so the same strategy may not be optimal for all.

    Gini is smart. Brian and Sonia of Copyblogger are smart. They don’t have to share the same business strategy to achieve their business goals.

    But I’m not going to bet against ANY of them, no matter what strategy they choose 🙂

  • very interesting. 

    This is why JayDolan really closed comments:

    Jay’s Mom: Great another post about marketing. That is the industry that sells bad food to little kids. I never thought of you as shifty like them. Did we not raise you right? Why aren’t you a Doctor JayJay like your Dad and I have hoped for like that Silverstein kid became. You were such good friends. where did we go wrong? Your brother manages 3 mcdonald’s now that is a career!

    JayDolanMAAAAAA! Every day Mom. Every Day! You come by my work and you humiliate me. You forget I get ill at the sight of blood. When will you stop mom. It’s like you cut and paste your complaint. Every day Ma! I do really well for myself. In fact I run the Silverstein kid’s facebook page for his bunion surgery practice. I am as close to be a doctor as one can be without the degree.

    happens to the best of us.

    My question is this: Can you be taken seriously in social media if you do not allow comments? NO. End of story.

  • I also need to add you have zero connection with any readers if you don’t allow comments. You have no idea your biggest supporters. Who comes by everyday or once in a while. You lose out on valuable insights especially those occasions when maybe you are wrong.
    On the flip side look at the huffington post or the big news sites they get 1000’s of comments and people talking for good and for bad. It is a data gold mine. But too much to respond too. And wouldn’t you rather that data be owned by you vs fartbook?

  • JayBaer I disagree on that – business blogs are news sources. Personal blogs are news sources. Hobby blogs are news sources. I’d say Copyblogger is an education source as much as it is a news source.
    Nothing against anyone doing what they want on their property (and I certainly could fathom turning off comments, I just choose not to) – just that the reasoning of spam is a moot one, given the options available to control (especially given Brian Clark’s statement about G+ being a better option – make G+ the default commenting system then, if thats the argument).

  • NancyCawleyJean  the best way to combat this control that the networks have over us and our clients is to collect emails and add value to the continuous conversation.

  • Kudos to Copyblogger for everyone doing exactly what they wanted people to do – talk about their decision. Imagine how flat the “news” would have been if no-one had batted an eyelid… 😉

  • Aside from having an awesome third party commenting system, Spin Sucks uses comments in a way that most other bloggers aren’t. 

    You maximize what that direct dialogue needs to be. It doesn’t always look like a comment stream! The Q+A’s you do and the engagement you continue deliver at the bottom of each article is why commenting platforms exist. 

    It’s really a matter of positioning.

  • Danny Brown  Ha! True…we were just talking about that, in fact. More link building for them.

  • Todd Lyden I actually don’t know the numbers. I’d venture to guess it’s probably split in half. I don’t always put the blog post on my FB page, but when I do, I know who’s come from there vs. who subscribes. I do know less than two percent of our subscribers comment.

  • kanya632

    stevenmcoyle  You
    have a point there, steven. What works for one company might not work
    for another. It’s a risky (and slightly ambiguous) move on Copyblogger’s end. But
    then again, isn’t that what we do as marketers? We take risks. We experiment. If
    something doesn’t work, we iterate. Brian, CEO of Copyblogger, even tweeted
    that if shut down of comments “prove to hurt, [he’ll] add them back and say

  • I’m still looking for the official “Bloggers Playbook” where it says that every blog must have comments turned on for the life of a blog to serve a successful purpose as a business tool…

    … still looking … still … eh, forget it.

    You know, it would be a great publicity tool if a popular blog that had comments on turned them off and then mentioned it, knowing it would create controversy that created links to the blog, though.
    I wonder if any business owner might try that… 😉

  • ginidietrich biggreenpen oh I will share!

  • Agree with your post, Gina. One thing Sonia Simone didn’t mention was how turning off comments might affect traffic. Maybe it won’t?
    One additional problem with Copyblogger’s logic you didn’t mention: They say I should actually post “super-thoughtful” comments on my OWN site instead of on the post that inspired me! I’m trying to imagine the effort involved to read the (currently) 104 very thoughtful and interesting comments on your post if they had instead been published on everyone’s own personal site.

  • Great post ginidietrich! I enjoy posting on Spin Sucks and would hate to see comments closed. I say if it makes Copyblogger and AntiSocial happy, let them do their own thing. You never know, we might have a few new crazies show up here.

  • nickcicero JayBaer  Exactly! So well said!

  • photo chris

    Todd Lyden ginidietrich  I’m not a “pro” but I comment regularly, and I read  Spin Sucks everyday.

  • ginidietrich But I think I already wrote it all?

  • photo chris

    annelizhannan  where is the “LOVE” button for this?

    Besides, if Gini were to stop the comments she may have to open up a withdrawal clinic for those of us who couldn’t handle the loss of our morning addiction. Isolation leads to depression so by transitivity this comment section is responsible for the health and well-being of many. It is a big responsibility on your shoulders Gini girl, glad to hear you will continue to act responsibly for global health.

  • One other thing to add: commenting on people’s blogs is a great way to develop relationships in a way that’s just harder to do on Twitter, for instance. You contribute in a substantive way (instead of the attaboys) and in some depth, you engage in real conversation and eventually they start to notice that you’ve got some interesting things to say.
    It’s a much more organic way to start a relationship than by retweeting or replying to a total stranger on Twitter, or sending an email out of the blue. I mean, it’s content marketing. Maybe even Youtility—you’re contributing a point of view and additional information.
    But that’s all from the reader’s perspective. From a Big Blogger’s perspective, it’s a lot less important, I’m sure.

  • photo chris

    biggreenpen ginidietrich  and this, ” And this community is proof of how to do it right …. I wouldn’t trade the SS model for anything.”  is why when I was providing an endless stream of input for the new blog I held this one up as a beacon. I pushed Yoast. I pushed Moz. I pushed Livefyre. I got excited about endless commentary and the potential community that we could build (we all know this high, yes?), and I slammed into a wall of  higher ups who said a blog is just for SEO. And to use keywords a certain number of times (a lot) and no one cared about the fairy princess post. Or article after article of panda facts. Or community. And my soul died a little bit.

  • photo chris

    RobBiesenbach ThePaulSutton  do you have a tape recorder up there? Wow!

  • photo chris Todd LydenginidietrichI think this illustrates… the comment changes are a financial thing… and could be for Gert…

  • Howie Goldfarb JayDolan  It’s a good thing I don’t want to be taken seriously in social media. 🙂

  • photo chris

    Gini- I’m so so so so glad you decided to write on this because when I read the initial Copyblogger post  It made me want to email you right away and scream, “PLEASE DON’T DO THIS!!!!!” And then, “WHAT do you think of it?!?!?!”

    When I received the post that Copyblogger was shutting down their comments, I nearly fell over. I thought it was a joke. And then I felt insulted and “preached to.”

    I have to say that though I find their writing smart, and even helpful, if I can only read one post, Spin Sucks almost always wins because of the smart writing AND commentary.   

    For those of us who came to marketing and communications in a non-traditional/ non-agency way, and who have worked all their lives in small business, wearing a dozen hats to get things done but who hold no “officially professional” title, this blog, and it’s commentary, provides spine to the ideas we have and sometimes acts as an entire lighthouse in guidance. 

    It’s one thing when a single person at a single agency (even the owner!) professes something, especially if it’s new and trendy and likely to make you hire them. But when another 175 people from around the globe chime in in agreement, or pros and cons get discussed by people who HAVE experience in the topic, now that REALLY says something!

    Thank you for writing this blog. And thank you for not cutting off our connection with one another!

    p.s.- new shirt idea…black, image of  an x-rayed spine on the back of the shirt and the front proclaiming, Spin Sucks Has Spine! Seriously, when are the shirts coming?

  • photo chris

    @jason_ ginidietrich  yay for more crazies!

  • Jensenborger6

    I’m with Spin Sucks. I’m surprised Copyblogger is letting go of a window into their readers’ thoughts. That said, it does seem like a lot of the conversation is taking place offsite for a lot of bloggers.

  • You know I land on the SpinSucks side! 🙂
    And I completely agree with you — this is more of a matter in lacking a good comment application system and moderator than one of spam.
    My company also uses Livefyre for the same reasons you guys do — to neutralize spam, and it works like a charm! (I should know. I’m the one who moderates and approves them.) I see very few issues in regards to spam with Livefyre.
    But as for Copyblogger’s reasons for moving their discussions to social media, it’s honestly unsound and a waste of an opportunity to make their posts even more valuable in my opinion.
    People aren’t going to follow the conversation to social media like they think they are. People are lazy. If they have to open another tab just to write something, forget it. It’s hard enough to get people to comment and share when everything is right in front of them.
    Plus, most people can’t find conversations on Facebook unless you pay for sponsorship. With Twitter, most people can’t give their detailed thoughts in 140 characters or less. And LinkedIn doesn’t have a good place to chat unless you’re already invited in a group.
    So, I wish Copyblogger all the best! But I’m glad the comments on SpinSucks are here to stay!

  • Jensenborger6  I’m at Social Media Marketing World and it’s the talk of the town. Brian is here and some mutual friends have asked him about it. Based on what I’m hearing (and I haven’t talked to him directly), I think it’s a few things: 1) He’s known for making bold moves and this is likely an experiment; 2) He’s doubling down on Google+ and thinks it will help with search; and 3) They really were spending too much time getting rid of the spam.

  • RobBiesenbach  You’re absolutely right, Rob. If someone comments here and I build a relationship with them, I will know them if I meet them out and about. I can’t say the same for anyone I follow on Twitter.

  • @jason_ Bite your tongue!

  • bigboxcar  You did leave a comment! YAY! 

    You’re right…it would be very hard to go to 104 sites and read their take on my blog post. I would do it, but it would take a very long time. It’s less about me, though. And more about providing the opportunity for all of you to get to know one another with our pouring the drinks.

  • nickcicero You so smaht.

  • Howie Goldfarb  I would MUCH rather own the data. I also recognize we don’t get crap comments so it’s easy for me to say moderating spam isn’t hard.

  • Howie Goldfarb JayDolan  I think you can be taken seriously. Seth Godin doesn’t allow comments and he’s the king.

  • Rodriguez247 NancyCawleyJean  ^^^^^ that

  • TimPio  ” Through those comments on my blog (and my comments on their blog), some real, honest-to-goodness friendships emerged.” 


  • AmyMccTobin  I keep hearing more and more to this story…and I still don’t agree. I want to understand it. I don’t.

  • Rodriguez247  And thank you for flagging spam! It’s very helpful to those of us who moderate the conversations.

  • jjudge  I guess we’ve been lucky in that we have professional discourse (for the most part) and comments are always fairly positive. So yeah it can be exhausting, but it’s worth it.

  • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes  Note to self: Don’t ever accept Josh’s invitation for dinner.

  • ginidietrich jjudge  For sure. It’s discouraging for me personally to visit a site where comments are not allowed.

  • ginidietrich blfarris chelpixie  There’s another good reason. I wonder if you install Facebook comments if that’ll bypass the pay to play, too. Hmmmmm.

    Brad is definitely on to something. I see tonnes of links from different publications in my feed, the more likes and comments they get the more likely I am to see them, it drives them to be a “top story” in my news feed. So it’s a good theory to test. 

    But we won’t be testing that one on SHIFT’s blog by turning off the comments. 😉

  • ginidietrich I’m either a smartie pants or not right in the head. Not sure which some days. 😀

  • KateNolan

    No comment.

    That said… 😉 I haven’t read through all the comments yet, but my question is, will this actually increase Copyblogger’s SEO and subscription rate? By essentially saying “in order to talk about us” you’ll have to point links to us and share us with your readers and then… Colbert Bump is now the Copyblogger bump?

    Of course, now I see that @chelpixie said it first. So, yeah, what she said!

  • KateNolan

    RobBiesenbach ThePaulSutton I think just fell a little bit in love with you… 
    But, darn it, now I can’t just leave it at that can I? Oh, wait, look at all those “me too” replies, so, yes, I can! I won’t be alone at the party! HA!

  • KateNolan

    belllindsay JayDolan Danny Brown  Right? Even if there aren’t any comments, it’s better than no comments allowed. It’s the “I have spoken from on high” thinking I just can’t get behind!

  • JayDolan well ginidietrichdoes want to be taken seriously which is why she ignores me here. Lucky for me I have bribed enough crazies to be ok with that!

  • This has been a very interesting discussion to follow and agree with many points about comments being an important aspect of certain blogs (like Spin Sucks) and not important for others (like Copyblogger).

    I know in the past there have been commentaries that say in no uncertain terms that engagement or lack thereof is critical to a blog’s success. I also feel I’ve read commentaries that blogging / content marketing is dead based on diminishing number of comments. Hopefully JayDolan decision will put this myth to rest – a blog can still have quite an impact even without having any comments. Hopefully, though, Spin Sucks never follows suit 🙂

  • nickcicero I would just like to say that ginidietrich totally stole the livefyre Q&A idea from me, and I’m still waiting on royalties.

  • bobledrew

    chelpixie ginidietrich  See, if Copyblogger let people comment on their site, then they would have had this dissection of why they weren’t allowing comments on their site appear in the comments on their site. Except they wouldn’t allow comments so the comments wouldn’t appear so the dissection wouldn’t happen. And then Adolf Hitler wouldn’t have been born because you killed his grandfather? My head hurts.

  • Another county heard from… you all might enjoy Nick Westergaard’s post on the same subject today, illustrated by a very recent personal anecdote involving Garrison Keillor…

  • I take it from all the discussion that building an audience and having an emotional and loyal connection is key to building a community. 

    Having said that the way in which this can be achieved can vary for different businesses or organizations. There is no vanilla flavored formula that suits everyone. 

    Change in environment and business can also impact such decisions.

    I guess only time will tell if this strategy works as opposed to it being a tactic.

  • Don’t ever shut off comments — this is one of the most interesting comments spaces around. So many lovely people hang out here!

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  • Thank you for your post, Gina. I especially appreciated your point about cultivating conversation on a space you own. And I agree–with all the great options out there for fighting spam, it’s a moot point when it comes to comments.

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