Gini Dietrich

Why We Won’t Shut Off Blog Comments

By: Gini Dietrich | March 27, 2014 | 
157

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‚Äôre fortunate enough (mainly because we’ve been around for so long now) that we have a lot of thriving ‚Äúoutposts‚ÄĚ 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.

Amen.

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.

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157 Comments on "Why We Won’t Shut Off Blog Comments"

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chelpixie
2 years 1 month ago

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!

ClayMorgan
2 years 1 month ago
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… Read more »
LauriRottmayer
2 years 1 month ago

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
ThePaulSutton
2 years 1 month ago
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… Read more »
RobBiesenbach
2 years 1 month ago

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.

jasonkonopinski
2 years 1 month ago

chelpixie  I think you nailed it.

ThePaulSutton
2 years 1 month ago

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

JohnMTrader
JohnMTrader
2 years 1 month ago

ClayMorgan  Well said Clay.

RobBiesenbach
2 years 1 month ago
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… Read more »
RobBiesenbach
2 years 1 month ago

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.

jasonkonopinski
2 years 1 month ago

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.

jolynndeal
2 years 1 month ago

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.

jolynndeal
2 years 1 month ago

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

Eleanor Pierce
2 years 1 month ago

RobBiesenbach ThePaulSutton  This needs to be a post in itself!

RobBiesenbach
2 years 1 month ago

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‚ÄĒand I haven’t checked out the comments in some time, so I could be wrong‚ÄĒmy sense is the audience is business owners who are taking the marketing onus upon themselves. So a more diverse group.

RobBiesenbach
2 years 1 month ago

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

creativeoncall
2 years 1 month ago

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.

creativeoncall
2 years 1 month ago

jolynndeal RobBiesenbach ThePaulSutton  I second that!

Danny Brown
2 years 1 month ago

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 https://wordpress.org/plugins/gplus-comments/ (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.

annelizhannan
2 years 1 month ago

jolynndeal RobBiesenbach ThePaulSutton  Me too;)

Danny Brown
2 years 1 month ago

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.

jasonkonopinski
2 years 1 month ago

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
wrightp1
2 years 1 month ago

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
KyleAkerman
2 years 1 month ago

RobBiesenbach

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

annelizhannan
2 years 1 month ago
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… Read more »
RobBiesenbach
2 years 1 month ago

Man, I blew it!

3HatsComm
2 years 1 month ago

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

belllindsay
2 years 1 month ago

Danny Brown  I send you spam quite frequently.

belllindsay
2 years 1 month ago

jolynndeal ¬†That’s a GREAT analogy, Jolynn. :)

3HatsComm
2 years 1 month ago
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… Read more »
belllindsay
2 years 1 month ago

jolynndeal¬†RobBiesenbach¬†ThePaulSutton ¬†Me too! ūüėČ

belllindsay
2 years 1 month ago

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.

blfarris
2 years 1 month ago

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
makeaner1
2 years 1 month ago

RobBiesenbach ThePaulSutton  Amen. Well said!

makeaner1
makeaner1
2 years 1 month ago

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.

jolynndeal
2 years 1 month ago

belllindsay Thank you, Lindsay. :)

biggreenpen
2 years 1 month ago

annelizhannan¬†It’s for our GLOBAL HEALTH. Isn’t that all that needs to be said? :-)

biggreenpen
2 years 1 month ago

RobBiesenbach ThePaulSutton great bullet points re: commenter responsibilities!

biggreenpen
2 years 1 month ago

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

ginidietrich
2 years 1 month ago

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…

ginidietrich
2 years 1 month ago

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.

ginidietrich
2 years 1 month ago

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?

ginidietrich
2 years 1 month ago

ClayMorgan  Look at you, you tease!

ginidietrich
2 years 1 month ago

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.

ginidietrich
2 years 1 month ago

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

ginidietrich
2 years 1 month ago

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

ginidietrich
2 years 1 month ago

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

biggreenpen
2 years 1 month ago

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.

JayDolan
2 years 1 month ago
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… Read more »
ginidietrich
2 years 1 month ago

RobBiesenbach  Guest post! Guest post! Guest post!

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