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?

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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