Imagine this situation: You are eating at a restaurant and have just had the greatest meal ever. You want to thank the cook for his wonderful creation and ask the waiter if you could speak to him. The waiter says you can, but first you will have to translate the menu card into another language you speak. If you do it wrong you will have to ask the waiter again if you can speak to the cook and again he will ask you the same. You might be wondering what I’m getting at with this, but it’s the frustration I sometimes feel when commenting at other blogs. It’s been a frustration I’ve had for a while and when my fellow blogger Jessica from The Velvet Café mentioned it on a recent LAMBcast I just had to get it off my chest as well.
I usually try to leave comments if an article is interesting, but if I first get a new popup window where I write my comment, next have to enter a captcha (which sometimes is unreadable) and then see that my comment is waiting to be approved I probably won’t comment on that blog anymore.
When you are writing a blog I assume it is to write about something you love and also to get into contact with other people who share the same love. If that is the case it is important to look at the settings for comments on your blog and not build a big wall of defense around your blog. It really is not necessary. So let’s look at the settings for both WordPress.com and Blogger.com, the two blogging platforms which are used most frequent.
So first off you actually should allow people to be able to comment on your articles. You can make sure they can by going to Settings >> Discussion. Go to the Default Article Settings:
You want to have the last check box ticked (I’ve ticked the other ones as well as I enjoy seeing people linking to my articles, which allows me to check out their blog too). So after you’ve allowed your readers to comment, also make it easy for them.
Go to Other Comment Settings:
These are settings I use. It allows for anonymous comments, so people don’t have to leave a name and email. You shouldn’t be too worried about loads of anonymous comments. People who read your blog want to interact with you and usually will leave information. Some people don’t want to leave their email address at a site they might only visit once. You shouldn’t worry about getting lots of spam either as that is filtered out automatically by WordPress. I’ve been blogging for two years and hardly ever get spam or very negative reactions in the comments. I also leave comments open to everything I’ve written. Not everyone will immediately read what you have written and it’s fun to sometimes talk about something you’ve written a while ago.
If you still are worried about crazy comments and don’t want to keep checking your WordPress Dashboard just go into the E-mail Me Whenever section and check “Anyone posts a comment”. You will get an email with the comment and links to change or trash it (which you probably won’t need to use often).
Next head to Before a comment appears
Make sure both boxes are unchecked. Comments will immediately appear on your blog and this also allows other people who read your blog to comment on other people immediately. It helps to get people to talk to each other.
These are the main settings to make commenting as easy as it can be for your readers and prevent frustration. Now it’s also important to make it easy for them to see if they got a reaction to their comment.
If you set this option a check box will appear below the comments on your blog. If a read checks this he will automatically get an email with responses by you and other commenters.
Which reminds me (and Jessica also stated this in the Lambcast), always respond to every comment you get! People took the time to read what you’ve written and wrote down what they thought about it. If you then ignore this, why would they want to visit your blog again? So always take time to write something, even if it’s just a thank you.
So what are the setting on Blogger? I had to create an account and must say they were pretty easy to find. Head over to Settings > Posts and comments
First of setting the comment location. Personally I really don’t like it when I press comment and a new window pops up where I can enter my thoughts. It kind of takes me out of the “experience” of the blog and makes it feel distant. That’s why I would set it to Embedded.
The next setting is Who can comment? Set this to Anyone. If people don’t have an OpenID they will not create one just to be able to comment on your blog. Setting it like this will make it easy for anyone to write something.
Set Comment moderation to None. This means that each comment will immediately appear on your blog.
And now the most important one, which I think is the most frustrating one of them all is the captcha word verification. Just turn it off. I’ve been told that Blogger has a great spam filter so you shouldn’t worry about suddenly getting loads of anonymous automated comments trying to sell something.
A word of thanks (in advance)
So please if you are running a blog have a look at those settings. I (and probably a lot of other existing and potential commenters) will appreciate it a lot. If not I’ll send an angry Nicolas Cage to your house and you won’t like it if he’s angry (if he’s not available I might stop commenting).