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We recently reviewed Roon Is A Slick, Easy-To-Use Blogging Platform You May Want to Try Roon Is A Slick, Easy-To-Use Blogging Platform You May Want to Try While WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr dominate the blogging scene, there are a few minimalist platforms that strip down the blogging experience to focus entirely on simply sharing your writing. Roon keeps things simple, all blogs... Read More a new blogging platform, Roon Should You Allow Comments on Your Site? The Pros and Cons Should You Allow Comments on Your Site? The Pros and Cons Should you allow comments on your site or blog? On the one hand, you can argue that quality content will encourage quality comments; on the other, there's always someone out there with something negative to... Read More , which brings a minimalist and easy-to-use experience to people who need nothing more than a place to share their thoughts and images. Something else Roon brings, however, is a slightly different approach to time-honored blogging feature:  Roon doesn’t include comments.

Roon is not the only blogging platform that disabled comments for its users – the Twitter founders’ new blogging platform Medium Medium: An Alternative Blogging Platform From The Founders Of Twitter Medium: An Alternative Blogging Platform From The Founders Of Twitter Twitter's co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone launched their own blogging platform, Medium, about a year ago. The founders say that the aim is to "re-imagine" publishing, by allowing users to choose the level of... Read More  also removes this feature. Some bloggers may look at that as a deal-breaker, taking platforms like Roon and Medium out of the running as potential options, while others welcome the approach.

We’ve decided to look at both sides of the coin when asking ourselves the question: should you allow comments on your site or blog? On the one hand, you can argue that quality content will encourage quality comments; on the other, there’s always someone out there with something negative to say.

Why You Should Enable Comments

Feedback & Constructive Criticism: Allowing your visitors to comment on your blog or site opens you up to constructive criticism. Your readers can leave you tips for improvements, ideas for article topics, feedback, and more. Allowing users to comment on your blog gives you an obvious avenue for bettering your content, and making sure it’s hitting the mark with your audience.

Allowing that kind of feedback gives you a tangible sense of how your content is being received, and allows you to improve your content.

Feedback

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Two-Way Street: Blogging is a two-way street. You write blog posts and want your visitors to read them. By that very same token, some readers will want you to read their response. Affording them that opportunity can help create a rapport with your visitors.

Create Loyalty: By enabling comments you are creating a sense of loyalty among your readers. When they can comment, and you respond, a direct connection is created and brings them back to your blog or site for more.

Create a Network: Your blog can become a community or network, but that is much harder to create with comments disabled. For bloggers who are dedicated to a niche topic, this is particularly important. Allowing comments means you can connect with like-minded people, create friendships, make business connections and more.

Why You Shouldn’t Enable Comments

Time Consuming: Enabling comments means you’re going to have to dedicate time to moderating and responding to comments. If you’re expecting readers to leave comments on your blog, they will also expect you to respond to questions. Depending on how often your blog gets comments it could prove to be a huge task.

Requires Moderation: Related to the point above: if you do decide to enable comments, you have to make a decision on how closely you want to moderate your comments. Are you going to allow anyone to comment, are you going to require them to fill out a CAPTCHA, are you going to require them to sign up before they can comment? Each of these decisions can have an adverse effect on your ability to receive comments in the first place. Requiring a signup, or at least a CAPTCHA, can deter people from commenting, while not placing some sort of moderation system in place means you could be dealing with all sorts of junk comments. While you can have a spam control system in place, some spam comments are bound to slip through, and you’ll have to clean that all up.

Spam

Welcomes Negativity: If you allow anonymous comments on your blog, you’re welcoming potential negativity onto your blog. Needless to say, there will always be someone out there commenting on a post, a video, or anything else, that will be able to nitpick and find something wrong with what you’ve said or done. You need only go to YouTube, or any political site that allows comments, to see just how mean Internet users can be when they aren’t held accountable for what they say. Some even argue that comments add nothing to the conversation, and that no one really reads them (other than trolls.)

This also depends entirely on what topics you write about. Politics and some tech topics (iPhone versus Android, Mac versus Windows, etc.) tend to welcome flame wars, whereas for special interest blogs – food blogging, mommy blogs, or anything where people share ideas or experiences – that exchange of information can be a good thing.

subversive_comment

Encourages A Social Media Conversation: Disabling comments means anyone who really wants to let you know what they think can only do so using social media. This encourages interaction on the likes of Facebook or Twitter, creating more buzz for yourself.

If someone leaves a comment on your blog post, only those who visit will see it; if someone has to leave that comment via Twitter, there’s an extended audience that could end up on seeing blog for the first time: the followers of the person leaving the comment.

Accountability: Another advantage to using social media rather than blog comments comes back to the topic of anonymity. If the comment is made through social media, it can be seen by that user’s followers. That creates a certain level of accountability, and decreases the chance of trolling and negative comments.

Conclusion

There’s obviously no right answer to this question. It all comes down to personal preference, since it’s all about what you want to achieve with your blog. In some cases, comments can add substance to the conversation, while in others it’s simply a distraction.

Obviously here at MakeUseOf, we fall on the side of encouraging comments on the site. So this is where you can weigh in: do you think you should enable comments on your blog? Let us know in our comments section!

Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4

  1. Anonymus
    September 10, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Any site that wants me to register or give email address or want me to login with facebook does not get a visit from me again. If is is a site like quora which wants facebook login even before loading the page, will move to my hosts file and gets ignored.

  2. Anonymous
    September 10, 2013 at 11:40 am

    I will allow comments. Actually I find your site so liberal. You allow people to express their minds and much so respect everyone. You let everyone have the freedom and believe that what they are saying is true and legitimate. You never know you might be saving a life, prevent broken marriages or family, or shaping up a teens future. What everyone say is not a joke, a crop, a junk nor an invention. I also help out without saying too much. help others too. Go to conquerseries.com. Please accept my hearts desire to make this my ministry.

  3. BeckonsAttore
    September 6, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    Well, you can actually let the comments go, they don't actually NEED to be moderated. And besides, the things people can share and spread that is totally relevant to the topic at hand are more often than not fun, hilarious and just awesome.

    • Caroline W
      September 29, 2013 at 5:51 am

      Hey BeckonsAttore, you have made a really good point here, one that never crossed my mind. I have taken All the responsibility of the comments on my 'in progress' site on my shoulders; but if there are dumb comments made then I am sure that decent commenters would jump right on them themselves; that would shake things up and make things lively. Then all the responsibility wouldn't have to be all mine. I've been really stressing about this commenting issue. So a Thank You to you! :-)

  4. likefunbutnot
    September 6, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Does your blogging platform (e.g. WordPress) allow for multiple levels of user access? You can sometimes add modules or specify rules that allow users to sign up and post with the requirement that new user comments have to be specifically approved while trusted users - say those with more than 10 comments - will post automatically.

  5. Caroline W
    September 6, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    I'm having this dilemma right now. My soon to launch website/blog is in the niche of a very sensitive area and I know that there are going to be idiots out there writing some nasty crap. On the other hand, because of the sites niche, it is ideal for people to comment and connect.

    Thus far I have put in place that each and every comment will be moderated. However, I know that some people will be reluctant to add their email address to comment and I'm not keen on Facebook or Twitter - even my own anonymity is protected.

    This is a real issue where I don't know really what is the best direction because I have to think of the commenters as well. If I put Captcha in place too, it could hopefully deter idiots further. It's a tough decision what to do for the best. I might just enable 'Likes' for the time being and see how it grows and If it does - then comments can be activated.

    In an ideal world, I want comments enabled. I like to interact. But is my skin thick enough to tackle the trolls? That's my concern. Plus if there are many comments - it will detract me from concentrating on content which has happened before.

    Where is the middle ground???!!!

    • SparkyD
      September 28, 2013 at 6:19 pm

      Caroline W, there actually is an alternative that I don't think anyone has mentioned here. A friend of mine has a Blogger blog with comment moderation where I frequently post comments. In a addition to the text-input window, there are four "Choose an identity" buttons to choose from. I don't use or know anything about the two choices entitled Google Account and OpenID. The one I clCaroline W, there actually is an email-privacy-protected alternative that I don't think anyone has mentioned here.

      A friend of mine has a Blogger blog with comment moderation where I frequently post comments. Underneath the text-input window, there is a list of four "Choose an identity" buttons to choose from before you submit your comment.

      I don't know anything about the two choices entitled “Google Account” and “OpenID”. The one I always click on is “Name/URL”, because I only need to type in my name (which can be a made-up user name) — I don't have a website, so I leave that field blank, and it still works. After my comment has been approved, it appears with the name I used, and no other identifier.

      The fourth identity option is “Anonymous”, so the blog moderator can decide whether to approve the comment based on its content, not its contributor. After approval, the comment is posted with “Anonymous” shown as the sender.

      This is all very simple for the user, although a short note in the comment area that the “Name/URL” option is available to those without websites would be very useful. (I didn’t know this, and wouldn’t have used it if my friend hadn’t told me.)ick on Name/URL, because I only need to type in my name (which can be a made-up user name) — I don't have a website, so I leave that field blank, and it still works. The other identity option is

    • SparkyD
      September 28, 2013 at 6:32 pm

      Well, here's an interesting glitch in this blog's commenting capabilities. I just posted a comment/reply to Caroline W. and accidentally left a cut-and-paste segment on the very end. I'm accustomed to being able to edit my own comments after they've posted, but I don't see that option here. Darn!

      A MINUTE LATER: I just did a search on this subject and it seems that a self-editing feature is being considered by the MakeUseOf team, but is currently in absentia.

    • SparkyD
      September 28, 2013 at 6:36 pm

      Oh heck, my entire original reply to Caroline W. is screwed up. I'm going to try and post it again below, but (fingers crossed) clean.

    • SparkyD
      September 28, 2013 at 6:38 pm

      Caroline W, there actually is an email-privacy-protected alternative that I don't think anyone has mentioned here.

      A friend of mine has a Blogger blog with comment moderation where I frequently post comments. Underneath the text-input window, there is a list of four "Choose an identity" buttons to choose from before you submit your comment.

      I don't know anything about the two choices entitled “Google Account” and “OpenID”. The one I always click on is “Name/URL”, because I only need to type in my name (which can be a made-up user name) — I don't have a website, so I leave that field blank, and it still works. After my comment has been approved, it appears with the name I used, and no other identifier.

      The fourth identity option is “Anonymous”, so the blog moderator can decide whether to approve the comment based on its content, not its contributor. After approval, the comment is posted with “Anonymous” shown as the sender.

      This is all very simple for the user, although a short note in the comment area that the “Name/URL” option is available to those without websites would be very useful. (I didn’t know this, and wouldn’t have used it if my friend hadn’t told me.)

    • Caroline W
      September 29, 2013 at 5:04 am

      Hey SparkyD :-) You've just given me an idea here!! The 'postponed' site of mine is a WordPress.org site that has numerous options regarding comments via their plugins..... So, what I'm thinking is finding a commenting plugin that allows just what you are talking about.

      Coz at the moment a commenter (with wordpress) does have to put in all too much info or they won't get through. I do want comments allowed and commenters can be anonymous too and I'll just have to do the moderating as I always have done.

      There is no easy 'ideal world' answer as mentioned in the article, but if I were just writing posts without commenters - I'd get bored VERY fast. There's some awesome people out there I want to get to know and the few trolls that set out to be horrible can go where the sun don't shine.

      Thanks Sparky, you've helped a lot :-)

  6. TechnoAngina
    September 5, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    I actually love the commenting system on places like MUO, ./ or Techdirt because they allow for somewhat anonymous posting in a really open way. The commenting system here is one of the major reasons I like coming back, aside from that the writers here are exceptionally responsive. It may not work for everyone, but generally I love how MUO does it.

  7. Nick
    September 5, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Surely there are the noobs bullying, who represents frustrated human culture, but I found many comments helps moderator or administrator by constructive criticism & suggestions.

    Peace.

  8. Mike Merritt
    September 5, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    Comments that require "Sign-In" - usually want my email address - and they offer no assurances that they won't collect it and spam it. ... So ... No, I don't comment !!! The world looses out on my insightful opinions.
    Captcha's however make sense - since they help the blogger to stop automated machine driven comments. My joy in reading comments diminishes greatly when I hit one that says "My Sister Made a Million Dollars in 3 Days".

    • Like Fun B
      September 5, 2013 at 4:38 pm

      CAPTCHAs are kind of awful from an accessibility standpoint and some of the more common ones have been broken by bad guys anyway. A response to a natural-language question for users with few or no posts is probably a better or more sensible option.

      To minimize user annoyance, it's probably also a decent idea to combine that with something that indexes user ID or email address or whatever other information is voluntarily provided so that after a certain point that user is no longer required to jump through hoops in order to comment.

  9. Like Fun B
    September 5, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    As someone who chooses to comment on blog posts in a generally productive fashion, nothing pisses me off more than sites that demand I comment with some or other random third party authentication or assume that I can only have a valid statement if I'm providing the currency of a social networking credential.

    Authentication is a huge issue here since individuals and small sites typically don't want to police user logins and many end users at the same time don't want to bother to create accounts for every piddling site on the internet, but this is a problem that's never going to be solved since no intermediate arbiter is going to get full buy-in from everyone who might want to participate. At some point I hope that we'll able to establish Equivalent Alternative Credentials, so that someone's Facebook Login can be seen as valid as a Steam user ID or my own semi-anonymous online handle.

    Most individual blog postings don't require or deserve comment, but the communities that in my experience function best do so with self-policing moderation a la Slashdot. For right now I think that's the ideal that every site should aspire to.

    • Caroline W
      September 29, 2013 at 5:39 am

      Regarding 'Welcoming Negativity' - Yeah, YouTube, gosh some comments on there are really mean. Another site is 'The Huffington Post' - crikey, the 'polite' personal attacks flying about on there are crazy. But to be totally honest, I find it highly amusing and reply back with an equally 'polite' response. The Huff comments don't bother me in the slightest: So for my dilemma regarding my own site 'in creation' - I think I may have become a bit over-sensitive and analytical about the commenting. I guess it's only because it's my baby and got tooooo caught up in analyzing the 'what if's'.

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