January 14, 2010

How to optimize your blog’s commenting system

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Welcome to the 31 Day Challenge To Optimize Your Blog With Social Media. Today we’ll talk about how to make your blogs commenting system more social media friendly.

John HaydonYou can tell a lot about the impact you have on  your readers by the number, diversity and quality of your comments. For example, if you get a flood of comments when you first publish a post, you know that your readers are highly responsive. You also can see how much they trust you by what they share in those comments. In this sense, comments are a a window into then soul of your readers – and a guide for your blog strategy.

But what if you are unknowingly creating barriers to comments?

Common barriers to comments

CAPTCHAS – Get rid of these. Visual CAPTCHAs are “no blind people allowed” signs.

Requiring registration – I’ve seen a few blogs that require registration in order to comment. Don’t do this unless you have a very good reason – and I can’t think of one.

Blogging tools for better comments

Now that those barriers are gone, you want to find ways of encouraging comments and making them more social. There are two ways blog technology can help:

  • Get the right commenting system
  • Get the right comment plug-ins

Get the right commenting system

Comment systems have come a long way over the past year to include social media conversations into your blogs comments. These are the four most popular commenting systems for WordPress bloggers:

1. WordPress commenting system

WordPress comments (standard on all hosted and self-hosted WordPress blogs) are highly customizable and allow you to easily add functionality either with custom coding or with plug-ins (WordPress Thread Comment, Highlight Author Comments, Comment Redirect, Social ProfilesEmail Commenters, Subscribe To Comments, and WP Ajax Edit Comments and a few that enhance functionality) Themes also add features. For example, Headway allows for threaded comments.

threaded comments

2. DISQUS commenting system

DISQUS is a commenting system that is easily installed on WordPress with a plug-in (Blogger, Tumblr and Typepad are also supported). Commenters can log-in with Twitter Facebook or DISQUS and share their comments on multiple sites as well. You can also moderate comments via email or in a dashboard at the DISQUS home page. They also support over 40 languages. I’ve used this commenting system for a while and am impressed with it’s easy of use and responsive support (Note: some users have had difficulty with DISQUS and switched back to WordPress comments).

disqus How To Socialize Your Blogs Commenting System (Day 10)

3. Intense Debate commenting system

Intense Debate has similar functionality to DISQUS, but includes the ability to add functionality with widgets.  Also, they are owned by WordPress maker Automattic, which might lessen any compatibility fears with WordPress.

intense debate

4. Echo commenting system

The Echo commenting system, developed by a guy who recently claimed that “comments are dead”, allows you to pull in conversations on Digg, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo that people are having about your blog post. Commenters can also add video, photos and even use an HTML editer their comments.

echo comments

Get the right comment plug-ins

Below are a few plug-ins that the WordPress development community has created that are designed to make your comments more social.

  • CommentLuv – This plug-in will visit the site of the comment author while they type their comment and retrieves their last blog post, tweet or Digg submissions and includes it at the bottom of their comment.
  • Top Commentators – A sidebar widget that shows the top commentators on your blog.
  • Get Recent Comments – This plug-in shows excerpts of the latest comments and/or trackbacks in your sidebar.
  • Comment Plugger – Gives a list of that last people to comment on a post, with a link to their site.
  • Quote Comments – This allows commenters to easily copy contents of the previous comment and wrap it in blockquote tags.
  • Also see: 10 WordPress Plugins to Help Build Community

What’s the best commenting set-up?

So we have four major commenting systems and a bunch of plug-ins to choose from. Too many choices? What should you do?

The combination that’s right for your blog depends upon your blog strategy. For example, if you want to give props to your blog community, using plug-ins that showcase these folks would be a smart idea. If you want to make it easy for comments to be shared on Facebook and Twitter, looking at Intense Debate or DISQUS would be smart. If you want your visitors to see an overall social conversation about your post, Echo might be right.

The best thing about all of these options is that they’re easy to implement, which means you can try various options to see what works. Once you do make a choice though, give it a couple of months before make any major conclusions.

Homework: Read this post again and make notes about what might work for your blog.

If you don’t want to miss out on the 31 Day Challenge To Optimize Your Blog With Social Media, please sign up.

Cross-posted from JohnHaydon.com.


9 ways to attract more comments on your blogJohn Haydon delivers social web strategy solutions for “the quick, the smart, and the slightly manic.” Curious? Then visit the John Haydon blog, follow him on Twitter or leave a comment.

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10 thoughts on “How to optimize your blog’s commenting system

  1. Hi Robert, that's apropos, somehow. We're still trying to figure out how to get more comment activity on Socialbrite, so perhaps I need to follow John's suggestions more closely! – jd

  2. Pingback: 6 ways to attract more comments on your blog | Socialbrite

  3. Any way to use Disqus AND CommentLuv??

    Really like the Disqus login options (as seen below), yet also think the commentLuv feature of pulling the most recent post from the commentor's blog is great.

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