Having a comments section in your website is a perfect way to interact with your users.
Not only does it provide a platform for you to engage them and hear their thoughts on different subjects, but it also makes your users feel appreciated. Unfortunately, allowing comments can also lead to an abuse of the space, as some users can use it to cyber bully others and leave nasty comments that could affect the credibility of your website/blog.
If you use WordPress, then you can make your users comment outside the box. All you need to do is choose an appropriate plugin which will allow you to monitor and moderate the comments. This way; you do not entirely lock out your users, but you still have some control over what passes through your comments filter.
This article provides a guide on the advantages of allowing comments, and the downsides of it. It also sheds some light on how you can go about implementing your decision when using WordPress.
The Importance of Comments in your WordPress Website
You cannot ignore the importance of allowing your users to leave a comment on your site. There are many reasons for including the comment section. Some of them include:
1. Allows interaction with your users: Comments allow you to hear the opinions, thoughts and suggestions concerning the topics you post about. This gives you a basic idea of what your readers feel about specific subjects, thus giving you room to make changes if need be.
2. Makes your users feel valued: When you take time to address your users in the comments section, then it makes them feel important. Everyone wants to feel like their opinion is valued, and they are appreciated for spending time in your site.
3. It is a way of keeping track of your progress: If your website/blog is still new, the number of comments you get on each post can be a way of knowing how well you are doing. If you attract a lot of comments, then there are chances that you are reaching a large number of people.
4. Helps in building an online community: when users meet on the comment section regularly, they are likely to form a relationship. They will talk to each other, build up on the comments, and develop a connection. They will always visit you to catch up with each other, and this increases your traffic. The trick is to keep your comments section organized so that you can tap in and continue to develop a strong online community.
5. It enables you develop a topic: Having a comments section provides a break from the monotonous block of words while allowing you to build on a subject. You can use it to provide further information on what you have just posted, while allowing users to also weigh in to make it interesting.
The Downside of allowing Comments
Sometimes, letting users comment can do more harm than good. There are several sites that have experienced the disadvantages of allowing comments such that they had to disable them.
One such site is Popular science who pulled down the comments section when they realized that the comments were overshadowing the main content and injecting negativity. Instead of spending time regulating comments, they thought it would be best if they did away with comments completely so that the focus remains on the content.
Other people who have eliminated the comments section include PewDiePie, who despite having many subscribers on YouTube, decided to disable comments. He indicated that the negative comments were distracting and he felt he was better off without any comments at all.
One thing you have to remember is that you have to be active and respond to comments for you to achieve the benefits. This means that you have to sacrifice some time to read through all of them and show your users that you appreciate the time they spend commenting on your posts. If you do not have the time, then you are better off without a comment section. Otherwise, your visitors might think that you are ignoring them if you do not reply.
However, this does not mean that you lose all connection with your users. You can allow them to comment on your content through other channels like social media platforms. Copyblogger does not have comment thread on the main post. Instead, the audience is encouraged to continue with their interaction on Google+ and Twitter. They do not have to worry about moderating comments to ensure that they remain relevant. If you are planning to divert your comments to a social media channel, make sure that you have a heavy social media presence so that your users can still interact with you outside your main site.Encourage them to follow you and use those channels to communicate to you, and to one another.
Managing Comments On Your Website:
You can use the plugins available in WordPress to manage the comments section. You can allow or remove the comments section depending on preference.
Every WordPress theme that you choose comes with a template that includes a comment section. The comment section is always allowed by default and it appears beneath (at the bottom) of every post that you make. If you use Elegant themes, then you can use this guide to help you control the comments you receive on the posts and pages.
– Go to your themes. Click on the theme option and go to the layout settings.
-You will find two tabs: Single post layout and single page layout.
-In each tab, there is the ‘show comments’ option. You can either turn on comments on posts or page. Alternatively you can turn on comments for both sections.
Using the theme option:
There is a way in which you can get even further control of your comment sections.
-Go to settings.
-Click on ‘Discussion’ found in the WordPress admin
-You can then choose on whether users have to log in by filling out their details such as names and email addresses for them to be able to comment.
This controls the amount of spam comments that get into your site, hence cleaning up your comment section so that it is not littered with irrelevant comments.
To ensure that only relevant comments show up on your comments section, you can select to manually approve all comments. This way, only the comments that you feel are constructive make are allowed. Even though it may be time consuming and reduce the chances of you getting immediate feedback, it is an effective way of eliminating negative comments and spam without shutting down the whole comments section.
You can also incorporate trackbacks and pingbacks in your comments section to monitor users who are externally linking post. This can appear with the comments so that other users can view the links and responses.
Other ways that you can moderate comments is by blocking spam users, or those who are always dropping negative comments. You can also choose to allow or disallow threaded comments. To get more information on how to do this, you should read the codex entry found in WordPress.org.
If you feel that disabling comments works better for your site, then you should go ahead and do it.
You can disable comments by following the instruction below:
-Go to settings.
-Click on ‘Discussion’ found in the WordPress administration panel
-Uncheck the option ‘allow comments on new articles’
This will disable any comment on all your future posts. If you have previous comments that were made before you disable comments, they can still be seen by people who visit your website. To remove them, you can use a plugin that disables comments.
Using ‘Disable comments’ plugin
To remove all comments on your site, including new and the ones that had already been published, you will need to do an installation and activation of ‘Disable Comments Plugin’. You can then follow this guide:
-Go to settings
-Click on ‘Disable comments’
You will find several options to choose from. You can decide to disable all the comments on posts and pages. Alternatively, you can decide to disable comments from specific posts.
When you disable comments, users will not be able to access the comments form. They will also not see any other comments. Using this option will also automatically shut off pingbacks and trackbacks.
Disabling Comments on Specific Posts:
To remove comments from specific posts, then WordPress Discussion feature is your best option.
-Identify the post that you do not want users to comment on.
-Go to post editor and click on the ‘screen options’ tab that is found on the top section of the page.
-Check on the ‘Discussion’ box and a new ‘discussion’ metabox will appear on the bottom section of the page.
-In the metabox , you will find two options: ‘Allow comments’ and ‘Allow trackbacks and pingbacks’
-Uncheck both options before you publish the post. This will eliminate the remove comment form.
Several sites use Disqus, so there are high chances that your users are familiar with the interface. Disqus provides a plugin which can be installed on WordPress to automatically remove WordPress comments. It also synchronizes comments between different databases.
One of the reasons why comments attract several negative comments could be the fact that they are positioned at the end of the page. It makes them look like an afterthought – something that is not so important. To change this, you should consider aligning them within your content so that more users can have constructive comments to make. Using inline comments can yield better results than having a comments form at the end of the post.
How it works:
Inline comments is when users respond to specific items within your post, instead of using the regular comment box found at the end of the post. The comments are then placed at the sides of your post where they are most relevant, so that it appears like the comments make up part of the post. Users can then engage in conversations about the comments and general post.
To make this work, you have to install the ‘Inline Comments’ plugin so that your audience can comment anywhere within your post. It comes with several options which you can use to customize it to fit into your needs. This is a unique and interesting way to boost positive comments in your site.
If you want your users to contribute to items on your page, but you do not want your comment section to be filled with irrelevant information, you can direct them to another channel. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter can provide the right platform for comments. Simply tell them at the end of the post that they can drop comments on your Facebook or Twitter pages by providing a link that directs them there.
‘Mailchimp’ is one of the best social media plugin that automatically posts your content on social media sites. It also allows you to access replies, mentions and retweets on twitter, not forgetting the comments you get on Facebook. You can then have them appear in the bottom of your posts so that other users can read them. People who use social media to manage their comments enjoy a massive amount of comments compared to those who use normal comment boxes within their sites. This is because users find it easier to use the much familiar comment boxes in social media platforms. Users also feel motivated to comment, since they know that other users who visit the site will be able to see their comments. Using the social plugin will make everything easier for you.
Choosing to enable or completely remove the comment form is personal decision that can be determined by different reasons. If you are not so sure of what works best for you, then you can experiment with different options. The bottom line is, you should be able to communicate effectively with your users and interact with them so that they keep visiting your site.