Are blog comments necessary or just a pain?

Click to see my blog spam

Web Worker Daily has a post where they ask “Are Blog Comments Worth It?” I often ask the same question, particularly with the comments I get on my Business Blog.  The Business Blog is primarily aimed at the faculty and students that I work with, although I do believe most of the hits to the blog come through search engine traffic.  While the blog has a modest 150+ subscribers (again, not likely my intended audience), I don’t get many comments from those readers.  Instead, I typically get comments like the ones that appear in the image in this post.  These comments get through the spam filter because  they are submitted by a human.  As you can see from the image, most commenters don’t have anything relevant to say but are simply looking for a link back to their own blogs.  The page ranking for the Business Blog is pretty high, so others are simply trying to cash in on the high Google indexing.  Since I moderate all comments on the Business Blog, these comments tend to sit until I get a chance to delete them all without approval.  I suppose if the Business Blog received more comments that were actually relevant, this would be more of a pain to deal with. I do have a commenting policy, but have only recently linked it on the comment submission form. We’ll see if that fixes things a bit.  I have also closed comments on the Business Blog for posts older than 60 days, and that seems to have reduced the quantity of these irrelevant replies.

Here at Library Voice, comments remain open and un-moderated.  The Akismet spam filter for WordPress does a decent job at getting the really nasty stuff, and the comments with links get held for moderation automatically.  This blog doesn’t get nearly the comments as other library/tech blogs (though comments are welcome! ;-)  ), so I don’t have to worry so much about spam and trolls.  I will say, too, that most of my traffic to this blog is not from the intended  library/tech audience.  The WordPress stats offer a ton of information that tells about how people found your blog, and from those stats I can tell that most visitors find the blog through Google searches.  I have a healthy number of subscribers according to Feedburner, but those numbers don’t come close to matching the search engine hits.

Since the posts on the Business Blog tend to cover things like money, finance, company and industry analysis, etc, it gets a lot more people who are trying to link back to their own site.  I guess spammers figure there’s not much money in linking off Library Voice, a blog of some dude who posts about libraries, video games, open source software, teaching, learning, and bike rides.  I’ve never thought about turning the comments to the Business Blog off, but this has got me to thinking.  I know some very well known bloggers don’t have comments enabled (Seth Godin, for example), but isn’t the purpose of a blog to share information with the potential of promoting conversation?  Are not libraries in existence to share information, promote conversation, and foster learning?  What messages would a library blog that did not allow comments send?  If you’re not getting comments from your intended audience, is it okay to turn comments off, or should you re-evaluate who your audience is or should be?  If you’ve got an answer, I’d love to hear it.  Maybe post a comment.  They’re allowed here.  😉

3 thoughts on “Are blog comments necessary or just a pain?”

  1. Personally, I love getting comments. It brings home the feeling of connection between the blogger and the readers. Sure, page hits are nice, but they don’t really tell you anything. Just put the word “sex” in the title of one of your posts and you’ll see what I mean. As for people like Seth Godin, when you get a blog that reaches readership like his, turning comments off is probably a good idea.

    The problem with the lack of meaningful responses in terms of library blogs (this is just from my experience working there) is that the library–and its satelite webpages by extension–is often viewed more as the purveyor of static information, things you should know, and therefore is not considered a two-way flow of information. After all, what could I, the one seeking information from the overwhelming font of knowledge that is the library, possibly have to offer it?

    Anyway, here’s one comment, at least.

  2. I have the same problem. My blog that is hosted on the university platforms have pretty high page ranks and are spammed like crazy, e.g buying assignments, exam papers etc.

    On Blogspot, I almost never get any spam, I’m using the Disqus system. Not that I get many comments either (they sometimes appear on twitter,friendfeed, twine etc), even though feedburner says I am closing in to 350 subscribers (realistically speaking half are friend feeders) most of whom I think are librarians (the audience I’m targetting)

    Think in general getting meaningful comments are hard. People feel the pressure to post something smart or significant, and it’s not easy.

    Unless you are one of the most famous blogs. ,I don’t think you should expect many “Real” comments, but the few that you do get might be worth it.

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