Is it time to turn off comments on your blog?

I’ve always believed that leaving and responding to comments on a blog is one of the actions at the very heart of what blogging is all about. Imagine my surprise when I then read that some bloggers are turning off comments being left on their blogs for good.

#bloggingtips #blogging

If you’re lucky enough to get lots of comments left on your blog, then responding to them can become overwhelming. In the almost four years I’ve been blogging, I’ve approved and responded to nearly 30,000 comments, and it can sometimes take me a whole morning responding. However, I’ve always had the attitude that if somebody has taken the time to read and leave a comment on one of my posts, then it’s only right and polite that I acknowledge them and write a response.

‘Treat every visitor to your blog, as you would any guest to your house.”

Those were the words I read very early on in my blogging life. Written by a blogger who had a massive number of followers and who responded to all the comments left on her blog, her words have forever remained etched in my mind. Now, one of the first things I do every morning when I open my blog is respond to any comments that have been left. Not only does it makes me feel good (because I know people are actually reading my posts), but I like to think that the person who left the comment will see that I’m a friendly blogger who doesn’t ignore my readers.

Of course, comments come in all shapes and sizes. There are the comments where you know the reader has definitely read all of your post; comments which can spark off new ideas for new blog posts, and then there are the comments that say little if nothing and get you asking if they really did read your post. There are lots of other types as well, but I still acknowledge the latter of those comments by pressing the ‘like’ button. It, at least, shows I’ve read the comment.

More recently, I’ve seen a significant increase in what I call ‘worthless comments’ being left where a link to the person’s blog is also included in the comment. The most popular one is “Great post. Please visit my blog and tell me what you think…” followed by a link. I often see the same comment left on other blogs. Should we respond to these kinds of comments? I believe we should, and will often comment back “Thank you. I’d love to know what it was that you thought was great about the post.” I’ll then remove the link to their blog from their comment before approving it so that it does not appear in the comment section. As yet, I’ve never had a response back to that kind of comment. I wonder why?

“Not answering comments left on your blog, is like inviting somebody around for coffee and then ignoring them.”

Comments can also open up debates between your readers. I always enjoy seeing two or more bloggers commenting between themselves on the subject I’ve written about. Move on to one of those bloggers actually then creating a whole new post out of the subject, and thanking me in their post by linking to my article, and I get that feeling that I’ve done something right out of the post I’ve published.

But, what about the question I posed in the title of this post? Should we turn comments off on our blogs? I can certainly see why some bloggers would temporarily disable comments being left, but to disable comments altogether and never turning them back on? I don’t believe any blog should not give its readers the chance to leave a comment. Afterall, don’t comments allow the reader to communicate with the author, and isn’t that what most author’s want? Wouldn’t it be like talking to an empty room if the ability to leave a comment has been permanently turned off?

Would you consider turning off comments being left on your blog? How do you manage the responding to comments process on your blog?

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Author: Hugh W. Roberts

My name is Hugh. I live in the city of Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom. My blog covers a wide range of subjects, the most popular of which are my blogging tips posts. If you have any questions about blogging or anything else, please contact me by clicking on the 'Contact Hugh' button on the menu bar. Click on the 'Meet Hugh' button on the menu bar to learn more about me and my blog.

347 thoughts

  1. Excellent post and great question, Hugh. 🙂 I definitely would NOT turn off comments on my blog. I try to respond to every comment and really appreciate them. It’s amazing how many wonderful new friends I’ve made thanks to blog comments. Every now and then, I’ll get a reader who may be a spammer. When I do, I simply remove there comment, I like your idea of asking the possible scammer a question. 🙂 I may give that one a try.

    1. Thanks, Bette. I agree that great friendships are built out of the comments left on our blog posts. However, I think there are some bloggers who may not worry about the friendships. Some are more concerned with the stats, while others with how much money they can make. However, there are many where all three matter.
      Thanks so much for your comments on this post.

  2. Like you I always take he time to acknowledge someone who comments on my blog, most are old friends now but I also appreciate those who just press the like button. Also like you I’ve had a spate of businesses recently where all that’s left is a link and no mention of the blog at all. I’m a little less generous than you though in that I normally just delete them.
    I couldn’t block comments and miss out on the interaction with my friends and knowing you, I doubt you could either.
    Hugs

    1. You’re correct, David. I could never disable comments entirely and not allow anyone to leave comments on my posts. For me, it’s one of the key factors of blogging. And, like you, I always reply to all the comments as well (unless I’ve sent them to spam).
      Thanks so much for adding your thoughts to the subject of this post.
      Hugs to you.

  3. Great question Hugh and I am now up to over 88,000 comments. And yes it does take a lot of time to respond but I would never dream of taking them off. I do have first time commenters in a pending file but after that they can comment all they like. I have put some words in the spam parameters which means that occasionally I have to fish people out but not that many. I agree entirely with you. Blogging is a communication platform and it should not be one sided. I think if you disable comments permanently then you should ask yourself why you are bothering to blog at all and might as well keep a diary. I also do not want to enter my email address or details when I follow a blog and therefore rarely do. At least the majority of wordpress bloggers do not have that 5 minute process of identifying which squares have a vehicle and if you miss a number plate it starts all over again! Anyway great posts with excellent points. thanks hugs

    1. Wow, Sally, you beat me hands-down on the number of comments. I’m only coming up to 34,000 in 4 years of blogging and, even though responding to comments takes a great deal of time, I wouldn’t be without them. They, at least, prove that people are actually reading your posts rather than landing on your blog and clicking off within a few seconds.

      I used to have first-time commenters in a pending file but after one of them left some rude comments aimed at another blogger on one of my posts, I decided to move to moderating all comments. Yes, does take more time, but I can least sleep at night knowing that no rude or nasty comments are on display. I was horrified when I saw the comments, especially given that they’d been on display for nearly eight hours.

      Thanks so much for sharing the post. You probably saw that my reblog button has disappeared. WordPress is looking into it for me, but it may be because I have removed the ‘like’ button from all my posts. In any case, they’ve told me that if that is the case then they need to make users aware that removing the ‘like’ button also means the ‘reblog’ button disappearing.

      1. I actually quite like the Press This feature Hugh as I post a lot (you might have noticed) it means that I can schedule a reblog now into times when I don’t have posts going out. It is also useful to cut and paste an extract from the post that best sells it rather than perhaps just the introductory paragraph showing. I still use the reblog button and both are very useful. Anyway it certainly has resulted in comments here and I hope that you had some more visits too.. hugs xxx

        1. I have, Sally. Thank you for sharing the post as it’s certainly generated more comments. I do like ‘Press This.’ I find it has a lot more features and gives me more control when wanting to share posts, although I don’t share posts via my blog very often.
          Hugs to you.
          xx

  4. Hello Hugh, thank you for your interesting article. I say I would LOVE to have more Comments on my Fascinating Animals blog, and NOT negative comments! However I have set up my main blog so that Commenters have to be either a logged-in WordPress User AND must use or enter a Name and an Email — maybe I have gone over-board. Come to think of are these 2 settings both compulsory, meaning is the requirement for entering a name and an email over-ridden by the requirement to comment as a logged-in WP user? I just did a search for the answer on the official WP Support site, but no answer is forthcoming there. mmm, i wonder, I do!

    1. Under the Discussion Settings on your blog’s dashboard, you can decide whether somebody needs to be either logged in as a registered user or if they must leave their name and email address to be able to leave a comment. However, you can untick these boxes, so that anybody can leave a comment. I allow anyone to leave a comment as I think some readers are put off leaving comments if they have to be registered or leave details of who they are. Yes, it can attack comments from trolls, but as I moderate all comments before they appear on my blog, I mark anything like that as spam and send it straight to my WordPress spam folder.

      1. Thank you Hugh. This morning before work I changed the settings of my Fascinating Animals blog so Commenters don’t have to be logged in registered WP users but do have to give a name and an email. At work I did a test Comment using a pretend name and email address, which WP does not validate. At home I gave a shout when I saw that a Sam had done a spam comment and then I remembered it was myself that did that LOL.

        Anyhow I also saw 1 spam comment caught by Askimet and recalled that is why I put the settings must be a WP user to comment because my blog got a huge number of spam comments!! I’ll track this setting for a while and see if it really just is my Blog content (animals) that readers have no comments for!!

  5. This did make me laugh (quite loudly too).I too dislike comments on social media that say “Great post. Please visit my blog and tell me what you think…” followed by a link. I get them more often on instagram. I find them very needy. I also rarely find that the blog is worth following.I LOVED your reply “Thank you. I’d love to know what it was that you thought was great about the post.” I’ll try. it.

    1. Although I’ve been sharing blog posts for a few years, I have never had the experience of too many comments. Perhaps having too many comments (which one then feels obligated to respond to) is a good problem/challenge to aspire to! I like your analogy that people taking the time to read one of one’s blog posts is similar to them taking the time to visit one’s home — and that we need to treat them as honored guests. If I ever get one of the “Great post. Please check out my blog at…” type of messages, I will remember to use your strategy — thanking them and then asking them what they thought was great! Thanks for reminding me (and the rest of your readers) about basic blogging etiquette!

      1. You’re welcome and thank you for your comments on this post. I’d be surprised if anybody who says nothing but ‘Great Post’ comes back with an answer. Usually, after I ask that question, I never see or hear from them again.

  6. Love this post, Hugh. I feel the same way you do. If someone takes the time to visit your blog and leave you a comment it’s only fair for you to reply to it. It can be time consuming but I don’t think I would ever shut off comments on my blog. 😀 xx

    1. Thank you, Vashti. Yes, answering comments can be very time-consuming, but I’d be totally lost without the interaction with my readers. It also great when those who have left a comment also comment between themselves. Makes it an even better community. 😀

  7. Some well established websites I’ve worked at have ended up turning comments off entirely, which is a shame in terms of healthy debate and penalises the majority. But for bloggers building a community I’d say it makes no sense unless they’re being bombarded by wrong ‘uns

    1. I agree. I can see why some would turn off comments altogether, but it’s the ones that allow comments and then does not bother responding or acknowledging those comments that really gets me. I’d never dream of ignoring anybody who has taken the time to read and comment on what I’ve written (apart from trolls, that is).

    1. I agree, Rob. Comments such as ‘great post’ or ‘I enjoyed this’ just don’t work. Tell the blogger why you thought the post was great or why you enjoyed reading their post and they will really appreciate it. I’ve even stopped approving comments that I call ‘worthless’ because they don’t contain anything interesting. It may seem hard, but sometimes I don’t think the person leaving those types of comments have even read the post.

  8. Comments are the best part of having a blog I can’t imagine turning comments off. Now I’ve got my wife’s old I-pad I’m planning on keeping up with my blog in the evenings before passing out on the sofa at night.

      1. I use that on my phone as well. That way I can respond on the go. That saves some time, but I don’t have nearly the responses that you do! You are the king! 🙂

        1. I’ll let you into a secret, Marsha. I only use my phone for photos and calls. 😳 I can’t see the screen very well, and my fingers are too thick to hit the keyboard correctly. I’ve got myself into all sorts of trouble, so that’s why I prefer to reply to comments on the desktop. 😀

  9. Turning off comments — absolutely not! I love some of the discussions that ensue and the online friendships that develop, sometimes becoming offline friendships, too. I must try your thing of asking commenters, who obviously haven’t read one’s post, what it was they liked about it. I get really irritated when people only comment so they can leave links to their own posts, and are obviously not in the least interested in what one has to to say.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts on this subject, Sarah. What also irritates me is when my comments or questions go unanswered. It’s a sure way of getting me to unfollow a blog when the author never replies. As for link-droppers, they don’t seem to bother me as much since I published this post. 😀

      1. We exist in a culture where a large number of people think it is okay not to reply, let alone acknowledge receipt of, whether it’s a job application, an author’s submission to a publisher, or a thank you letter for a gift …and so it goes on. Such basic manners have gone out of the window, which makes one really appreciate it when someone bothers to take the time to respond to anything.

  10. I set mine so i have to approve all comments, so if I get links self promoting or foul responses … I send it to spam and don’t approve them. For me, if I fail to get comments, it feels like my post was a failure. Comments/ interaction are my wages. 😇 Have a great 2018 Hugh.

    1. Same here, Ellen. I approve all comments and links before they appear anywhere on my blog. That way, I know what is appearing on it. I often get quite shocked with some of the comments that get through on other blogs that I read. They can be very eye-popping. 😳
      Happy New Year to you, Ellen. 🎉

  11. You are quite right about replying to comments. It’s just plain rude not to. After all, you have a comments box in order to interact. At least, I have. It’s like if someone comes up and says ‘hello’ and you just turn away, after smiling at them across the street. The smile is an invitation.
    Would I turn off the comments box? I think not. I like hearing what people think about my blog. It helps me to improve it. At least, we should ‘like’ the comments to let the commenter know we’ve read it.

    1. Yes, I agree, and I use the ‘like’ button on comments a lot. It comes in very useful especially when I really don’t know how to reply to a comment. I know a simple ‘thank you’ would work, but I just don’t believe in leaving a simple comment like that anymore.
      Thanks so much for your thoughts and comments on this subject. They were very interesting to read.

  12. For a blog with only just over 1,000 followers I know I get a disproportionate number of comments but I see that as a good thing. It can be overwhelming, it is certainly time-consuming but to be honest, I see it as a measure of success in some way. There is no way I would ever turn off comments forever but I suppose as with everything, in the end it is a question of whatever works for you (not you per se but each and every one of us).

    1. A few people have mentioned how leaving and responding to comments is a good measure of a successful blog. I never really looked at it that way, but I can now see what you all mean.

      And, yes, we should all go with what feels best for our blogs. What is good for one blogger does not mean it will work for another. However, I’ve always appreciated those bloggers who share their ideas with their readers. I remember coming across the first ever blog tips post I’d read and thought how I’d struck gold. I’ve never looked back.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us on this subject.

      1. I think it depends how you define success and what you are looking for. I have never been selling anything – just telling stories so when people take the time to leave quite detailed commentary on those tales I know I am reaching someone beyond the dog as an audience. If, however, you are blogging for different reasons then by definition the attitude to comments will be different 🙂

        1. I agree. Some bloggers do use their blogs to sell goods and many (not all) of those professional bloggers don’t tend to value comments. Providing they are getting their sales, then they are happy. Others, like myself, who blog as a hobby tend to value comments.

  13. Hi Hugh. I would not turn the comments off. Blogging is about communication and connection with those who support us. Writing and answering comments opens the lines of communication on a more personal level and connects the blogger with his/her supporters. If we’re not communicating what’s the use.
    Thanks for asking the question
    Laura

  14. I think like you do, Hugh. I am grateful for every comment I can reply to. And I think it’s only polite to do so, after someone took the time and efforts to check out my blog, read a post (or several) and comments. Why would I blog if I don’t want to hear what others think?

    1. It’s a question I don’t think any of us should ever need to ask, Aurora-Jean. However, it seems some bloggers have already gone down this route. It’s certainly not a journey I’ll be taking.

      Thank you so much for reblogging the post. I really appreciate it.

  15. Hugh as always an extremely good read. I will and have never turned off comments on my blog or any other social media forum. Yes, it does take a lot of time to read and comment, but to me, that is the essence of blogging and building up your community and to get to know your fellow bloggers. I am glad to see your comment on removing the link, will follow that rule as I get that as well and did not know how to deal with it, but as of this moment will delete it before approving. I do not like Link dropping unless asked for, and then it is not link dropping anymore. I moderate each response one by one as a safety precaution, then I have more control on what appears or not. Although in the past week I had a comment that somehow slipped through that was spam and not sure how that happened. Needless to say, I blocked that person.
    Thanks again Hugh for all your awesome and informative posts.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts and comments on this subject, Esmé. I’m always glad when somebody tells me that a post I’ve written has been helpful to them. Link dropping is a real nuisance, but my method of dealing with it seems to be working. I never hear back from the link droppers. If I did (and there were more links being dropped), I’d mark those comments as spam. However, they seem to get the message when I reply back and they see that I’ve removed their link.

      Glad to see you moderate all comments first. It is time-consuming, but it has always worked for me.

      Thanks so much for reblogging this post and passing the details to your readers. I hope they find it as useful and helpful as you did.

      Best wishes,
      Hugh

  16. Nooooooo! I would never turn off comments! I love them! But I used to miss comments because I had them set for anyone to leave a comment without requiring approval, so it looked like I didn’t bother to answer. Now I have it set so that I have to approve every comment, even if the commenter has commented before. Yes, it takes longer, and sometimes I can’t reply straight away, but it means that no comment gets ignored. Thanks for the great post Hugh! Yes, I did read it all! 😂

    1. Interestingly, I get way more comments by email, as most of my followers are not bloggers, and that can be difficult to manage, as you know how quickly email can build up and get buried! Any tips on how to manage that?

      1. I’ve never had comments via email, Ali, but I did get a few via Twitter on this post. It’s the first time it’s happened. I’m not sure how I’d cope with comments coming in via email, especially given that nobody else can see them. I don’t even have my own email list, so I’m gonna have to pass on any tips I’m afraid. I’d probably be able to give you far more tips on making the perfect boiled egg. 😀

        1. Make it tips on making the perfect poached egg, (that elusive creature), and I’ll take you up on that offer! 🤣🥚🍳

    2. I think you do it by the best method, Ali. Plus, it stops any unwanted comments appearing on your blog before you get to them. I had a situation in my early days of blogging where somebody who had left perfectly nice comments, then left some rather nasty comments aimed at other bloggers. Of course, I deleted the comments and blocked the person from being able to leave any further comments, but it was so embarrassing for me knowing that some readers may have seen those comments. That was the point where I went to moderate every single comment. Yes, it does take more time, but it also acts a safety net.

  17. When I started blogging I hadn’t given much thought to comments, so I was surprised by the number of people who were willing to read and comment on something decidedly niche. Some of the comments make me look more deeply at what I’ve written about and others inspire a further post, which makes them even more valuable. I don’t have so many comments that it takes a lot of time to respond, but I do respond. I think that’s important. I now have virtual friendships with a few bloggers and I enjoy those relationships.

    I think I might turn off comments if the comments became abusive or foul in some other way. A couple of months ago my spam filter caught something truly hateful (although not directed at me) that was clearly written by a person rather than the machines I suspect write most of the spam I see. Too many of that kind of comment and I would consider removing the ability to comment.

    1. I’ve actually blocked a few readers from being able to leave comments on my blog, April. Some of them left some nasty comments directed at other bloggers who had left comments and there is no way I’d ever subject any of my readers to comments that are hurtful and nasty. I don’t mind good constructive criticism, but not when it contains foul language. It’s an instant journey to the spam folder when that happens.

      As bloggers, we do open ourselves to trolls and not very nice comments being left, but I’m glad that the percentage of those types of comments is very small compared to the other comments I get. I can see why some people give up blogging if they feel threatened or end up in an online argument with a troll, but the best possible advice I got given in dealing with those kinds of people is to not to respond to them. They soon move on.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us on this subject.

    1. Thanks, Johnny. Fortunately, the filter on my blog seems to send most of the robot spam messages to the correct place. The spam folder! 😀 As for the human ones, they can be a real pain sometimes but, play them at their own game, and they seem to soon move on.

  18. Hi Hugh, thanks for another highly interesting and thought provoking post. I love getting comments and respond to them as soon as can possibly manage it. It can be like a spark that starts something and I get a sense of who my readers are and what the like about my posts. I think your idea of removing the links in such spammy comments is a great idea but I must admit that I haven’t quite mastered it yet.
    I also like your examples of disabling comments as inviting someone over for coffee and then ignoring them. I’ve learnt over my years of blogging that it’s about community and it’s the thing I enjoy most about this blogging world. Thanks again, you are always leave great comments and responses to comments. Deb

    1. Thanks, Deb. Editing that link out of a comment is easy to do once you’ve done it the first time. I think it also puts the person off from leaving any further spammy links on your posts, as they see that you’ve removed what they really wanted to do as far as leaving the comment goes.

      Like you, I’ve also gone on to get some great ideas for future blog posts from comments left on my blog and from reading comments on other blogs. They can generate a real treasure trove of ideas.

      Building your own blogging community as well as becoming a member of other blogging communities is so important in the blogging world. I still get shocked when people who ask me for advice on getting more traffic and comments left on their blogs tell me they don’t have the time to read and comment on other blogs. There’s very little I can say to them when they clearly don’t even want to make any time.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this subject.

      1. It’s always a pleasure to join in with discussions and comments Hugh. I’ll try your editing trick next time and see how I go. Like you, I really enjoy the process of replying to comments and building relationships. 😊 enjoy the weekend

  19. There is no way that I could turn off the comments, Hugh. Like you, I have started to moderate them, but that is mainly so I don’t miss any. I follow your advice about treating bloggers as if they are a guest in your home.
    For me, sharing thoughts and ideas makes in comments really makes my day, especially when other bloggers interact with each other through it.
    Luckily, I have not had the ‘great post, read my blog’ type of link yet, what a cheek! I try not to leave links to my blog unless it is a blog party or your musical posts where we are invited to!
    Comments to me, are the lifeblood that runs through our community, connecting and engaging us with each other and I would feel lost without them! 🙂

    1. Thanks for your thoughts on this subject, Judy. I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before you get one of those comments, with a link, asking you to visit and follow their blog. Sometimes, I see the same message scattered around the blog world and this clearly shows that they’ve not read the posts that they’ve left the comment on. In my experience, these people don’t usually last long and soon move on. I only ever leave a comment when I’ve got something to say that will add value to the post. If I’ve nothing to add, then clicking on the ‘like’ button is my way of showing that I’ve visited the post and enjoyed its content.
      I completely agree with what you say about comments being the lifeblood of blogging. They not only engage readers but they also form great friendships.

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