Why Are Some Bloggers Killing Off Comments Being Left On Their Blogs?

I’ve always believed that leaving and responding to comments is the very heart of blogging.

I won’t repeat what I’ve said before about bloggers who do not respond to comments. You’ve heard it all before. But imagine my surprise when I recently read that some bloggers are turning off comments on their blogs for good.

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Are you thinking of killing off the comments on your blog?

Hold on. What? A silent blog? No comments? No place to discuss what you’ve just read and interact with other bloggers? Will these blogs become known as ‘library’ blogs? A place where you can read but not talk?

Are some of the bloggers that don’t respond to comments the people turning off comments for good?

What are the reasons for turning off comments?

The number one reason seems to be time. Some claim that responding to comments is a waste of their time; time better spent writing more blog posts. I got really hot under the collar when I read that statement.

If you’re lucky enough to get lots of comments left on your posts, then responding to them can become overwhelming. And I agree that the time it takes responding could be put to better use, but if we manage our time correctly, it should never become a problem in the first place.

How many is too many comments?

In the seven years I’ve been blogging, I’ve approved and responded to well over 40,000 comments. I don’t know if that is too many, but I’m a blogger who craves even more comments.

Sometimes it takes me a whole morning responding to them. I could have spent that time writing more blog posts or short stories. However, I’ve always had the attitude that if somebody takes the time to read one of my posts and leave me a comment, then it’s only polite to acknowledge them with a response.

“Treat every visitor to your blog, as you would any guest in your home.”

Those were the words I read very early on in my blogging journey. Written by a blogger who had a follower number I could only dream about, she responded to all the comments left on her blog. Her words have forever remained etched on my mind.

One of the first jobs I do every morning when opening my blog is responding to comments. Not only does it makes me feel good (because I know people are reading my posts), but I like to think that the person who left the comment will see that I’m a friendly guy who doesn’t ignore his audience.

Are comments all the same?

No. Comments come in all shapes and sizes. There are the comments where you know your whole post got read. There are the ones that spark new ideas for future posts. And then there are the comments that say little if nothing and get you wondering if all they did was click the ‘like’ button without reading your post.

I acknowledge lazy comments by pressing the ‘like’ button next to the comment. It, at least, shows I’ve read what they’ve had to say.

Do I have a good quote about comments?

I think so, yes. I published this quote on my blog many years ago – one which many readers seemed to like and agreed with.

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

Other things comments do.

Comments can often open up debates between readers. I always enjoy seeing two or more bloggers commenting between themselves about the subject of my post. I refer to it as ‘healthy debate.’ Somebody once told me that getting a discussion going on a blog post you’ve written and published proves you’re engaging with your audience, even if some of the comments are not directed at you.

But what about the question I posed in the title of this post? Should bloggers kill off comments on their blogs? I can certainly see why some bloggers would temporarily disable comments. But to disable them all together is something I don’t believe is a part of what blogging is about.

After all, don’t comments allow the reader to communicate with the author, and isn’t that what most bloggers and writers want? – to engage with their audience?

Would you consider turning off comments on your blog? Are there any reasons why you turn off comments on specific posts? How do you manage the responding to comments process on your blog?

Join the discussion. Let’s get talking.

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294 thoughts

  1. Hi Hugh. I did encounter one such person who frequents a group I also visit often and used to read and comment on her essays until one day, one essay just said that she was doing this and gave a half believable explanation that I just don’t think I bought. It was weird and I noticed right off that I lost all interest in reading her work any further. Think about it. One of the best things about blogging is engaging others and reading their thoughts and have them read yours. It’s rare that “significant” conversations happen from my blog, but I think many are important and we slowly learn about each other – moving from acquaintances to something closer to real friends.
    Now I can’t recall her story but recall thinking that perhaps someone flamed her with a comment and, being delicate in nature (I guess) she withdrew to protect herself.
    I think it was a price too high for what she is loosing by not inviting engagement.
    People are odd ducks sometimes.
    To this, I plead, guilty as charged your honor.
    Blessings Hugh.

    1. Yes, I know a few bloggers who left blogging altogether because of some rather unfriendly and nasty comments they’d received from readers, Gary. It’s a terrible price to have to pay, but unfortunately, anyone who puts themselves online is putting themselves out there where trolls and such like can strike.

      I’ve had my fair share of visits from trolls. It was one of the reasons why I chose to moderate all comments before they appeared on any of my posts. I’ve also had friendly bloggers turn into some kind of troll in attacking other readers who had left comments. I block them from leaving any further comments, but some just open up new accounts and try again. Their comments never reach my blog, though. They soon get fed up with trying. I’m thankful that WordPress has a setting for moderating all comments first.

      Thank you for joining the discussion on this post. I’ve been delighted with the response it’s had.

  2. I have turned off comments on older posts as I was attracting a lot of spam at one point. It might be time to turn those older comment functions back on again. Commenting does make the blogging community vibrant and alive! I do enjoy the variety of comments I receive. Without them it feels like you might be talking to the wall!

    1. I know of many bloggers that turn off comments on certain posts because of the spam those posts attract. WordPress has a system where users can delete all spam with one click. That may tempt you to open up comments again on those posts. Or another way around it is to republish the post so it has a new URL address. When that happens, it confuses spambots while the post keeps all the ‘likes’ and comments it’s had. However, any links to the original post won’t work. It may be worth a try.

      1. That is a good idea to republish but the wordpress reader will bump blogs that reset the post date or reblog too often, from the WordPress reader! It happened to me!

        1. I mean that your recent blog posts won’t show up in the reader. You are bumped out of the reader for a time. Can’t remember how long around a week maybe?

        2. I only know why blog posts do not show up on the WordPress Reader when too many tags and categories have been added to the posts. WordPress recommends no more than 14 tags and categories combined on a post; otherwise, the Reader considers the posts as spam and sends them to quarantine for somebody at WordPress to check. I’ve never heard of posts not showing because of too many rescheduling, although I know WordPress condenses posts if somebody is publishing too many posts in a short space of time. How many of your posts do you reschedule? Is it all of them, a few a week/month? I’m interested in knowing because my posts have never been taken off the WordPress Reader because of rescheduling them.

        3. This happened some time ago, and I think a protective mechanism against spam. If you reset the date, the reader must be seeing that either the post URL or post ID is the same as it has seen previously so it’s not considering it to be a new entry.

  3. I rarely get comments, so this has never been an issue. Ages ago, I did have a lady, that seemed to disagree with everything I said, but I commented back politely in response to her comments, or just said – perhaps you are right – and she went away.

    1. It sounds to me that you dealt very well with an internet troll. Not only do they hate it when they get ignored, but they hate it when their victim agrees with them. Well done on handling the creature so well.

  4. Fascinating topic and debate. I think you might be missing the point a bit, because it depends what you’re trying to do with your site. Is it a chatty ‘what I do with my day’ kind of site, intended for social interaction, or something with a more defined theme providing information/advice. You are absolutely right in what you say about courtesy, acknowledging that people have taken the trouble to comment – etc. And, of course, it is ALWAYS good practice to respond. However, that is in an ideal world. Personally, I haven’t always responded to every comment – though I do try, even if it’s weeks after the event. One of my biggest shortcomings, frankly, is that I don’t always get time to leave a comment on other blogs/websites that I respect and enjoy. But there is a finite amount of time in the day and we all have other things to do, other demands on our time. Not many people have the luxury of being able to spend half a day responding to comments; sadly, we can’t always be as nice to our fellow-bloggers as we might like to be. Equally, we can’t all spend unlimited time on Facebook or whatever. Is spending time writing more important than responding to comments? Sometimes it has to be – of course it does! For me, writing an article for the website usually involves a great deal of research before even beginning to structure what is going to be said, and how. I want to get the facts right – and I am not a fast writer. An article for A Bit About Britain can easily take several days, or longer, to produce. Then – not everybody produces writing for social purposes. They produce content to feed the site, titillate Google/Bing (or whoever). So, actually, yes; producing an article will be more important than social interaction to some people, sometimes – leaving aside what has to happen when writing a book. Do I turn off comments sometimes? Yes, I do – because some content does not require a response; it is there simply to provide information, not for discussion; it does not require a response – and/or I don’t have the time/inclination to debate. If someone wants to query something, I encourage them to drop me a direct line via the contact page. I would certainly not want to turn off comments permanently. Though I dd not start ABAB for social interaction, that has been one of the unexpected by-products of the project – the amazing, intelligent, knowledgeable people out there who have something wonderful/interesting to say and who may be kind enough to follow ABAB. I know, if I met them that they would be my friends. Forgive the rambling!

    1. Thank you so much for yoiur comments on the subject of this post. For some reason, your comment went straight to my WordPress folder, so it’s just as well that I check the spam folder often.

      I know what you mean by ‘chatty’ blogs. I call them ‘Facebook’ blogs, where people outline bits or all of their everyday lives in a post. So I understand why comments are defiantly necessary on those types of blogs.

      I firmly believe that if a blogger has comments open on all or any of their posts, they should respond to those comments even in an ideal world. If a reader has taken the time to leave a comment or ask a question, why ignore them? All it does is probably put the reader off from visiting again. Even if it takes a week to respond to a comment, it’s better than not responding at all.

      Is spending time writing more important than responding to comments? I’ll answer that question by saying that responding to comments should never be a problem. If you have lots of comments coming in, then delay publishing your next post until you’re comfortable with being able to handle comments on your next post. It doesn’t stop your writing, just delays you publishing your next post. I spend at least a week writing and researching my blogging tips posts and never rush publishing them, so I will delay publishing it if my previous post still has lots of comments coming in.

      It’s good to hear that you encourage readers to ask questions via email, but I can’t help but think that other readers may have the same questions, so why not allow them to leave questions in the comment section rather than email you? After all, readers can’t see those questions or your response when they’ve been emailed. But at least you’re not completely cutting off your audience.

      Thanks again for joining the discussion.

  5. I’ve written before, but I continue to comment and invite comments on my blog as it’s my connection to people and I love the conversations. My blog’s by line is “Denyse Whelan Blogs to Connect”

  6. As I use Blogger rather than WordPress, I believe it’s a pain for bloggers to comment on my posts. So, if I get a comment, I get so excited I am at risk of wetting myself. I always respond. I would seem rude not to if someone has taken the time and effort to comment – even if they disagree with you or your likes.

    1. Arr, yes, I know full well the problems of trying to leave comments on ‘Blogger.’ If it’s not easy to leave a comment, then I won’t waste any time in trying to figure out how to leave one.

  7. Hi Hugh – there is two types of comment I ignore:
    1) comments that call me an idiot or just blatantly insult me (these usually don’t pass approval anyway)
    2) comments that is someone spoiling for a fight.

    The latter is usually someone I’ve already responded to so don’t always feel justified going into a back and forth though may just use a conversation killer ‘fair enough’

    I only switch off comments once which was a guy who took exception to what I wrote and kept posting the same things again and again!

    1. I’d always ignore those types of comments too, James. In fact, I’d mark them as spam and ensure that any further comments from them also go straight to spam.

      I don’t mind anyone disagreeing with what I’ve written or said in a comment, but if their comment is not written in a friendly, professional manner, it gets marked as spam.

      Thanks so much for joining this discussion.

  8. I don’t turn off comments. WordPress does a good job of eliminating spam. There is a place where you can put key words that will put a comment into moderation (such as curse words or other “flagged” words). This has eliminated a lot of problems.

    1. Good to know it’s helped eliminate lots of problems. I’ve chosen to moderate all comments on my blog because I’ve had some friendly bloggers suddenly turn into trolls. It taught me a lesson. I also mark any comments that have uninvited links as spam. It helps eliminate the ‘link-droppers.’

  9. I don’t think I would permanently close my blog to comments. Getting feedback from readers is the only way I have of knowing I’m actually reaching people. I try to thank them for taking the time to leave a comment. My audience is small, so responding to all comments I receive is not a problem. It frustrates me to read a blog post and not be able to leave a comment if I really have something to add to the conversation. Checking for comments is the first thing I do every morning and the last thing I do every night. I also check for comments a couple of random times during the day.

    1. Thank you for joining the discussion and sharing your thoughts on this subject.

      Likewise, I see comments as a way of getting feedback from your audience. It’s always nice to know what they like and what they don’t like as much, although the number of comments a post gets is usually a good indication of that.

      It’s good to also see that you also have a schedule in place in responding to comments. I agree that comments should never be ignored.

      Thanks again for joining the discussion.

  10. This is interesting Hugh. My comments are open now and I read and reply to every one. If however I received 200 comments daily I would not read and reply because of time commitments.

    I did close comments in the past because I’d receive 100 spam comments daily, 1 legit comment and readers who complained about me closing comments stopped by to comment once a month LOL. But I felt a nudge to open ’em up again and love reading and replying once again.

    Until a blogger becomes famous and uber busy, reading and replying to all comments makes sense to build your community.

    Ryan

    1. Sometimes, I don’t get a chance to respond to all comments because of the amount waiting for me, but I always get around to responding to them, Ryan. For me, replying to all comments is more important than not replying to them.

      Fortunately, WordPress has a handy antispam tool where users can delete all spam with one click. I tend to empty the spam folder at least twice a day.

  11. I love getting comments, and I love reponding to them. It does feel rude not to respond, and I feel sad when I’m at a blog and go to write a comment, and there isn’t anywhere to do that. I try to respond to all comments, but I co-host a weekly link party, and for the last several weeks (months?) I haven’t responded to the comments left there. (Mostly because the majority of the comments at the weekly link party are usually thank you for hosting the party. So I feel kind of redundant saying “you’re welcome” over and over. But maybe I should be? I appreciate very much that they’ve come to the party and took time to write a comment.)

    1. Pam, thank you for joining the discussion.

      When it comes to those ‘thank you’ comments at the link party you host, a simple ‘like’ is all that is needed. It at least shows you’ve seen their comment and have acknowledged it. I do the same with short comments left on my posts when I have nothing to add other than a ‘thank you.’ I hope that answers your question?

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