I just took a look in my dashboard and saw some horrendous numbers. First, some background info.
Since I started blogging, it was easy to see that Spam comments would be a problem.
Even when I hardly got any traffic, I got Spam comments, many of which come from bots who scan the internet in a pathetic attempt to drive traffic to sites by automatically posting a bunch of links in the comments section of blogs all over the web.
One of my mentors recommended that I use the Akismet plugin to block those spam comments. This worked extremely well for a while, until it didn’t.
It seems that some of those spambots got a bit more sophisticated and started to bypass the akismet plugin.
I decided to install another plugin in addition to Akismet – I installed the WP Spamshield plugin. Once again, that helped a bit, but some comments still find a way through.
On to the horrendous numbers
Also, WP SpamShield has protected my blog from 41,910 spam comments with an average of 645 spam comments blocked daily.
Now, there are currently 15,176 approved comments on my blog. That means that there are almost three times as many spam comments than actual comments that have tried to beat the system.
The ones that get through
Fortunately, if you go to the discussion settings in your WordPress Admin area (settings > discussion), you can specify that if a comment author didn’t post a comment in the past that was approved, you would have to manually approve the comment.
Unfortunately, as my blog has grown, I get more and more of these that I have to approve to the point where it has become a normal part of my everyday task.
Because of how annoying this has become, I’ve repeatedly asked myself the following question – Should I completely remove comments from my blog?
It’s something I’ve been tempted to do on a number of occasions. It would definitely make my life easier.
No more being annoyed by spam (or hateful) comments. All I would have to do is create content and post it. Sounds almost euphoric.
If you are at the point where you’re getting a lot of spam comments, you’ve probably asked yourself that question at least once.
Also, when sites like Copyblogger announce that they are removing comments and make a very logical case for why they did so, it almost seems to justify the urge to remove comments.
Just this last week, I also saw that Michael Hyatt decided to remove comments from his blog, and he puts forward a pretty solid argument as to why he decided to do so. You should read his post for a different perspective.
My answer to the question is – It depends.
This is how I look at it. Your answer to this question shouldn’t be primarily influenced by how it would affect you. If you’re thinking in that direction, I would encourage you to rethink.
The beauty of blog comments is that it makes your content the gateway for a two-way conversation.
In some cases, it can go even beyond a two-way conversation as your readers start to interact with each other.
For a blog like this one, removing comments would significantly affect the conversation that I’m able to have with you.
You wouldn’t be able to voice your opinion concerning this content in a centralized location, adding to this ongoing conversation.
Yes, I can make you go through the additional steps of having to find me on social media to give your opinion, but quite frankly, I see that as an inconvenience to you – and I don’t want that to be the case.
With a blog like Copyblogger or even Michael Hyatt's own, they have TONS of followers, and I would imagine that if a few thousand people disengage with their content, it wouldn’t matter because they still get TONS of interaction.
With the little guy (like me), if a few thousand people disengage with my content, the only thing I can be sure of is that my mommy will still love me. My wife too, of course. Oh, and Noah 😉
Ok, I was just kidding on that last part – I know you wouldn’t hate me (or would you?).
So what do you do?
We are faced with the reality of Spam comments. It’s an unfortunate and extremely annoying reality. However
there are ways to deal with it. Here are a few suggestions:
- Take advantage of spam blocking plugins. Yes, I know that this won’t eliminate all spam comments, but you will probably see that they’ll be reduced by 99% (my unofficial, unscientific guestimate).
- Have a comment approval policy. Doing this makes it much easier to quickly determine what gets marked as spam and what doesn’t. This is something I'm working on right now so you should have an example soon.
- Have a comment approval process. Here’s my process (or at least what I try to do) – in the evening, I go through all of my comments. I start by marking the spam comments as spam by ticking the checkboxes and then hitting the “Mark as spam” option once. I then tick the checkboxes of all remaining comments and approve them all in one go. Then I go through and respond.
- Consider using a commenting plugin like Disqus. This is what I'm doing right now on this blog. The system actually ends up reducing the amount of spam comments you get by a significant amount. I'm still evaluating Disqus and will give my full opinion at some point in the future.
Are there any exceptions?
Actually, I believe there are. I’m pretty sure I will be removing the commenting option from my biology blog. Why? Because it’s a blog where I post content to help others, but am not actively engaged there.
I don’t respond to comments because my focus is currently Become A Blogger.
As much as it would be great to have an ongoing dialog there too, I can see that it can get frustrating for visitors who ask questions not to receive responses from me.
So, I’m 90% decided to remove the comments there, because they don’t add any value on that blog. I’m sure I can build it up into a community where people help each other out but I don’t have the bandwidth to make that happen at this point.
As I mentioned above, what I’m sharing here is my opinion, but it’s not the only opinion. I want to hear from you. Can you guess where? In the comments area that is still below. Feel free to share:
- What spam blocking plugin you use (if any)
- Why you think my opinion rocks or sucks
I’ll be down there waiting to reply to your awesome comments 😉