I know what you’re thinking. As a blogger, does it make sense to turn off blog comments?
Isn’t the whole idea of community building dependent on hearing what your audience has to say? How will turning off comments achieve that? Why would I even do it?
After 13 and a half years of blogging with comments, I figured it was time to turn them off. A huge part of it was to do with this article I read by Srinivas Rao on how we must stop confusing attention with accomplishment.
But also, here are the practical reasons why I turned off comments on my self-hosted WordPress blog. Plus I also share with you how I turned off comments at the end of this post. If you have a WordPress blog, you can follow the same steps.
- Comment Sections are Spam Magnets
- Spurious backlink building
- Engagement happens even without blog comments
- Comments aren’t always from your audience
- Comments are time-consuming (for the blogger)
- Two less plugins to worry about
- How to Turn Off Comments on your Blog
- Should you disable comments on your blog?
Comment Sections are Spam Magnets
Comments attract bots and spam accounts like you wouldn’t believe!
When I had comments turned on it was a huge process of moderation that I’d taken on for myself. Despite having an anti-spam filter, it was incredible how many bots got through it and left both totally inappropriate and lengthy comments on the posts. Since I had turned on auto-moderation (approving the first comment before allowing any more),it temporarily stemmed the tide.
But the bots were clever and managed to drop innocuous comments to get through the first barrier. (Don’t ask me how; they’re the clever ones). After a frustrating back and forth process, it was time to pull the plug on comments altogether.
Spurious backlink building
Some people began to use the comment section to drop a link to their website in order to build a ‘backlink’. Never mind that a comment is effectively a no-follow link. Either they don’t know or they don’t care about that.
Backlink building via comments is a widely-debated topic. But in my experience, the ones who really want to connect with you in a genuine way will find ways to do it without comments.
Experienced bloggers will know the difference between a casual backlink-building comment & a genuine appreciative/question-oriented/networking comment.
Here’s a sample of what I call a backlink-building comment:
Note how it does not add any value to the content or the conversation and is just a single line of text. And of course, it’s just a co-incidence that ‘Simon’ here has an SEO agency that he’s linked to in the comment.
Contrast that with this genuine comment:
Self explanatory, really 🙂
Engagement happens even without blog comments
My true audience engages with me, despite comments being turned on my blog post. How do they do it?
Via e-mail and social media
Many bloggers shy away from social media and I get that, especially if you’re running a business single-handedly and want to focus on the more important parts of your business.
But in my experience, my audience as well as my network actually prefer engaging with me both via email and social media. Comments on the blog were taking away valuable energy from genuine networking and engagement.
People already have social media channels where they log in anyway. It’s just easier to comment/engage via those platforms because it means you don’t have to sign in on a blog, in order to leave a comment.
I’m active primarily on Instagram and professionally, on Linkedin. Let’s connect 🙂
Recommended Read: How to actually blog without social media
Comments aren’t always from your audience
If you do blog hops, very quickly you’d see that your comment section grows longer by the minute.
But here’s a slightly brutal and bitter truth- Those people aren’t your audience; they’re your community. Different thing altogether.
Blog hopping is a community-building exercise that I still recommend for a certain type of blogger- the one who just wants to get their work read. Comments also serve as feedback from a specific group of people (writers, for instance).
But for the serious blogger and the ones who care about building an organic audience, comments are not really necessary.
In fact, they can very easily turn into a vanity metric. Instead, if you poured that energy into consistently creating quality content, your audience will find out how to engage with you in ways you wouldn’t believe.
Comments are time-consuming (for the blogger)
Replying to comments takes time and if you’re just blogging for fun, it’s perfectly fine to make time for this.
But if you’re blogging with an intent to educate and inform, chances are your time is also spent networking with professionals in your niche and talking to your audience on social media.
Also, 95% of the time, the comments you reply to, on your blog, are not seen by the original writer of the comment. Conversely, when you respond to them on a platform that shows them a notification (social media/ Medium), they actually see the response.
Medium’s commenting platform is built into the interface. You can’t comment on a post unless you have a Medium account.
Two less plugins to worry about
Plugins are both a boon and a bane on self-hosted WordPress.
The right ones help enhance the user experience for the reader and improve the backend experience for the blogger. But too many plugins can also slow down your site. When I disabled ‘Comment Luv’ and the Anti spam filter, site speed improved almost instantly.
Plugins are just one component of site speed, by the way. Your hosting provider, the images you have on the page, ads (if you run them) plus a host of other elements affect how quickly your site loads.
How to Turn Off Comments on your Blog
If you’d like to learn how to turn off Comments on your self-hosted WordPress blog, head over to Settings>>Discussion.
Under Discussion Settings, uncheck the box next to ‘Allow people to submit comments on new posts’
For turning off comments on older posts, scroll a bit and then select the box next to ‘Automatically close comments on posts older than’. Ensure that you enter the number 1 in the box next to ‘days’.
Should you disable comments on your blog?
So, should you turn off comments? This is entirely up to you.
If you’re blogging without social media, maybe keep comments on. If your audience finds/engages with you elsewhere, turn off comments and take back valuable time in your day.
Blogging isn’t rocket science; It is the fine art of knowing what to do and how to do it while enjoying the process.
Since I’ve turned off comments on my blog, I welcome you to share your thoughts on this post with me via e-mail here: firstname.lastname@example.org