15 minutes to a prettier blog: make commenting easy

This may not make your blog prettier per say, but it will make it more user friendly and functional. So that’s close enough.

Let’s face it. Blog comments are on the decline. With the rise of email RSS feeds, Facebook fan pages, Pinterest and Twitter, it seems fewer people are taking the time to comment on an actual blog post. I know I’m guilty of it…I comment much less than I did when I first started blogging years ago (do you find the same thing to be true?)

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do all you can to encourage reader comments. You could be so literal and straightforward as adding a button like this to the end of your posts or in your sidebar…

(See this post for other color options)

But one simple thing to do is make sure its easy for people to comment. I run into a few common roadblocks when I visit blogs. It may be something you want to take a few minutes and double check in your blog settings.

WordPress - When you first install WordPress (self-hosted), the default setting on the “Discussions” page (under Settings) is to require commenters to have a previously approved comment before their comment appears. That’s not a horrible thing, and if you’re worried about questionable comments or span, this might be the best option for you. But I’d rather rely on my spam plugin (Akismet) to catch a spam comment rather than force me to approve every first comment from every first-time visitors.

To change this, uncheck “Comment author must have a previously approved comment.” That easy.

Blogger – Ok, Blogger bloggers…listen up! This post was inspired by you, truth be told. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to a Blogger hosted blog and get all sorts of hassels when I try to leave a comment. The reason? The default comment settings leave out two very large…and important…groups.

Take a look at the “Comment as” options above… Google Account (this would be people who have a Blogger or Gmail account), LiveJournal (a blogging platform), WordPress (this is for WordPress.com users, not self-hosted WordPress), TypePad (for TypePad users), AIM (for AOL instant message users) and OpenID (an all-in-one login network). Who’s missing?

Self-Hosted WordPress Users

Every Other Human Being Under Heaven

So if I were to go to your blog, I wouldn’t be able to comment because I am on self-hosted WordPress, with 8 zillion other people. And what if I didnt have a blog? See what I mean? Yeah…two huge demographic groups you dont want leaving your blog because they don’t fit into one of these categories.

So how do you fix this nasty little problem? Easy.

1. Go to the Dashboard>Setting>Posts & Comments.

2. Under “Who Can Comment”, select “Anyone”. This adds an option for readers to choose a name and url (given they have one…).

And while you’re in there, go ahead and turn off the Comment Moderation and Word Verification features. If your goal is to promote conversation and interaction with your readers, don’t make them jump through hoops just to leave you a comment. At least that’s my take.

So there you go. Making those simple changes could make a big difference in your reader engagement. Give it a try!

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Comments

  1. AMEN to the Blogger comments! One of the main things that stops me from commenting…Google does not lead you back to my blog and my WordPress blog is NOT my name. Then you have the verification codes. By that time, I’ve thrown in the towel.

    • Thats a good point too, Mindy. Definitely not a perfect system…hopefully they make some improvements in the next upgrade. Thanks for the input!

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