One of the most important things about blogs is having a comment section. Not only does it allow the blogs reader the ability to participate in discussions about similar topics, but it also offers a medium which the author can communicate with the readers themselves. This allows authors to get feedback from readers regarding what they like about your post, what they think of your posts, and how to improve your blog in general. Also, you get spam. It ’s not an authentic blog without it.
Sure, blog comment sections have been around since the dawn of blogs themselves, and nowadays creating a blog comments section is the “Hello World!” of web development. However, most blogging platforms, such as Tumblr, Blogger, native WordPress installs offer rudimentary commenting; you input a name and a comment, press “post comment,” and then you ’re done. As you can see above, Blogger just lists a name and comment, and it ’s been that way since 2004, and no one has seen a “need” to improve it. But in 2011, with the advent of persistent identities due to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, it ’s very archaic to have to enter your name and email every time you just want to leave a comment on a blog. It ’s not a matter of being lazy/Generation-X, it ’s a matter of whether the cost of having to reinput your information a million times just to post a comment outweighs the benefits of doing so. And if everyone feels that way, it becomes a “chicken” problem: no one comments because others don’t comment, blogs gets less readers/feedback, everyone loses.
In 2011, if your blog does not have some sort of easily accessible commenting system, then your blog is in serious trouble.
A large stride toward easier blog commenting occurred in 2007 with Disqus, a startup whose sole purpose was to create a system for blog comments. The blogger can install Disqus by registering for an account, then install a plugin or put some HTML code on a webpage; none of which difficult for even the most computer illiterate. Users can create a Disqus account using their Facebook, Twitter, or Google credentials, with just two button clicks. After creating a Disqus account for use on a website, you can use that account to comment on any other website that has installed Disqus. The more blogs that use Disqus, the more time you save, and thus the more inclined you will be to comment on blogs! As a result of these things, Disqus grew rapidly in popularity, and became used by huge, 1M%2B/month viewer blogs as Engadget. (A competitor did enter at around the same time named IntenseDebate, and had essentially the same functionality as Disqus. Except Disqus was adopted first, and so IntenseDebate lost and no one uses it nowadays. The technology world is cruel like that.)
A couple years later, Facebook released their own commenting system, not as a competitor to Disqus, but as another method to keep people on the internet far longer than they need to be. Facebook actually makes it easier for bloggers to implement because registering an account for admin use is optional! For users, Facebook tops Disqus in that it takes zero clicks to be able to comment on a Facebook Comments section: you ’re logged into Facebook, bam, you can comment.
As it turns out, the use of Disqus and Facebook Comments lead to something unexpected: it increased the quality of the comments! Not only were users happier because they didn ’t need to register, but their comments were now tied to their real identity. In fact, it will also list your occupation by your name, which lends a large amount of authority to your comments, especially if you work at a Fortune 500 company or are a CEO. People will [hopefully] not troll or spam comments when their comments can be directly traced by clicking their picture. Both systems also incorporate a “Like” feature which most basic comment systems lack, which also incentivizes users to post higher-quality comments as well.
At the least, knowing you are chatting with a real person in the comments makes a big different. The use of Facebook profile pictures with the comments helps more than you might think.
I know many bloggers who don ’t see a need to modify the comments system: “if it ain ’t broke, don ’t fit it” after all. What they don ’t realize is that blogging is a two-way street: it ’s a rapport between the bloggers and the readers, and one has no reason to exist without the other. If bloggers make their reader happy, the readers will be happier to help the bloggers. Just saving a few seconds for your readers will pay off incredible dividends in the future.
Fortunately, WordPress.com, one of the largest free blog platforms, is now making the push toward a single sign-on solution, as evidenced above, by allowing blog owners on that platform to allow readers to comment with their Facebook or Twitter credentials. In fact, it ’s enabled by default, unlike most WordPress installations. This is a big step, and hopefully other bloggers will be able to see hands-on the benefits of allowing easier commenting. Also, it leads to much higher quality commenting, and less spam and trolling.
Commenting is such a huge part of the blogging experience for both bloggers and readers, and I speak from years of experience.
(PS: It ’s worth nothing that Automattic, the company that owns WordPress.com, also owns IntenseDebate. Why didn ’t they vertically integrate IntenseDebate into WordPress.com, and then get massive users via the same network effects that made Disqus popular? That alone would have killed Disqus!)