Is blog commenting dead?

Is blog commenting really, truly dead?

There was a time, not so long ago, when a lively comments section was vital to running a successful blog. Comments created value for bloggers and their community, providing space for additional viewpoints, reactions and questions. Sometimes the comments sparked a conversation so good that bloggers would append notes or updates to their posts to ensure that everyone would see the additional insight.

But the times, they have a-changed. Today’s comment sections are frequently filled with spam, overrun by trolls, or disabled altogether (see Copyblogger, Popular Science, The Daily Beast, and any small-town newspaper that knows what’s good for it). Vibrant, thought-provoking conversations have been replaced with unenlightened observations and insults, leading many to the logical conclusion that the good old days of blog commenting are over. Yes, blog commenting, like email and RSS feeds and SEO before it, is D-E-A-D.

But is it really? Or has the conversation just shifted? As content creators, is there something we can do to generate more discussion and engagement with our articles and topics? In today’s post, we’ll try to find some answers.

Where did all the comments go?

For years, comment sections were part and parcel of the online experience. They were everywhere, from the New York Times to CNN to Perez Hilton. But as the internet has grown—and as the number of people using it has exploded—our attention has fractured. Whereas once we subscribed to only a handful of blogs, now thousands of them vie for our attention, not to mention our overflowing inboxes and the multitude of other online tasks. Who has time to compose a substantive comment when there are bills to pay, investments to check, and flights to book?

But just because people aren’t taking the time to comment on blog posts in the designated section doesn’t mean the conversation has stopped. As author and content expert Ann Handley put it, “Comments and conversation are not dead. But what is dead is the expectation that either happens in the place you want them to.” Sites that are shutting down their comment sections are simply shifting the conversation to where they see the most interaction—mainly social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.

What’s a blogger to do?

In a 2014 survey by Impact, nearly three quarters of respondents said they were more likely to discuss online content on social media than in the publisher’s comments section. With numbers like that, it might be time to adopt an “if you can’t beat them, join them” attitude. Take a page out of Copyblogger’s book and move the conversation to social media—even if that means sending readers away from your blog.

Figure out where your articles are being shared, and become more active on those networks. Make a routine of cross-posting everything you write, and look for creative ways to make those posts as enticing and interactive as possible. If you can strike a chord with readers through a tweet or Facebook post, you’re much more likely to get them thinking and commenting. And when readers do take the time to leave comments, make sure you respond to them. After all, if you don’t fuel the fire, it’ll fizzle out.

Why all this might actually be a good thing

It was nice when blog comments were thriving, and you can pine for those days all you want, but the fact is that the shift to social media is actually great for blogs. You can still have the same conversations you used to have in the comments, only instead of getting read by a limited group of dedicated readers, they’ll get read by virtually everyone you know, plus all their friends, acquaintances, colleagues and relatives.

Another positive side effect of the shift to social media is that it cuts down on spammy, nasty comments on your posts. As NPR—which is closing comments on its website as of today—recently noted, “The Facebook discussions that do take place tend to be more civil, most likely because users are required to use their own names.” By removing the mask of anonymity that most blog commenting systems allow, you force commenters to stand behind their words—or face the very real consequences of trolling people on social media.

Summing up

While it’s way too soon to declare blog commenting officially “dead,” it’s safe to say things are changing. People may not be leaving the same thoughtful, substantive responses they once did in your blog’s comment section, but they’re still talking, and they always will be. Comments and conversations are still alive and well—you just need to find out where the conversation is happening, and focus your energies there.

17 Comments

  1. Mehmetsali September 1, 2016 Reply

    Hi,

    It is good to read this post. In this days I’m thinking to start blogging with a wordpress theme. I’m also want see comments on my posts. But I’m not really sure too choose the right comment system for may blog. There are the default functionality and popular third party solutions like Disqus, Jetpack. Is there anyone to advice me.

    Thanks

    • Alanna September 6, 2016 Reply

      Hey Mehmetsali! Thanks for your question. You’re not the only one wondering which comment system is best for their blog, so I’m going to summarize my advice in the response below!

  2. Chad Graue September 1, 2016 Reply

    I feel compelled to leave a comment. LOL! So, well done on the article. And I am curious, are there preferred means (in your opinoin) for collecting comments and building community and interaction on the blog (Disqus, Facebook comments, etc)

    Thanks!

    • Alanna September 6, 2016 Reply

      Hey Chad! Glad it worked ;)

      As for a preferred commenting system, there are pros and cons to both. Disqus has been in the game for longer, and even though it requires account verification (a barrier to some) they have some nice email alerts and follower reviews that integrate comments from anywhere its in use. Of course, Facebook is huge, and although some people have concerns about Facebook’s everywhere, all the time-ness, it may make sense to go this route if that’s where your users are most active.

      Check out this post for more info on the different options: https://www.blogmarketingacademy.com/blog-comment-systems/

      Good luck!

  3. Buzzto September 28, 2016 Reply

    Yes, blog commenting is a great way to get good traffic to your blog. But make sure to leave comments that are of value and not just a random “good post” sort of comment.

    • Alanna September 28, 2016 Reply

      I totally agree! Came across an article from a few years ago that summed the trend toward ‘unconversational,’ uncritical commenting perfectly:

      “Comments are becoming less and less expansions on the ideas presented, and more and more just simple offerings of praise or agreement. Even in articles where solutions are being sought for problem areas within the field, numerous comments show acceptance of this need for action but offer no solution or approach; often, the comments also show that the ideas were not given much consideration by the reader.”

      If you’re interested, you can find the rest of the article here: https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/11/critical-thinking-vs-critical-acclaim-where-have-all-the-comments-gone/

      It’s a good read!

  4. Chris November 4, 2016 Reply

    I agree with a lot of what you wrote. It’s difficult to attract interaction to personal blogs. There does seem to be a decline in actual meaningful discussions, which is why I stopped posting every week on blogspot.

    Bloggers tend to comment so as to send traffic back and promote their own writing, so it feels like the concept of “commenting” is somewhat flawed. True friendships and healthy discussions shouldn’t have a hidden agenda. So for that reason I’m not sure commenting was ever that great a thing to begin with.

    I think you’re right the discussions are moving to other sites such as Facebook, Twitter,Medium,Reddit,Letterboxd, RYM, etc. Hopefully there are at least a few life-improving discussions going on.

    I’ll pop over and read the smashingmagazine article, thanks for the tip!

  5. Daniel Berger November 24, 2016 Reply

    It truly sad that comment are dead, maybe the whole zombie trend can resurrect them, who knows, now however our brands are at the mercy of twitter/Facebook and others, where we do not dictate our destiny (facebook page case example, once “organically build, now only paid).

  6. Dan E February 3, 2017 Reply

    Blog commenting is great when done right not dead at all, engage in the conversation and provide value within your niche. Use wpslug.com to find relavant blogs within your niche and just do it. It works but don’t try to game the system or just do it for SEO purposes.

    This has been working for years and still does.

  7. kenleyeric April 1, 2017 Reply

    Awesome post with lots of information, i really want to know about blog commenting and after visiting this post i understand many things about blog commenting, thanks for sharing.

  8. Sravani April 14, 2017 Reply

    Really Nice Artical Thanks For Sharing Very Use Ful

  9. Ravi patel May 31, 2017 Reply

    Is blog commenting really dead? Well, I don’t think so. Yes it is true that blog commenting have lost its past glory. Now a days some people use it as tool of SEO. Most of blog comment section are spammed;they just comment for the sake of SEO. The level of knowledge is zero.But today in niche domains these things are comparatively less- there we can get epic comments. Another factor that has led to the downfall of commenting is social media.Very few people actually comment on personal blogging sites. All prefer social media . I am too suffering from this problem! But all together we cannot predict that blog commenting is dead! Anyway thanks to the author for sharing a nice post

  10. Shweta Gupta June 12, 2017 Reply

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  11. channel partner india June 13, 2017 Reply

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  12. Eduardo July 3, 2017 Reply

    I agree with Ravi Patel. I still have one blog that has a few posts were people are still commenting. Posts with 8+ years and it is now a bit like a forum where people are exchanging information and new ideas.

    New posts have more comments in social media, funnily enough, others don’t even have comments but people like the article and instead of taking time to write something meaningful they just press like or retweet.

    On other blogs I had disabled comments because they were tech related and very few comments brought any added value to the post, just the typical ‘nice post’ and here is a link to my site and the spam and trolls.

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  14. Big Bin Hire July 7, 2017 Reply

    it is not dead , it is working right now.