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Perennial Favorites: Unrestricted vs. Controlled Comments

Let’s take a closer look at the discussion settings on your blog.

Many of you commented on a recent post that focused on ways to respond to critical feedback left on your blog. We thought you might find this post from our archives equally useful, as it offers a more detailed look into your blog’s discussion settings.

Do you want readers to interact with your blog, but wonder how much control to exercise over their input? Here are some options to consider.

Comment approval: the pros and cons of instant gratification

As a blogger, are you a control freak or a free spirit? Either way, If you’ve enabled comments on your blog, you can choose how much authority to exercise over the comments appearing on your posts.

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One of the most fundamental questions to address is whether you should first approve a comment before it appears on your blog (to change your choice, go to Settings → Discussion in your dashboard).

  • Leave unchecked: Sometimes you want to get the discussion going as quickly as possible. Sometimes you know in advance that you won’t be around to moderate comments when a pre-scheduled post goes live, which might lead to a long comment queue and an empty comment section. Finally, sometimes, especially when you’re a beginning blogger still building your audience, you want to remove any obstacles to readers’ feedback. In such cases, it might make sense to just let comments drip in as they’re submitted, especially since a lively comment section is likely to beget even more interaction. You can always moderate your comments later, after they’ve been published, and remove or alter anything you find inappropriate.
  • Check the box: For some bloggers, total control of a post’s comment section is a must. You may prefer only certain types of comments (long, short, supportive…), or wish to avoid redundant or less-substantive reactions to your posts. You may write about loaded questions or very personal experiences, and want to avoid any insensitive feedback on your site. If you regularly receive many comments, you might consider spacing them out over time to make the discussion you’ve generated feel more organic and increase its longevity. Approving each comment might entail some extra work, but the reward is a blog that meets your personal preferences to perfection.

Should commenters be asked to fill out their information?

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Beyond approving comments in general, you also have the power to decide whether to allow anonymous comments, or rather require visitors to provide their name and a valid email address (to check out these options on your dashboard, go to Settings → Discussion). Which way should you go?

  • Leave unchecked: many of us really want to inspire as much discussion and interaction as possible, and adding this requirement might make some commenters keep their thoughts to themselves. One point to consider is that many bloggers separate their online identities from their everyday personae, and want to keep it that way for a variety of personal and professional reasons. While you won’t be able to verify all the information provided, asking for it alone might alienate some of these readers.
  • Check the box: adding this extra step might weed out less substantive, less serious comments. We tend to be a bit more responsible when we are not just anonymous online spirits, but grounded in our own identities. It might be a particularly good idea to consider this option, then, if you think your post tackles a provocative or polarizing topic. Sometimes the mere presence of this small addition may give trigger-happy, guns-a-blazing commenters pause, and make others moderate their tone.

Interaction might be a central part of blogging, but it means different things for different bloggers — How do you approach your readers’ comments? How much control do you maintain, and why? Your tips and stories are very welcome!

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  1. Very very useful & informative article; because comment is most vital part of blogging; it is your medium to express, to interact with others!
    Each and every points mentioned in post are worth to keep in mind!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I fall between the extremes. I want final say on what is published on my site, but I am reasonably tolerant of argument — to a point. My site is NOT a public bulletin board. I’m not Facebook. I won’t allow trolls, racism, cruelty, stuff like that. I also don’t want 2,000 word essays in comments. If someone has that much to say on the subject, I recommend he or she post something of his/her own on the subject. Minimally, it needs to move offline.

    Finally, I do not care for anonymous comments, though I allow them if they are on topic. There are people who don’t want to be identifiable. It’s not my style, but I put up with it because we all have our own issues.

    Liked by 7 people

  3. I have to approve people the first time they comment because I’ve had a few comments where people just comment to advertise their own blog. I might remove the identity option though to encourage more comments from non WordPress users. Good post 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I strongly believe people have the right to comment on my blog or anyone’s blog as freely and “critically” as they would like. I feel that WordPress is extremely supportive in all introspective means. All writers here are supportive of eachother.
    If you get a negative comment on your blog, or if I do, I will just leave it because I feel I have to embrace the negative comments as a means of affirmation. They way I look at it is that, hey, at least that negative nancy took the time to read it, that to me is already a compliment because I don’t know about you but I don’t sit there and waste my time readying a blog I find very uninteresting, I move along. I am the type of person that I only comment if I have something positive to say, I am extremely critical so most of the time I do not say anything at all unless some jerk is writing something that is extremely offensive and immature, makes no sense, I will tell that person how it made me feel and why it is offensive. In a mature, honest way as in not placing an attack on the writer. But then again, I still rather not waste my time (most of the time) in obligating myself to reading ignorant, self-centred blogs when everything and anything that has occurred in my life, from reading, experiences, my philosophies are all expressed through my Blogs so why bother telling them off when I already did through my own Blogs without them knowing who it may directly be targeted to. I find that is the polite way of doing so. My site is open for everyone to read, ill accept all comments unless its youtube immature comments like, “f u S*&$.” I don’t need plorific melogramatic points of view like that’s just an attack on me because Mr. or Ms whoever may be typing obviously has security issues and can only attack others for some sense of security they are lacking in their personal lives blah blah blah. Where have we all heard this before right? 😉 moving along now, WordPress users are extremely mature and being writers themselves, I respect their comments. Good or bad. We gotta learn how to not take everything so personally, that will damage you as a writer. This is just my opinion.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Out of your entire comment there are few points where I am completely agreed with you.
      • First, if someone passes some negative comments on your blog, it means he/she reads you regularly, so, by default he/she is your follower; should we insult our followers, until & unless there is nothing wrong in wording and language used?
      • Second, like you, I have also cultivated the habit that whenever I write something, I will write something positive, something inspiring, something good only; so, till today, I have not passed a single negative comment on any blog or post.
      • Third, Word press users are extremely mature; generally, they not only avoid passing any negative or critical comment on any blog or post; but most of the time they are very much supportive.
      Any of you, disagree with me are open to express your feelings in your preferred way of comment!
      Positive, Negative, Critical I am open to all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Liked by 3 people

  5. I have both the “must have previously approved comment” and “must fill out name and e-mail”.
    I don’t require the logged in part. I hate that (I don’t want ANYONE but me registered on my blog, since I’m self-hosted). I also won’t comment on someone who has that.
    BUT the previously approved works wonders for the missed Akismet spam. There are quite a few times when it misses OBVIOUS spam (like even marks the identical comment later or earlier but not all of them), and I don’t want that crap on my blog.
    I’m not sure if helps or hinders. I don’t get a lot of comments on my blog, but when I was actually getting some, it didn’t seem to keep anyone from actually commenting, and once they had the first approved, I never had to approve them again, unless there were multiple links (legitimate comments)

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I write a mixture of very personal posts, posts about art and culture, and polemic posts. I find comments on my personal posts supportive, and on the polemic, I do not mind disagreement. It is not personal, it is just belief, sloshing round the internet, on my site and millions of others.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, you are absolutely right, anything can be said in most humble, human & polite tone.
      From my experience, I found most of the bloggers welcome critical comments, if it is said in friendliest tone.
      “Bitter pills in Sugar Coating”

      Like

    1. A Blog is out in the open, it is not a home. Your home is your sanctuary, you do not allow strangers in. In the world of writing and social media, I would call it an “Open House”. What would be a point of your own blog if only the people in your household could read it, we share it publicly because it heals ourselves as well as touch the hearts of men. I do not think, well rumour has it, you cannot publish and release something without the critics. Where would we be, its not “Shitting” on your kitchen floor. That sounds extreme, embrace the critics my friend.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. I moderate comments to minimize spams. This also help me to reply to the comments when necessary. Mine is an interactive blog and I value readers who find time to read and comment. Constructive criticisms are approved as long as it’s not off topic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am completely agree with your way of dealing with comments.
      Like you, I always value readers who find time to read and comment & that is the way community develops.

      Like

  8. I’ve always considered it tacky if there is an upfront ‘author must approve’. I think it’s a given your comments online will be moderated. So long as you’re reading and moderating, which you should be anyway, I think insta-publish is fine. The only time I’ve been OK with excessive protection of comments up front was when a writer’s group site of mine had a member who had gotten way out of line. I restricted comments to members only, and new members only by approval, to push the unruly member away from the site and the member they were harassing.

    Like

    1. Should clarify, I banned member from site, which allowed me to monitor if member was trying to comeback via new membership. And this also made it impossible for member to comment and communicate on the site. It was a difficult scenario, but I’m proud of how we handled it.

      Like

  9. I think restricting comments is a sign of mental frailty and conceit. If you’re offering a commenting experience you should be bold enough to let it breathe. Unless it’s proganity you’re screening, censorship is a pasttime for the insecure.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, restriction on comment is not ideal or preferable way to deal with your blog. Because, once you set your blog for public, you are openly invite people to look into your personal life.
        But how much to disclose and how much to keep hidden is always depends upon the person to person, bloggers to bloggers.

        So, those who are in the favor of restriction on comment, simple words of advice’
        Don’t disclose the things which you feel completely private
        OR
        Always play around your subject of blog.
        Suppose, if you are traveler, always publish about the place which you traveled, useful points for tourist about that place, but, do not publish the things which you feel completely private.
        So, that way, readers will never have opportunity to enter in your personal life. Forget about comment!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Useful advices. I want to moderate the comments, because there are always persons that write something racist or in some other way inappropriate comments. Maybe in future if I notice that the comments given are OK, I can consider free comments.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi, my blog is there to help people (mainly teens) with their worries and their troubles. A big like an agony aunt, but a bit more friendly i guess… I would love it if you had a look on my page and followed and if you have any worries, just comment or contact me directly using the links provided on my page!!!! It would make my day if someone looked! Thanks if you do!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I’m surprised to read that so many of you moderate comments… but it was useful to learn why you do. Since we have the power to delete comments (that are racist or oddly spammy or bizarre– like the guy who thinks I should have just, like, succumbed to Cancer as God intended), I let the comments fly. A while back, my piece on Christianity vs. Atheism was Freshly Pressed and while Steve and I were originally terrified of the comments it would inspire, instead we found this WordPress community to be the lovely, funny, supportive group of adults most of you have experienced.

    Like

    1. 100% agreed with you!!!!!!!
      Yes, you are absolutely right;
      Wordpress is the community of lovely, funny and supportive group!
      but one thing, I would like to add; it is not only supportive group of adults but even teens also behaves, interact in most civilized, most supportive manner!
      Whenever I visit any blog of wordpress, one thing I clearly observe; ultimate aim or hidden message of entire blog is to help, to educate, to support the other bloggers or in general to all human being!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I don’t manually approve comments before they’re posted, but I do require people to fill out a name and e-mail address. Obviously, if they don’t wish to use their real name, they could call themselves Mickey Mouse if they wanted. I understand that by doing this, I’m cutting off that lucrative “anonymous commenter” market, but I find that it eliminates spam/abusive replies, as you have to jump through a couple of hoops before you start typing out something. I consider it a “cooling off” period, if you will. Criticism I’m fine with, even accept. If I say something that has bothered you, by all means, let me know what it was and why. Just don’t be an ass about it.

    I actually think that’s sage advice to follow in your offline life as well. Just don’t be an ass about it.

    Like

  14. I have a political blog and a personal blog. The personal doesn’t get much, if any traffic and I’m not on it much, nor do I promote it much. Its just sharing mostly about hobbies. I did share things deeply personal at one time but removed them as I just would rather keep my personal life and feelings personal. My blog isn’t my “home”, rather I see it as a sort of practice for writing and a way to share some of my ideas about living well with others. I never expect to get challenging or attacking comments and just don’t get much at all.

    But on the political blog I get a lot of hate mail because I talk about controversial topics and post from many writers. I comment back in ways that hopefully allow lurkers to see both sides of an argument and commenting gives me opportunity to expand my or the writers’ point. I invite the writers to join in as well if they wish. Only certain posts though get a lot of action from a particularly local group. I don’t require registration though as I think that the email identity hoop is quite enough and even that I think is a discouragement but I won’t open comments with no filter.

    Like

  15. I have been planning my latest blog for months, and do not have the time nor the energy to be a control freak about comments and make people wait around for approval. Anything that is downright tacky or spammy will manually be removed by me.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Thanks for the information; I immediately changed the settings. And I used to wonder why my posts at times have lesser comments and my acquaintances ping me personally for a critique on my blog posts.

    Like

  17. My attitude to writing is simple: Do not post it if you cannot defend it. Research your facts, be truthful. Be smart. Be proper. Bad languages disdain! Check your grammar and sentence structures. Keep self, personal feelings and hurts within check. Draw a line with POP culture and loose talk. Don’t even imply it if you’d not want it repeated by someone else. Finally, have self-control. No crying over spilled milk! If it is out there already, take responsibility. Don’t fight, don’t fuss. And certainly, don’t try to cover up. You’d only make it worse.

    Like