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How Do You Manage Your Blog Comment Section?

Kathleen Garvin
How Do You Manage Your Blog Comment Section?

For the last year or so, we've used Disqus on the SEMrush blog. Disqus is a networked community platform that can be installed on your site via code or plugin.

A colleague new to our commenting system of choice is now managing the recently launched SEMrush Spanish blog. I sent him an image to break down how I most often use Disqus.

A recent SEMrush blog comment

4 Ways I Use Disqus for the Company Blog

  1. Mark as Spam — Spam comments come in two forms: obvious and not-so-obvious. Sometimes, someone will post something completely bizarre like, "Buy cheap hats in China!" with a hyperlink to a different site. That's pretty easy to spot — to the spam folder, with ye!

Other times, comments will begin, "This was a really good article! It reminds me of the time I was link building and came across this guide (hyperlinked)." Now, if the link is relevant to the conversation and a quality source of information, I'll allow it. If it's not, but the rest of the comment is decent, I'd moderate it and edit the link out of the comment for the blog. If it's a short, purely promotional comment, then I'll spam it.

  1. Delete — As so eloquently described it in the image above, I will delete any comment that is "straight gibberish." This typically means a comment that looks like someone slammed their fists on the keyboard for a couple of seconds. However, we are also prone to irrelevant and, sometimes, inappropriate comments (sexual in nature). I will remove such comments as I find and am alerted to them.

One type of comment that might be tempting to delete is one that has a complaint or dissenting opinion. Most blog editors and community managers have found themselves in this spot. While tempting, if you're trying to be transparent and foster your community, you (or the author) should acknowledge the comment and address it, as opposed to removing it.

  1. Blacklist — Does a familiar face or name keep popping up to drop off spam, offensive and/or nonsense comments? You can add them to your Disqus Blacklist. This list will block users from posting future comments on your blog.

Alternatively, Disqus also has a Whitelist:

Whitelisting will ensure that their [users] comments are posted immediately though it won't prevent their comments from being marked as spam. This is used for trusted commenters, such as community regulars or website staff who aren't listed as moderators.

  1. Moderate — I'll admit it; I just learned about this feature.

Refer back to the example in my first point: "This was a really good article! It reminds me of the time I was link building and came across this guide (hyperlinked)." Before, I would copy and paste the comment, and repost it under "Mod" with the person's name listed and the link removed. Then, while reviewing the Disqus functions for my colleague, I realized there was a better way.

By moderating the comment, you can remove any undesirable links while leaving the person's original comment intact. This helps keep the blog human.

Are Comment Sections Going the Way of the Dodo?

Last year, Copyblogger made the announcement they were removing comment sections. The site joined four other high-profile ones that canned their comment sections that year.

Sonia Simone, Chief Content Officer at Copyblogger, offered three main reasons why they shut off comments:

  1. The amount of comments had decreased, as conversation moved off the page and on to social media;
  2. Sincere and thoughtful comments deserved to be fleshed out and shared on the commenter's platform; and
  3. Spam. Ugh.

I've noticed more blogs have removed their comment sections altogether as well, including freelance articles I've written that previously had comments (?). SEMrush Technical Editor, Tara Clapper, and I had a call for a content partnership a couple of weeks ago. When I reviewed their blog beforehand they, too, had no place for comments — only social shares.

Ultimately, you have to decide what works best for your company. And if you do keep your comment section ...

Don't Forget About the Community Aspect

Don Purdum is a marketing and sales strategist who has posted on our blog, joined us for a webinar and was our first-ever podcast guest.

Don's two SEMrush blog posts have garnered more than 120 comments, and continue to amass new comments. One of the most refreshing things I noticed was that Don replied to every one. And not just responded, but did so very thoughtfully.

I hopped on a call with Don, and he offered advice on how I could better improve the blog community. One of the first things he said was I should have a presence on the very community I was trying to build (a simultaneous lightbulb/'duh!' moment).

4 tips for maintaining your blog comment section and community:

  1. Have a community manager or designated worker comment on blog posts, follow up on other comments and comment outside the company blog to engage with others in the industry.
  2. Include a call-to-action at the end of posts to appeal to readers to share, comment and/or add his or her two cents.
  3. Encourage writers to follow up on any comments on their blog post. If they have a Disqus account, they should already get a notification, but I sometimes *nudge* writers with a reminder that they have comments.

cool story broSource

  1. Have a policy for commenting on your blog. (We're in the process of shaping up a comment policy now for when our blog redesign rolls out.) In the meantime, Megan Totka offered some great tips on crafting a comment policy for your blog. [Ed. note.: Megan is a monthly contributor for SEMrush]

Any other tips on managing a blog comment section and community? Let me know in the comments (#2, for the win?)!

Header image credit: Pixabay & Canva

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Kathleen Garvin is an online editor and analytics wrangler for The Penny Hoarder, the largest personal finance blog. She's also a contributing writer for I Want Her Job and started a beginner-friendly digital marketing blog, The Maroon House. Kathleen is the former blog editor at SEMrush.
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Don Purdum
Hi Kathleen,

I love what you guys are doing and how your community is starting to grow organically through your blog. That can only mean great things for your business as you guys continue to accelerate and grow!!!!!

I love DISQUS and have used it for years. It's easy and it is virtually spam free. The DISQUS community is amazing and I've not only earned traffic from them but also business.

I think that people have to realize that blog commenting and building a community is the organic way to tell a search engine they are valuable and viable. But, if someone is just showing up for a link then personally I am not as interested in your comment on my blog.

I want to know my readers and engage with them. It's easy getting a link back to your site through DISQUS if that's what you're looking for; but that's not what I'm looking for as a website / blog owner. I want community that finds my work valuable and helpful to their cause.

What value is there for someone to engage if we don't engage with our readers back. If I see people leaving comments on a site and no response in a few days from the blogger / author then I won't bother leaving a comment that is valuable. I'm not in it for the link: I'm in it for the community building and relationships that will come out if it that will translate into real networking.

As I always say, there are two audiences: the one I want to reach who is able, willing and ready to buy; and those who serve the same audience I do but in a different way who want to network.

Great post Kathleen and thank you so much for including me!!!!

~ Don Purdum
Kathleen Garvin
Don Purdum
Thanks for stopping by, Don! Glad to give you a nod.

I'm happy to see our SEMrush community grow, both through social media and on the blog. I like the idea of building a tribe; it's wonderful to see authors, users, commenters and SEMrush employees all join the conversation.

Look forward to your webinar!
Julia McCoy
This was a great post! I noticed the first screenshot with the comment by Robby was from my article (yay) :)

We use Disqus as well for our blog and very much like it.

Love all the ideas from Don Purdum - I have never heard of him, but he is doing things right :D
Kathleen Garvin
Julia McCoy
Yep, your article indeed! Thanks for stopping by to read and comment. :)
Don Purdum
Julia McCoy
Thank you Julia! I just checked out your blog and I love how you guys are using stories to illustrate your message.

I so appreciate the kind words and look forward to engaging with you on your site. Headed over there now to read and engage.

Have an awesome week!

~ Don Purdum
Renard Moreau
[ Smiles ] A blog commenting policy is important; it ensures that everyone who comments, abide by the website's rules.

I also use Disqus with my blog and it does an excellent job of filtering the spam.

I think that one of the reasons for the decline in comments is, that some people have a fear that what they have to say (in the form of a written comment) may be perceived as being stupid by the website's administrator.
Kathleen Garvin
Renard Moreau
Thanks for jumping in the convo, Renard!

I don't expect judgment from the website administrator, but more so, the community at large. If I think I could be flamed for an innocuous comment, why would I bother? Sadly, it's easy to bully (and do so anonymously) on the Internet.
Hello Kathleen,

I definitely wanted to share my thoughts on this topic as well because blog commenting is what literally put me and my blog on the map. I'm also good friends with Don Purdum as well after having met him through blog commenting over a year ago.

I can't speak for those companies that close their comments. I believe that things can be put into place to control spam, I get very little over at my blog. If the conversations are taking place on other platforms then it's up to them to direct them back to their place. I mean it is the only real estate you own online and it's up to everyone to get people to our sites.

Having comments open is the best way to start conversations. Our goals as business owners are to help our readers so when you give them the platform to share their thoughts you should not only respond to every single comment but reach out to them if they need further assistance. That's what will make you attractive to them.

People want to be noticed, they want to know you care. When you willingly help them by responding to what they've shared they start to build up that rapport with you and feel like they're being heard. That's what will make them come back time and time again.

Don is absolutely right when he said you should have a presence on the very community you're trying to build.

I don't use Disqus and a lot of my friends won't comment on any posts that use it either. Their logic is they're not signing up for one more darn thing they're not using themselves. I think they're missing out on making that connection but to each his own.

Thanks for sharing this topic over here Kathleen and I'll be sure to share this post as well. Great job and I do love this topic.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Kathleen Garvin
Thank you for the well-thought-out comment, Adrienne!

I think comment sections are necessary, especially in an environment like this one. We get little snark on the blog; more questions and intelligent commentary. We'd be nudging out people who willingly want to make this a community if we shut down comments tomorrow. :)

Like you wrote, people want to be noticed. It makes a difference when you follow up and engage, specifically, I think, because people don't often expect it.

Thanks for reading and sharing!
I think there is certainly a trend now of many companies now focusing on their comment sections and looking at what to do (like the Verge: I also think connecting your comments to a larger community forum, is something worthwhile to explore as well. I work at Vanilla and see this as a growing trend.
Kathleen Garvin
Hi Adrian! Thanks for stopping by and sharing that article.

I refer to the behavior in your post as "dog pile" mentality — One person makes a misstep or has a differing viewpoint in the comment section? Let's all jump on top and get him! It's discouraging, to say the least.

I'm happy I have not experienced this much on our SEMrush blog. On a personal level, I had an article publish anonymously this week on a site with a notoriously snarky comment section. Let's just say they continued to earn their reputation. ;)
Kathleen Garvin
I think we get lucky enough on B2B blogs. The consumer facing/media sites have a much harder time I would suspect.
Kathleen Garvin
I even got used as the guinea pig. Sweet! :)

I like the functionality of disqus as it organizes all of my commentary from multiple blogs and forums into one centralized location. Conversely, the Facebook plugin that is also quite popular I hate with a passion. It's horribly buggy for one, and my relationship with Facebook is about like my relationship with Starbucks these days, meaning love/hate, with hate winning out more often than not.
Kathleen Garvin
Rob Wilson
I was going to send you a note, but you are on top of everything SEMrush blog, as usual. :)

I'm not a fan of the Facebook plugin either. It feels a little too personal when communicating with strangers who think your profile picture is fair game for comments and that you're open to private messages. Disqus is my preferred commenting system as well.

Thanks for commenting!
Kathleen Garvin
I also agree with you that blog commenting across the web has been on the decline in recent years, which is disheartening to me. When someone takes the time to create something fantastic, I like to at the very least acknowledge it. Being an occasional writer and ex-blogger myself, I know that jolt of epicness you feel when folks interact with your piece. All of us could use more of that from time to time.
Kathleen Garvin
Rob Wilson
Absolutely! I find myself more and more looking at BuzzSumo and using the search bar in Twitter to track my article shares and conversations that are happening elsewhere. Still, nothing compares to seeing a comment on the post itself.

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