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