Are you losing money because of your sites comment system?

Even though I’ve had some pretty strong (and not so strong) opinions to express, I’ve not been commenting on a lot of sites lately because they won’t let me leave my URL when I sign up to comment.

For example, I was going to comment on Urlesque today, but when I scrolled down to the comment form I was confronted with the following and promptly clicked off to another site:

PaulOFlaherty_com Image Capture #9 - 'Last Shot - Ninja Hamster - The Web Photo I Can't Stop Looking At - Urlesque - Internet Trends, Viral Videos, Memes and Web Culture' - www_urlesque_com_2009_06_24_ninja-hamster

Now that kind of a log in process in order to leave a comment, just pisses me off because I’ve always thought that the idea was to make it as easy as possible for readers to leave a comment.

Instead, the people at Urlesque (and others who have a similar system) expect you to jump through the hoops of not only leaving a comment, but then waiting for a verification email and that is probably before you hit the first time moderation queue.

I can understand why sites may implement such an archaic and difficult commenting process. They want to reduce spam levels and the more difficult they make it for someone to leave a comment the more likely it is that the comment is genuine and the less work they’ll have to do moderating.

However, this kind of system, especially one that doesn’t allow you to leave a link to your own website when you comment, is a cop-out of the lazy and fails to realize that user comments are worth money to a publisher.

As I see it, when you publish a blog post you enter into an exchange with your readers.

Imagine that your blog is a bar and that every Thursday night for 1 hour you offer either free or half price beer to your customers in order to entice them to come in.

Your blog itself is the premises.

Your post is the free or cheap beer which you are using the bring the customers in.

The idea is that you want them to come in and click on your advertising or in this case to buy shots to complement the cheap beer they are having.

So, at this point, it’s easy to get people to come in and drink your free beer, but what you really want is customers who will come back during the times that you’re not running promotions and will become regulars in the bar.

These customers are what makes every bar it’s real money and whether or not you realize, these customers are actually the people who leave comments on your blog.

Nobody wants to drink in an empty bar and a lot of people feel disinclined to comment on posts where most other folks haven’t. A blog with few comments looks un-trafficked and gives the impression that (despite the reality) it is of low-quality content.

The customers who come in when there are no promotions running may not spend a lot of money on shots (or in this case click adverts), but they make the place look busy and that entices others in who will buy the shots.

From a website point of view every comment left is yet another piece of text for the search engines to crawl which may also bring you long tail search engine traffic, leading to increased page views and increased revenue over time.

See where I’m going with this? The harder you make it for people to comment, the less likely they are to leave a comment. It has a knock-on effect. Less comments, less commenter’s because there is no sense of community, also less content for the search engines which means less search engine traffic, all of which leads to a decline in your long term revenue.

It’s not alcohol that keeps people coming back to the same pub all the time. Alcohol can be purchased in any pub and cheaper in a liquor store. It’s the community. It’s the people that they get to come in to after work and hang out with. It’s the people that they get to talk to.

This talk ranges from sports to personal life, but invariably these people share things with each other and get to know each other. Jim got a new car, Teresa shows of pictures of her sisters baby etc…

Except, on blogs where it is difficult to comment, there is very little community and on blogs where you can’t share your URL, those who do stick around long enough for a quick “nippy sweetie” after work can’t show off those pictures of their niece’s and nephews or grand kids.

By making commenting difficult and cutting off peoples means to share info about themselves (their URL) you reduce the level of community and stop people from becoming regulars before they walk in the door.

Empty seats don’t entice people in.

Bars can’t live without their regular customers and blogs can’t do it without their community.

6 thoughts on “Are you losing money because of your sites comment system?”

  1. Hey Paul,

    When I started blogging, my analogy was a radio call-in show. I'll take all calls but if you get rowdy, I'll hang up on you. It's still my show.

    So I accept all comments..logged in or not, no initial moderation. I'm informed when you leave a comment and if you are a spammer or worse, I can delete your comments. But I never delete dissenters or people with another opinion, because I wanna encourage the conversation even if it is a debate.

    Dave

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  2. exactly the reason I deleted commentluv from my blogger. It was too many steps to take for readers just to leave a comment.It does work great of wordpress though.

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  3. Well said Paul. Comments are getting more prominance nowadays due to backlinks. Anyway for most people anonymous comments are a favoured one to just comment and forget.

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