It’s a good question, and one that many larger sites should be asking themselves.
A few weeks ago I got into a bit of a discussion on Copyblogger.
For those who don’t know, this is one of the leading copywriter sites out there. They give some good free advice and also offer paid content writing and SEO programs.
I went back there a week or two ago now and left a comment on their site, but it didn’t appear. I didn’t think much of it, and saw an interesting article on how they changed their logo color.
I tried to leave a comment, it didn’t show up. I went back last Friday and tried to leave a new comment – it didn’t’ show up.
I tried again today – no luck.
My first thought was that I pressed Copyblogger’s buttons and they just decided to ban me from their site.
But could there be another reason? I mean, really, that’s pretty drastic and I think they could really care less about me.
The Dreaded Spam Folder
I mean, I’m not sure why that would be happening as I never had a problem leaving a comment there before.
I certainly don’t have a problem with spam comments on my site – I wouldn’t even know where to look for a spam folder!
Large sites, however, have to have spam folders because they get hit with lots of obnoxious comments that are just that – spam.
Is this the case with my comments at Copyblogger? Yes.
My comments go to the spam folder of Copyblogger, I know this because I emailed them.
The person that had written the article told me it was fixed, and my comment did show up on that post.
But the 4 or 5 comments I’d made in the days or week before then? Well, they’re still lost out there somewhere.
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And how about the two I made since then? Or the one I made today? Nope, sayonara!
So how many of your users’ comments are heading right into your spam folder? Perhaps more than you think. After all, if a large site like Copyblogger is having difficulties with this, chances are you could be as well.
#1 - ISP Settings
Sometimes you’ll go and fiddle around with your site’s SEO settings. Maybe you’ll flip some of those little boxes or toggle some switches. Oh! – the phone’s ringing, hit save, now it’s done and forgotten.
Now might be a good time to go and look to make sure all of your settings are the way you want them. You’ll usually only have to look in one place to coordinate your whole blog.
#2 - Site Speed
Remember, Google is looking at your bounce rate. Most people that leave spammy comments will be on your site for a minute or less. There’s just no way this helps you.
What’s more, the more stupid and useless comments you have (sorry ‘great article’ folks) the slower your blog article or site will be to load.
Could that lead to a higher bounce rate? You bet!
#3 - Safe Senders
Make sure you don’t have some kind of safe sender setting set that’s precluding new users from commenting on your articles. The last thing you want is to turn potential users away in this fashion. After all, it’s like having a door slammed in your face.
And those people that type out paragraphs only to see it suddenly disappear when the comment goes south for the winter? Boy, I bet they’re pissed at you.
Turning Off Visitors Before They Become Users
Now, you have to ask yourself, ‘do I want my users getting angry?’ Because personally, it makes me angry when I take the time to write out a well-thought out comment and then it doesn’t appear on the site.
Sometimes you get sites where they’ll give you an error message. Perhaps you tried to upload your comment using your Facebook profile or something. Usually you can get around this with simply using another profile.
When you make a comment and you go back down the page to the comment box, however, and see that there’s nothing there and there’s nothing on the page where your comment should be, well shit!
Why would sites do this? Here are a few reasons:
- They don’t care about their users;
- They’re too large for their own good;
- They don’t check their spam folder;
- Their widgets, templates, or hosting platform is giving them problems;
- They've banned you from their site.
Some Blogs Hate Your Comments
When you worry about alienating and turning-off your users you’ve already done so. Playing it safe is for soccer moms and Nascar dads, not people who want to be heard.
I can’t help think that many sites these days are more interested in playing it safe to ensure the ‘continual’ health of their bottom lines at the expense of future growth in both revenue and users.
When you don’t want to offend anyone you offend everyone. I guess it really comes down to you figuring out why people are coming to your site, if that’s the reason you want them coming to your site, and if changes should be instituted.
Say What You Want
But I have no financial stake in it, meaning if no one visits my site I won’t be out on the street and in the cold.
Many large sites can’t say this, and this already puts them at a disadvantage. Instead of becoming winners in their field they become bloated, sclerotic, and obsolete. What can you possibly say to me that has any value when you’re like that?
When sites lose their ability to provide you with value they’re done. Sites having issues with user comments are losing their edge, and thus their ability. And "issues" can be anything from inadvertently blocking comments to moderation policies that do more harm than good.
After that it just becomes a bet to see how long you can continue to have poor shmucks buying your services or reading your crud before they find out it’s all a big bag of hooey.
Is this your site? I can tell you it’s not mine – I’m not trying to sell you any shit.
Sure, I put my books up, which you can buy if you want, but hardly anyone does, so what am I really losing? Time, effort, midnight oil, and opportunity costs I guess.
So in other words I’m losing:
- Time I could be sitting on the couch;
- Effort I could be using to lift that beer to my lips;
- Midnight oil I could let the power company keep;
- And opportunities for me to be screwed over by someone other than myself.
Jeez, guess I’m not missing much after all!
How about your site?