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When should you remove blog comments? When should you keep them?

Those are but two of the questions that +Sonia Simone answers on the latest episode of The Lede.

You may recall that we removed comments on Copyblogger a little less than three weeks ago. Sonia, along with hosts +Jerod Morris and +Demian Farnworth, reacts to the loud and varied reaction our decision caused.

-- What were the super-secret, ulterior, Machiavellian motives that did (or didn’t) influence the decision to turn off blog comments?

-- Should conversations about your content be considered an asset you should control?

-- How has removing comments changed the experience for Copyblogger authors?

We discuss all of this and more. 

Listen right on the site, or subscribe to The Lede on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-lede-from-copyblogger/id402427480
Shockwaves. That’s what this post by Sonia Simone sent through the Copyblogger community. The post, you’ll recall, announced our decision to remove blog comments and gave the reasoning for why we decided to do so — reasoning that some accepted at face value, others parsed for hidden meaning, and the rest ignored before ZOMG’ing to[ Continue Reading... ]
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Thomas Zickell's profile photoGreg Strandberg's profile photoJerod Morris's profile photoBirgit Pauli-Haack's profile photo
38 comments
 
This discussion has been really helpful to me.  I would add, that for a smaller, growing blog where measured traffic is still vital hosting comments drives additional visits (if not uniques) which in the life of my site is still vitally important, but I could see myself getting to the place of moving comments off my site.

Comments or no comments hardly makes the difference with respect to being a "real blog".  But at least for my style of writing the comments are a big part of the appeal.
 
I'll be interested in seeing, after maybe a year or so, if the "copyblogger community" still exists. I enjoyed speaking with Brian, Sonia and the writers and will miss that. This is one of the rare times I've visited Google+ and almost never bother with Twitter. Am I be alone in this?
 
+Steve Moran You make a good point that hosting comments can drive additional visits, especially if you're using something like Facebook comments that automatically posts on a commenter's timeline. And I like your mindset: thinking for yourself and making the best decision for your site and your business. There is no one-size-fits-all answer.

+Jay Walsh We'll be interested to see too. :-) The thing is, the comments underneath posts are just one place where our community congregated. I have absolutely loved having more time to spend in the Authority forums, with our most dedicated community members -- those who have paid for our products and to have a dedicated place to converse with like-minded content creators and Copyblogger staff. And I love coming here now, and conversing more on Twitter. I spend so much less time reviewing spam comments and more time engaging in real discussion. So the early returns for ME are actually a feeling of more community. But it could take time for that to develop with readers as well. Time will tell, and we'll be tracking it.
 
Hey +Jay Walsh Sonia and Brian jump in here, like the comments. And it's true we lost some because they simply refuse to use G+. 
 
I completely agree that it's a decision that needs to be thought through for each different business and blog.  There is no right answer, it entirely depends on your objectives, audience needs, the phase of your business, etc.  I'll also be watching to see how the Copyblogger community evolves/adapts based on the change, given the history of the community congregating on their site.  An interesting case study!
 
It's kind of funny.  Everyone wants their traffic to come from Google, but no one really wants to take the time to figure out how using the network can benefit them.  

It really doesn't take that much effort, and like they said in the podcast, you get those Google+ notifications.  Each time you go to search something you'll see that little red notification thing in the upper righthand corner.  

Still, I don't know why you can't have both blog comments and Google+.  I think you have to have both.  And I also think you could hire some college kid for minimum wage to wade through the comments each day.  

Jeez, you could probably call someone an intern and have them do it for free!
 
Greg, you're right about the intern part, but wouldn't it still be a time waste overall? You could have them doing research for a new post, but instead they are moderating comments. I bet they won't be happy staring at the screen for many minutes just to say yes/no to comments :)
 
+Sonia Simone - Reading the comments on G+ is a real PITA the way it's set up. 

1. Much more scrolling, and in a space that feels very cramped and makes me feel claustrophobic.

2. Any comment that's more than a few lines long requires clicking on a link to read the rest of it.

3. It's horrible if you're trying to archive the post + comments.

One thing that made me love Copyblogger's comments was that I often learned as much (if not more) from the comments as from the post. When revisiting my archives, I've found things that I missed the first time I read them, because they weren't all that important to me at the time. 

So, your removal of comments below the post has definitely decreased the value of Copyblogger for me.

4. I have to remember to switch G+ accounts before I scroll to find the link to come here -- which means first logging out of the account I normally use...

OTHER RANDOM COMMENTS:

A. The one thing I do love about having the comments on G+ is the date stamp! When I see a blog post with no date, the question that pops into my mind is, "How stale is this content?"

When I do see a date and it IS an old post, then I get a better idea of how relevant it might be considering the original and current climates -- the date gives me a point of reference. With no date, I tend to assume it's probably obsolete, or at least not all that trustworthy.

B. Nested comments following a blog post are the most useful format for my purposes.

C. I look at the Internet as a huge library that I use mostly for research.

Entertainment is secondary, and usually limited to YouTube for music and Hulu for TV and movie viewing. I find the "normal" entertainment portals extremely annoying and avoid them like the plague they are (in my opinion -- I hate being slapped in the face to get my attention).

D. And as far as moderating comments goes, if it has become a hairy monster for you, then how about hiring someone to do the initial triage before you check comments and respond to the ones that float your boat?

E. So much for my two cents. ;-)

Terry
 
+Greg Strandberg and +Terry Dallas ... you bring up an interesting point about hiring an intern to moderate comments. It could be something to do in the future. But as +Hemal Patel points out, it's still a question of resource allocation. And right now, removing comments is a better fit for what we have going on than paying someone else and taking the time to train them. With how many comments we get, and how particular we are about what gets through and what doesn't, it's not as simple as it may sound.
 
I am still very upset about copyblogger shutting their comments down. I feel very manipulated. I also feel that this is a massive sell out to Google on some level. It very likely IS. It's not Machiavellian at all. It's just a sell out to Google. And its a sellout to Convenience. At my expense.

I hate feeling manipulated. I hate it even more when I feel I am not getting all the information and data I am entitled to, and I am entitled to ALL the information, all the comments and all the data. 

I will always be FURIOUS angry and absolutely PISSED THE F--- OFF over copyblogger taking away those comments. Furious enough to smash things with a massive baseball bat. For a trillion epochs. With absolutely NO mercy at all. Smashing stuff right down to sub nanotechnological tolerances. Right down past the vanishing point. I'd give a gravitational black hole a run for its money in terms of smashing things down to size because I am so upset about copyblogger shutting down its comments. 

Plenty of agencies are manipulating the s--- out of us. Now I feel yet another is manipulating the s--- out of me. Maybe this is actually a very good thing. Now I won't worship copyblogger so damn much. Now I will return my worship to a Person who truly deserves it. Man I was SO delighted with copyblogger. Now I have to google to get all the comments, spread out over an incredible diversity of digital sharecropping outposts.

Customers always come FIRST, NOT convenience for copyblogger. Remember that, Copyblogger Media, Customers Always Come First. This is NOT about you. This is about ME. Inconvenient, but true. This is NOT about your convenience, copyblogger. This is about my pain points and you WILL Listen up and learn.

I'm in severe pain. This is exactly like a person who is being forced to have six of their decayed molars removed with a pair of pliers WITHOUT the benefit of novocaine. The patient is screaming with intense pain! This is how I feel about copyblogger shutting down its comments for its convenience and for google. You sold out to google and the poor helpless patient is crying with severe pain!

Please relieve my pain point, copyblogger. Bring the damn comments back last decade. You are a software company. You have partnerships with talented people who have completely reshaped blogs and their coding. That's a ton of talent. Your Rainmaker Platform is straight out of the 39th Century. You have the potential to be able to develop software that can shut down even subtle spam. Use heuristic algorithms like the antivirus people develop to combat computer viruses. This is 2014. The software technology is there. Let's use it, let's bring the blog comment spam under control, and lets bring the world-famous copyblogger comments back. I'll finally be happy and I'll buy the entire copyblogger team enough drinks for a hundred happy hours on New Years Eve.
 
+JD Ebberly ... this comment is so many things. I can't tell if you're 100% serious, 100% sarcastic, or if you are under the influence of something much stronger than novocaine. I will say that nothing is final. We are tracking the impact of removing comments, and of course we'll bring them back at some point if we think it's the right thing to do. There could also be solutions in between where we use comments on a site like G+ but embed them on Copyblogger. Who knows. It's early. But you weren't manipulated, nor is this a massive sell-out to Google. Also, thanks for the new Rainmaker tagline: "A content publishing platform straight out of the 39th Century!"
 
+Jerod Morris Parts of it are sarcastic. The part about me being upset about the copyblogger comments being shut down is pretty serious.

The part about the baseball bat was simply creative writing, I am a scifi fan lol. I love nanotechnology a LOT lol.

The part about the sellout to google was sarcastic.

I was pretty serious about copyblogger's nod to convenience, because your team has enough talent depth to solve the spam problem once and for all, and also make a tremendous amount of money into the bargain. That would amount to a substantial new revenue stream.

It is taking some effort to find the right G+ comment stream once I read a copyblogger article on the blog. Please try to link directly to the correct G+ comment stream for each blog post.

I was not kidding about your brilliant Rainmaker content publishing platform. It's downright futuristic. Copyblogger Media is systematically reshaping the entire blogging and content publishing market to the betterment of all publishers and producers for once and for all.
 
+Jerod Morris - So... here on G+, are you going to leave comments unmoderated, or still moderate (after the fact)? ;-)

I get why you moved comments here. You don't consider them an asset, so why spend money and effort to keep them in shape according to your standards and vision. But it was precisely that careful moderation that made them the asset they became.

To me, they were an asset that was just as valuable as the articles they were attached to, so I really miss them. But it is what it is, and I know you're doing what you feel is best for your business. Time will tell whether it really is the best course.
 
+JD Ebberly I think people underestimate the spam issue, but that's okay. It's not unsolvable, but with everything else we have going on right now it's not at the top of the list of issues to solved by our current team. And I applaud your creative writing. :-)

+Terry Dallas So far we have done no comment moderating that I know of on G+. I can't see why we'll have to. People are actual people here (at least from what I've seen) and that tends to reduce spam naturally, because people have to attach their G+ profile to what they say. 

Personally, I would love to see us come up with a better solution for comments down the road ... one that eliminates some or all of the negatives but still allows them to sit below the articles -- says the writer with zero development skills. :-) . We'll see. For now, removing them completely works best for us, and we'll track if that remains true. 
 
Wow.... This is going to run and run!!!

I can see why so many people are upset about losing moving the comments from +Copyblogger 

But to be honest I also have struggled with comment spammers on a few of my sites also and know how much of a pain it has become!!

In the past I have favoured +Disqus but even that is now being targeted by the spammers and traffic whores!!

I have actually made the decision to remove the comments from a new website I have created for my families business +Shottle Hall  A wedding and events venue in #Derbyshire  {Shameless Plug}

Our website only has a small amount of comments but really I feel the content we are providing does not actually need comments on our website and we would prefer much more to move any discussions onto our social networks.

Thanks again guys for bringing this issue into the forefront and giving website owners like me the courage to remove comments!
 
@james

Above is likely why they removed comments. Although this could very well be an innocent comment...the shameless plug could throw it in to debate.

It'd be hard to solve this type of spam. Sure, the comments can be set to no follow,but for "seos" that are using this strategy it isn't about the amount seo love they are getting but actually the traffic. Unfortunately, it has a great chance of working....I mean I clicked on the shottle hall link to further investigate the legitimacy of the comment above....now to all the comment haters- think of that times the number of comments that a site the size copyblogger would have to weed through.

True. It is solving an inconvenience for them but isn't it also creating more time for them to produce content?

Personally, I like the comments off on a bigger site...plus it's helping me be more active on Google+, like I've wanted to for months....so in that way, it has been a convenience to me as well.
 
Hey +Bryan Glanz I apologise if my comment looks a bit "Spammy" I was hoping by adding the link it would provide some context, notice I linked to my G+ profile rather than the website URL :)

what I was trying to show was that although a lot of us use WordPress for our websites they have become more than blogs and in my families case the need for comments is just not necessary.
 
What I don't understand is why people feel so entitled to have a comment system on CopyBlogger?! It's not your platform. It's not your hard work and toil and sweat. They are not reducing conversation, just simply changing the way it happens. I'll say for me -- I didn't start following CopyBlogger closely UNTIL it moved to Google plus. I'm a perfect example of someone who would rather talk out here than on their blog.
 
Great episode of the Lede—Sonia Simone appears only occasionally on Copyblogger, in both print and podcast forms, but she is always excellent value! BTW, what is the amazing song that concludes each episode of the Lede? One thing that we have certainly gained from the transition is a reaffirmation of the value of G+. We feel that the buzz over its value must be worth something if Copyblogger is so interested in engaging on the platform.
 
It was interesting to see some of the feedback, but you didn't address 2 of the concerns that I had about moving your conversation to the SM space.

#1, where do the readers go to find that conversation if your site isn't pulling that back in to the post somehow? This is about 5th or 6th on the list here on your G+ feed right now. The link I followed at the end of the post didn't bring me straight to this entry... I had to hunt for it.

#2, what about those of us who use multiple "identities" for different niches, or to keep our friends/family from being inundated with the business side of our lives? I have that frustration on Facebook since I've set up pages for different sites I run. When I want to post something as a page I have to remember to consciously switch back and forth. I haven't set that up on G+ yet, so I'm not sure if it is easier or not.

I do like that you reconfirmed the point that closing comments is not something that you recommend for everyone, but that it needs to be a decision that makes sense for each company or individual.
 
Looking back I see that. However, in my defense I read the transcript (below that link) and followed the link below that 8=)
 
Great interview and I better understand Copyblogger not needing comments on the blog.  The comments make my blog but I'm a small guy.  Plus, I'm not a business. I sell a product but being a 'self help' focus I need to interact with readers.  I love Sonia's comparison of emptying spam comments to getting your teeth cleaned. LOL.
 
I appreciate Copyblogger testing the use of G+ because I have been working on a new blog and I am getting sometimes 6 irrelevant, spammy kind of comments each day to my only blog post called "testing"... and it happens even if I hide the site from Google Crawlers.  

So what I am going to try is to use G+ for my comments from the date that I launch.  

I'll educate people on the beneficial aspects for them of using G+ and that they don't have to have a Google account to comment.  

So let's keep this experiment going and see how it works.  In the end, it may turn out that it's best used for certain types or sizes of businesses.  

I hope Copyblogger (and anyone else who chooses the G+ approach) keeps us updated.

And now for the testing phase...
 
+Day Translations, Inc. the song to end each podcast is "Down in the Valley" by +The Head and the Heart, and absolutely fantastic band that was gracious enough to let us use the song at no charge. It's been one of my favorite songs ever since I first heard it, and that line in particular -- So I wish I was a slave now to an age-old trade -- certainly applies to the study of marketing. :-)
 
+Bill Nickerson Totally understand. Were looking into ways to help make it stand out. It is easy to miss. 
 
Thank you +Jerod Morris! Yes, we love the wonderfully laid-back tone and steel-string guitar. The line is intriguing outside of the context of the song, so it will be great to hear the entire tune.
 
Check out their entire catalog. Great stuff. One my short list of bands I want to see live.
 
+Hemal Patel If you guys don't think someone wants to beef up their resume by working for you for free, then I'm sorry, you know a lot less than I thought over there.
 
I guess if your company doesn't have enough resources to hire someone to check content then I'd be seriously concerned about the 'financial' advice you're giving out on a daily basis.

Is everything in the office looked at so narrowly? 
 
Is it possible to have a threaded view of the conversation in G+? I enjoying seeing replies with the comment that is being replied to rather than just in chronological order. Is that something that I could set up for my view of the thread? Or can you set it up as the default view? Is it even possible?
 
Great question Bill. I know you can on YouTube comments. I don't recall seeing it with G+ comment threads though.
 
+Copyblogger Yes I installed and activated Akismet as my first plugin and I added "Bad Behavior" plugin.  It's those emails that say "I love what you are saying on your website."---very generic.  

I am also getting "New Users."  So I delete them too.  Any ideas about getting rid of new users?
 
+Terry Dallas +Copyblogger  Honestly it is not as user-friendly as it is search engine friendly to reply on Google plus. Why would anyone want to be redirected to another site in order to reply regardless of what that site is. I know you guys are making out like bandits with it and you are not going to change it however my opinion is this is not as user-friendly.

 I also believe Google will level off this huge G plus trend and when that happens they will adapt. It is the end-user who is losing not cp.
PS
Where is premise in your logo were not you guys can bring that back about a year ago? Is an owner of everyone of your software I would love to know when you are going to actually roll out the new version.
 
+Lee Kemter  Anything that is being indexed or even things that are not being indexed are going to get thousands of spam comments a day. However a company that makes WordPress hosting, rainmaker, WordPress framework and themes for WordPress is really not trying to get out of +WordPress is to spam me so we ran to to G+ are they?
 
+Thomas Zickell So really, the company that wants to make a lot of money this year will come up with a product to effectively deal with spam.  Obviously humans are incapable of doing it.
 
+Thomas Zickell If we are "making out like bandits" it's because of the extra time and peace of mind the decision has provided, and that everyone on our team (so far) agrees that the quality of interaction has, for the most part, improved. We'll see. To say we are "never going to change it" is awfully presumptive ... especially since we've said at every opportunity that it's an experiment. Like everything else we'll see how it works, with the knowledge that we can flip comments back on at any second.

As for Premise, it is still supported by new signups aren't allowed. The pieces of Premise were built into Rainmaker and will continue to be updated.
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