There once was a time when no comment system existed. You’d just go to a site, read the post, and leave your Name, E-mail, and URL address (optional) to leave a comment. If your browser was smart enough, it would remember all your details so you could go directly into leaving another comment instead of re-typing all your information with every visit.
Nowadays, comment systems like DISQUS are taking over. In order to comment via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or whatever, you’ve got to first register with DISQUS, allow them to access all your contact information, set up a password, and then comment. Who is to say you have a FB, Twitter, Google+ account in the first place? I registered for DISQUS a while ago, but I don’t recall my password and I can’t be bothered to change it.
Every time I stumble across a site with a DISQUS comment system, I no longer comment anymore. Some sites smartly allow one to leave a comment as a guest commenter without registering, but most sites with DISQUS don’t allow for guest commenting, so I stopped trying.
I also registered for another commenting system a while back called LiveFyre. But over the years, I hardly ever see the LiveFyre commenting system installed anymore. What happened to them? My concern is that I have to keep on registering for these new comment systems, and because many aren’t profitable, they end up not lasting for the long term. Therefore, why continue registering for ever more commenting systems that access your personal data only for them to likely disappear?
I long for the good old days to return because I like to interact more with the community through comments on the publisher’s platform.
YOUR COMMENT SYSTEM HURTS DISCUSSION
DISQUS is a smart idea where they get publishers and commenters to register into their database of communities for discussion. They then generate and share revenue with publishers from endemic advertising products that are based on promoted discovery and engagement opportunities within the community discussions DISQUS powers. This is great for DISQUS and potentially for you as a publisher to generate an alternative income stream, but adding this barrier stunts discussion.
Besides putting up a wall that forces a commenter to register, here are some other reasons why I think comment systems stunts discussion:
1) Given I have a consulting job, I use my work computer for a little more than half the time I’m on the computer. Given this is a work computer, I’ve set up work related accounts, separate from my personal accounts. With commenting systems, now I have to keep track of two accounts if I want to comment using a comment system. With all the things I’ve got to do for work, keeping track of another account for commenting is the last thing I want to deal with. I’m sure some of you have a personal and a work computers as well.
2) The link back is obscured. During the few times that I successfully left a comment system comment, the link back was to my comment system profile and not to my website. It doesn’t make sense that if I left the comment, DISQUS would get the traffic if a curious webmaster or fellow comment reader wanted to learn more about me. Part of my goal of leaving a comment is to build more direct relationships with other people. It’s much harder to do if there’s a layer between you and other people.
3) I believe comments should be as unmolested as possible by advertising. Relevant links within the comments section are fine. But if commenters start getting constantly pinged with advertisement, that feels off. Intuitively, your comment activity will decline with a worse user experience. The best user experience is 0 advertising, but we know this isn’t possible since nobody works for free, forever.
YOUR COMMENTS ARE VERY IMPORTANT FOR GROWTH
More comments are better than less because:
1) You feel better knowing someone is reading your work. When you feel better about your work, you write more. When you write more, you increase your chances of survival. Half the battle of creating a successful blog is sticking with a publishing schedule for a long enough period of time. The Yakezie Challenge was set at six months because I felt if you could stick with writing 2-4X a week for six months, there was an extremely high likelihood that you would last a year because you wouldn’t want to throw away all your previous hard work.
2) When you have more comments, you build more relationships. Perhaps most will be with other bloggers at first, which is great because they can help spread your good word. But you might also build great relationships with non blogging readers as well who could lead to friendships or future consulting clients. Once you have more relationships, you are more emboldened to keep on going because you have more people rooting for you.
3) You have another avenue to generate more content via the Comment Commentary System where you highlight fantastic comments on your site in a new post and comment on the commentary. This strategy, in turn generates even more traffic and comments.
4) Your posts builds search engine power. I’m sure everybody has searched for something before online where Google has found your keywords in the comment of a post, and not the post itself. The same thing happens when you build a forum, like the one here at Yakezie. Search engines pick up great content in the comments section all the time. I’ve got old posts that continue to rank extremely well in search because there continues to be robust comments e.g. Average 401k Balance written two years ago, but since updated this year.
5) New comments create newness to your old posts. Here’s a very interesting scenario which I’d like everybody to think about. Not only are comments always relevant and keyword rich to your post which help with search, they act as a signal to show the search engines that something new is going on with your old post. So instead of having to constantly update your post if it’s not written in an evergreen way, your new comments ,which bring in search traffic on its own will help automatically help refresh your posts for you!
BARRIERS CREATE INACTIVITY
The more barriers you put up, the less activity there will be. There’s the case of putting up a barrier for non registered users and then there’s another case of putting up a barrier for search engines. Not everybody wants to register via Facebook because they want to keep their Facebook activity separate from all other activity. Not everybody has a DISQUS or Livefyre account, or whatever other commenting system account. And not everybody can keep track of all their accounts across all different devices while they are on the go.
The more simple you make your comment system, the better it will be for everyone. If you want to generate revenue from your site, then focus on writing terrific content which you can monetize in the content section. Leave the comment section as pure as possible please.
STARTING A MONEY MAKING BLOG
It’s been over six years since I started Financial Samurai and I’m actually earning a good passive and active income stream online now. My online presence has allowed me to pursue other things, such as consulting for various financial tech startups as well.
I never thought I’d be able to quit my job in 2012 just three years after starting Financial Samurai. But by starting one financial crisis day in 2009, Financial Samurai actually makes more than my entire passive income total that took 15 years to build. If you enjoy writing, creating, connecting with people online, and enjoying more freedom, learn how you can set up a WordPress blog in 15 minutes like this one.
Leverage the 3+ billion internet users and build your brand online. You never know where the journey will take you! There are professional bloggers now who make way more than bankers, doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs while having much more fun, much more freedom, and doing less work.
Updated for 2017 and beyond.