One of the fun parts in blogging is receiving comments to your posts. It’s nice to get feedback on what you have written about.
Unfortunately, sometimes managing the comments can be very time-consuming. Especially if you are blogging while having a day job, you may not have that many moments to deal with comments.
Here I present five ways to deal with comments. The main point is to make this process more effective – by getting rid of all the extra work that is otherwise involved. That way you have more time to do something more important in your blogging.
1. Create a policy
One way to handle comments is to create a commenting policy on your blog and make it available for everyone to see. What this means is that you define rules on how you handle comments on your blog.
These rules could define the situations when a comment is not accepted. In other words, certain conditions have to be met before a comment goes live.
For instance, you could require that all your commenters should have a Gravatar picture (instead of that default grey and white icon) or that short comments like “Hey, that’s a nice post” will immediately be deleted.
It is of course up to you to decide how detailed the policy will eventually be. However, once you start implementing your policy, only then will you realize how well it works and if any parts of it need to be modified or not.
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2. Get rid of trackback spam
One time-consuming part regarding comments is handling trackback spam:
Basically, a trackback is generated when you write a post and then link to another blogger’s post. The blogger then gets notified about this and he/she can either accept or reject this notification (aka a trackback).
If the trackback is accepted, you get a link pointing back to your blog post from that other blog. This in turn gives yet another backlink and it can potentially improve your search engine rankings, thus giving you more visits as well.
In order to stop spammers taking advantage of your blog’s popularity, you can tackle this issue in couple of ways.
First, you can use a plugin called Simple Trackback Validation with Topsy Blocker. This helps you to determine which trackbacks are spam and which not. You get a special text [BLOCKED BY STBV] in front of the trackback, which is considered as spam.
The downside of this is that you still have to check the comments yourself, to see if there are any valid ones included or not. For instance, you may get notifications from valid sources, mentioning your name and brand in a positive light, and yet it can be considered as trackback spam.
The second, and the more radical way, is to disable the trackbacks entirely. In fact, I just recently did this myself, as I don’t really see any value in trackbacks. In my experience, the majority of them are just spam anyway and I have better things to do than just going through and checking them every day.
In order to disable trackbacks, just go to your WordPress admin panel, choose Discussion on the left hand panel and uncheck the box, “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks)”:
This way the trackback spam issue is at least partially solved and you shouldn’t get any trackbacks to your future blog posts. However, if you want to get rid of trackbacks to your existing posts as well, check out this article for more information.
After turning off the trackbacks, I’m aware that I’m not going to receive those valid notifications anymore. You could also mention this in your commenting policy too: You are not allowing any trackbacks at all.
3. Hire a virtual assistant
If you have money to spend, you can hire a virtual assistant (VA), who can then take care of the comments you get on your blog.
If you have created a commenting policy, you can then let your VA monitor your incoming comments based on the rules you have set.
You can create a special checklist based on the policy, which is easier for your assistant to follow (rather than the policy post on your blog). Based on the points on the list, he/she can then decide if the comment can be replied to or if it’s going to be deleted.
For instance, this checklist could be simple like this:
- Does the comment contain at least X amount of words?
- Does the commenter have a valid Gravatar picture?
- Is the language something other than English?
- [YOUR POINT HERE]
If even one of the questions is answered “no”, you can instruct your VA to delete the comment immediately. Otherwise, you can handle it later.
4. Check your comments at scheduled times
OK, so you’ve got comments waiting to be replied to. The next question is, when do you handle them?
My advice is the same as with e-mail: Don’t spend your whole day moderating comments. Rather, batch process them at certain times. This way you can handle more comments faster, thus saving you time.
I use this very technique myself and I check my comments twice per day: In the morning and in the evening.
5. Automatically closing the comment section
There is still yet another way to deal with comments so that they won’t eat up all of your time.
In this case I’m referring to Kristi Hines of Kikolani and she basically lets everyone know what happens to comments after the 60 day period:
What this does is prevents people from commenting on the posts after a certain time. This in turn reduces the amount of work you have to do with comments.
Once this information is publicly announced, it sets the right kinds of expectations towards your readers (in other words, after the time is passed, you can interact with them in some other way).
You can easily configure the amount of time that WordPress keeps the comments open, by going to Settings > Discussion:
With these five ways you can make your comment processing more effective in your own blog.
Please make sure to list your own tips to the comments area!