If you are blogging, you are likely wanting to create a conversation with your readers. A great way to do this is utilizing a comment system.
Why you may not want comments
There are some cases where you may not desire to have comments. There are some thought leaders that have opted to disable comments on their blogs. Seth Godin, for example, doesn’t allow comments. He chooses to give to his readers and have them share the post on social media. He wrote a post about his reasons back in 2006.
One reason you may choose not to allow comments is the potential time commitment. Especially if your readership grows, the number of comments will grow. This increases the amount you need to read and potentially respond to. This increases the amount of possible spam comments or trolls looking for a fight.
Why you might want comments
Despite the work involved, you want to cultivate a deeper relationship with your readers by creating a conversation. You start the conversation in the body of the post, then the readers respond to it, and hopefully the conversation with continue.
You may be looking for the extra perspective that your readers may provide. You probably don’t know everything about your subject, and your readers may be able to provide a different perspective that you hadn’t considered. Maybe you’ll be able to get ideas for future blog posts based on the comments and questions in the comment section.
Managing the comments
1. Use a commenting system
WordPress comes with a built-in commenting system. Some people use it and love it. Personally, I don’t care for it too much. I like using a third-party plugin. Two that I have used are Livefyre and Disqus (pronounced “discuss”). I started with Livefyre several years ago, but switched to Disqus after seeing and using it on many blogs I followed.
Both Livefyre and Disqus require you to sign up for an account, which is simply providing your e-mail address or utilizing one of your social media accounts. They both also have a feature that e-mails you future comments on that post, allowing you to keep up with the growing conversation. (note: as the blogger, you’ll receive notifications of comments anyway, but your readers that comment will be notified as well.)
One important aspect is spam filtering. Both of these systems help filter spam out. It’s not fool-proof, but it’s pretty good.
2. Use a spam filter
One popular spam filter is Akismet, which is a plugin that comes pre-installed on WordPress. You’ll need to either sign up for a WordPress.com account or connect to it to enable Akismet. There are different price points for Akismet, both free and paid.
There can be debate on moderation of comments. One suggestion is to have all comments approved before they appear on the site. This is the best way to make sure spam or hurtful comments don’t make it to the public. On the flip-side, it can hinder some of the interaction that can take place on the blog.
Based on recommendations from some top bloggers, like Michael Hyatt in his book Platform, I think that you should make it easy for people to leave comments. If you use a system like Disqus along with Akismet, you won’t have to worry much about spam. The occasional may still show up, but you can easily blacklist them on the admin dashboard.
4. Comment policy
It would be wise to have a comment policy on your site. Michael Hyatt has some great resources regarding this: Do you need a comments policy?
One of the main reasons for having comments available is so you can interact with your readers. If you write your blog post and let your readers comment, but you don’t show up again, you’re being rude. Imagine doing this at a dinner party: would you start a conversation with someone and then walk away while they are talking?
Other helpful plugins
I found a list of some other helpful plugins. I haven’t used these myself, but I wanted to include them in case you want to try them (or that I would try them down the road):