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Increasing blog comments

Posted by Michael Bloch in web development (Friday June 22, 2007 )

Just a brief tip I’d like to share that may be of benefit to bloggers or content site owners who invite publicly displayed comments on articles and posts.

If you’re finding getting people to comment is difficult, try switching off the need for email addresses to be entered – make it entirely optional if possible.

I’m working on an article/blog site at the moment and as with most relatively new sites, it can be difficult to get people to leave comments due to shyness and privacy concerns. Humans can be somewhat sheep-like in this respect, i.e. it often requires someone to take the lead before the rest will follow.

Some site owners in this situation pose as a visitor and leave comments on their own content in order to make it look as though there’s activity and to hopefully spur others on. It’s not something I choose to do, but that doesn’t mean to say it’s not a successful strategy – I’ve never really delved into the practice and few bloggers would admit to doing it :). Others generate activity by leaving thoughtful and valuable comments on other blogs and forums along with their URL; which can attract readers from that community.

Even if it’s clearly stated on your comment submission form that the email address won’t be publicly displayed, people may still shy away from providing valuable feedback. I was only getting a comment every couple of days on the new site even though traffic was good, so I decided to remove the need to enter an email address altogether. The positive change in comment rates was basically instantaneous – and I mean quality comments.

The increase in commenting activity is not going to make me an “A list” blogger or number one on Technorati soon, if ever, but people are contributing wonderful additions to content which benefits me, the site and other readers.

This idea certainly won’t work for every site, for instance, I doubt it would have any impact whatsoever on this blog. It will greatly depend on the topic and your visitor demographic, but it’s definitely had a sustained positive impact on the site I’ve tried it on. If you’ve tried other forms of stirring up activity, you’re getting traffic and are still experiencing a comment drought, perhaps give it a whirl.

Related article:

The social bookmarking effect


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