My Commenting Philosophy

Lately, I have seen an influx in the number of comments I’ve been receiving here on Do It With WordPress and it’s probably closely related to the site’s growing popularity. And to be perfectly honest, the bulk of the ones that get past Akismet have ended up in the trash.

I have opened up my blog to help others, by removing nofollow links and instead allowing comment authors to get a creditable backlink to their site, free of charge. I believe that nofollow is evil and it’s the network of backlinks that create the ecosystem called the internet. And in order for it to work properly, links need to be accounted for. I don’t believe in punishing the majority for the questionable tactics of the few.

However, as should be expected, with increased popularity, my site has naturally experienced an increase in the number of marketers looking for a quick link back to their site for a bit of “link juice”. The comments are usually so generic that they can be (and no doubt are) pasted on to hundreds of blogs every day, or they’re vaguely tied to the post content to give the impression that they’ve actually read the article and are making a good point. Usually however, it is a comment that can’t even warrant a response other than “Thank you”, or “You’re welcome”.

It’s for this reason that I trash these comments. And I don’t feel all that bad about it. I pour myself into my writing and into building up this site so that the masses can enjoy it and get something useful from it. And what do I charge for this service? Nothing.

I offer this information and community up to whoever wants to be a part of it and it’s the purpose of the commenting system to allow the community to build upon my article and offer up their own thoughts, experiences, questions and improvements.

I seem to be in the minority here, but I don’t feel bad about not including a comment if it doesn’t further the conversation. I don’t need to be built up by hundreds of “Great post” comments; it just makes it more difficult for my readers to find the potentially useful information that has been written by my readers.

So, with that said, what’s your perspective on comments? Am I being too harsh? Or do you agree with me? Please leave your (thoughtful, conversation-driven, selfless) comments below ;)

45 thoughts on “My Commenting Philosophy”

  1. bbrian017 says:

    I feel your pain Dave, in fact as you know I experience this a lot over on blog engage as well. Some of the things I look for in a comment are the url’s they are linking to. If it’s to a specific page or website service page I remove it and add nothing. I don’t know why people waste their time on this type of commenting it’s very obvious when they are doing it.

    Sometimes the comment is so good you question if it’s real or just for the backlinks and when I find myself in the situation again I will remove the url and allow the comment. What we have to remember is this is our blog and we are the boss of our own websites.

    1. Absolutely. Site owners need to stop being worried about removing URLs, or CommentLuv links on specific comments. After all, no guarantees are made that a link will be given, and it’s certainly not the commenter’s right. I’ll quite frequently remove links, or edit names to remove keywords.

      People need to remember that comment links affect the appearance of your site and it’s our own responsibility to look after our own site’s reputation. If we start linking to online pharmacies, content farms and other illegal or undesirable sites, we’re doing ourselves harm. And for what? To give everyone what they want? Not on my watch. I already give by providing my content free of charge, but you’d be a fool to keep giving until you’ve got nothing left.

      Thanks for your input Brian. Nice to hear a similar opinion.

  2. Sheen Edward says:

    When I’m in doubt, I’m putting up just the comment but the URL maybe not. You’re not harsh, it’s a natural thinking for a site’s owner. But I guess, true readers would love your articles whether you leave the link or not.

  3. Bit Doze says:

    Good move Dave to open your blog for dofollow because a lot of blogger are really into this (including my blog) it is always good to reword your commentors.

    About the span that you receive it happens to me the same a lot of spammy comments I sometimes ask if they are retarded and why don’t they try to bring some added value in their writhing. To respond to your question: You are not too harsh, comments are not only for building links are also for building relations ( at least this is what I think).

    1. I would say that above all, comments are for contributing to the conversation, then for building relationships. Backlinks are just an added bonus that are by no means warranted or guaranteed, but it’s a nice gesture from the site owner.

  4. Joshua Chase says:

    I suppose it’s a good problem to have? I tend to agree with Dave on this one, as bloggers / webmasters we are also “curators” of the content. I see no problems with your philosophy and wish that more bloggers would adopt it. It’s making me think about changing my comment philosophy (not that I have many commenters) to include a follow link to them. You are swaying me to join your “do follow camp”. Great post.

    1. Well, I definitely endorse dofollow, and I hope you’ll join up soon. Your readers will come in due course and it will be an easy transition for you if you set your sights on what you want now, rather than permitting stupid comments now for the sake of getting a comment and then denying those people in future.

  5. Richard says:

    I trash quite a lot of comments on my blog as well. I don’t think you’re being harsh at all for requiring the comments to actually contribute to the conversation. I often see comments that say nothing more than “good post.” I tend to err on the side of caution and don’t approve those types of comments. I want comments that actually have some insight or at the very least appear to add to my post in some way.

  6. Gerard York says:

    I perfectly understand from where you are coming from regarding these standard types of comments which fit all kind of situations! But sometimes there are some people who are actually genuinely thanking you for your input and appreciating your effort, now deleting their comments might actually be showing disrespect to them, don’t you think so? To me commenting is not only a way of adding value to the existing topic but also as a way of building a relationship with your readers, showing them that there is some form of human interaction going on. But again, I respect your philosophy.

    1. Hi Gerard,

      Well, that’s the other side of the coin. There’s no perfect way of handling this, otherwise there’d be no debate, but if people want to thank me for an article, their appreciation would be better displayed in a message of thanks in a tweet or an email, or something like a retweet of the article, or a like on Facebook. In my opinion, the comments section is not the place for it, though I of course never mean to cause any offence by trashing comments left with genuinely good intentions.

  7. Steve says:

    Dave, even though a comment may not further the discussion many times people really do want to just say-good job, or I agree and best of luck. In other words many cases the comments are well meaning and would have been made out of enthusiasm or mood gained from reading the post even if there was no such thing as SEO. It would be shame to not allow comments from those people just because some people are just looking for links and can’t take the time really engage naturaly due to good motives.

    1. With comments that tend to be a bit more thought out that thank me I might let go on a good day, but my biggest gripe is that it dilutes the conversation. Obviously, you can’t please everyone, but I’d rather err on the side of caution than allow petulant marketers and bloggers get yet another link and damage my own reputation by linking to disreputable sites.

      1. Steve says:

        Yes, now that I can understand. I have deleted or trashed comments that never mentioned my post at all but only mention their products and links, I have also deleted ones that clearly link to porn sites just waiting for a virus to jump at you. The latter I use more discretion, I don’t want to judge right and wrong, but the first is easier for me, zero comment about my article and only links to their site, nah, it probably wasn’t even a human doing the posting.

  8. The Philosopy you had their got the point. But not most of the commentators are wanting only for the links. They also wants to have new knowledge, ideas, philosopies (like you had), and to know the sorrounding’s daily event. Keep Up.

    1. Well, I just know from personal experience that most of the comments that get through Akismet are clearly marketing comments, with less than about a third actually saying something meaningful.

  9. Jim Calaman says:

    You might be getting more comments because your blog was listed in a product sold on the warrior’s forum as a high PR blog with comment Luv. I must admit that is how I found it but I really have read some of your posts and enjoyed them. I am still learning about wordpress and the incredible amount of plugins and the info you provided about creating a widget from scratch was helpful although I haven’t tried it yet. I agree with you about trashing comments that don’t contribute to the post. I am not a great writer but I try to make decent comments.

  10. Paul says:

    Hey Dave,

    I’ve noticed a lot of bloggers putting up this kind of comment policy post to clarify with their users why they’ve decided to be more strict with their guidelines. It seems like with the implementation of commentluv is obviously enticing not only the good commenters but the spammers. I guess it comes with the territory. I feel the blog owner has every right to trash comments that are obviously only their for seo purposes. They are pretty easy to spot. I admit couple times allowing comments but removing the links because it’s linked to some obvious spammy sell site.

    BTW, how is commentluv prem working for you? I am thinking of trying it out. Did it cause a uptick of comments (non-spammers)… as the previous poster said you might also be getting a lot of spam because you were listed in other site as a commentluv enabled site.

    (also what plugin do u use for email capture?)

    1. Hi Paul,

      Glad to hear that you agree. I’ve been meaning to get an official commenting policy up so that it’s stated at the time of commenting.

      I’m not using CommentLuv Premium however; I’m just using the standard version, so I haven’t tried it yet, though I’m interested.

      And the plugin I use for email capture is called Newsletter and it’s excellent.

      1. Paul says:

        Decided to take the plunge and try out the commentluv prem. just installed it at my site. Will see how it goes!

  11. Hey Dave, I don’t think you are in the minority at all. I completely agree with you. In fact I even wrote a post about it. I will not publish those generic”great post, keep up the good work” comments. Why should I? I have even gone to the trouble to email some of them and told them that they need to add value to the post when commenting if they want to get published.
    Why go to all the trouble to search for a blog to leave a comment on and risk not getting it published. It does not make any sense to me at all.

    1. I’ve sometimes wanted to retort to these people, especially when they’re persistent, but it’s just a waste of breath really. Unfortunately, I fear that they don’t really put any time into writing the comments (which is evident from their content). They just go on pasting the same comment over and over again in the hope that even if a small minority approves them, it’s been worthwhile for them.

  12. Bruce says:

    I certainly don’t think you’re being to harsh with your policy at all. Since I started to put some time and effort into my blog, I’m getting my fair share of crappy comments as well, in fact one persistent beggar even got me posting about it…”You’re doing it wrong dude”


    1. Yeah it’s only natural I suppose with an increase in popularity. What really gets me is when they come back and send in an email to see where their comment is and demand it be posted. Clearly lacking in people skills…

  13. Frank says:

    Dave, I’ve always thought that the very generic comments like “Great Post” & “Eye opening” & “Keep up the great work” were from people that had bots. They drive me crazy, I delete them as it’s obvious they haven’t even bothered to read the blog.

    As far as Comment Luv Premium, I bought it the other day, so far I like it although I’ll admit I haven’t had too much time to play with it. But I had the standard version for a while and really liked it. I figured that as much as I liked the standard version that I’d really like the premium version. And I wanted to get in on it before the price went way up. Everything I”ve seen in it so far is perfect, easy install, pretty straight forward and explained operation, good video training for it. Andy really seems to put out some nice software.

    And….. while I’m playing cheerleader (Don’t worry, there’s no affiliate link here, LOL) there’s a section in Comment Luv Premium called GASP that’s hopefully going to eliminate a lot of the bot spamming and posting. I don’t know what GASP stands for but here’s the paragraph that explains it straight from the plugin:

    GASP is extremely effective at combatting spambots and trackback spam. SpamBots trawl websites and leave automated spam messages within comments. Because they are bots, it is unusual for them to be able to view things that are generated with javascript.

    This plugin will use javascript to generate a checkbox on your comment form asking people to click it before allowing their comment to be accepted and should eliminate 99% of bot generated spam. Humans will still leave spam comments though so extra features allow you to set rules that a comment author must abide by or their comment gets spammed.

    End of plug in description – I had noticed those little check boxes on some peoples blogs that said something like “I’m not a spammer” and you had to check it for your comment to go through. Until I bought the premium version I didn’t know what that was all about.

    1. Yeah, I don’t think that’s the biggest problem. I don’t have a problem with true spam (spam bots). I don’t doubt that it’s humans writing these comments, so GASP (Growmap Anti Spam Plugin by the way) wouldn’t be effective in removing these comments. That said, it’s not really a bad thing, except that it’s just another thing for commenters to do and until i have an actual problem, I’d rather not create another step for my commenters to leave their thoughts.

      Thanks for your insight :D

  14. Shyxter says:

    Hi, Dave! You’re not being harsh; you have every right and reason to filter the comments that come in to your posts. We cannot deny the fact that many internet marketers take advantage of blog commenting to build links to their sites because it is one good strategy. However, non-sense comments are really annoying. I have always believed that internet marketing should be mutually beneficial, a win-win situation for both parties. As a commenter, you get the chance to build a back link to your site in another person’s site and I think it is but proper to thank the site owner by leaving quality comments :)

    1. Couldn’t agree more. Blog owners are doing people a favor by offering up their dofollow links to commenters, so IMers should have the decency to leave a proper comment

  15. Frank Bowes says:

    Hi Dave,
    Nice post, thanks for sharing. :) Just kidding. I 100 percent agree, and this article is eerily similar to an article I posted on one of my own blogs. It is a dofollow blog which has been included in numerous directories, so obviously I get much the same traffic as you do in that respect. I outlined some very basic; and in my view totally reasonable commenting rules. However, still to this day I get generic comments which flaunt one or all of the rules. Some of the commenter’s go as far as to tell me how much they agree with the rules, while completely ignoring them at the same time. In my article I made the point that I am giving away dofollow links for free, and I didn’t feel I was asking too much that people actually add something of value to the article they were commenting on. It is not unreasonable at all. My favorite of all was when I wrote an article on unemployment and suicide, and some commenter’s told me how happy they were after reading the article!

    1. Haha, I love your story about the unemployment and suicide article – just goes to prove how many people comment on your article without ever even reading it, not even the title! It’s nice to see that we feel the same about commenting; we are indeed giving something for free and we’ve set some boundaries to protect ourselves and the integrity of our sites, so for people to flaunt those rules and expect results is a bit of a joke.

      Thanks for your comment!

  16. Bethany says:

    You are absolutely NOT in the minority. I’ve had a personal blog for three years and once I learned about backlinks, etc. I just was so astonished… I can count on one hand the number of internet marketer comments I had that legitimately applied to the topic at hand. Granted, a lot of them were by bots, but even the ones I could tell weren’t were so ridiculously generic it was a waste of time.

    I think I even made a comment about it once in a blog post of my own – I certainly don’t mind giving a backlink back, but at least give me the benefit of actually READING what I wrote and make a comment that adds to the discussion! I’ve been tempted a few times to make a “commenting policy” page just so I can say that.

    But the truth is, the people that do that don’t really care. Course, these are also the same people that whine about Google penalties ;)

    1. That’s a good point. Is there really any sense in including a commenting policy? Those who want to abide by the rules generally will without having to read them and those who are going to ignore them are going to whether it’s written in black and white or not. Glad to see you’re on this side of the debate.

  17. Danny says:

    Thanks so much for a very interesting post that is important for everyone to read…..

    Wait, just kidding! I concur, people should at least read the article and be on topic before being rewarded with a backlink. Sometimes the bot comments out number the real comments! I am surprised someone hasn’t developed a WP plug in that can detect comment bots. To me, they are as bad as email spam!

    1. Well Akismet is about the closest thing to a comment spam filter, but it’s just not quite as accurate as GMail’s spam filters unfortunately.

  18. Neos says:

    You might be getting more comments because your blog was listed in a product sold on the warrior’s forum as a high PR blog with comment Luv. I must admit that is how I found it but I really have read some of your posts and enjoyed them. I am still learning about wordpress and the incredible amount of plugins and the info you provided about creating a widget from scratch was helpful although I haven’t tried it yet. I agree with you about trashing comments that don’t contribute to the post. I am not a great writer but I try to make decent comments.

    1. Well thanks. I suppose expsoure can only be good, except that the bulk of people finding me from products such as that, are likely to come to my site because they have a single goal in mind – to get a backlink for free. I’m glad that at least one person stuck around to read what the site had to offer!

  19. Unknown says:

    I perfectly understand why. As a site owner I know how it feels to receive trashy comments and comments that were so generic that they seem to be written by bots or something. But at the end of the day web owners want link back to their site which is important in SEO and I don’t think trying to spread their links is bad. But somehow, we should know where to strike a balance on what’s spammy and not.

    1. I agree. But I guess a good way of gauging it is, to treat your commenters in the same way that you treat other blogs when you comment on them. If you go around leaving spammy and pointless comments everywhere, then I think it’s only fair that you return the favour. However, if like me, you only leave a comment when you see value in doing so, then you shouldn’t feel bad about approving similar comments on your own site and rejecting anything else.

  20. Nate Bagley says:

    The internet is a better place when people genuinely contribute to the discussion and exchange of valuable ideas. Unfortunately, some SEO’s out there are almost as bad as the Trolls of YouTube. In an attempt to rank, they dilute the power of the internet… it’s kinda sad.

    Thanks for all of your posts. I follow via RSS, and therefore I don’t comment often. The stuff you post, however, is awesome and useful. Today, I begin work on creating a company intranet based off of WordPress for the first time… my fingers are crossed. Any tips you might have for me would be amazing.

    1. That’s awesome. I wish you good luck. My tip would be to think everything out before you get going; what the content is going to be, what the site needs to do and what it’s going to look like. And lastly, if you need help, search this site and if you don’t find the answer, ask the question!

  21. Erich says:

    Hi, Dave. These three statements stood out for me:

    “I don’t believe in punishing the majority for the questionable tactics of the few.

    I pour myself into my writing and into building up this site so that the masses can enjoy it and get something useful from it. And what do I charge for this service? Nothing.

    I seem to be in the minority here…”

    I happen to agree with your sentiments in this post. Perhaps, I’m more idealistic than I’d give myself credit for, but like you, I believe that nofollow has created a certain environment where people can be “selfish” and have some control over who gets and does not get “link luv.” Like you, though, I believe that useful information ought to be shared–including the “link juice”. You are right in saying that without hyperlinking, there’d be no Internet. And yeah, Commentluv is on my site, too.

    So, Dave, I’m in the same corner as you. Although I’m not sure if we’re a minority.

    1. Hi Erich,

      It’s a shame that WordPress defaults to nofollow, because I don’t believe it does anything for the ecology of blogging. However, with the onslaught of unyielding marketers, it’s perhaps a necessary step and for those who decide to let some link love back into their sites with dofollow, I think it’s only fair that they monitor and moderate it. And I’m confident enough in myself to not feel bad about trashing a comment that I don’t feel brings anything to the table. I’m glad to hear that you’re on this side of the desk as well :)

      1. Erich says:

        I have not yet checked if my site is set to dofollow all outbound links. I believe there’s a plugin for that. I still have to check. But, that’s the plan–to set my site to dofollow. I’m generous. But, that generosity can be prone to abuse, so, like you, I abide by the same principle: comments are to be moderated and whosoever leaves a useful and engaging comment gets rewarded with Commentluv plus dofollow. Sounds like a fair trade, if you ask me.

  22. Dave — I agree with your decision to ruthlessly delete the spammers’ comments. The search engines love the recency of the user generated comments so I encourage consumers who visit my blog to leave real comments. However, I moderate *all* of the comments before they are approved regardless of whether I’ve already approved several comments by the same visitor. Unfortunately, my theme developer does not have a feature which allows me to manually turn a no follow link into a follow link if I believe the comment merits it. If a webmaster allowed the spam comments to remain on his/her/their site, Google will penalize the site based upon reasonably reliable stories I’ve heard. Unfortunately, Askimet is not sufficient without some manual follow-up.

    1. Yes, it takes some common sense to be able to weed out the quickly drafted “thanks so much, this was really helpful” comments, because they just clog up the system. It’s not so much that they’re spam, so I don’t fear how that will reflect on my site in the eyes of Google for instance, but they just don’t add any value to the conversation. I appreciate them taking the time to thank me, and if they’re truly not spam, then I still see the comments; I just don’t make them live on my site. Thanks for your input.

  23. Nicole Kpi says:

    Couldn’t agree more, Dave. I don’t think that you’re being harsh. Every blog owner, as well as you have every right to filter the comments. I’ve experienced the same situation, and telling the truth it’s really annoying to read such comments. It’s better to save the better content, then enormous list of nonsense comments. So, keep on filtering and posting!

    Though you don’t like it: Thank you for such a great post! ;)

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