Is Closing Blog Comments a Good Idea?

Today, Ari at AriWriter wrote about closing or moderating blog comments in response to another blogger who is closing comments on posts after two weeks.

Reasons I Keep Comments Open

While I can understand why closing comments on older posts is a good idea due to all of the heavy spamming that goes on (I have considered doing it myself from time to time) ultimately I think that commenting should stay open for the following reasons.

Encouraging Comments

One major goal as a blogger is to receive comments on their posts. The last thing you want to do is to have a first time visitor to your site come in on an old post, get really excited about responding to it, just to find the comments are off. Assuming they are not the ultra determined type to go seeking out your comment form or other contact information, they may just leave and you will not get the chance to interact with them and possibly convert them into a loyal reader.

Timeless Content

Bloggers strive to create content that is timeless. Sure, there is lots of content that will go out of date due to new technologies (like posts about the features of WordPress 2.7, soon to be obsolete thanks to 2.9). But there is also content that will be relevant now, several months from now, two years from now, and so on. If someone finds a post that means something to them, I want them to feel welcome to comment on it, however far into the future that may be.

Reminder to Update Old Content

If you get a comment on an older, successful post that might be a bit out of date, it might be a nice reminder to update it and transform it into a new article. Chances are, you have gained new readership since that original post which will make your new article even more successful than the first. You can even capitalize on the success of the original by updating it with the link to the new post.

Search Engine Benefits

Search engines like pages that have new content. New comments update old blog posts, and that probably helps bump them up in search engine results. If you bring in a new reader through search engines, even if it is on an old post, they may like your writing so much that they will move to subscribing to your new stuff.

Email Updates

If you have an older, popular post that a lot of people have subscribed to the comments via email, all of those readers will get a friendly reminder about your blog thanks to that new comment. I have received email alerts about new comments on posts I commented on well over a year ago, and thanks to that reminder, I went back to their site to see what new topics they were covering.

Motivation to Write

Maybe a blogger has found themselves in a rut and feels like they have no great new content to write about. Getting a good comment on an old post may be a nice reminder to them that they have written content in the past that still brings people in to their site. It could be the inspiration that leads them to writing new content.

Handling Blog Comment Spam

So how do you handle all of the spam from older comments?

Comment Moderation

In WordPress, you can set moderation for every comment, or let comments be approved automatically after a certain number of comments by the same author have been previously approved. Although you do have to keep an eye out for those commenters that leave a few awesome comments, only to be followed up by spammy ones.

Akismet

Although I have had my issues with Akismet, the WordPress plugin for filtering out spam comments, I ultimately believe it is more beneficial because it keeps a lot of spam from ever hitting your site and email box (assuming you have alerts from WordPress every time you have a new comment in moderation).

Your Thoughts

Do you have comments closed on your site after a certain date, or do you allow comments indefinitely? What are the pros and cons you have experienced?





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Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for the plug and for lending to inspiration.

    If you get a comment on an older, successful post that might be a bit out of date, it might be a nice reminder to update it and transform it into a new article.

    Do you suggest creating a new article; or revising the older one?
    .-= Ari Herzog´s last blog ..To Close or Moderate Blog Comments =-.

  2. says

    @Ari, I guess it depends on how much information needs to be updated. If the old post is still fully relevant, minus one thing that can be explained in a sentence or two, then updating the article would probably work. But if you have an older post on how to use StumbleUpon, and all the tips and screenshots are based on the older version, then you could probably create a brand new article with information and screenshots relating to the new StumbleUpon version.

  3. says

    If I find an interesting blog I do like to scroll back to see the entries for the previous few months or so. With a few of my favourite blogs I’ve actually gone back and read every single entry that they’ve done (sometimes the entries span several years), and I have occasionally commented on some quite old entries just because they got me thinking.

  4. says

    Hello there, I came across this post from Ari’s blog: thank you for a very detailed examination of the topic of leaving blog comments open. I agree that there are benefits to leaving them open: to engage visitors but also to ensure that posts DON’T ‘go stale’ and at least the comments can be updated if the information starts to be out-of-date.
    .-= Andrea Hill´s last blog ..Should Twitter be Banned at Conferences? =-.

  5. says

    I close my posts after 30 days. The last thing I want to spend my time on is filtering out spam comments from years ago, even months ago.

    Hell, I mark more comments as spam than I approve anyway, so for me it makes sense. I tolerate very little on my blog these days, and I’ve considered turning commenting off completely.

    At the end of the day, the post is there to help, inform and perhaps enlighten others. Secondarily, it’s there to make money. I won’t lie, comments don’t pay the bills. Therefore, I question why I continue leaving the comment form open as I do.
    .-= Wayne´s last blog ..Be aware of what you share =-.

  6. says

    I absolutely hate it when I find a new to me blog and post and discover that comments are closed. Not everyone finds a blog at the same time and if I am just finding a blog I want to feel like I can still participate in my own unique if odd way.

    As far as comment spam goes I don’t get that much because my blog is new so I’ve started just letting things through and then I delete the ones I do not think are appropriate. I am using blogger right now and haven’t figured out how to use any spam protection devices.

    If I don’t get bored with my current blog of interest I imagine I will get more spam because it is the type of subject that begs for it. LOL
    .-= Dwippy DoFollow´s last blog ..Blog Comments =-.

    • says

      @techjaws, I think if it’s your preference, that is definitely fine. I might change my stance one day, but for now, especially with Akismet, I haven’t had too many more issues with spam on old articles as new ones.

  7. says

    I think if you live with blog and consider it your friend then closing comments is closing your doors to the world and that also mean you will not welcome readers, so it is a bad idea. If you can not answer all comments, let your readers do it instead :-)
    .-= Tinh´s last blog ..2.9 Release Candidate 1 =-.

  8. says

    I really like how problogger for example closes comments after 90 days. That’s 3 months! That’s more than enough time for a heap of comments and conversation to happen with a blog post.

    I think unless you read through the post and all the comments there probably isn’t much new to add to the conversation and if you were to add to a post after 90 days I doubt anyone is going to respond other than the site owner – and if that’s the case you could always personally email them :)

    I think setting a limit prevents having to deal with spam and also prevents people from commenting on a really popular pillar article just to get some potential link juice.

    Sarge | BeginnerBlogger.com

  9. says

    Hi Kristi, I keep mine open but have considered closing comments for older posts because that’s where the majority of the spammers migrate to. Like you I don’t get too much to handle right now.

    It’s a little off topic but as for the new trend of closing comments altogether, I think that’s a mistake. Popular bloggers may stay hot for a while but a blog with no comments is just another website. Just me opinion.
    .-= Brian D. Hawkins´s last blog ..Extreme Advertising By Reebok – Better Legs And A Better Butt With Every Step =-.

  10. says

    I do not like the idea of keeping comments closed from the beginning or after some time but I understand it can be a huge relief for extremely popular blogs.

    Search engine benefits is a good point. Also sometimes it helps us remind about some post on the blog that we have forgotten about. BTW Akismet works fine for me (though with my wordpress.com there have been issues where a special character or more than the average number of dots in comments, eg. dots after exclamation etc., were caught in the spam queue). Also I am not comfortable with Captch plugin and do not use it and I am glad you have given me a big reason not to use it (trackback spam is also a issue for me esp when I write about blogging or hosting).
    .-= Vikas Gupta´s last blog ..5 reasons why you should not shift from a wordpress.com blog to wordpress.org =-.

  11. says

    Hi Kristi,
    I was lucky when I only ran b2evo blogs because many of the auto spam posters only searched WordPress. Now, they also search b2 blogs. I still have the fact that the b2 script plug in for comment luv is named something else so, I avoid those searches.

    I have moderated comments on most of our blogs, but 1 blog is just open with no time limits, another blog has no comments allowed. So, it just depends on the topic how I set the comments.

    Like Brian said it is normally the older post that get all the garbage. I even went as far as Blacklisting Blogspot & that really cut down my spam comments. It’s sad that real people that run at blogspot can’t leave their link but, the bad outweighed the good.
    .-= Sheryl Loch´s last blog ..Clearing Up a Link Diversity MisConception =-.

  12. says

    While i somewhat respect the spam excuse depending on who’s using it, Icould go on for days about why it is simply a horrible idea…I won’t. You pretty much covered it quite nicely here.

    Oh and yes, I firmly believe it is just an excuse, and overall, a lame one at that. Especially from those that close all comments for good, because in reality they just don’t feel like dealing with comments.

    For the select few legit that close older ones due to spam, then that’s their prerogative I suppose, but TWO WEEKS? Please…
    .-= Dennis Edell´s last blog ..Pick My New Domain Names With A chance To Win $10! =-.

  13. says

    Hi.
    Many people come to my blog via google. they search a high ranking on some topic and commenting a link on my blog that is not even related to what I am posting. Is that consider as spamming? I am closing on my older post for comment because it is a waste of time deleting that kind of comment.
    See you around.
    .-= lunaticg´s last blog ..Coin Picture Grading for Newbies =-.

  14. says

    I close mine after 90 days for a few reasons, but mainly because by that time google has already blessed it with page rank and I LOCK IT IN for the people that have their links on there.Since they are do follow the people that I care about have already been by 89 days ago :) The rest are seo businesses etc
    Any blog that doesn’t have comments is LAME and the owner is in denial.
    I watched this MAKE MONEY CAT close his as he THOUGHT he had reached IT needless to say he had them back on real quick LOL :)
    Have a GREAT DAY thanks
    .-= John Sullivan´s last blog ..What’s your word cloud ? =-.

  15. says

    I really hate when I find a new site and the comments are closed! Some articles take more time to be discovered and gain rankings. So it is very common for readers to find your site through older posts.
    .-= Keith@FenceMaterials´s last blog ..New Fence Products =-.

  16. says

    I saw this post on John Sullivan’s status on Facebook and I clicked on it and landed here and Ari’s post too including the one before that. I close my comment section for each post after 90 days which I think for me is quite reasonable especially in maintaining dofollow blogs. Although, Sire thought that it wasn’t a good idea but all I can say is “to each his own”.
    .-= Mathdelane ´s last blog ..Ways To Easily Recognize Phishing Emails =-.

  17. says

    I’ve only closed comments on a couple of posts. One is because it was for a short survey, and the survey is over. Another is because what I’d written about doesn’t exist anymore, and rather than yank the entire post I decided to just shut down comments, in case someone did come across it and wanted to tell me the site was down.

    Otherwise, I won’t close comments, because you never know what someone will get out of an old post and might want to let you know about it. Does happen from time to time.
    .-= Mitch´s last blog ..It Pays To Be Bad Sometimes =-.

  18. says

    My idea on this topic it bad if you closing comment I would say keep it open if you have time to manage them. Comments show that a blog is active, attracts more people be regulars.There are some spam blockers you can use. WordPress got the plugin called Akismet, which works really well blocking spam comments.

    thanks!!!
    .-= SEO Company´s last blog ..Corporate Branding: Way to Successful Business =-.

  19. says

    About the SEO company comment above:

    There should be a post on how people do not read the full blog post and are just eager to leave their comment and site link! SEO company with 11 comments on this blog is blissfully unaware that Akismet has been discussed in the content above!
    .-= Vikas Gupta´s last blog ..Reasons I did not like the film Avatar =-.

  20. says

    Hi Kristi,

    When I first encountered a blog that had closed comments I was very disappointed especially because of the fact that It wasn’t obvious the comments were closed.

    I merrily commented and pressed the submit button.

    When I went back a few days later to see if the comment was approved and replied to I couldn’t find it.

    Then I noticed under the comment box a text saying that commenting is closed after 6 weeks from the date of each post.

    The reason I commented on that particular post was because it spoke to me and I wanted to contribute to the subject.

    After that experience I always look for a text about closed comments.

    I totally agree with your arguments for leaving comments open forever.

    I couldn’t think of that many myself.

    Vance
    .-= Vance Sova´s last blog ..Blogging SEO Strategy, Help Fellow Blogger Increase Blog Traffic =-.

  21. says

    I think that choosing to close the comments is one of those things that has both positives and negatives, which often depends on the nature of the site. For instance, there have been a few times that people have left comments asking for more information about something I posted, which I probably would have never heard if I had closed the comments. With that said, I find that most of the people that comment on my older posts have found it in Google when researching their own sites keywords and are only doing it for ulterior motives. This is kind of along the lines of John Sullivans post above…
    .-= Steve´s last blog ..The Importance of Physical Examinations when Treating Arthritis =-.

  22. says

    I have a relatively new WordPress blog and currently, I leave comments open forever because I want my readers to interact with the content. I haven’t experienced a big problem with spam yet thanks to Akismet.

    In addition, I have several older posts that are still getting quite a lot of traffic and I want to be able to try to help readers if they have any problems.
    .-= Brian´s last blog ..WordPress 2.9 is Now Available! =-.

  23. says

    One IM, Robert Plank, closes his blog comments when a specific number of people have commented. Somewhat to encourage people to hurry in their comments. It was fun, in the beginning, to be among the first 100 who “got in”, but I think the fun wears off – especially considering that inspiration sometimes takes time.

    I think your blog goals are good, and consequently I have added your RSS-feed to my Thunderbird client. It¨s good to be challenged about these subjects, and I agree with your reasons for letting comments be open for an extended amount of time. I have benefitted from doing the same when someone reminded me a certain product had disappeared. Otherwise I would have had broken links on my blog. So user-involvement works, and is worth keeping.

    Keep up the good work. :-)
    .-= Henrik Blunck – Denmark´s last blog ..Fun Show — The Joel Comm Show =-.

  24. says

    I keep comments closed by default because I found most comments are made as indirect plugs rather than constructively discussing the post itself (in fact, most don’t even read the post – they just get the gist of the topic and dive straight to comments). Most of my readers are at my blog for the articles rather than comments/discussion too. That being said, there are specific posts where I will open up comments (for 2 weeks) if it’s a poll or if I specifically want reader feedback. That helps me keep in connection with my readers and understand their needs.
    .-= Celestine Chua´s last blog ..58 Noteworthy Resolutions For The New Year =-.

  25. says

    I don’t shut comments off after a certain date. However, on some of my post I never allow comments at all.

    There are just some issue that I don’t want to discuss (argue about). I just want to state my opinion and let the reader keep their opinion to themselves. This is especially true of post about issues where I know most readers will disagree with me. ;)
    .-= New from Chuck Edwards@Weight Loss Tips The Special K Diet and Challenge =-.

  26. says

    I try to keep my comment option open for old posts at much as possible but after some time when any viral (popular) post keep getting comments like nice post, useful posts and so on, I shut down the comment on such particular post. It’s bit of manual work but worth doing…
    Harsh Agrawal just posted 15 Blogging Tips for Newbie Bloggers

  27. says

    Unless the blogger can keep track of all comments on their posts, past or present, it’s probably a good idea to close blog comments after a certain period. Otherwise, especially on sites with a high PR, the spam influx on old posts is almost uncontrollable. Some sites have hundreds and hundreds of comments per blog consisting of mostly spambots and it’s very hard to control once it gets to that stage.
    car battery just posted Car Battery FAQ

  28. says

    I recently commented on a post that was six years old. I was searching for an obscure fact, and the six year old post offered the best answer. Here is a case where keeping comments open kept the article relevant and may have played a role in keeping it at the top of the search engines for six years. On the other hand, I have to admire the author for dealing with six years of spam this article likely generated
    Randy Pickard just posted Do Bounce Rates Impact Search Engine Rankings

  29. says

    I agree with your reasons for keeping comments open. I haven’t experienced mass numbers of comments like certain blogs get, so until then I may never really understand.

    There are a few Tumblr blogs that I want to comment on but they don’t have comments enabled so all I can do is like or reblog. It seems kind of silly that these people write some really exhausting posts but then I have no way to communicate with them unless using a contact form or hunting them down in some kind of social media space. While it’s possible, I am pretty lazy sometimes and decide that I if I really need to talk about it, I could blog on my website and then link there. Usually I’m not moved that much though.

    Comments are so key to me because they show people are out there and I like when people provide additional value to the posts.

    I, like you, will keep my comments open. The biggest thing is that they are tiny bursts of motivation for me. And I like to leave comments just the same for others.

    *bump, if you know what I Mean!!

    Scott
    http://www.nuwomb.com
    Scott Webb just posted Cool Photography Stuff Worthy of Your Attention 1



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