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When Too Many Blog Comments Are Bad

A lot of bloggers get very hung up about the number of comments they get.  Many writers are very insecure about their low comment count, they think that a huge number of comments are a validation of their writing, yours truly included.

I want to share a story with you about a client of mine with the exact opposite problem, he had too many comments and it was causing real problems with his site.

The Site with 500K + comments

Let me just say that again, this site had more than half a million legitimate comments, not spam, not great post thumbs up, but honest really valuable comments discussing the content.  If I can put that into perspective, A-list blogger Darren Rowse at Problogger.net recentl stated that he has 178K comments, we say pah to poultry levels like that.

When Comments Kill

The comments came in a huge rush because of the time sensitive nature of the blog posts, and this in turn overloaded the database and caused the whole site to crash.

I was called in to  performance tune the site and stop the site crashing under the load of comments.

Controlling Comments

It may be that you are overwhelmed by comments, with too many to reply to, or you are being inundated with SPAM, the rest of this posts gives you some ideas to control your comments, you may not have half a million, but you can have too many comments  Here are some of the techniques I used with the inundated site.

Close Comments

Contraversial I know, but why not just close your comments if you have become overwhelmed, why not just close comments, let you readers know the reason and say you cannot keep up with comment moderation and it is impacting on the quality of the content you are producing.  A number of successful bloggers have gone this route.

I find I am getting more feedback from Twitter now a days, it may be that comments have had their day anyway (but that’s for another post).

Add Anti-Spam protection

It may seem an obvious point, but I still see sites without anti-comment spam protection.  My favourite tool for this is Akismet  see http://akismet.com/

Install an antispam plugin, and keep the rubbish out of your comment moderation queue

Close Older Comments

There is an option on your discussion settings (settings->discussion) to close comments on posts that are over x days old.  If you content is time sensitive, why not consider this route?

Selectively Close Comments

If you scroll down to the discussion section of the post editor, there is an option to selectively disabled comments on a post.  If you don’t want to handle comments on a post,  disable them. only keep comments open on your key posts.

Require Authentication

Add a little discomfort to the commenting process by requiring authentication, people are less likely to comment, unless they are determined to if they need to register on your site and then login.

Off Load Your Comments

If comments are causing a large load on your server and impacting performance, why not consider offloading comments to someone elses server.

Intense Debate is a commenting platform developed by Automattic (the company behind WordPress) which allows you to host your comments on their system.  Let them take the performance hit for you.

http://intensedebate.com/

Moderate Ruthlessly

Junk everything that does not add value to your content, and let your reader know that, whilst you appreciate a great post thumbs up, you will not be publishing their comment unless it adds value to the post in question.

This will have an initial moderation overhead but once your readers get the message you will hopefully see less low quality comments and reduce your moderation admin job.

Code up Comment Flood Protection

In the end I coded up a custom solution for my client, I edited one of the comment add scripts, with a delay function, five seconds has to pass before the next comment can be added this is used to control the flow of comments and stop the backend database.

Comments Causing Concern?

Check out a couple of these idea to see if you can ease a problem most bloggers would kill for.

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