August 14, 2017

Should you as a publisher abandon your comments section?


We don’t have the time or desire to continue monitoring that crap moving forward.Jonathan Smith, Editor-In-Chief, on disabling comments

That’s the kind of feeling some publishers have regarding their comments section. Comments once considered an integral part of the online experience have seen much fragmented opinions of late. But disabling comments altogether is a bad mistake.

Vice announcing the decision to Disable Comments

It is safe to say there’s a trend towards replacing comments with something else. Somewhere down the line the understanding that “comments are must have” has shifted to the point of it being considered a liability. But its based on incorrect understanding of the scenario.

Disabling Comments: A look from a publishers perspective

Since 2012 many publishers have pressed the kill switch on their comments section. Vice, Popular Science, Recode, Reuters, The Week, The Verge, USA Today’s FTW, Mic, Chicago Sun-Times, Bloomberg, WIRED, Upvoted have all either killed or vastly restricted and modified the comments section. Many sites have shuttered comments because it was too much work for little return. Click To Tweet

Commenters aren’t representative, and they’re not numerous enough to meaningfully improve engagement. Worse, their comments demand constant pruning or deletion by dedicated staff or companies that specialize in beating back trolls.Jason Pontin, Editor-in-chief, MIT Technology Review

Most of them also hold the belief that the actual conversation has moved to social networks.

Popular Science when announcing the step of disabling comments said “There are plenty of other ways to talk back to us, and to each other: through Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, livechats, email, and more.”

But is giving up to the trolls the solution? Isn’t there a way to fight back trolls effectively? Is social media really the alternative? Directing all of user engagement to Facebook might seem easy but does it give your website any returns? The Likes on Facebook if they aren’t turning into views, comments and engagement on your webpage, do they then really mean anything?  As the online audience grew the comments kept on increasing and so did the effort of moderation. But is abandoning comments the best alternative to reduce moderating costs?

Disabling Comments: Is it the best alternative?

Majority of the publishers still believe in comments. This is because even with all the problems stated above, comments are just way too important. They help you build a community, have better conversation. Comments drive loyal readership, engagement, a way for a communication between two parties. Click To Tweet

Backlinks and Google mentions will only carry you so far. People buy from real people they know and trust. In the end Reader loyalty trumps everything.

The way you use our comments can also strongly reflect on the revenue you make. As for social media, Facebook’s continuous squashing of brand page posts has hit the point home.

Many publishers now realize that you do not own your presence on social networks. Your website or your blog should be the central home base of activity.
And technological solutions are available to manage these issues that publishers face with comments.

Social media platforms are not the solution, recently even Instagram has had to introduce the block comments option to allow for control over trolling and hate-speech. Going by the logic of abandoning comments because it is too much work, will one also abandon it on social media platforms if going gets tough?

The Difference Comments Make: The Store Analogy

Comments increase the per user session time on the website. This help vastly in terms of revenue generation and achieving objectives.

“Imagine a customer enters your store and leaves within seconds. There is no interaction. But what would it mean if the same customer stayed around for hours checking out the products and reading the labels?

Doesn’t the later convey much more about brand presence, loyalty and revenue? This is exactly what happens when you have splendid commenting system in place.”

Image result for store

So while previous commenting platforms might have created a bad taste for publishers, it doesn’t mean there is no product to tackle hate speech and the related cesspool. Rather the technology is available and ever-improving.

Just because you can’t develop the technology yourself, you shouldn’t disable the most powerful tool in your bag.

Vuukle- Solving Publishers Pain-points.

Vuukle evolved and has seen enormous growth because it specifically identified the pain-points for publishers. Of the many engagement solutions it delivers, resurrecting the comments section became a very necessary publisher pain-point to be tackled.

The technology integrated into Vuukle comments identifies spam and hate speech even as the comment is being typed. This greatly helps to maintain the civility so desired by the publishers. It also has a whole set of tools which individually take down spamming, trolling, hate speech.

Taking forth the Store Analogy, user session time is something similar to the time spent by a customer in a store. Vuukle has shown drastic improvement in the user session time, thus vastly aiding in generating more revenue. Vuukle clients have seen a rise of more than 10-20% within weeks of installation.

Comments also make the the below the fold section of page valuable if used well. Vuukle has specifically utilized this fact to garner greater revenue for publishers with below the fold advertising.

Moderating and related costs as seen earlier, are a huge pain-point for publishers. Vuukle’s efficient yet very simple moderating panel can work almost on auto-pilot. This drastically reduces the costs and human effort in moderating and resolves this important issue for publishers.

Taking all this into consideration suddenly the comments section looks like the easiest and best thing you could to have on your website.

Image result for Leave a Comment

With the Vuukle option available, disabling comments is not just a grave mistake its just stupidity. Click To Tweet

Santoshkumar Pandey

Engineer by qualification, content & marketing expert by profession. Meditate, blibliophile & a creative geek.