Is it time to kill our website's Comment Section?

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Is it time to kill our website's Comment Section?

Sat, 06/02/2018 - 11:39
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How you answer the question might impact what we do with comments here at socPub.

Every few years, I've been forced to reexamine the value of the comment section for my websites. Years ago, when socPub was CMS Report our comment were wide open where everyone could leave a comment. The end result were a lot of great comments but eventually the bots and spammers hit us hard. While using comment fighting services like Akismet and Mollom helped, a lot of comment spam still managed to make into our pages. So six years ago, I made the painful decision to no longer allow "anonymous" comments and require the commenter to be authenticated via Disqus before they could place a comment onto our pages. Overall, I've been quite pleased with Disqus but some recent events has me questioning whether it's time to drop Disqus and perhaps remove the comment section from our pages all together.

Why am I suddenly unhappy with Disqus? About a year ago, Disqus started inserting their own advertisements into our pages with their Basic plan in exchange to being a "free service". While I understand and respect the need for the company to make money on the services they provide, I just don't like what I'm seeing when it comes to the quality of the ads they provide. I don't like advertisement on my websites that include scantily clad women, make questionable claims, or are designed as pure click bait. I feel ashamed that I waited this long to pull the ads of our pages. Disqus does allow you to remove the ads for a monthly fee but for a website like mine that doesn't have revenue (I intentionally haven't sold any ads the past two years) and doesn't get that many comments makes little sense to me to pay for the service out of my own pocket.

So this all leads to my question, does still need a comment section? A few months ago, Chris Graham asked me that question and today I've concluded the answer really is a "no". At the same time, I'm not ready to remove the comments from our because I personally believe user generated content adds value to the original article and is a good means for readers to provide feedback to the author. So, I'm going to give this one more try and hopefully provide a better section for our readers that remains easy for me to maintain (I prefer an automated means to filter our bad content over moderation). So this is what is happening now:

  1. On a trial basis, for new articles posted I'm trying out the comment features already included in the Drupal content management system. It's been awhile, so please bear with me as I make the tweaks necessary to provide comments on our pages via Drupal.
  2. As a short-term solution for previous article, I started a 30-day trial with Disqus Plus plan which allows me to temporarily removes the ads Disqus inserts into our pages. Given that we currently don't do advertisement, I plan to check and see if would qualify as non-commercial for their Free plan with no advertisement service.
  3. If using Drupal's comments modules don't work out well and I don't qualify for the Disqus non-advertisement free plan, I will likely stop allowing comments on on our pages until I find a solution that works for me, you, and this website. 
  4. Finally, if not a single person provides a comment to this article I will take this as a "yes" answer to the question I posed in this article's headline and will likely refer back to Option 3.

By the end of this month, I'll make a decision as what to do with our comment section here at socPub. In the meantime, have a great month and feel free to leave your comments below!


Submitted by priyanka (not verified) on Mon, 06/04/2018 - 00:24 Permalink

Hey! If you're looking for options why don't you try Vuukle. Its an intelligent audience engagement platform and all the issues that are mentioned above in this article are taken taken care by Vuukle.

1.)Vuukle uses AI powered technology to automatically filter out spam comments. No manual moderation required.
2.) Does not do any click bait advertisements.
3.) Is more than just a commenting platform. Also, offers sentiment reaction solution, power bar, real time time analytics.
4.) Super fast and light on page. Loads under 400ms.
5.) Can be customised as you like- themes, size, placement and more

Every person is different, and to each the value of comments will probably vary.

I seldom read them. If an article has been carefully thought out and is well-written, then the comments typically pale in comparison. And often the responder agrees but states so in less eloquent words (a "plus-one" or "like" might be all that is needed). And too often the responder is talking about oneself and some loosely related story. Worse, there are argumentive posts. And if there is a long chain of responses, at best I'll skim them, but I have better things to do with my time than read a list of responses.

So for me, I want to read valuable thought-through articles, and I have to be selective in that. I know how to igore comments and typically do. I am affect by and remember an article -- by the article itself and not by the comments.

Of course, as in this example, when the author is asking for some input... then it may be worth my time to respond and to read how others respond.