Currently set to No Index

Comments Section: Land of Constructive Public Discourse Or Playground of Trolls?

Whether creating a website or starting a blog, one of the important decisions to make is whether or not to include a comments section. The Internet, that glorious land of interaction and anonymity, has been idealized as an idyllic community where people engage in intellectual and creative dialogue to make the world a better place and solve each other’s problems. In reality, Internet interaction has a dark underbelly that too often takes over and ruins it for the rest of us.

There are many articles outlining best practices in design and set up of comments sections: no need to repeat here. Up for consideration is the usefulness of having a comment section at all.

First, let’s talk about the Pros of Comment Sections:

  • Active Discussion

Comments encourage active discussion of your posts/site/products. This discussion brings your brand, product or writing into people’s minds, increases word of mouth and advertises your wares in front of a (potentially) larger audience. When this discussion is positive, intellectually stimulating and original, it can greatly benefit your site.

  • Demonstrated Readership

Comments indicate readership: there is an audience for what you are doing! And they are involved. This is priceless.

  • Feedback/Constructive Criticism

Comments can help you improve your material through feedback and constructive criticism. Other minds will give you new insight and help you tailor your offerings to your consumer audience.

  • Reader Rapport and Loyalty
RELATED:   What Type of Hosting Has the Cheapest Startup Cost?

Comments, if the author (or moderator) reads and responds, can create a rapport with readers that inspires loyalty and establishes a great network of readership. Loyal, committed followers are the holy grail for Internet businesses.

  • Growth

Readers’ interaction in the comments can spur return visits or more reader referrals, translating to growth on your site or in your following. When someone feels involved and has a positive experience, they are more likely to follow your site and more likely to recommend it to others.

Who wouldn’t want all that good stuff happening on their site? Including a comments section seems like a no-brainer. But don’t decide too quickly: we haven’t gotten to the cons! Pros and cons always go hand in hand.

Exactly what are the Cons of a Comments Section?subversive_comment

  • Spam!

If there is an online receptacle, it will attract spam. There are easy ways to circumvent spammers, especially if you are thoughtful about setting up your comments section. But even with spam prevention, your comments section will require oversight.

  • Necessity of a moderator

If you have a comments section, you will need a moderator. Preferably not the author of the site content, either, as much of the vitriol spewed by internet trolls will be directed at the one person willing to put his or her name on their work. Even if you have decided not to moderate the comments section, time and resources must be spent reviewing the content of the comments section, if only to eliminate any spam that eluded your spam prevention utility.

  • Lack of comments
RELATED:   WordPress Website and WordPress Hosting

If you have a comments section on your site and it is unused or rarely used, it can make your content appear irrelevant or unread. All those positives above, like growth, active discussion, reader loyalty and rapport won’t happen if people don’t engage in the first place. If you are going to include a comments section, you may also want to consider how you will encourage people to use it.

  • Negative, hurtful comments

If there are comments, there will be negative ones. If these comments were simply negative they could be ignored, but some comments will cross the line into downright nasty. And research has found that “insult-laden comments have the potential to change a readers’ interpretation of what they have read.” (We will talk more about this research in next week’s post.)

  • Flaming and TROLLS! 

Trolls rule the comment section. Jared Lanier, author of You Are Not A Gadget asserts that “trolling is not a string of isolated incidents but the status quo in the online world.”

RELATED:   Why You Should Not Fix Computers for Free

Trolls are usually normal people like you and me, taking a moral vacation from their lives by flaming online. As Tom Postmes, a professor of social and organizational psychology at the universities of Exeter and Groningen explains: “Trolls aspire to violence, to the level of trouble they can cause in an environment. They want it to kick off. They want to promote antipathetic emotions of disgust and outrage, which morbidly gives them a sense of pleasure.” The anonymity of comments sections is the perfect environment for Internet trolls, and they take great advantage of it. The presence of trolls and the havoc they can wreak on a thread or for a website as a whole cannot be overstated and is perhaps the biggest thing to consider when deciding to include a comments section on your site.

Do not go lightly into the land of comments! Weigh the evidence for and against a comments section very carefully and consider the needs of your particular site.

Next week’s post will talk further on the research surrounding the efficacy of comments sections and methods for dealing with flaming trolls. Tune in!

*******************

Emily Cantin researched, co-authored and created original artwork for this article.

How to Find a Successful Name For Your New Blog?
How to Find a Successful Name For Your New Blog?

One of the most important decisions you can make to ensure your blog is among the best is to select a name. While there are more than 500 million blogs available...

How-to Start a Blog – Review of the Best 10 Blogging Platforms
How-to Start a Blog – Review of the Best 10 Blogging Platforms

If you want to start a blog as fast as possible, then you need to consider choosing a blogging platform. Thankfully, there are some excellent free and paid blogging platforms...

How Referral Marketing Can Benefit Web Hosts
How Referral Marketing Can Benefit Web Hosts

Even if the niche of web hosts are fully loaded with a lot of companies they are still one of the easiest to promote because you could write your own...

Broken Links: How to Find, Fix, and Benefit from Broken Links
Broken Links: How to Find, Fix, and Benefit from Broken Links

Links are what holds the web together. Essentially, the web is named as such because of the ability for pages and sites to link to other sources and relevant information....

Brand Value & the Most Powerful Brands (with Infographic)
Brand Value & the Most Powerful Brands (with Infographic)

Brand value – everyone wants it, however, only few are able to achieve it. The subject of “brand value” holds a significant position amongst marketers, executives, and entrepreneurs. Let’s discuss...

Reasons why your business should shift to Cloud hosting
Reasons why your business should shift to Cloud hosting

Cloud hosting has been on the rise since its inception. The improvement to your website performance and business efficiency that comes with Cloud hosting is almost tangible.

Why We Love the IT Support Career?
Why We Love the IT Support Career?

In almost all of my posts I was talking about the stressful side of the IT – the long hours, end user issues, migrations, midnight calls and the like. But...

IT Manager: Ways To Show Your Appreciation To Your Team
IT Manager: Ways To Show Your Appreciation To Your Team

Surely your team struggled hard and made things happen. You cannot say “this is what you get paid for” and just leave – you cannot keep your IT staff that...

2 Comments

  • Avatar for Imran Hossain Imran Hossain says:

    it’s amazing. These comment designs are really impressive and fantastic.

  • Avatar for RichardDab RichardDab says:

    That is a very good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise info… Thanks for sharing this one. A must read post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *