Switch to native WordPress comments, without letting down your Disqus users

Have  you recently migrated from Disqus to native WordPress Comments? Cool. We’re glad to have you back.

One feature your commenters probably liked best about Disqus was that they could comment easily on your site without having to fill out their name, email, and website. Disqus let’s users sign in using their social profiles from places like Twitter, Facebook, and Google. That’s pretty handy.

You can recreate that experience on your site using any number of social login/authentication plugins such as our own Postmatic Social Commenting. But. We just ran across an interesting idea that is especially nifty if you used to use Disqus.

Let users log in with their Disqus account to leave a native comment on your site

WordPress Social Login with Facebook and Disqus enabled.

WordPress Social Login is a plugin that lets users comment using their social profiles. It also now supports Disqus logins. If your commenters used to enjoy signing in using their Disqus account, they still can. But you can use native comments and still own your data. Win. It’s kind of the best of both worlds.

The featured image to this post is a recent weekend here in Vermont. Spring is a bit grumpy this year.

If You Want Better Comments, You Have to Care About Your Commenters

A little while back, I wrote a post over on my own blog about how it wasn’t social media that would “kill blog comments”, but uncaring bloggers.

It was in response to a lot of bloggers complaining about their reduced comment counts, and how they were primarily blaming social media for the lack of engagement on their own blogs.

My primary takeaway was this:

It’s not as clear-cut as “all the conversations are happening on social media”. They may well be happening a lot – but guess where that traffic will come to when users want to see the source of that discussion?

Once that traffic arrives, if they find a comments area that looks as fun and inviting as a McDonald’s restaurant does to a food snob, of course they’ll leave immediately.

If, on the other hand, they see a blog that opens up to others, and – imagine this! – actively converses with them, they’ll stay. Comment. Reply. Subscribe.

Social media won’t “kill” blog comments – bloggers will.

The post sparked a very thoughtful conversation around the topic of comments, and bloggers in general. The key consensus was bloggers who either close down comments or, worse, ignore their commenters are the ones that will lose out more in the long run.

So it’s a little disappointing to see, a full year after that post, so many bloggers who still don’t seem to value their commenters.

A Bunch of Unmoderated Spam Does Not a Community Make

I was doing some research for a future post on the state of commenting today, and a bunch of results popped up about comments and their place in today’s content ecosystem.

(For the record, my own take for the last year or so is that perhaps “blog comments” as a description for conversation is the issue, but more on that in a future post).

One of the results that popped up was this post by Jeff Goins, entitled Seven Types of Blog Comments and How to Respond to Them.

It’s a guest post by blogger Jeremy Myers that shares the most common types of blog comments, and how to respond to them (or if you even should).

As of writing this, the post has received 337 comments and counting. Pretty impressive, huh? Until you start going through the comments themselves…

As you can see, this comments section is a spammers paradise.

While there are some genuine comments about implementing the advice in the post, most are back-links to the commenter’s own site.

Some are questionable – the Facebook video downloader app, for example, and the link to an escort site – while others could land Jeff in major trouble (the one about a realtor from RE/MAX being accused of being a pedophile).

Why would Jeff get in trouble? Blog comments are the ownership of the blogger, and it’s up to you (the blogger) to make sure there’s nothing illegal or libelous within them.

Did you know that you're legally liable for comments left on your blog? Click To Tweet

In fairness, this particular post was published back in 2011, so perhaps Jeff simply doesn’t monitor it anymore. That being said, a libel suit wouldn’t really care when the post was published, if false statements are left unchecked in the comment section.

Continue the Way You Started

One of the more common “problems”, for want of a better word, is that a lot of bloggers start out with good intentions when it comes to commenting, and then let that drop off as they focus on other things.

When they first started blogging, for example, they would respond to all relevant comments (ones that go beyond a standard “nice post!” variation).

Then, they either feel less need to reply, and leave the commenters to talk to each other, or they simply give up replying full-stop, and request commenters to find them on social to discuss the post.

While there’s nothing inherently “wrong” with either approach, for the most part, both lead to a sense of disappointment for the commenters.

With the first example, most commenters leave a comment because the post moved them to reply, and they’d love to share their thoughts with the blogger and get feedback directly from the blogger in question.

When that doesn’t happen, it makes it less compelling to leave a comment, even though some of the best exchanges can come from the community taking the topic in a new direction in the comments and running with it together.

The latter example, though, often invokes a strong reaction. In the comments of one of my recent posts, a long-time commenter on my blog shared her thoughts on “taking the conversation to social media”.

If you invite me to your house and I get all dressed up, fill the tank with gas and head out, only to get there and see a note on your door saying, “I’ve decided to go over to XYZ’s house, you know where she lives, follow me there”. I would politely scribble “screw you” on the note and leave.

It is so arrogant for bloggers to believe their subscribers will follow them where ever they go. If I’m subscribed to your blog why do I need to follow you somewhere else to hear you say the same thing? It’s ridiculous.

Not a lot more I can add to that! But she makes a great point – you’re forcing your commenters through extra hoops just to engage with you.

And what if they moved away from social media channels because of abuse they were getting there, or some other reason? Not everyone wants to put up with the noise and fast-paced nature of social media just to be able to converse with their favorite blogger.

Your blog is your property, where you can control the environment for your visitors – why force people away from that safety net?

You Have to Care. Really Care

Blogging has come a long way since the 1990’s, and as blogging has evolved so has commenting.

From non-threaded design that took a masters degree to identify who was replying to who, to the various commenting options we have today, there really is something for every kind of blogger (and commenter).

But to really make commenting work, you need to work on it yourself.

  • Don’t take the easy route and force comments to be where they don’t want to.
  • Own the conversation, and take ownership on making comments a welcoming place.
  • Clean your comment area, instead of leaving open to spam, crud, and potential legal issues.
  • Most of all, respond. Commenters have chosen your part of the web over millions of others – respect that accordingly.

And if you really feel taking care of comments is too much hard work, you should talk to us. We have resources and plugins to help and are always here to do so.

A Bunch of Unmoderated Spam Does Not a Community MakeClick To Tweet

How to Optimize Replyable for You and Your Readers

We’ll be honest – we’re a little bit biased here when we say Replyable is one of the best blog comment and engagement solutions around.

Yes, it’s our product so we’re bound to say that! But looking at various reviews and blog posts around the web on our parent product, Postmatic, from which Replyable was born, and you can see it’s not just us who feel this way.

Based on reviews like these, and the feedback we received from Postmatic users, we decided to build our Replyable product to laser focus on blog engagement, without all the other bells and whistles that come with Postmatic.

However, as much as we’ve simplified Replyable, there can still be instances when new users (either bloggers or commenters) are unsure of the whole user experience.

After all, we’ve grown up accustomed to on-page commenting, so having blog conversations through email can be confusing at first.

That’s why we’ve decided to share our top three ways to optimize Replyable, and get the best out of it for you and your readers.

Step 1: Publish a Framing Post

Given that it can be quite a jump to get into the mindset of commenting via email, it’s always a good idea to publish a framing post when you first start to use Replyable.

There are a bunch of benefits for doing this:

  • Explain why you’re making the change
  • Allay fears that a commenter will receive too many emails
  • Advise that web commenting will still be available for those that prefer it

It also helps you get the first comments up and running with Replyable – you can finish the post off with a “Ready to try it out? Leave a comment below then wait for an emailed reply!”

It’s a nice ice-breaker, as well as a call-to-action to encourage commenting via email from the off. Here’s a snippet of an example from my own blog.

While this speaks to Postmatic, you get a  feel for the points you need to get across. Obviously, Replyable just handles the comments, so your own post could be something like:

Commenting here is super simple. Your first comment can be left in the comments box at the end of this post, but then you’ll start receiving useful replies via email. Simply hit “Reply” to that, type your response, hit send and you’re done!

However you wish to word it is down to you and your audience, but explaining the change as well as the features and how to use upfront will make all the difference.

Optimize the Welcome Message

So you’ve installed and activated Replyable, you’ve written your framing post, and you’re ready for the first comment to come through your new system.

While you could just leave things there, there are a few options within the Replyable dashboard that can help you enhance the experience even more for your reader/commenter.

The first is the ability to edit the Welcome message that all first-time commenters will receive.

While you could leave the Replyable default, it’s a lot more personal to include your own, geared towards your readers.

As you can see, it’s a lot more personalized, friendlier, and gives a quick reminder on how to use Replyable as a commenter, as well as advise you won’t be flooding their inboxes with too many emails.

If you want people to comment on your blog, you need to help them understand how easy it is to do so.Click To Tweet

Giving that comfort level can make the difference between a comfortable Replyable user (and thereby frequent commenter), and someone who may shy away from commenting to begin with.

Utilize the Comment Subscription Options

The two simplest, and yet still very effective, options can be found within the Comment Subscriptions tab – the comment form opt-in text, and the comment flood control mentioned above.

The first option allows you to choose what message appears alongside your comment form and can help commenters get an early idea of what to expect with Replyable (before they receive the welcome message).

This is the personalized version on my blog:

As you can see, I give the heads up that commenters can use email to both send and receive new comments via email. The little question mark tooltip expands when you hover over it to go into further detail.

It’s a quick and easy way to start the mindset change of commenting via email.

The second option is the “flood control” one, that lets you set how many comments it takes in an hour to kick in.

Flood control is Replyable’s built-in system to make sure nobody gets too much email. The behaviour changes depending on which plan you are on. Users of the free version or on the Conversation Starter or Daily Discourse plans can expect that if a post gets X number of comments per hour the comment subscriptions will automatically be paused.

If you are on the Max Engagement plan instead of pausing the comment subscriptions we’ll instead start sending a daily digest of new comment activity to users.

No matter what your plan is, once flood control has triggered direct replies will still be sent. You can find out more on our support site.

It’s a nice way to let subscribers remain in control at all times, and protect their inboxes from too many emails.

That was an important feature to offer when building this and ensures that the only emails received are the ones commenters really wish to get.

It’s All Down to You

Of course, you can start using Replyable without putting any of these tips into place – that’s the beauty of its simplicity.

And once your readers get into the mindset of commenting via email, you (and they) will soon find it becomes second-nature, and you wonder why it’s taken so long to do so before.

We have conversations via email every day - so why not do the same with blog comments?Click To Tweet

However, seeing the results our users get when they ease their readers into using our service shows it can make a big difference in the uptake of the benefits.

It’s entirely your call, of course – we just want to make sure you get started off on the right foot.

Happy commenting!

Why comments matter more than ever

While pageviews are crucial for advertising-supported publications (to help gauge circulation), they are a small piece of the puzzle for content marketing initiatives and publications supported more heavily through subscriptions. Engagement and retention are more important figures, but conversion is the most significant.

Read more