Comment threads on sites offer tremendous opportunities for attracting regular readers, and many sites thrive based on their regular visitors who leave feedback and communicate with other commenters. However, comment threads can also be a bane to sites, and curating the right kinds of comments is important. Here are a few ways to ensure that your comment threads are helping your website thrive.
Lay Down the Rules
Almost everyone who spends time on the Internet has encountered toxic comment sections, and bad comments can discourage visitors for coming back. Furthermore, they make potentially useful commenters less likely to stick around. The first step toward encouraging useful comments is to make the ground rules clear from the beginning. Removed comments can lead to angry visitors, but ensuring the rules are clear helps avoid confusion. Imagine your ideal comment section, and make rules that encourage visitors to be productive.
Find an Appropriate Platform
There are a number of commenting platforms available, and choosing the right one is critical for building a thriving community. Options hosted on third-party websites are often convenient, and popular ones offer a wide range of features. Hosting your own comment section ensures that your content remains on your servers, and self-hosting gives you more opportunities for customizing your layout. Web hosting providers sometimes offer options as well. Migrating a comment section to a different platform is difficult, so it’s important to explore available options before settling.
Moderation is Key
Comment sections can quickly spiral out of control, and moderation is the one viable tool for maintaining your comment section. For small websites, a handful of employees can be sufficient for maintaining order, but larger comment threads might require empowering trusted users to make decisions. Voting is another popular options, but voting is fairly easy to abuse and must be monitored regularly. It can be tempting to force comments through moderation before they’re posted on your website, but doing so can slow user engagement and prevent potentially useful conversations. Another option to consider is placing new commenters into moderation for their initial posts; just ensure they know their blocks will eventually lift.
Even though comment sections largely consist of text, their performance can vary widely. When experimenting with various platforms, take some time to measure how quickly they load. Be especially cautious when using third party hosting as poor performance on the host’s server can lead to less interactivity on your platform. If you’re hosting the tool on your own site, ensure the database is set up appropriately and responds quickly even when the number of comments grows quickly. You’ll also want to consider when your comments will load. In some cases, it’s best to only load comments when the user scrolls down past the article or clicks on a button to expand the comments. These techniques can improve the load time of articles.
When choosing between comment platforms, try to find one that blends well with your site’s look. In some cases, simply changing the colors to match those of your site will work, but some sites and comment platforms may need further customization. Bear in mind that your site’s design might change, so it’s worth having a commenting platform that can change easily as well. If you’re planning on making the comment section a key feature on your website, consider it when working on the other aspects of the site as well; incorporating design cues from your chosen comment platform can sometimes improve your site’s look while making integration easier.
Ready to Grow
Individual articles can attract comment sections that grow quickly, so it’s important to ensure your chosen platform can handle this rapid growth. Web hosting matters as well, so ensure your host can handle a sudden influx of traffic if one of your pages goes viral. Database management is critical, and a database’s performance can drop significantly if faced with fast growth. Ensure you make regular backups of your database as losing comments can decrease traffic to your site significantly.
In the past, comment sections would often only load when the page was loaded, so users would need to refresh the page to see new comments. Consider platforms that automatically load comments or provide a button to click to load new comments. Doing so provides a better interface for users, and it helps reduce the load on your server. While automatically loading comments can be great, it can also make it difficult for users to keep up with updates. If you expect your comment section to become very active, it might be best to learn toward providing a button users can click to load new comments.
Comment sections can be popular aspects of sites, and fostering a community helps you maintain a steady stream of visitors. However, it’s important to ensure you choose the right platform and implement it correctly. Make sure to monitor your comment threads in the early days when it’s easiest to switch to a new platform.