How to Get More Comments, Less Spam

I've done a couple of things to my blog, mostly “behind the scenes,” that I want to share with you.

Some well-known marketers have closed their comments on their blogs. The primary and most important reason is to deal with the plethora of comment spam. If you wanted to comment on any of their posts, you'd have to do it on your own blog by posting an article and linking back to it.

Since most blogs support it, your link will automatically create a trackback on the post, which will be listed in the comments area. But the wonderful byproduct of this is that it increases backlinks (i.e., link popularity) to their blogs.

Some people have said this to be dishonest, which befuddles me. I get over 10,000 spam comments a week on this blog — thank goodness for the Akismet plugin! — so I understand James' reasoning, especially in light of the fact that he values his time deeply.

(Something I, and you too, need to do.)

However, I love the comments area. Blog comments helps me to gather feedback, oftentimes when I'm looking for answers, ideas or insights that are helpful.

But I also did a bit of research and discovered that 94% of the spam occurs on my older posts. That's why I've decided to do something similar.

Comment Timeout is a plugin that does a variety of comment moderation tasks. For example, it automatically rejects posts with too many links or spam-like coding within them.

But the most important feature is the fact that it can automatically close your comments after a specified period of time.

(I've set mine to 120 days. Posts older than 120 days are automatically closed. But it will keep posts with recent comments open, namely posts with comments made within the last 60 days.)

If I wish to get feedback, I'll simply post a new blog entry. Trackbacks and pingbacks are always on, and will be listed in the comments area. So if you wish to comment on an older post, simply post a new article on your blog and link back to it.

For those who don't have a blog, there are many poll or survey tools out there, such as or

But to encourage comments on current posts, and as a result of applying the plugin above, I've decided to activate another plugin.

With the WordPress default package, links within comments apply a “no-follow” attribution, which was initially meant to curb spam. (Many spammers have exploited this in the past, for the sole purpose of gaining linkback popularity and pagerank when search engines index blogs.)

As we now know, this is not true. At least, not any longer.

Spam is almost always automated (spammers often use software that “blasts” blog comments all over the web). And they don't care. Because, if spammers can get blog viewers and authors to visit their sites, gaining extra backlinks is but a mere bonus for their despicable efforts.

The problem is, just like email anti-spam filtering can kill innocent bystanders (such as legitimate marketers), no-follow penalizes my blog's commentators in the process.

After twisting my virtual arm for a while, Andy Beard who has been evangelizing the benefits of do-follow for some time has finally convinced me.

But rather than being forced to tweak the code, my friend Denis de Bernardy, author of the Semiologic WordPress theme, which I highly recommend, offers a Do Follow plugin that reverses the default no-follow attribution.

So now, when you comment, your link will get the benefit of the backlink.

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Strategic marketing consultant Michel Fortin