Blog Comment Solutions

Last month I wrote up a big post on Insight into Blog Comment spam and this article carries that theme forward by looking at what are some of the top comment platforms used and how well they perform. The data set I used was only 17 respondents but they were all experienced and well known bloggers so they have both a large audience of readers and audience that spammers would be more likely to target their blog.

What is the current Blog comment platform you use?

It wasn’t a massive surprise but 65% of the respondents to my survey showed a strong preference for using the default WordPress comment system which is preferred because it obviously requires no effort to setup.

Blog comment platform used
Would you change what Blog comment platform you are using? If so what would be the alternative?

It was also interesting to find out that a 53% of respondents did not plan on changing comment platform.  But what is interesting is that 4 out of 5 current users of Disqus said they would not change their platform where for WordPress it was only 45% that would not change their platform.

What blog platform

 How do you find the current blog comment platform for dealing with spam?

Just under half (47%) of respondents found their current blog comment platform was performing above average.  Once again Disqus more than out performing with the ratings all “above average” and one “excellent”.

Dealing with Spam

How do you find the current blog comment platform for dealing with moderation?

I surprised to see that webmasters feel that a majority of the blog comment platform quite well for moderation with 58% ranking their comment platforms as above average and 35% ranking them as excellent.  I think the problem with this question is the definition of moderation is likely interpreted differently between respondents.

Dealing with comment moderation

How do you find the current blog platform for dealing with self-promotion?

It seems that while the current blog platforms are good with moderation but average for dealing with self-promotion. It seems based on the respondents that the blog comment platforms pretty much suck for dealing with self-promotion, this could also be that it’s very hard to define what is self-promotion sometimes.

Dealing with self-promotion

How do you find the current blog platform for engagement?

Both Disqus and WordPress got 2 votes for “excellent” and also 1 vote each for “below average”, but I was surprised that there was a fairly positive view for both platforms.  I had expected to see Disqus slightly higher because of the social interactions and votes but maybe with a larger data set that might shift.

Platform engagement

How do you find the currently comment platform for dealing with abuse?

Seems a majority of platforms don’t currently do well with abuse, but Disqus did seem to perform better as it received no “below average” votes unlike WordPress.  Again the definition of abuse is a bit vague as someone swearing in a comment might be abuse to some authors but not to another.  I assume that most respondents might have struggled to interpret what I meant by “abuse” and some blogs might get more abuse within comment threads, towards the blog owner or the writer of the post.

Dealing with abuse

Do you also use Akismet to reduce spam?

It seems that most people use Akismet but not everyone uses the professional or enterprise version, but those using the Free version don’t always have the most negative experience based on their responses.  I would think that blog owners should consider testing/trialing the professional version of Akismet if comments are a problem.

Do you use Akismet

 What about SEO benefits?

It seemed that Disqus comment plugin did appear to perform better for SEO.  But this question could have been easily split into several questions to drill into what SEO benefits they feel they receive as it could be improved onsite content, improved referral links, cross linking between profiles & comments and more. The problems with many other comment plugins is that you don’t own your data or the comments and are mostly not indexable/crawlable by Google.


Who helped contribute to this data?

Some of the bloggers & marketers that contributed to this survey that I wanted to thank was Bill Slawski, AJ Ghergich, Barry Wise, Alan K’necht, Chris Gilchrist, Kate Morris, Stephane Hamel, Branko Rihtman, Chris Burgess, Brad Geddes, Dixon Jones, Jason Mun, Tad Chef, Bill Sebald, Lyena Solomon, Jonathan Allen, & one anonymous blogger.

What are the other comment plugin options?

I see from the responses that like myself there are several bloggers that responded to the survey that are open to moving to a new comment plugin.  So I looked into several of the features/benefits of each of the primary blog comment plugins and detailed them below.

Google+ Comments Plugin for WordPress

  • Imports prior public comments made across Google+
  • Platform offers moderators limited filtering comments options
  • Easier sharing of posts on Google+
  • Offers easy interaction with Google+ audience
  • Google+ users can reply directly within Google+ comments
  • Moderators can Flag & Remove Spam Comments
  • Google+ Comments doesn’t paginate comments
  • Google+ doesn’t load all comments by default
  • Google+ comments don’t appear to contribute towards onsite content
  • It forces users to comment with their personal social media accounts
  • You balance the hassle with the hope of getting increased referral traffic from Google+

Facebook Comment Plugins

  • Facebook comments limit comments to those with a Facebook/Yahoo!/AOL or Hotmail account
  • The default comment setting is “post to Facebook” that drives self-promotion and encourages referral traffic
  • Back in 2011 TechCrunch moved to FB which dropped the number of comments but also killed off the low quality & troll comments
  • TechCrunch have also now moved to Livefyre from FB comments after 2 years
  • Facebook comments force users to comment using their personal accounts
  • After making Facebook comments you can get a flood of notifications
  • Facebook controls all your data and you have no option to backup/export or edit existing comments if required and strengthen your dependence on Facebook.
  • Facebook comments are apparently confusing to moderate

Livefyre Comments for WordPress

  • Real-time comments can be hard to moderate (spam issue)
  • Users can now link to external websites instead of their Livefyre profile (spam issue)
  • Liking a comment creates a DoFollow link back via their avatar (spam issue)
  • You don’t own the comment content it’s owned/controlled by Livefyre
  • Posters can tag other users in their comments
  • When they post a comment users can share notification to Twitter/Facebook to drive more engagement and referral traffic back to your post
  • Twitter feeds can bring in irrelevant comments into your comment stream
  • There is limited filters in place on the social conversation feature
  • Moderation of comments not a two-way street between Livefyre and WP comments database.
  • Users can follow “listen” to a conversation which can lift engagement
  • Poor moderation features and no bulk option
  • Replying to comments can be more tedious than other platforms
  • Lower engagement due to requirements to signup to Livefyre platform
  • Limitations with comment formatting and styling of comment box

Disqus Comment System for WordPress

  • The leading third party comment system for blogs
  • Mobile friendly comments and app for site owners for moderation
  • Allows for rich media to be attached with comment (photos, links, video)
  • There is free and premium versions available
  • Users can flag comments for moderation
  • Multiple registration support (Guest, OpenID, Facebook, Twitter, Google)
  • Platform supports word filtering
  • Platform supports blacklists/whitelists
  • Site can display social media reactions (Tweets)
  • Integration with Akismet
  • When importing WP comments it does not support Gravatar images associated with existing comments
  • Seems more SEO friendly as comments can count towards your overall onsite content

IntenseDebate Comments for WordPress

  • Created by owners of WordPress & Akismet
  • Offers reputation points to drive higher quality discussions
  • When they post a comment users can share notification to
  • Twitter to drive more engagement
  • Comment responses sends email notification to bring users back to the site
  • Users can flag comments for moderation
  • Supports widgets to show off comment stats
  • Multiple registration support (OpenID, Twitter, Facebook,
  • Plugin APIs allow for adding Polls, YouTube videos

Which Platform won?

It’s a hard decision but it seems that Disqus might be the best solution if you are thinking of moving away from WordPress’s default comment platform based on the average ratings were far higher than respondents using WordPress default platform.  There is certainly an advantage using Disqus or WordPress default as your comment plugin if you get comments and want them to contribute towards your overall onsite content.

While Facebook seems to be the easiest solution for brands with large Facebook audiences but most blogs seem to dump them after a while and go back to their old platform and only one blogger did consider Facebook as a possible alternative to their current platform.

I’ve done several tests and found the blog will show in Google when you search for reader comment quotes with Disqus & WordPress but not for Google+, the original Google+ comment can rank but I didn’t see the blog ranking when I searched for the comment.

I think unless you are really wanting to push Google+ down the throats of your users I would say Disqus seems to be the sensible solution and seems to be the solution I would consider migration towards.

Related Images:

Google+ Pages Authorship?

One interesting item I noticed tonight was that one of my shares about the “Olympic Charter” on two of my Google+ pages was actually showing up in my Google SERPs.  I began to wonder if Google+ authorship has finally started to be rolled out for Google+ pages?

Google+ Authorship

I did a test with incognito and while the authorship icon did show for “Claire Carter” on the 3rd page of results I couldn’t find the authorship showing for “SEO Meetups” or “The Lost Agency”.  After playing about and having a think I quickly understood how it was working, these two pages were linked to my Google+ profile as I had them in circles but it did make me feel sad as it was a step further down the path towards further personalisation of search results.

I did a quick test with Chrome incognito with a different post shared on another page I managed but initially I did not have this page in my circles, so I didn’t see any posts ranking with it’s Google+ page icon.  But I then added that other page to my circles and almost instantly when I refreshed the results I could now see the result showing with that Google+ page icon. I was surprised how fast this personalised search results showed up once I added this page to my circles.

So it seems that Google+ Pages Authorship is starting to show but unlike standard Google+ authorship it only shows their updates higher and with thumbnail if you have them in your circles.

The interesting thing is that I haven’t seen this too much for any other pages I have in circles but could force it to show with a search for “Whiteboard Friday” and you can see Roger from Moz showing but didn’t see too many others on some trial queries.

This change does offer a huge advantage for brands that can build a large audience of people that have them in their circles as they now have just as much control of influencing your followers search results as Google+ personal pages. The question is now how long it will take until Google+ page updates will start to show as authorship currently does even when you are not logged in?

Related Images:

Google Glass won’t become mainstream in 2014

Google GlassI’m calling this a Google product that still has 3-5 years before society is ready for it and it still doesn’t seem technologically ready for prime time. While I do think Google Glass might have some niche applications for users that depend on real-time data/information such as police, medics, the military and possible even stock traders I don’t think the device is robust enough to last long enough to make the investment financially viable if they were even allowed to get a device.

I could see the medical field being able to benefit from having access to information in the field in most surgery wards it would be just as easy to have a monitor that allows for voice control and that would limit distractions such as Google Now reminders on what time their Golf game starts. The only possible use I could see for the device would be when doing presentations and training sessions as it would allow you to walk away from your laptop and still read from your slides and take questions from social media channels.

The other big issue is that the Google Explorer program is limited to the US currently so it’s unlikely the device can attract international acceptance while it’s still a device limited to the USA market.

Society is still coming to grips with Mobile phones

I think the big barrier to technologies like Google Glass is that they came out of nowhere where if you look at mobiles that are still facing issues such as their safe use while driving were first launched by Motorola back in April 1973.  So you have a current accepted technology such as mobile phones that have been around 41 years and we are still struggling to iron out what is acceptable use in society such as at work and in social situations.

Someone sitting across from me in a one-on-one social interaction playing with a phone can be annoying but seeing someone gazing into the Google Glass screen makes me nervous as I’ve got no real idea what they are doing.  I think most companies would accept employees requests that staff or visitors are not to wear Google Glass or similar devices in the work place.

Wearable Tech will be hot in 2014 but not Google Glass

One of the pre-Christmas presents I purchased was a Fitbit Flex that tracks my steps, distanced walked, calories burned and my sleep quality.  This is a wearable device that doesn’t distract me and you almost forget you are wearing it as it’s a passive device that just helps you track your lifestyle and activity. This is different wearable tech than Google Glass and something that doesn’t interfere with your personal interactions.

There are lots of other wearable tech devices that are going to become common place in 2014 but each are mostly focused on improving your life and make things easier such as:

  • Nike FuelBand – Tracks your active life for all kinds of activities
  • Myo – Gesture Control Armband
  • Lumo Back – Focused on improving posture, measuring sleep and movement
  • Kiwi – Track activity, gesture control, voice control
  • Pebble Smartwatch – Apps, notifications and watch
  • Samsung GALAXY Gear – Apps, notifications, calls and watch

The only two that are really close to Google Glass is the Pebble and Gear Smartwatches but these are more of a hybrid between your watch and your phone. I really struggle to think how Google Glass can be successful as the biggest roadblock is the $1500 price level for the Glass Explorer device this is almost 10 times the price of any of the wearable tech devices listed above.

If the Google Glass price point can drop down to a few hundred dollars it might become something more common but I expect it will take 3-5 years to get to that pricing point once there is mass production in place and unlikely in 2014.

Early Adopters maybe abandoning Glass already

Even some of the early adapters as part of the Glass Explorer program appear to be regretting their $1500 purchase as some of Robin’s early revelations include: can be nauseating, if you lose your Glass it’s gone for good, you can get bored very quickly and battery drain is too fast. I can see the battery life still as a big issue and more of an annoyance as most mobile devices are already struggling to last a even a full day of heavy use.

Even early adopters and evangelists like Robert Scoble have written extensive posts on Google+ about the limitations of Google Glass and why even he thinks that it might be doomed in 2014. According to Business Insider there are already trends that even Googlers have stopped wearing the devices as they don’t like advertising to everyone that they work for Google.

For a company that focuses on employees eating your own dog food it’s not a good sign if employees are resisting against wearing their devices 24/7.  As pointed out in Robin’s article the other issue is theft as if you are mugged and the device is stolen it’s gone so that’s obviously something that even Googlers may no longer appear to be willing to risk on their daily commutes on public transport.

There are also annoying features such as any photos you share to Twitter has the annoying marketing text #throughglass added.  This self-promotional message can be a flood through your news feed when there are large amounts of Glass Explorers attending the same event or conference. If there is one hashtag I would want to block it would be #throughglass!

What about health implications from wearing Google Glass?

But I do worry about increasing levels of cancer when you use Google Glass for extended periods, as I don’t think anyone has really touched on the potential health impacts both from cancer but also how it might cause long term vision issues from extended strain caused by the viewing screen.

There are lots of fun side effects of long term use such as binocular rivalry, visual interference and latent misalignment of the eyes according to Forbes. The device currently doesn’t seem to be something suitable to be worn for extended periods of time such as when watching a movie or reading all your emails.

The bigger health implications come from distracting the user who may be paying less attention when walking, driving or riding and viewing information in the Google Glass screen.

Security Risks of people wearing Google Glass?

In a vast number of companies and businesses they have very strict policies on what can be shared in public but also what materials employees are able to store or keep.  The big problem is that the camera device allows sensitive information to be leaked from a company easily as Google Glass now allows for photos to be taken by just winking.  Only the wearer of the device is able to see what is going on and this makes it a perfect technology for criminals and even terrorists.  TechAdvisor have covered both security and health topics in much more detail if you want to read more you can find the article here.

Will it soon be illegal to wear Google Glass in most places?

There are already discussions around the issue and possible criminal charges for people wearing Google Glass in Movie Theaters, Casinos, Strip Clubs and Restaurants.  But this is only the tip of the iceberg as this doesn’t yet cover a whole number of places that mobile phones are not allowed such as change rooms, playgrounds, public pools and some beaches in order to protect families and their privacy and ensure unwanted photos are not taken.

There is already a case with Cecilia Abadie who was caught speeding in California and the police officer noted on the ticket that she was noted in the 3rd infraction on the ticket as “Driving with Monitor visible to Driver (Google Glass)”. I assume that it’s only a matter or time before people using Google Glass while driving maybe more distracted than Cecilia and not just miss the police car driving behind you but may caused an accident.  I wonder how Google might start to react when it’s users are using the device so as to endanger their lives or others?

How important are you that you need Google Glass?

How important that you are that you can’t reach down to your pocket to grab your phone, heck one of the world’s most successful and richest men Warren Buffer still uses an old flip phone.  So it’s fairly likely that you are not going to be successful in business just because you have Google Glass on your head 24/7.

Vine seems to be a Ghost town for Brands

Vine LogoWow if you thought that some of the Google+ brand pages appeared to be a bit of a ghost town, from what I see Brand profiles on Vine are even worse. A random content heavy producer like Travel Channel who have 792,610 followers on Twitter and a 1.005 million fans on Facebook, 3.415 million people on Google+ but only have 10k followers on Vine.

A further sign that Vine is a ghost town for brands is the Travel Channel only have one Vine which they published on the 12th Feb 2013 almost a year ago, which doesn’t really show commitment to the platform and even that post only has 65 likes, 2 re-vines and 10 comments not amazing engagement from 10k followers. This seems to be one post to secure the profile and show people they are following the right channel but for a media company that produces such amazing content their Vine is well quite a lazy and boring so no wonder the engagement sux.

But if we look to competing platform Instagram they have 80,475 followers, 264 posts including a Christmas video post and already a post in January 2014. So it’s not like they are not focusing on creating and sharing short videos on social media they just don’t seem to care for Vine. Maybe the 6-second video limit just wasn’t of interest to them?

Vine Engagement appears lower

It is very hard to get much data at scale from the platform but from my manual checks there seems to be a majority of the posts that don’t get much engagement but some of the more successful ones seem to see tens of thousands of engagements (likes,re-vines,comments,social shares). Compared to other social platforms that is not really that amazing and enticing for brands or celebrities to join.

The big successes seem to be the ones that are getting hundred of thousands and even millions of engagements are those hand picked by the Vine Editorial Team, but even they have only picked 56 posts so far such as their one one below. Like Instagram it also appears that it’s individuals that are more successful and than brands in achieving engagement.

VineWhat could Vine improve?

The release of static profile URLs is a huge step forward as that will enable more users to find brands and users from channels such as Google but also will allow for cross promotion of their Vine profile URL on other social platforms. They could also look at improving the engagement possible via the web app will also help as sometimes your mobile/tablet is not your preferred device for consumption of content, it seems inconsistent if you are viewing another Vine that is not in your stream. If you do want to reserve a profile URL you need to post at least 2 Vines and have an account active for more than 30 days and then you can visit here. The ability to tag users is something that is expected these days and it seems that feature is still lacking.

What is Vine doing well?

The the re-vine or re-blog feature is something that Instagram is missing and something that worked very well for blog platform Tumblr.  There is appears to be vastly less spam and self-promotional messages such as #TeamFollowBack or pleads from users for other people to follow them back that I see on Google+ or Instagram.

Why can’t I block Google+ Help community?

This post is in response to an issue I’ve for a while with an official Google+ community posts.  The problem is that I just don’t seem to be able to get rid of the damn community posts in my feed no matter what I do.  I have been manually muting individual posts as there seems to be a constant stream of the same questions asked over and over by different people.  I have included the screenshot below to show how many of the damn Google+ Help posts flood my stream because they have around 143,000 members the community is producing a heap of posts on a regular basis.

Google+ Help Community

But what you cannot see here is that if you goto the Google+ Help community page you can see that I’m not actually part of the community and I’ve even tried blocking the community yet I can’t escape the damn posts.  You can mute them but there are hundreds just waiting to pop-up in your feed next time you refresh or login to your account. They are far more annoying on your mobile device as you have to scroll past this Google+ Help spam.

Google+ Plus Community Blocked

Does anyone know is this a problem that once you have joined an official Google+ community that you can’t escape their posts forever? This is really really an annoying part of the Google+ platform and one that I don’t seem to be able to find a solution for, is anyone able to offer some tips or have you seen it with other community posts that you can’t escape?

Related Images: