EP308 – How we use comments on our WordPress websites

February 8, 2019

On this episode of WPwatercooler, the team dove into the intricacies of using comments on WordPress websites. The discussion started with audio issues and evolved into an exploration of the different platforms for comments, from Facebook to Disqus. The consensus was that while comments can be useful for engagement and feedback, they also come with challenges, particularly when it comes to moderation. The panelists shared their personal experiences, noting the potential pitfalls of negative comments and the mental strain they can bring. They highlighted the importance of remembering the humanity behind online interactions and the repercussions of what’s shared. The episode concluded with a debate about the relevance of using Facebook comments, pointing out its limitations and the changing dynamics of online engagement platforms. The overarching theme was understanding the purpose behind using comments and ensuring they align with one’s goals, whether personal, business, or community-driven.

00:05 Audio Issues Discussion
01:10 Episode Introduction
01:40 Weather Small Talk & Personal Introductions
02:28 Guest Introductions
03:14 Jason’s Show Recommendations
04:01 Importance of Archiving
04:41 Using Facebook for Comments
05:24 Facebook vs. Other Comment Platforms
06:02 Challenges of Blog Comments for Business
06:36 Flattery Spam and Comment Marketing
07:48 Importance of Genuine Backlinking
08:20 Navigating Negative Feedback
09:00 The Impact of Negative Comments on Authors
10:04 Feedback Channels: Comments vs. Direct Interactions
11:17 Dangers of Impersonal Interactions Online
11:46 Engaging with Comments & Building Community
13:29 Social Media Comments vs. Website Comments
14:35 Exploring WP Tavern’s Comment Culture
16:17 The Danger of Disregarding Online Accountability
17:00 Personal Experience with Public Writing
18:10 Facilitating Genuine Connections & Discussions
19:32 Writing with Purpose
20:35 The Concept of Milkshake Duck
22:09 Engaging with Purpose & Intention
23:07 Drawbacks of Using Facebook Comments
26:07 Reminiscing Internet’s Early Days
27:27 Episode Conclusion & Thanks

Join us around the WPwatercooler discussing comments


Episode Transcription

(00:05) [Music] so the audio sucked we could we couldn’t hear your voice look the video sound was awesome we just couldn’t hear you talking over it oh that’s too bad okay well I’ll figure ducking how about that I think that works for like the type of show that we are it’s like yeah right it’s so hard to get an intro audio and audio levels neck field what are you doing after dark I’ve been teaching workshops for two
(01:10) days straight like I taught two workshops in two days four workshops in two days and my brain is like so you’re gonna be terrible or great depending on your point perfect well since you guys didn’t hear my intro anyhow I thought that I would say it again so this is episode number 308 w water cooler let’s go around the room real quick get everyone introduced Jonathan a little bit about yourself hi I’m Jonathan and today it is snowing in North Idaho if you’re gonna look out there you can’t
(01:40) well you can really see it but I’m excited we like snow nice it’s good to have you on say you’re muted still just so you know that’s my design I was saying also that we believed you about the snow like if you were safe I’m always saying especially hey speaking of me I’m just gonna do my intro it was that nice job down yeah I’m serious I’m here are you guys speak teach preach work make love WordPress follow me on Twitter it’s every media if you want ice tweet sporadically so do what you want is cool
(02:28) I got you I am Joseph honest I work at automatic on the jetpack team for the past six years and I am driving up at stupid o’clock in the morning tomorrow morning three o’clock to head up in New York to help mentor six grad students and open source contributing oh that’s cool I’m Jason Tucker you can find me over on Twitter adjacent Tucker my website is Jason Tucker dot blog and I do this show as well as another show called wpe blab we didn’t record yesterday but you know we have many archives feel free to go
(03:14) through you can just the random button and just kind of go through and find something you know the thing about is that the your the blab shows are much more like ever being useful so you can go in there and just check out an archive and ours are like so last Thursday so the trash fire of the week we need an intro for that one to Jason fire just hit the button and just make some noises you should listen to water cooler every week so you don’t miss anything since the archives are essentially useless okay but then I get
(04:01) comments on YouTube and on you know on Facebook and stuff of people going like oh I’m just I just found you and I just found this particular episode from five years ago you have to remember that guys have to remember that five years from now right so today today we were thinking of talking a little bit about comments and comments on your website and all the fun things about comments the peanut gallery [Laughter] so over over on JP water-cooler I’ll kind of start us off how about that so over onto AP water-cooler I’ve been
(04:41) using the Facebook comment system on there for a little while and I’ve had people say like oh using facebook comments why would you use Facebook comments instead of disgust or this or that or the thing that that you know that jetpack does or any of these things that are out there because we’re lazy I don’t want more data in my website which part which part is why don’t people just use Facebook right because it’s like well that’s easy Facebook everyone yeah they are water court we sold to
(05:24) Cambridge analytic I know I don’t I’m also one of the people I think I’ve been mad at Mark Zuckerberg for way longer than you guys have been mad at mine second so you’re a sucker you’re a sucker mr. Berg hey that’s what you get when you’re an elder social media millennial an elder millennial you get to claim yeah I know he was bad so I actually have comments on your personal websites or your business website or any that sort of thing I tell all of my friends to turn them off in this unless
(06:02) they are actively blogging or there’s an active which is very few of the small business owners because they have other stuff to do although they should but you know should wait good stuff to do you mean like run a business yeah they should and the reality are not the same thing you know it would be great for them if they did this blah blah but the reality of the situation is if they do post do they have time to moderate and review comments likely no the thing that they get especially in the beginning when they start is what I
(06:36) call what flattery spam so we were talking about flattery spam I near with like this is the most amazing vertical I’ve ever read in my life yeah you should totally talk about this topic more here’s my like look at those emails we’re for somebody else sending an email saying like hey on that blog post you wrote about this thing which you know our blog posts have like maybe like eight words on the blog post there water cooler episode and then they’re like you mentioned this one link and I’m like
(07:10) yeah I mentioned that one link because we mentioned it on the show and they’re like but could you use our link as well and I’m like okay you know whatever no dedicated backlink commanded like like marketing that they’re doing it’s a shotgun approach very much like a cultivated relationship you’re just like I’m gonna annoy you and link is broken right so that’s always the thing you’re supposed to look for broken links and then go say hey your link is broken here’s an article that’s not broken and
(07:48) you’re actually helping that person not just you should change your links to benefit so you can combine those and be like so your your your link is broken but just so you know my links better and you could use this one instead right I mean I think that’s what the backlink that strategy is actually supposed to be it’s just that with you know in a social media echo chamber advice gets distilled down to like the one thing and then everyone’s like oh you just ask people to use your link and then everyone’s
(08:20) obnoxious for a while so I have a long and storied history with comments a lot of you make a lot of them the sport like I did I did a decent chunk of writing early on did a bunch of stuff like Smashing Magazine and at first is like oh this this is fantastic so like part of it is just my own personality and this like desire to please so when I would get a negative comment like it would really like everything all the dozens and dozens of positive comments just blown out of the way from this like one comment and to it I got
(09:00) right and I would just like I would refuse to go back and read like like so to this day it’s been five plus years I don’t go back to evil like the the comments anymore and I’ve missed out on things but over that’s led over time and I was talking to a friend of mine the other night who traced back his like he’d been doing a bunch of writing doing some great stuff but then he got some really negative comments and it’s been three years since he of him not produced so my own conclusion similar to what
(09:31) you’ve been lyin so I just I just and I see there are a use cases so I’m curious to talk about that or like especially if rounding using that as the community part but as an author like I’m not writing for the validation that sometimes nice to get from comments like oh it’s nice people say some nice things in the comments but I’m also like it’s it’s a with comments open it’s almost like giving your platform just up for anybody to do whatever they want with which doesn’t really make sense so I
(10:04) conclude no comments for me so basically what you’re saying is you wanna be that guy that just like coolly walking away while the explosions are happening in the background I wanted like I want to get feedback from folks needn’t like I’m an email me or catching on Twitter and it’s it’s like I want it also to be useful because it’s always nice it is to have someone say hey great article I mean but to what act like well that’s just ego stroking right and they’re probably you know they’re that’s the
(10:41) same thing is like yeah or first or like comments on Instagram or whatever Reverend just like cool or whatever its that is a kind of a cultural thing of just like sort of empty bolstering and then that’s encouraged in a lot of business Media ethos like just go empty we’re peanuts you say yay on everyone’s stuff or whatever and I think what you’re talking about is is that useful that’s what I’m talking about with my small business it’s like is this a use of like who cares like you’re exposing yourself
(11:17) to the people who come to your site you have to moderate or you’re just like letting anyone publish on your site and so then you have to spend that time and then what value are the people who are coming to your site to get your input you don’t care what Joe Schmo says so it’s really a very egocentric comments are very egocentric thing because they’re not really useful except for entertainment value to other people about some of the value because I on the one hand like for me personally in like
(11:46) my writing I’m like I don’t I don’t have comments if people I want people to like give me feedback on usefulness so I encourage them like email me directly like let’s let’s talk so that’s that but there is something about like comments and sometimes about it’s about the position of it because it’s it’s a very useful thing to like in WordPress right like for certain types of content you know having giving you look really to engage with each other so it’s I just feel like in my own case I haven’t had a
(12:17) clear it’s not valuable in terms of my writing but if I was doing something different so I’m curious for times where you guys have seen like comments work great on YouTube comments don’t work great okay let’s say um no comments do not work great but what I have seen work well in their stead yeah is sites where they’ll say on each post go ahead and discuss this post in our forums with the link and then each new post generates a comment thread elsewhere and then you can join different SEO stuff on the
(12:55) forum so like no index no follow so like the discussion there will be because of the valid discussion going on there not because folks are trying to spam links for Google but leads the question if you are going to all of the trouble to be like discuss this in our forum that means that that you are definitely getting some sort of value out of that extended engagement or you’re a hobbyist and you want to create that expression totally fine so it looks like you know whatever whatever perspective you’re looking at
(13:29) it from but my question is you know what when we say engagement right like what is that right is it people commenting and having discussions in a forum on a topic fully that is totally engagement right but like that’s a whole thing so our comments really even engagement is that back and forth like it’s not even a back and forth me write it I think I think that’s key right there like I think about WP tavern for a moment I there’s two things that I love about it well love is a strong word but like I
(13:58) accept like there’s some great coverage like just like they they do some great work on hey this is an interesting take on a story etc and then it’s the comments and the comments I generally have very low expectations of it it’s usually more about like entertainment in perspective then ready your popcorn Jonathan that’s my get the popcorn and kind of see what’s going on cuz I I tend to observe and I in general hold the community in very high regard like I expect me I expect not good things to
(14:35) typically come out of what gets presented in WP tavern and then I get to see it I get to see what often is the case is then I’ll see people that I respect like engaging as my respect for them because there’s like terrible things that are said and then you see how someone responds I’m like man that’s a tough situation kudos to you for dealing with like a tough situation so it tends to but it’s not there’s not really that’s some weird like good job fighting that lion in a gladiator pit
(15:11) how well you handled that crazy person coming at you with nonsense that’s basically it but I think culture like that that it the deterrent for better forces developed and this is just my observation of that around it right so and that’s not this sort of conversation it’s like kind of yelling with polite and thoughtful responses occasionally it’s not like comments don’t necessarily facilitate that multi-way like dialogue it’s not the same as like a track ticket which is always like upstanding and and
(15:50) engagement it’s just like whoa or it’s random fights or it’s whatever like actually I was just talking about this is my business partner yesterday she we’re at a meal and she’s like texting I was like what are you doing it she’s like wasting my time trying to educate people on Facebook and I’m like and I was like why are you doing that she’s like I don’t know sometimes I just feel like I should try I know it’s useless I’ve never trained Jamie with mine that’s like a joke it’s like you know
(16:17) you’re just arguing yourself no one’s actually like hey really interesting point but I read it on there you know like that’s not that’s the likelihood of that happening is very low no they you’ve just recapped xkcd number 386 are you coming to bed I can’t this is important what someone is wrong on the internet I think he helped me figure something out like when I’m when I’m writing like most of my writing now like growing WP com something I started recently like I’m writing with very grow in WP I’m writing
(17:00) very specific people in mind though like like people with technology companies growing in WP duh the point is I don’t need comments on the side because with specific individuals who I’ve written it for under and I’m writing it publicly under the expectation that will be but it’ll be beneficial to a wider group of people but I like having specific people in mind I write sometimes with them they tell me if it was useful they don’t they give me suggestions for making it better if I was writing to a
(17:43) community or was doing something more broader than it said well then let’s have comments because we’re trying to create community like that’s the purpose in this case I’m writing for specific like this is of all about being useful to individuals I don’t need people to publicly affirm that it was useful not um like that’s bad stroke I guess it depends on like what it is that you’re trying to well you’re what it is you’re trying with that particular content like for me for instance when I write things
(18:10) on Facebook Facebook’s pretty much my number one spot where I’ll just dump like you know here’s a thousand words enjoy yeah I’ll dump something like that on there and then which is totally the wrong format for the social media network and I totally understand that whole thing but I do that because I’m putting that out there and hopes that somebody who’s had the exact same situation as me yeah and go like you know what you’re right and here’s what happened or you’re wrong and this is
(18:35) what happened or or oh my gosh this is this is the same sort of thing that’s happened to me recently let me kind of share this with you but I think I think if you’re not if you’re not writing that content in a way that’s asking people for a response or giving them a a call to action for that particular content then no one’s gonna learn I write stuff but I think if you are writing your stuff that way and you’re not given a comment box yeah they’re gonna be kind of upset and they’re gonna go well I
(19:02) really want to tell this person why they’re wrong or why the writer or how I did something a certain way I love that like that that seems like a keeper isn’t in case you’re not writing with a specific individual like you’re sending this open offer to like hey let’s engage and in that specific case the people who engage you’re beginning to start spark the baby seeds of what could be a community right oh yeah I’ve gone to bed woke up and then I had 500 comments on a Facebook post and then well I mean
(19:32) terrible but that’s like those people are all having the chance now to connect around this topic that you started or to trigger that conversation I call it social media bombs you just kind of like just chuck it and then it just kind of goes off and then you go okay I’m going to bed and you are that guy walking away with the explosion behind you literally like a moat good luck everybody I think what you just said though it exactly comes down to and what you also said Jonathan it comes down to what your
(20:04) goal is right all of this does all the voices that you’re making on your WordPress site but also in theory it you know in your your presence on social media should be you know for a reason there should be some sort of thing there and if it’s just personal that’s great but you know I’ve been talking a lot about this like Internet accountability lately for all sorts of reasons and you know it’s like I I don’t know like if I like got some memo or read some article like early on in my career but I was
(20:37) always like hey you guys know the Internet’s public right like you know people can might go back that stuff saved you know that’s there and it’s like I feel like so many people forgot that stuff is there and there’s all these comments and everyone’s just like it just goes into the ether and it doesn’t matter but you know not so much with social media comments but definitely with website comments like you can go back who knows what people commented on a WPT or an article or whatever like in the archives or
(21:05) whatever and that stuff is searchable and and you know you know so that’s a thing it’s like that’s all there and that’s even more accessible than Facebook and Facebook’s comments so we should be even more careful with our web comments our business profiles like I again I never in any way recommend my business clients use comments there are too much to moderate their reliability you piss people off by either moderating too much or moderating too little and then you have the liability of making
(21:35) sure another instance where you’re trying to make sure your clients are feeling you know nurtured and used properly you know cared for thank you you’re gonna put comments on your site set an expiration date like say like you know what I’m allowing comments for the next year after that no more comments on that old post I don’t want to go back to what old Jason said and now I have to like defend what Jason said in a state in which he was in back then now it’s like you know but I think you can extend that all
(22:09) commenting is closed on any posts three months after its published and then all comments on that post are deleted one year after its published box George turn a checkbox on in a jetpack man make it happen well I just have to start digging through archive.org to find all those nasty little comments that someone left and are now gone and you know I wasn’t gonna make quite such a direct allusion but sure yes that new year it’s was the you’re the pig this year no it’s the year of the milkshake duck okay oh
(23:07) you’re not familiar with a milkshake duck Oh bring it bring the memes well we’re doing that Jonathan age that I have personally adopted it and it it’s it it’s perhaps a little extreme but when I write publicly and privately like even in my own journals I write as if the person if I’m writing about a person as if they would read it someday and like so I’m when I’m discussing things internally with team members when we’re dealing with issues like I I’m writing as if like it’s not always pretty but I
(23:47) take that mental check of like what if the person I’m writing about where to read this right now am I still happy with what I’m saying absolutely frequently recent years I’ve won the blood not it is this idea of let me remember that there is an actual human on the other side of this right right like so right as if I was talking to the person in person what would I say if I was face to face with them right now next to them to see a ton of disconnect is people like forget there’s an actual human on the other side of this isn’t
(24:24) just a box you can throw out your feeling into you can and we many of us do but there’s real people on the other side of this and picture them think of them as you’re doing okay sometimes they’re also BOTS sometimes they’re not real people but if we’re talking about you know the WordPress community hopefully for the most part they’re real people although maybe also BOTS I don’t really say just to detail the phrase milkshake duck comes from a tweet by pixelated boat on Twitter from 2016
(24:55) in which he tweeted quote the whole internet loves milkshake duck a lovely duck that drinks milkshakes five seconds later we regret to inform you the duck is racist yeah now let’s just start not doing that to political candidates and then we’ll be good I think the point here is one really the point here is not that just like with the rest of the internet it’s not that one thing is bad or that comments are bad or that comments are good or that whatever it’s what’s what are you using them for what
(25:34) is your purpose are you a business who’s using them to have discussions about important topics that contribute to your bottom line are you a person who wants to create these discussions in society and you know have a cultural open of that cultural discussion are you just wanting to connect personally with people and you know strengthen your community and your friendships or what are you doing and that shapes how you should be engaging so we say there’s engagement but that doesn’t you don’t engage the same way with everybody yeah
(26:07) in the same thing and and I think that we oftentimes in the internet get very like paint it all with one brush you know hey are you quoting Hamlet at us now 20 Hamlet oh there’s nothing either good or bad but thinking makes us Oh totally look at us today we’re so literary Dorcas feeling very media tastic just wondering okay but i would like to point out that in terms of technical stuff using facebook comments is like super dated because no one necessarily wants to be logged into facebook and you shouldn’t be forcing someone to use a an
(26:53) avenue that they may or may not be using if they’re in facebook they should use facebook comments if they’re not in facebook they probably don’t want to be in facebook so force them to do that that’s my take but there is no internet there’s just the Facebook that there is there is no Facebook there wasn’t internet we’re just viewed it through AOL keywords golden time hey Brad you three I know you’re out there somewhere alright folks I want to say thank you very much for hanging out with us today
(27:27) if you want to subscribe to this you can you was a is a keyword WP water cooler on AOL and you can forget us here I wanna say thank you all for coming out and hanging out with us watch this at all the different social media networks that we stream this stuff on we really appreciate that and press you have you know if you have something that you want to say about this particular topic there’s there’s a comic box somewhere leave a comment below I’m sorry F DS Facebook if you’re on our website but we also have YouTube and you
(27:53) have to have YouTube in order to leave a comment over there too so on YouTube without YouTube why [Music]

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5 responses to “EP308 – How we use comments on our WordPress websites”

  1. Tim Avatar

    Here, have a comment.

  2. Lennart C Avatar

    And my axe! Wait. I mean my like ????










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