When WordPress was first birthed, it was described firstly as a blog platform with comments. A way to create a blog quickly and easily. However as the evolution of WordPress progressed it has moved away from that first definition and moved towards CMS, and now even towards a platform. Along the way, comments have been a thing that have lost priority as more and more websites don’t need them, and some of the most popular free plugins remove them.
Jason from Postmatic says absolutely. In the early days comments were important to get engagement going on your blog / site. Anyone could come to your site, read what you wrote, and could start a conversation with your content. As it took a back burner, many third-party players became very popular (Disqus, LiveFire, etc.). With those options not as great as they used to be (no longer in business, or mandatory paid options), we are now circling back and focusing on how to make our current comment system better.
If you are going to put the effort into creating content on your site…to not not engage your readers in conversation based around the content you put so much effort into is leaving a lot of money on the table – Jason
When it comes to sites like Tom McFarlin’s, the site continuously ranks high for technical keywords because of the content originally, but maintaining ongoing conversations around that content keeps the post at the top of the results.
Josh P of CalderaWP points out that a great thing about comments is that a lot of the time it just clarifies something that may not be clear. This is great because it allows the author to come back and clarify more clearly for future readers.
Starting conversation on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter is a good way to bring people back to your article, however ultimately you want people to comment on your content on your site because you then own the conversation and the content of that conversation. What is the the biggest issue though? Out of the box WordPress is not capable of some of the commenting power, or keeping up with the conversation as well as social media, particularly Facebook, is.
Another sore point with WordPress and comments is the settings. The language that is on the screen “email me” for example, doesn’t take into account who is actually changing the settings. This again comes back to where WordPress originated from, and the lack of updates to the comment system. Comments and “discussion” should be a lot easier to manage and even the settings built in now, easier to understand.
For an audit of the screen and what each one does, check out Jason’s audit on Replyable’s blog.