Allowing Comments On Your Website

Do you need direct visitor feedback on your products, goals, or ideas? Enabling website commenting may be the right solution for you.

thumbs upIf you've taken the first big step, and are maintaining your website yourself, you may be wondering what comes next. For many websites, the answer is gathering website user feedback.

Obtaining web-based user feedback once meant using complicated forms, prompting emails, or message boards. Not any more.

One of the most popular ways to accept comments is by enabling a feedback form on your web pages. Many Content Management Systems (CMS), like Movable Type have commenting built right in to the program. In the case of Movable Type, there is a simple checkbox at the bottom of your entry editing screen that says "Allow Comments."

Putting a check-mark in the "Allow Comments" box is not an easy decision, and it's not right for every company, person, or piece of content. Use the following as a guide to understanding when to enable commenting on your website.

Do Allow Comments If...
» You need immediate, targeted feedback on a specific page or website entry.
If you create a page about new features in a product revision, comments give you a quick snapshot in terms of enthusiasm for the features or areas you may have missed.

» You want to engage an ongoing dialog with visitors on a topic.
Need to know how your visitors use your product or service? Ask an open ended question and see how they respond.

» You want to "poll" your audience.
Do your users want a certain feature? Ask, and they will answer.

Do Not Allow Comments If...
» You need to control your message.
Comments sometimes take the discussion off-topic or introduce viewpoints that counter the initial content.

» The addition of comments will not enhance your content.
Sometimes, for example on a contact page, having comments enabled would be pointless. Same for staff biographies or a product image gallery.

» You do not have time to maintain comments.
Know that not all comments will be useful. Some may be inappropriate or outright spam. You need to invest time to maintaining your comments so that they are as useful to your visitors as your main content.

When determining how and when to accept comments, it's important to realize that commenting systems are not the same. Some systems allow for excellent spam protection, others have none. Some systems allow you to "register" commenters for your site, while others allow anyone to post. Weigh these items carefully, and choose a system that works best for you.

If you do decide to enable commenting on your website, do so sparingly. Reserve it for selected weblog posts or technical articles, for example. It will save time in maintenance and also make the comments received more valuable.