Last post, I included this line when discussing how to create News items in Sitefinity CMS:
Universal News/Blog Post Comments Policy: Do not allow comments on any post unless you’re prepared to deal with them.
This is a one-sentence encapsulation of a big question: What do we do about comments on our website? That’s what today’s post will address.
Why You Must Address Comments
Comments became a popular feature with the rise of blogs. People could add their own thoughts to a blog post–joining the conversation with the author and other readers. This made the conversations very powerful…a power which continues to attract. We’ve gotten used to leaving comments whenever we agree/disagree/want to add/want to yell at/give links/ask for links.
In recent years, the ability to add comments has expanded beyond blog posts. Now you can comment on news articles, images, and even webpages themselves. Sitefinity, and many other Content Management Systems out there, allow readers to leave comments on every content block, News item, Blog Post, and a couple other places!
This is why you must address comments when making or adding to a website. With every piece of content, you must ask yourself: “Do we want comments on this?”
If You Can Dedicate Time to Comments, Allow Them. If Not, Don’t.
If you allow comments, you will need to dedicate someone’s time to two main comment duties:
- Managing comment spam
- Replying to legitimate comments
Comment spam is rampant among blogs. WordPress has an entire section of plugins<> dedicated to keeping spam comments off of websites. Sitefinity does not, but you can still manage comments from within the CMS.
In Sitefinity 6.x, comments are found attached to individual news & blog posts. From each item you can allow or disallow a spam comment. (Yes, that means page-by-page comment spam management.) Of course, you can disable comments on each item when you create it, just by unchecking the “Allow comments” box.
In Sitefinity 7.x, comments have their own management page: Under “Content” in the Dashboard, look under the Discussions header for Comments.
You receive email notices when new comments are posted. If spam is rampant, these can fill your inbox. Which is why having one place to get rid of spam comments en masse is a welcome addition to Sitefinity!
(It is also possible to use the Akismet anti-spam service to automatically filter out spam comments.)
Dealing with spam comments shouldn’t take much time. Replying to legitimate comments however, might. People will ask questions. Challenge your positions. Give you links which may extend the topic of discussion. And so on.
(Most) Legitimate comments deserve a response. From a live person. Actually addressing their question/commentary. This takes time to do. Time out of a worker’s day.
If you’re prepared to have employees take time out of their day to respond to comments, then allow them. If you can’t spare anyone for more than a moment, then turn comments off.
Advantage of Disabling Comments: No spam to deal with, no time spent on responses.
Disadvantage of Disabling Comments: No interaction with readers. Readers cannot respond on topics they enjoy or want to learn more about.
How to Enable/Disable Comments in Sitefinity CMS
The best practice when it comes to comments is: Allow them on News items and blog posts, but don’t allow them on content blocks/parts of webpages. This restricts the conversation to places where readers are most likely to post constructive comments. Which also minimizes the time needed for writing responses.
How do you disable comments in Sitefinity? It’s very simple. Here’s how.
Click “News” in the Content menu. Click to select any news item (or create a new one).
Toward the bottom of the News Item window, under “More options” you’ll see the Allow Comments checkbox. I’ve highlighted it below.
(The screenshot comes from Sitefinity 7.0, but the location is the same in 6.x-based websites.)
Once you save the post, comments are either enabled (if you checked the box) or disabled (if you didn’t). This method works the same for creating a News item, blog post, or content block.
What Will Your Comment Policy Be?
We have one Web Development client who disables comments for News items, but allows them for blog posts. Another client who does the opposite. A third client who disables comments all across their site. And so on.
Where you allow comments on your website is up to you. Try the Universal Comments Policy out – if you can spare the time to allow & respond to readers’ comments, it can benefit you in many ways. If not, make sure to uncheck that box!