Why a Post Went From 93 to 206 Comments in 5 Minutes

By Mary Jaksch

From 93 to 206 comments? Really?
Yes, I’ll show you exactly why and how it happened further down in this post.

Comments make blogs interactive. They involve the readers in the creative process. In this post I’ll show you how to optimize comment settings on WordPress.

I’ve made a screencast video for you that explains how to set the various comment settings, and how to tweak them.

But after I had finished producing the video, I stumbled upon a secret that can double your comments numbers. So, watch the video below, and then read on. If you are reading this in an email, go here to watch the video: http://www.screencast.com/t/SGKLbQSr

How a blog post went from 93 to 206 Comments in 5 minutes

As I said in the video, I’ve been using a plugin for threaded (or nested) comments, called WordPress Thread Comments. I love using threaded comments because it turns your comment area into a mini-forum where people can respond directly to each other.

When people used to ask me why I use the plugin WP Thread Comments instead of the built-in WordPress option for threading comments, I used to say, “Because it look nicer!” But that was not the real reason. The real reason was (ok – here’s confession time) because – I didn’t actually know where to find this WordPress function! So I googled “WordPress thread comments”, and found out how to do it.

Below is an image that shows where you can find the setting for threading comments on the WordPress Dashboard. Go to ‘Discussion’ in the sidebar and you will see this:

Where the arrow points to, is where you can turn on the threaded comments.

Here is how a threaded comments look with the pretty plugin “WordPress Thread Comments”

And here is what the same threaded comment looks like with the built-in WordPress option:

You can see that the threaded comment using the plugin looks a lot nicer. But – (and there is a big BUT) – there is a significant difference between the two ways of threading comments – and a reason why you shouldn’t use the plugin:

Your replies to comments aren’t counted when you use the plugin
Whereas if you use the built-in WP thread comments option, your comments are counted as well.

Here is how my comment count for my post Want to Be Fit or Even Ultra- Fit? Join the 8-Week Challenge looked when I was using the WP Thread Comments plugin:

And here is my comment count 5 minutes later, once I had deactivated the plugin and ticked the built-in WP comment option:

I was amazed to see the difference in comment count! It shows how a bit of technical knowledge can enhance a blog. By the way, the reason I love threaded comments is because it’s much easier to foster a real conversation on your blog.

I hope this post was useful to you. I want to follow on with another post on comments that discusses whether you should answer all comments, how to deal with spam, and handle trolls. And, most importantly, how to get more comments.

What are your questions relating to comments?
Please share them in the comments. Then I can pick them up and address them.

18 Responses to Why a Post Went From 93 to 206 Comments in 5 Minutes

  1. TrafficColeman November 15, 2010 at 7:11 am #

    Comment are important to me also..it let’s me know that my readers are engaged in my content..which makes me more productive in my writing..

    “TrafficColeman “Signing Off”
    TrafficColeman recently posted..Kidnapped Neil Patel For 20 Min – Interview

    • Mary Jaksch November 16, 2010 at 4:13 am #

      Yes, comments are important. In a recent interview with Leo Babauta, Darren Rowse of Problogger said that he got most of his blog post inspiration by reading the comments!

  2. Carol Tice November 15, 2010 at 11:02 am #

    Great post, Mary —

    I’m using Intense Debate for comments now. I like how its threads look even better. And it also counts replies, so my comment counts are higher, too. I don’t see why replies shouldn’t count as a comment! And it makes your site look happier and busier.
    Carol Tice recently posted..How I Write Quality Blog Posts- Fast- 5 Tips

    • Mary Jaksch November 16, 2010 at 4:15 am #

      I had a look at how Intense Debate looks on your blog and like it, Carol.

  3. Kate Wilson November 15, 2010 at 11:24 am #

    the idea of 93 comments alone was enough to make me read this post! I can hardly summon 5. I am a beginnner and don’t have so many readers but those that do read (and email me afterwards to say they enjoyed it) just won’t leave comments. I’ve tried many ways to encourage them and to make it easier – instructions, taking away identification, begging! But it doesn’t work. Obviously I need more readers too but if I can’t get those I have to write back then maybe there is just something wrong with my blog so that noone wants to say anything further. Having a bit of a down about it at the moment – the bootcamp inspired me but overwhelmed as well! I need to do a bit more work on it all I think. Best wishes for week 2 Kate

  4. Sandra Lee November 15, 2010 at 12:42 pm #

    Hi Mary,

    Thanks for this tip. I appreciate how you bring such a light-hearted spirit to your technical blogging challenges!

    I’m learning that comments ebb and flow. They were very vibrant for a period, but as people started taking digital sabbaticals this had an impact. It’s a lesson in remembering that everything is impermanent!

    Thanks for featuring one of my comments in your article. What a nice surprise!
    Sandra Lee recently posted..Sunday Reflection- Loving Awareness

    • Mary Jaksch November 16, 2010 at 4:17 am #

      I’m glad you enjoyed seeing your comments, Sandra. Why I got so many comments is a whole story in itself. I didn’t set out to write a post that would elicit so many comments. I just tried something new and weird :-)
      I’ll write about that soon here on VBN.

  5. Dia November 16, 2010 at 2:22 pm #

    Hi Mary,

    Thank you for this article. Comments are important for every blog, so the readers get engaged. Thanks for sharing
    Dia recently posted..How to be more productive in life

    • Mary Jaksch November 16, 2010 at 7:29 pm #

      Thanks, Dia. This post is really about setting up comments correctly. I’m not so sure that the headline signals that …. :-(

  6. J.D. Meier November 18, 2010 at 2:50 am #

    I like your point on fostering a conversation and a little nest can go a long way.

    • Mary Jaksch November 18, 2010 at 3:04 am #

      Thanks for joining the conversation, JD!

  7. Marci November 18, 2010 at 3:13 pm #

    I think I already have this turned on, but I will go check. I love the interaction and exchange of ideas, which is the main reason I turned my newsletter into a blog. The hard part is to keep writing even when there are no comments…

    I have one question about comments – what does it mean when I get a string of nonsenses as a comment? Are people able to use comments/trackbacks as spam? I don’t get it!
    Marci recently posted..Letting Kids Grow Up with 5 Steps

  8. Cherie Bell November 19, 2010 at 6:58 am #

    Thanks so much, Mary. Clear, clean, and easy to follow…my favorite kind of How To! I changed my comments so that they will nest nicely now, thank you very much.

    I do have a related question. One of my readers asked why she doesn’t get an email notification when another person makes a comment after hers. I am more than slightly tech-tarded and pretty new to managing my own blog on wordpress.com. So far I haven’t been able to figure out the problem. Do I need a special plugin for this?

    Any help would be very much appreciated!

    • Mary Jaksch November 19, 2010 at 1:26 pm #

      Hey Cherie, I went to visit your blog and it looks really nice! As to comment notification, it is a plugin (I’ll talk about it in the follow-up ‘comment’ post).
      There is a new one that looks really good:
      “Subscribe To Comments Reloaded 1.3”

      I use ‘Subscribe to Comments’ but this new edition looks better.

      Are you cool with uploading a new plugin? If not, ask here in a comment – and subscribe to the comment in order to get my answer :-)

  9. Sibyl - alternaview November 20, 2010 at 10:29 am #

    Mary: Thanks for the advice on comments and making sure you have all the settings correct in WP. It is always so helpful to see very easy to understand videos especially when you are not necessarily all that technically inclined like myself :) Who knew that one little checking of a box could double your comments and I am a big fan of the threaded comments. Great knowledge … thanks for passing it along.
    Sibyl – alternaview recently posted..What We Must Know For Sure – Certainty 2 Forgiveness is Sooo Not Overrated

  10. Cherie Bell November 20, 2010 at 11:55 am #

    Thanks again, Mary!

    I installed and activated “Subscribe to Comments Reloaded” through WordPress/Dashboard/Plugins/Add New. I don’t *think* I need to do any other code stuff for it to be active?

    Now, I’m trying to figure out how to get the little RSS icons on my main page…for both my blog feed and my comments feed. I tried to do it on widgets; and I still think that may be right place to get it done. But I can’t figure out where to find my RSS feed URLs?

    Tell me this gets easier!

    BTW – I’m in the A-List Blogger Club and you have become my hero. I so appreciate all the hard work you put in and everything that you’ve done to help us clueless newbies.

    And always w/humor and such good nature!

    You give me hope, Mary!

  11. Ricardo Bueno November 24, 2010 at 11:26 am #

    I try to answer every comment. Of course, that’s not always reasonable. I use disqus. So when a new comment comes in, if I can, I reply to it right away via the simple reply function in the email. If time permits and I’m in front of my computer, I’ll email any new commentators using eyejot.com (a quick 10 – 30 second personal welcome video email). I’ve found that that’s a great way to welcome people and get them engaged with the blog :-)

  12. Mary Jaksch November 24, 2010 at 12:27 pm #

    Hi Ricardo – I’ve just posted a comment on your beautiful blog. I’m keen to see the video :-)

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