The ability to comment on each post is one distinct feature of blogs. Comments provide an additional dimension: interaction. This interaction can be between blogger and reader as well as reader to reader. As such, blog comments play an essential role in the success of a blog.
Let’s look at this role – why are blog comments important? Try visiting some of the most popular blogs in the Web today. Whether you look at blogs with an international scope, or more localized blogs, you will see that the most popular ones have LOTS of comments linked to each post. This is because being able to start or join a “conversation” about a particular topic – that which is contained the blog post, usually – is what makes blogs interesting for people. Even if the comments are not so positive, the fact that your post has created a discussion is enough to make you make your mark.
Another thing that bloggers have to realize is that blog comments can have an impact that extends to beyond the blog itself. Those readers (who are probably bloggers as well) who leave comments in a blog will probably link back to that post in their own blogs. It is easy to see that this can attract new readers to the blog in question.
Now let’s look at some technical issues that you may have to consider when it comes to comments. Blog comments may be presented either chronologically or in a “threaded” manner. The former view simply shows comments based on the time that they were posted while the latter shows comments which are related to each other – just like a thread in a forum. The chronological view is simple – all the reader has to do is to scroll down to see all the comments. However, the threaded view provides the additional advantage of clumping replies together, making the conversation more coherent.
The layout of blog comments may also be tweaked, and the options will depend on the blogging platform that is being used. Comments may be shown in the most straightforward manner – a line by line presentation of information (Commenter’s name, time and date, comment, etc.). Alternatively, comments may be shown in two columns, with the commenter’s details in the left and the main comment in the right. Sometimes, it is possible to use three columns.
The blogger has the option to set restrictions regarding comments. The “loosest” setting is to allow comments from anyone and everyone without any restrictions at all. This may prove to be problematic if spammers start messing with the blog, though. The strictest setting is to have people register before they can leave comments. A happy medium is to allow people to leave comments without having to register but requiring certain information to be inputted. Usually, this is done using “captcha,” or code that is automatically generated, which the commenter has to manually input. Furthermore, the blogger can choose to view comments and approve them first before publishing. This provides more control over what is shown.
The bottom line is this: comments are an integral part of a blog, but the blogger can employ measures to make the most of comments while at the same time make it easy enough for the readers.