Do Comments Have Value in the Changing Blogosphere?


One of the biggest concerns that IFB members share is “how do I increase comments?  How do I get more of them? How do I make my readers more engaged?”  And you all ask this question with good reason– comments are, without a doubt, one very important metric of a blog's success.

That being said–the dynamic of comments had changed drastically over the last few years.  In the past, comments were a source of conversation, and you still see this on many large, older sites.  The comments section worked similarly to a message board, with the readers (and author) interacting to share ideas.

Now? It's not unusual to visit a site and find the comments section turned off or to find the comments filled with “great outfit!” or “great post! Please visit my site!”  And it's no longer common to see the blogger respond to her readers anymore.

How comments impact our success:

If a blogger publishes a post, and no one comments, does the post exist? Does it have value?

Rest assured, that post exists, and only time may tell what kind of value it has.  That being said, many of us gauge the value of our posts by the reaction it receives: do people comment? Is it retweeted? Do people engage with the link on Facebook or share it?

I've worked with many brands who look at comments and interaction as the primary indicator of success: if you run a giveaway, they don't want multiple ways for readers to enter. They want to see a high comment count.  They're not looking at how much traffic you drive through to their websites– they're looking for how engaged your readers are with your opinion of the brand.

And all those comments (or lack of comments)? They determine whether the brand is interested in working with you again.

Engagement through Social Media…

Many bloggers are placing less emphasis on developing strong communities via their comments, but instead are focusing that attention on developing audiences through social media sites: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

These sites should be tools to boost your blog's presence and voice– not fight for your readers attention.

What are the benefits to this over having the conversation on your blog though? By promoting engagement through social media, you're losing: traffic to your site; the ability to analyze metrics; longevity– a Twitter conversation eventually ends, and then it's difficult to find it; and, your audience' attention span.  These sites should be tools to boost your blog's presence and voice– not fight for your readers attention.

There's a significant value of bringing the conversation to where your readers are, but there's an equally big part of finding where your readers are and bringing them to YOU.

What's the future of comments?

There are many days I think the future of the internet depends on shutting down comment sections (especially on larger news sites!). On many sites they're become inflammatory places full of hate, ignorance, and judgement.

And then you get places like IFB… the comments are places of valuable insight and shared experience.  There are voices that help make the community a better place.

I anticipate it will become more and more difficult to get readers to spend their precious time actually responding.

Internet culture may be quick to adopt and adapt in many ways, but that doesn't meant that we're quick to give up on tried and true.  I don't anticipate the value of comments going anyplace, though I anticipate it will become more and more difficult to get readers to spend their precious time actually responding.

So…what do we do?

I do believe that bloggers can turn the tide and impact how people use the internet.  That being said– those that closed off comments in favor of social media only are still being criticized for it.

Do we evolve and encourage other forms of communication and engagement, leading way to an abandonment of comments?  Do we work harder to encourage commenting and engagement through all platforms?

What do you think the future of commenting is?  What efforts are you taking to increase comments and engagement with your readers?

Do you believe that commenting is a dying part of blogging, that it needs a revitalization, or that other options should be pursued?


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42 Responses

  1. CynthiaCM

    I’ve tried a lot of different ways to get comments, but I don’t feel that it’s working for me. I still keep a commenting section open, just in case, but I’m beginning to wonder if my site is not the type to get comments (which sometimes offers a more “alternative” view on some topics). However, not getting comments is sometimes seen by brands and other organizations as negative – they judge you not only based on traffic, but your interaction with people.


    • Ashley "Ashe" Robison

      Cynthia — it’s funny you mention some types of sites just don’t receive comments. With the new blog I created, it’s mostly shopping driven & fueled by SEO. The people coming to the site are looking for something in particular, and as a result, aren’t likely to leave comments. So I just removed them!

      I do think that for some sites… it’s just not a necessary component. But that’s a really personal decision for each blogger to make, based on their goals and desires for their site. If working with brands is important to you, then comments may have more value for reaching those goals…

  2. Ruth

    I think you are right, When i publish a post and i don’t see comments, i feel neglected even if the page stats reads 107 views…

  3. Tornow

    (First, I agree that many people only comment so that they can link their own blog below. I am guilty of this, but so are most bloggers. I understand.)

    I struggle to get comments on my blog. I think comments are important and couldn’t be replaced by social media; in my mind, blogging is already social media. I want to know my readers’ opinions, questions, and have a conversation with them. Why would I use Twitter to do that when we could say more on a blog? The forum system of commenting makes it easier and more organized.

    Blogging has social element to it. Yes, I use my blog as a creative outlet but it is also a social outlet as well. Vloggers don’t seem to have this problem as much; YouTubers generate a lot of authentic comments. What is different about their medium that makes people want to comment more?

    Tornow and Bing

    • Krystal

      I agree with you here. Vloggers do seem to have more engaged audiences than bloggers. But, I think that is because of the visual element. Many more people are visual people and reading something may not resonate as well as hearing someone say it. It’s sort of like how a book may only sell 500,000 copies, but if the right person reads it and turns it into a movie…it can make millions of dollars.

  4. Jane

    I find the conversation on comments interesting because most of the sites that have alot of comments have comments of no value. Much like you mentioned above they are alot of “cute outfit” or hateful words as opposed to answer the question or commenting on the actual words in the post.

    For some reason there is this idea that comments = traffic which isn’t true. It doesn’t even mean that there is engagement. I mean how does “cute outfit” after “cute outfit” equal engagement?

    Personally most of the people who comment on my site (as on most of the sites I read) are other bloggers. But ALOT of my actual traffic is from readers. So fewer comments unless a particular post was exactly what they were looking for.

    Ultimately my goal is less about comments (although genuine comments are always great) and more about click thrus…

    • Ashley "Ashe" Robison

      “For some reason there is this idea that comments = traffic which isn’t true. It doesn’t even mean that there is engagement. ”

      I think this is people holding onto old values, to be honest. 3 years ago, the number of quality comments were an indication of traffic. And I think some sites still showcase this (Already Pretty & Wardrobe Oxygen come to mind) — they have active comment sections with readers (not just bloggers) who share opinions. But it takes a lot of work to create that kind of community, and it seems much harder to build or sustain nowadays if that culture isn’t there!

  5. Laura C.

    Although I LOVE getting comments sometimes it does frustrate me. No matter where I write ‘Do not ask to follow each other’ I will end up with comments like “cute! You wanna follow each other” aghh!! At the same time the comments are a great way to get to know other bloggers thoughts and opinions and the best way to let people know you stopped by their blog.
    Laura. xx

  6. olga

    I think comments are valuable. Not the number of them but the content, “quality” comments – that’s what important. Receiving no comments with some page views does feel sad, but I don’t know if “one word” comments or just an offer to follow each other is better? I doubt comments will die in the future – in this case the whole idea of blogging might lose its point.
    I love reading IFB posts – always to the point and magically just in the right moment (at least for me) ;o)

  7. Alison @ Get Your Pretty On

    Great post! This is something that I’ve been mulling over a lot lately. My blog is nine months old but fares pretty well with comments. Two of my weekly posts average over 50 comments each. There are a few reasons for this.

    1. I have always commented thoughtfully on other blogs and built relationships from day one.
    2. I’ve never asked anyone to follow me back, major turn off.
    3. I always respond back to each comment, either by visiting their blog (if they are a blogger) or sending a personal e-mail (if they are not). I do not comment back to them on my blog itself because a commenter doesn’t always see that. (Unless they are asking a question that would be helpful to answer in the public forum, even then, I still send them a personal e-mail along with commenting back on my blog).
    4. I engage them by asking a question at the end of each post and encouraging them to tell me their answer in the comments.

    Comments are important and definitely build loyalty and community. My social media is used primarily to direct readers over to my blog, not to build communities outside of it.

    • Shira

      Alison, I’ve absolutely recognized that about you and it’s so refreshing and sweet of you:)

    • Annette

      I couldn’t agree more with Alison’s comment.
      My blog is only 6 months old but I can say it is a very lively blog with a good number of high quality comments.
      Our target group 40+ is a very loyal community with a lot of interaction. I think I never ever received a single “follow you-follow me” comment from that group.
      Link ups, recommendations, guest posts, quality feedbacks on other blogs and last but not least a clear message help engaging current and new readers.

      Lady of Style

  8. Kathleen Lisson

    Most of my blog posts are read because of Google search. I have a circle of loyal blog followers and commenters, but the majority of hits are from Google.

    When I look for information on the internet, I look at the whole blog post to get a sense of how friendly and competent the blogger is. Are there comments? Does she answer them in a way that provides additional information beyond what was initially covered in the post itself?

    I feature advice that I have found in other blogs on my blog. I think that builds blogger friendships and inspires commenters to add something of value to the comment section.

    I blog about hat fashion – a very scary piece of the fashion industry where ladies cannot rely on trends to make sure that they look ‘right.’ Having a stream of comments on an outfit post or seeing fellow bloggers that found my advice useful helps to build trust.



  9. Andrew

    I always notice when I read Man Repeller, a lot of the comments are generic and then link to the commenter’s blog at the end. It’s difficult for bloggers, because we all want to know whether someone really liked the post, or just wants to promote themselves.

  10. Melissa Cuentas

    Even if my blog is small right now, I usually don’t get comments from others bloggers but A LOT of the same people that I actually call them my quality readers, and they really do enjoy my blog posts. I don’t like visiting other blogs back, by this I meant, commenting because once they reply back to your blog they just and only say: “thanks for your comment on my blog” or nice post… follow me back? or the famous one: “let’s follow each other??” that once you follow them, they unfollow you back. HA!, so I think those comments are somehow spam, or at least that’s my personal philosophy, because not all but some bloggers do this and what I do it is just delete them, because I want someone that appreciate my post and can comment about what I really wrote and so we can keep a conversation going. I don’t know, in my opinion if it keeps being like this, I have no idea what it will happen, maybe it will have no sense?. But on the other side, I check my stats and views and they’ve increased and I guess I just have quiet readers sometimes, last week on one of my blog posts, I posted something for my boys readers because I’m sure I have them, where they could follow one of my boards on Pinterest to find some menswear/streetstyle inspiration, and I have to say after I clicked “publish”, 5 minutes later, some of my boys readers started following me. But back to the topic, I don’t know what it will happen.. as I’ve just said, I will have no sense at all, they might disappear or they might become as a spam if people keep commenting, “let’s follow each other”, etc..

    Great article! Hope one day I can attend to one of your IFB conferences! I really love this website and everything you all write here, the articles, advices, everything! XO <3 🙂

  11. Lisa

    Very interesting topic, Ashe! I’ve been blogging since 2007 and have definitely seen a drop in comments in recent years. Before social media took off and it was a blogger prerequisite to have FB, Twitter, Instagram, etc. tied to one’s blog, I could expect a blog post’s comment count to reflect about 5-10% of its traffic. Now the reactions usually come via Twitter or not at all, unless I’m running a giveaway that specifically asks people to leave comments.

    Because the comments count has fallen, these days I’ll take the time to respond to each comment I receive. It’s more manageable to do that now than before.

    • Ashley "Ashe" Robison

      Lisa, like you, I began in ’07, and I definitely think that if I were to compare the number of comments to stats, that I’d see a similar change!

      That being said– I also relate about how much easier it is to respond to comments. I know the value of doing so moreso now, and I appreciate that I can take the time to do it more often.

  12. Krystal

    I agree with everyone here. There are so many different factors that go into how many comments you have and of what quality. It’s all but impossible to stop the spam comments without making things harder for readers who do want to leave meaningful comments. I am actually surprised by the amount of meaningful comments and conversation on my blog. My blog is quite new, but I am in the fashion journalism industry and had heard through research about how comment sections are dying out. This wasn’t something I expected to have a lot of. I wanted to have a comment section just in case, but was surprised when my readers actually began to use it. I get more conversation on Twitter than on my actual blog, but I don’t mind because it is driving traffic. People see my conversations on Twitter and become curious to hear more. That’s one of the benefits to having a blog that is a bit of a wild child lol!

    Great Post!
    Stick Out!

  13. Shug Avery

    I have noticed that even on a famous blog such as the one of Tamu McPherson, All The Pretty Birds, there were more and more spams whereas before there wasn’t. A phenomenon I find strange and unexplainable.
    Shutting down comments is not a good idea in my opionion, it is going against what blogging is : a space of exchange. On my blog I never got something like 50 comments but the one I get are always meaningful and show my readers do take time to read what I wrote. They don’t comment on every post but when they do I know it is because they really want to, obviously I do get some spam here and there. My stats tell me I have more silent readers but sometimes surprisingly they show me they are reading my content and enjoying it by sending me mails .
    As for social media I don’t feel they are killing the conversation already existing in blogs if they are used to help you produce new content. For example, after getting all the informations I needed on the net, in magazines or books I often ask my readers on Facebook what they think, and most of the time I got really interesting answers that helped me structured my thoughts and get out of a writer’s block.

    Thank you for this great article !


  14. Winston & Willow

    I must be honest, when I first started my blog I didn’t realise the whole culture in fashion blogging that “if you comment on my blog, i’ll comment on yours”. Although I get a steady amount of comments on each blog post, I have noticed that as I comment less and less on other bloggers pages due to me working more with brands and not having the time, my comments are slowly decreasing.

    I have to make sure that I put aside an hour or so every few days to comment on blogs just to keep my blog comments up which frustrates me a bit. Although I am trying to focus more on the traffic coming to my blog, it is a little daunting when you put up a really good post and the comments don’t come as quickly as you hope just because you haven’t been commenting on others blogs.


    • Ashley "Ashe" Robison

      “I have noticed that as I comment less and less on other bloggers pages due to me working more with brands and not having the time, my comments are slowly decreasing. ”

      Charlotte, I’ve noticed similar things (though my ability to comment typically comes from working full time in addition to my own blogs and writing for IFB). But I do feel that exchange is often lost as a result of time.

  15. KnivesLiao

    I want to thank you for a very thoughtful and timely post about this topic. As I slowly learn about the etiquette and strategies to establishing your presence in the blogosphere, I, too, have wondered what the value of commenting provides to a blog’s worth especially after seeing the type of the comments other blogs (both new and well-established) get these days. Also, who is commenting? Is it the real audience you are trying to reach or is it other bloggers trying to do the same thing I am doing? Before embarking in my own blog (and taking it seriously), I was a reader and a “silent” one at that. I do not get a lot of comments but I get positive and encouraging feedback via email. It makes me think that most people do not publicly comment. My conclusion is that it is difficult to define value and social presence in a qualitative manner consistently; therefore, there is merit to quantitative measures like the number of comments but they should be considered in conjunction with other statistics to give multiple perspectives. As for the future of commenting, I think there will be some form but less “anonymous” due to the situations you stated above. Thank you for always providing very helpful and insightful topics to aspiring bloggers like myself 😉

  16. Jamila

    I feel comments are very important but not always… some people love to lurk and read your posts everytime but they just may not be the type to say anything.

    Also, communication is a two-way process. If bloggers want people to leave comments, they have to engage the readers by giving them a reason to talk e.g. ask a question, request feedback on a topic etc.

    Another trend I’ve noticed is that people are now only leaving comments on blog posts when there is a contest of giveaway involved. It’s not uncommon anymore to visit a fashion blog and see many comments on the post with a giveaway while the ordinary posts have none.

  17. Sheree Cherie

    I don’t think comments are…. Maybe it’s because my blog is relatively new… i’m honored and flattered when i get a comment, but whenever i do my first reaction is always “Seriously, you actually commented? wow that’s nice of you”. I never actually expect them and i’m surprised to get even one throughout my entire blog. I suppose it’s normal for me at this stage….

  18. Retro Chick

    I have more “proper” readers now than ever, ie ones that are subscribed in some way rather than just stumbleupon or Google traffic, but comments have decreased and even asking questions at the end of a post etc doesn’t seem to have any impact. It’s been the bane of my life, I never understand why some blogs with similar traffic and content get lots of comments and mine so few! I think if people want to genuinely interact they use social media these days mostly as they know that you will see an alert and more likely respond, and also that they will get a notification of the response back.

    For WordPress there is a plug in called Social that pulls in twitter and Facebook comments, retweets and likes, which I like as it keeps the interaction with the post visible on the blog.

    I have asked about comments in the past, and I got a flood of comments saying things along the lines of “I love your blog, I can’t wait for the new posts each day, but I just don’t comment unless there’s something really important to say”, so maybe people are just consuming rather than interacting more?

  19. zwitsal mae

    i think comments are important, and as members of ifb, we should help each other by commenting on each others posts… We could build a thread where in we are allowed to post 1 link of our posts per week and all who joins will have to comment on the participants blog post link. we can have it like ifb weekly comment roundup or something

  20. Jangsty

    Thank you for this valuable post. Ironically I love the comments on this blog and this what brought me here in first place.
    I think the number of comments are really decreasing since our life gets busier and busier. As for me, I just read all my RSS subscriptions on a run to work and really do not have strength to comment on all of it. And I am doing it now, since I am at home on a sick leave 🙂 so now I have some spare time for a thoughtful reading.
    I think your readers’ feedback is always important and this is what brings your blog forward. But with all the social media nowadays it is not so important if you get the feedback via Facebook likes or retweets or comments. It is valuable in itself that readers react and find time even to do such small things.
    Of course, I value comments on my blog and try to engage readers to discuss topics and share their views, because their comments give me motivation to keep going.

  21. Paige

    I’ve tried different things to generate more comments and conversation about my blog. For example, asking a question or for thoughts or opinions. I rarely get a comments, If I do, I try to go the person’s blog and leave a comment back on theirs. When I comment on other’s blogs, sometimes they reply to that comment on their blog. It’s difficult to determine if your blog is doing well if no one has anything to say about it.

  22. Gemma

    I feel the comments section still has value if the comments are genuine, to an extend I can except a comment saying “great post” or “cute outfit” if they are honest but most of the time its just used as a tool to promote there own blog rather than thank you.
    Personally I spend a lot of time writing my blog and if someone comments I know that not only have they taken the time to read what I wrote but also comment on it.

  23. Elkee

    My blog is very small, some of the comments I get are either insightful to me or the commenter (usually they ask for more details on a product or garment or they recommend something I may like). Some of my comments are also spammy but rarely do people leave their URLs. My favorite are the people that have found my blod through instagram 🙂

  24. Nasreen

    Comments mean and will always mean a lot to me. I didn’t even consider it as having no value until now but I wouldn’t agree with that. It’s definitely hard to get viewers to care enough to comment but they are there and I love hearing what they have to say.

    Also, I think for personal style blogs, lots of comments shouldn’t be expected (unless you’ve made it big) because viewers come to your site for outfit inspiration and don’t need to necessarily write their thoughts, which could just be, “oh thats really nice! I might try that”

  25. Noemi

    I’m always glad when somebody leaves a comment on my blog, but when I read “cute”, “nice blog” under a post… well, it’s not the type of comment I would like to receive. It shows that the person who left it just wanted to leave the link to her blog.
    The comment that I can’t stand is “would you like to follow each other?”
    As I wrote in another comment (the one about bloggers/spammer), when I take a look at big blogs, like The Blonde Salad or Fashion Toast, most of the comments are “great outfit”, “You’re so beautiful”, “There’s a giveaway on my blog” and also comments by haters.
    I personally don’t like when I can’t leave a comment (for example on “Sea of shoes”) because it makes me feel that the blogger doesn’t care about the readers.
    Of course I would like to have more comments, but I must say that the most successful post of my blog doesn’t even have one. It’s about The Great Gatsby and Tiffany, it receive visits everyday, but nobody left a comment, so far. I wrote about Chanel CC cream, too. Successful post but no comments, too.
    What can I say? I understand that if there’s no comment, people (and brands) could think that a blog has no traffic. But it’s not that true.

  26. Angela Erlandson

    I guess I approach blogs more like a consumable medium, e.g., print and television. Neither put the content out there and then expect interactive feedback. I follow several blogs and have never been compelled to leave a comment. I wouldn’t have anything to say besides, basically, I like what you are doing, keep doing it. That is why I take more stock in traffic numbers. I would rather see a large number of site visits, than 300 cute outfit comments.

  27. Lauren // thepearshape

    An interesting shift i’ve been seeing in the way my readers engage with me is through email. I get more reader emails a day than comments and I LOVE it. I feel like it takes more time to write up an email to me than follow me on twitter/facebook or leave a comment and I am so appreciative of each one. I think genuine engagement in that way is going to start replacing commenting forsure, and even social media

    Lauren //

  28. English-Exile

    I, like many others struggle to get comments. However what I have noticed is that my blogsposts with mainly pictures and little writing get more comments than my posts where I’m just discussing or describing something without much visual. I think this is a little sad as perhaps it shows all people are becoming interested in is looking at pretty pictures and as an English graduate I can’t help but want to write a lot on all my blogposts which unfortunately doesn’t seem to be recognised.

  29. atleast

    To my mind, commenting is the best way to promote your blog so it’s no wonder that people are using this tool to the fullest. It is really sad that comments have turned to two-word-sentences but on the other hand it is most of the times difficult to say something very deep and philosophic about a normal outfit post 😉 (which doesn’t mean that I’m only writing three words).

  30. Chelsey

    I started my blog in ’08 and there was definitely a different vibe back then. I also wonder if blogs receive less comments because of the way readers are accessing each site. For example, I’m pretty busy during the week (working full-time and doing blog maintenance part-time), so I tend to read my blogroll in mass form, usually through Bloglovin. With that site, clicking to read the post doesn’t load the section to comment, so it takes a little extra click-throughs to finally reach the full site and leave a comment. For me, that’s the site’s one drawback, especially now that Google Reader/GFC will be going away. IFB and CollegeFashion are the only two blogging sites that I have saved as bookmarks, everything else is read through Bloglovin. Hopefully they can do something to modify the ‘like’ option and make it more interactive.

    • Chelsey

      I’ve actually just clicked over to Bloglovin on my computer and it looks like it’s only when I’m mobile the whole comment section won’t load haha.

  31. Aida

    I definitely feel that commenting needs to be revitalised. Not just commenting but actually leaving behind something meaningful. Sometimes I get comments like Hi love your blog. please follow me. i’m following you. Then I feel really pressured to follow back a blog I might not be interested especially when I see they have copied and pasted that comment across the blogosphere. But sometimes I get comments where I can see that the person has really got what I posted and I get so excited that people get me and it’s that which makes me want to click on their profile and check out their blog. Comments are also a great form of encouragement. Viva the comment!