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For Your Commenting Pleasure

Speech bubble

Image by Tim Morgan

I’ve upgraded the commenting system on this blog to make it easier and more fun to use. And hopefully more useful to you. There are now three new features:

1. E-mail alerts of follow-up comments on a post

When you leave a comment, if you check the following box before submitting it, then you will receive an e-mail alert next time someone (either me or another commenter) leaves a comment on the same post.

Switch on e-mail notifications

I love this feature when I find it on other blogs – it means I don’t have to remember to check back later and see whether the blogger or anyone else responded. It makes it much easier to have a real conversation via comments. It’s done with the magic of the Subscribe to comments plugin.

If you decide you no longer wish to receive alerts for that post, you can always switch them off – there will be a link in every e-mail alert that takes you to the page with the ‘off’ switch.

2. Your picture next to your comment (if you want it)

Have a look at the comments on the post about my Time Management for Creative People E-book. You’ll see that several commenters now have their picture next to their comment. How does this happen? I’ve installed the MyAvatar plugin, which means that if you have a MyBlogLog account, it will automatically display the image from your MyBlogLog profile and the image will hotlink to your profile page. If you’re not a MyBlogLog member but have a Gravatar portrait, it will show your Gravatar.

Silhouette of head and shoulders
If you see one of these silhouette images, it means you don’t have a MyBlogLog profile or Gravatar. If you’d like your picture to appear next to your comments, just visit Gravatar.com to sign up for a free account and upload your photo. Once you’ve done this, your picture will appear next to your comments on any blog with Gravatars enabled – such as Business of Design Online.

It’s up to you what kind of image you use. It could be a photo like these (click on the images to see who the commenters are):

Cat Robyn Bengt Steve

Or you could use something more funky or abstract, like Nela‘s Gravatar of one of her fabulous paintings:

Nela

Or how about using your logo, like Brian Wallace of Nowsourcing:
Nowsourcing logo

The only fly in the ointment for me is that MyAvatar is bringing up the old photo from my MyBlogLog profile, even though I uploaded my new photo days ago – so my brand recognition isn’t seamless yet! Anyone know why it’s doing this?

3. Your latest blog post after your comment

Finally, if you have a blog of your own and you check the following box when submitting your comment, the CommentLuv plugin will look for your blog feed and post a link to your latest blog post immediately under your comment.

Adding your latest blog post to your comment

When you click the ‘Submit Comment’ button, a link to your latest blog post should appear after your comment.

(N.B. it’s not perfect and doesn’t always find the feed, I’m afraid I’m not qualified to help with this, but you there’s a discussion about CommentLuv on the WordPress forums, which might be helpful.)

Hopefully this will increase your chances of other Wishful Thinking readers visiting your blog, to see what you’ve written. Of course, the more enticing your headline, the more chance someone will want to read your post – Brian Clark has some excellent advice on the art of writing Magnetic Headlines.

Thanks to David Airey for the inspiration

David
I got the idea for these changes from reading David Airey’s blog – David’s comments section is a model for other bloggers to follow, both technically and in his prompt and generous responses to commenters. He introduced me to these three plugins via his post on Top Five Essential WordPress Plugins and (typically) in the comments on his post about How to Stop Image Hotlinking and Bandwidth Theft.

Thanks David!

My unofficial comments policy

Some blogs have an official ‘comments policy’ describing what is/isn’t acceptable in comments left by readers. I’ve not felt the need to write one, given that 99.99% of you are so nice and respectful, even when disagreeing with me and among yourselves. Thank you, and long may it continue.

As for the 0.01% – as my friend Pete Black would say, If you’re just going to be abusive, remember it’s traditional to remain anonymous. Also try not to swear too much or you’ll get caught in the spam filter.

I’ll do my best to respond to all comments promptly. Sometimes I’m away on client business and it can take me a few days to catch up – so the e-mail alerts should be good to let you know I’ve got back to you. If I’ve not responded after a few days, feel free to prod me via e-mail.

What do you think? Please leave a comment…

What do you think of the changes?

Are there any other features you’d like to see in the comments?

What plugins do you use on your own blog comments?

Comments

  1. Great job, Mark!

    Glad I could offer some inspiration for your blog. Mine’s been a bit quiet lately as I’m working on a new blog launch, to be unveiled on davidairey.com within a day or two (I think).

    Hope all’s well.

    David Airey’s last blog post..How to deter thieves from stealing your images and server bandwidth

  2. Thanks David. Very interested to hear about your new project…

  3. These are great additions! Too bad the CommentLuv plugin’s not available on Blogger, otherwise I would use it on my (Dutch) blog!

  4. Thanks Steve, glad you like the changes.

  5. Fred Schenk says:

    Hello Mark,
    I LOVE the notification possibility. And it was just in time implemented for my comment on your previous post (so I already ‘tested’ it).

    I think it is a great help for you too, since in my instance you got a quick reply on your reply to my comment too 🙂

    The gravatars and such aren’t my thing, so I won’t be using those. I create a new email address per blog/compagny I subscribe/write to, so it would be a bit more trouble for me to use gravatars and such. But it’s nice to see some faces next to the comments, so maybe I will end up creating some gravatar accounts too.

    With kind regards,

    Fred

  6. It’s great isn’t it? It means I’m much more confident that people are getting my replies – I used to send e-mails to let them know, which took up a lot of time. Look forward to seeing you again.

  7. This looks fun, another reason I should migrate to WordPress I guess!

  8. Trust your feelings Johnnie, come over to the Dark Side…

  9. The commentluv plug-in is something that has interested me for awhile now, so much so that I have installed it in my two latest blogs. If it gets me half as many comments as this post did, I will be immensely satisfied.

    Sire’s last blog post..Looking For Sex In All The Wrong Places

  10. Looks like you’ve set yourself a big challenge with your blog…

  11. Yes, CommentLuv is a good plugin, although it doesn’t always link my posts correctly when I comment. KeywordLuv is even better because we can finally get to choose our anchor text without having to worry about whether or not the blog owner might be one of those anti-marketing people who will automatically delete any comments with keywords in them even if the comment is relevant.

    Karlonia’s last blog post..XBox Red Light Fix: Repair the Ring of Death

  12. I haven’t really measured it to be honest. My impression is that more people are coming back and joining in the conversation in the comments, so I guess my repeat visitor stats are pulled by going up.

  13. Good basic summary – thanks! However, the technique for locating CommentLuv enabled blogs is dated as subsequent revisions of the plug in prepend different text and images.

    Eurothrift’s last blog post..Advantages of joining The English Heritage Society

  14. I am very interesting about take picture next to comment. I think it will make visitors more interest to leave a comment than if not. Everybody like to see how their look at other people’s web.

    Nice plugin.. I’ll use it

    Monetize Blog’s last blog post..Automatic Blogging on Blogger

  15. The commentluv plugin is fantastic, and I’m finding it more and more around blogs that I visit. It’s a great addition, and a good way to drum up more visitors.