My Article for BlogHer: Is WordPress Scaring Your Commenters Away?

I wrote an article for BlogHer today inspired by Stumbling Gracefully, about how difficult WordPress is making commenting.

Have you noticed a drop-off in comments since the changes WordPress has made?

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21 Comments

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21 responses to “My Article for BlogHer: Is WordPress Scaring Your Commenters Away?

  1. elizabethkbaker

    I thought I had done something to be getting all those emails- how annoying that it’s because of a WordPress change. Also, I used to be able to comment on WP accounts with my google (blogger) login, but now I can’t.

  2. This has driven me nuts lately since I’m a blogger user, and I had to create a WP acct to comment on WP blogs, and I’m always on different computers so it’s just one more log-in to make sure I’ve done. Frustrating.

  3. Cripes, that’s what was going on – I kept wondering why I was getting all these comments. Also, WordPress also logs my draft posts several times, so I have to go back and delete them. Very, very annoying!

  4. I wondered what was going on! I too have been getting tons of e-mails and I have definitely noticed a drop of comments. This is so frustrating. Is there anything to be done?

  5. cw

    I thought the emails were a part of WP and it was driving me crazy. So how do we turn them off? I had noticed less comments but having moved space and blogging platform I attributed it to that. Maybe I will blame WP rather than having no friends!

  6. I had noticed the automatically checked boxes, and immediately un-checked them. I’m still getting comments from people outside of wordpress, but I had noticed that sometimes trying to get back to their blogs to continue the conversation was a pain if they were signed in with a wordpress account that wasn’t active. Whoever came up with this stuff clearly didn’t think it through.

  7. I haven’t noticed a thing. I don’t think there has been less comments because of it. I really like the WP platform and the way you don’t have to subscribe to comments to see any personal respons, since it shows up as a notification when you are logged in. The same way you don’t have to click over to someone’s blog if you again want to reply to continue the conversation. Maybe this is an issue if you don’t use WP. And for not getting comments in your inbox there’s a box to un-check, you just have to be aware of it. Maybe there’s more technical stuff I’m not aware of but for me there’s no problem.

  8. Mel

    Not a drop in comments since I’m self-hosted, and I could even handle the auto-subscribe to comments though it was super-annoying. My frustration is the log-in part. I once had to make a WordPress account in order to read a friend’s blog. Now I can’t use my email address to leave a comment because I can’t remember my log-in, nor do I want to sign in everyday. So I had to create another email account in order to be able to leave comments. So frustrating.

  9. I came over to try and comment on your blog with my other URL to see if it changes it or if WP really hasn’t changed everything yet.

  10. Hi, I work at Automattic/WordPress.com. Before I respond, first I want to apologize to you and all your commentors. It makes me sad that you all are frustrated, and we’ll work on changing that.

    Thanks for the feedback; it helps us make everyone’s experiences better. From this post, I heard the following critiques.

    #1: Comment Subscriptions used to be opt-in, but now they’re opt-out. (Fixed!)

    There is a checkbox in the comment form on WordPress.com that allows commenters to subscribe to that post’s comments:
    “[ ] Notify me of follow-up comments via email”.

    Historically, that checkbox was unchecked by default; commenters had to opt-in to comment subscriptions by checking the checkbox. Last week, we reversed that behavior; the checkbox was checked by default, and commenters had to opt-out if they didn’t want to subscribe.

    This change was announced on May 15th. We changed things back on the 17th.

    We honestly thought the opt-out behavior was the right choice for most of our commenters. By suggesting commenters subscribe, we believed there would be more conversation and more engagement. We were wrong.

    It’s difficult to gauge the popularity of a feature, but it’s pretty easy to gauge its unpopularity 🙂 Like you, many people told us the change was annoying.

    You’ll be glad to know that we have reverted to the historical behavior on May 17th; the checkbox is again unchecked by default, and commenters must opt-in to receive comment subscription emails.

    Any subscriptions from that opt-out period are still active, though. You can always manage your subscriptions at https://subscribe.wordpress.com/ whether you have a WordPress.com account or not.

    I still think there’s something better we can do here, but it’s clearly not what we first tried.

    #2: WordPress.com forces me to log in to comment.

    There are a few things going on here. First, any blog owner is able to require that commenters log in before commenting. This setting is found in your Admin → Settings → Discussion (see our documentation). The setting is not enabled by default, but on blogs where the owner has enabled it, commenters must log in with their WordPress.com, Facebook, or Twitter account before they are able to comment.

    If that setting is not enabled (the typical case), anyone can comment without logging in. Sidenote: there is another setting that is enabled by default that requires commenters to provide an email address. Some blog owners turn this setting off so that an email address is not required for commenting.

    Those settings have been there for years, but I suspect they are not what’s causing your frustration.

    In March, we started requiring commenters to log in if they attempted to comment using an email address of one of our registered users. By “user”, I mean anyone with a WordPress.com or Gravatar account. We made this change to address a serious concern: people were maliciously impersonating others. In honesty, we should have made this change years ago.

    Despite having made this change two months ago, there are still some serious flaws with the experience. As you pointed out, if you’ve forgotten the password for the WordPress.com account associated with the email address you use, you get stuck quickly. On the screen that asks you to log in, there’s not even a password recovery link.

    It’s also not always clear to the commenter what WordPress.com account is associated with that email address, or how the comment will appear once he or she logs in.

    We’re working on addressing these problems and hope to offer a much better and simpler experience soon.

    #3: After I (finally) log in to make a comment, the comment I composed is lost.

    This is a new one to us, and we want to fix it. Some of the commenters on your BlogHer post noted the same problem, but when I tried, everything worked as I expected: the comment went through just fine. I must be doing something wrong to get the right thing to happen 🙂

    If you or anyone can please tell us what steps in what order cause this to happen, we should be able to fix the problem.

    Wow, that was a really long reply. In addition to the above problems, I also apologize for filling your blog with so much text!

    • Mel

      I just want to say that I really really respect WordPress for addressing these thoughts in the comment section. Thank you.

      I am one of the commenters above who is annoyed that I can no longer use my normal email address to leave a comment since I once set up a WordPress account with that email address. Here’s the thing with WordPress — you could never really maliciously impersonate someone because you also gave the blog writer information such as the IP address and such with the comment. Those identifying features made it clear very quickly when something was amiss.

      I got around this feature at WordPress by creating a new email address and using it to leave comments. The problem, of course, is that the blog writer receives this comment and can’t really write back to me because I’m not going to also check that email account. So it stops the conversation. Which makes me wonder if it’s worth leaving a comment at all if they can’t continue the conversation.

    • Jenny F. Scientist, PhD

      mdawaffe: I’ve found that if I am logged in to Gravatar but WP has logged me out (?) then I think in the login/ authentication wait the comment is lost. Sometimes they seem to disappear into moderation queues but there’s no “your comment is awaiting mod” verification message to the comment author.

      Thanks!

      • Jenny F. Scientist, PhD

        Although this one seems to have worked fine, so maybe it’s all better now…

  11. Thank you so much for responding! I am really impressed that you guys are taking this seriously. I see Mel has already replied about her problems logging in.

    I am so happy to hear that the commenting function is set back to opt-in. That’s really great news. Thanks for listening!

    • SRB

      I have also noticed this morning that the mobile app now *actually* allows you to simply tap and comment/reply. It has said you could for about a month, but…no. You had to go into the more clicks into a web browser. I’m going to go ahead and credit this article for that too! Well done, madame!

  12. Bravo, WordPress! For listening and responding.

  13. Pingback: For the Love of the Blog, Part Two | Too Many Fish to Fry

  14. Pingback: For anyone having issues with commenting on this and other WordPress blogs… « Nuts in May

  15. mdawaffe: if you are still monitoring, one of my readers just told me that she can’t comment. Here’s her story: “I have several WP accounts and I always (try to) remember to sign in under the correct one. But even when I’m logged in correctly, when I go to comment on a WP blog, WP tells me that my other email account is connected to a WP account to which I am not logged in. Follow that? Basically, WP won’t let me log in to comment.” Can you help her? She’s here: http://lifefromhere.wordpress.com/ Thanks!

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