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Do You Automatically Close Comments on Old Posts?

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January 21st, 2010
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WordPress Discussions

Comments are the lifeblood of any website. It keeps pumping some interesting views and discussions into a post. However, I have seen several blogs which close comments for posts which are older than say a month or two.

The major concern which plays a factor in closing down comments is spam, since many users believe that spammers usually target. However, the spam plugins available today are very effective at curbing spam if not entirely stopping them. If you are interested in know about those plugins, you can visit an earlier post from me about Spam and Security plugins for WordPress.

However, getting back to the point. I do close comments on certain blog posts like contests and posts which are totally out-dated, but using a mass closure on comments results in several problems, which include:

  • For example, say when I write about products, more often than not I have seen authors of those products commenting on that post to tell everyone about a new version availability. This helps both me and the readers to know about the newer version.
  • Some posts are evergreen and will spark a discussion no matter when they were written. If you use an option to automatically close comments, those discussions will no longer happen.
  • More often than not I have seen users ask questions on older posts, several times they have been useful for me to update the old posts or write new ones.

I have listed just few of the several reasons why I do not automatically close comments on the older posts. Do you do that? Whatever your answer to the question, it would be interesting if you tell me and others about your thoughts on it.

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45
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Comments

  1. Andrew@BloggingGuide (63 comments.) says:

    I don’t really close comments because an article when it’s posted, it will always be there for anyone to read and interact to, so why close it. For me, closing it would mean like ending it. Like you said, “Some posts are evergreen and will spark a discussion no matter when they were written.”

  2. timethief says:

    I think your three reasons above are sound and I don’t close my comments either. This is what I do:
    “Comments on old posts: Comment boxes will remain open for up to 30 days following post publication, however, you are welcome to submit your responses to any older post at any time by using the Contact form below.”

  3. Cigar Inspector (6 comments.) says:

    I only close comments on contests.
    Akismet handles all the spam successfully.

  4. Mike (1 comments.) says:

    There is a neat plugin which does it for me. So, answering your question – yes, I do close comments for old entries.

  5. Lars Tong Strömberg (14 comments.) says:

    Akismet works great so no need to do it. Both as a blogger but even more so, a frequent commenter, I think it´s useful to be able to comment on old posts.

    Sometimes, there is an interesting discussion going on in the post that dies out, but something happens later on that makes it relevant again. Then it can be good to restart the discussion in the old thread. Especially, since some bloggers update old posts with an edit rather than create a new when something new happens.

  6. rp (3 comments.) says:

    I only close comments when they are heavily targeted by spammers (I wonder why a single old post, which isn’t even in the Google index anymore, is turned into a punching ball by spambots). But trackbacks stay open.

  7. Viper007Bond (91 comments.) says:

    I have Akismet, Cookies for Comments, and a self-written plugin that disables trackbacks (but not pingbacks). Between those three, I get no spam.

    So no, no need to close old posts. Someone still may have something to say! :)

  8. Steeph (1 comments.) says:

    We close comments on all posts after a year.
    If you have between 5 and 10 posts a day, it’s allready a challenge to keep track on all conversations.
    If people suddenly (most of the time after coming to your site by using a searchengine) start discussing again on a very old item, it gets confusing.
    But I think this depends on what kind of posts you have. Most of our posts have to do with current events. They are outdated anyway after some time.

    Spam isn’t an issue for us. The combination of Akismet and Bad Behaviour is sufficient to keep us “clean”.

  9. rick@rickety (10 comments.) says:

    I leave all my comments open. I often post updates on old posts so some articles are never really closed.

  10. orangeguru (1 comments.) says:

    Keep ‘em open! Akismet and Bad Behaviour can take care of the SPAM.

  11. macky (1 comments.) says:

    hi i usually use a math spam plugin to protect by blog from spam comment i usually keep them open for comments

  12. Patrick D. (9 comments.) says:

    This article changed my mind. I was closing after 14 days, but you make some valid points. I’m going to close after 365 days now and maybe turn commenting closing off entirely later.

  13. manga (24 comments.) says:

    So far yes I close down comments on older posts automatically.

    Why? Cause whenever I didn´t do that a lot of useless comments that either had no meaning to the topic itself, just irritating nonsese comments or single word comments got me a little irritated.

    So I started closing comments on posts.

    So for me it is not the spam I´m worried about. It´s the non-existant quality of the comment.

    I do not want to mark valid comments as spam just because people think they are funny. Then I´d rather close the comments down and save me, the other commenter and on a overall basis the blog itself the trouble.

    • Babs (37 comments.) says:

      If I were getting a bunch of irrelevant comments then my first assumption would be spam. Askimet can take care of that.

      As for legitimate short comments from visitors — If they are totally irrelevant there’s the “trash” option. Otherwise I just leave the comments there. Who knows what they will spark? ;)

      • manga (24 comments.) says:

        Well. One commented on how sexy the pokemon girls were. Then he started going to each and every post and posting the same comment. I told him that he should keep that kind of commenting to a minimum unless he wanted them to be marked as spam, he stopped.

        And yes. Trashing a comment is a good way of keeping it available without doing any harm to the visitors.

        Also yes, leaving comments are great. If it hadn´t started to go out of hand I would have left the comments open on my pokemon post since that´s where everyone goes for some odd reason…

  14. John Zemler (2 comments.) says:

    It is useful to leave comments open on most of our posts given that we never know when someone will google in to one of them. While it may be an old post to the author and those who regularly follow the blog, it is brand new information to the person who just found it.

    If the information in the post is profound or important, the visitor may want to contribute or ask a question- regradless of the posting date.

    Would be interesting if you added a poll to this post and asked people when they typically closed their posts to comments or if they never do.

    Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  15. Matt (6 comments.) says:

    The only case where I close comments is on ended contests.

  16. Babs (37 comments.) says:

    I keep comments open. On all my blogs it allows those who have just found the site(s) leave comments where they are relevant. Askimet does a great job on its own so I really don’t worry about spam.

  17. promote blogs (2 comments.) says:

    I don’t think its good to close commenting after certain time interval but I prefer the closing of comments on certain number of comments. For example lets say after 90 comments or so because:

    1. It will be easier to manage the length of a page
    2. I will be possible to control the loading time
    3. The PR Juice will be shared among certain number of sites only. In time based closing system its rather unfair of PR juice distribution and even worse is in always open posts.
    4. Within those 90 (or whatever blog author fixed) comments almost everything related to the post will have been dealt and waiting for more because time is still open means only to invite them who are greedy of pr juice.

  18. Joella a.k.a. Blog Angel (1 comments.) says:

    I keep comments open as well except in a very few circumstances. I find that my built-in spam blacklist, which is part of my blogging platform (b2evolution) does an amazingly good job on filtering out spam. I still get those people who try to use the site for scamming backlinks, but I moderate all comments and the obviously useless ones don’t get published. Repeat offenders get blocked and submitted to the global backlist.

    I hate to discourage any individual with something to say about a post, no matter how old that post may be.

  19. Otto (215 comments.) says:

    No, I don’t close comments. I never have seen any need to do so.

    • Oliver Schlöbe (2 comments.) says:

      Yeah, same here. Most topics/posts do not stop being interesting to visitors over time so why denying people to share their thoughts?

  20. Ipstenu (31 comments.) says:

    So for me it is not the spam I´m worried about. It´s the non-existant quality of the comment.

    Which brings to mind this. It really depends on your subject matter.

    If your blog is, well, a ‘standard’ blog where people come and read and comment on whatever, and catch up over time, then yes, leaving comments open all the time makes sense.

    But if it’s, say, a breaking news site, then really there’s very little point in allowing people to comment on year old posts, because either the topic is still being discussed (and at that point, you’ve usually made a new post to continue discussion with more information etc) or it’s long dead.

    On my personal blog, comments remain open indefinitely.

    On the news site I work on, 60 days.

    • Ipstenu (31 comments.) says:

      Replying to myself to mention…

      If y’all want to turn comments back ON for all posts, you can do it through SQL:

      UPDATE wp_posts SET ping_status="open";
      UPDATE wp_posts SET comment_status="open";

      This also turns on pings, so if you don’t want that, just leave out that line.

      One of those things I think of as pretty obvious, but rarely used so often forgotten!

  21. bubazoo (213 comments.) says:

    I agree, I don’t close comments either, and have never seen the need to close them.

    Something interesting happened to me awhile back that is worth mentioning though, I posted an article on my blog about having to get someone to drive me to a doctors appointment 2 hours away. At the time, I was upset that I had to drive 2 hours there, just to find out the doctor had an emergency surgery and couldn’t see me that day. That wouldn’t have bothered me, except, they knew about it a week prior, and noobody called, or sent me a letter, stating so, until a week later, the letter finally showed up in the mail.

    Anyway, I didn’t use any names, for I didn’t know any names to use anyways, but anyway, 6 months later, after I had rescheduled and gotten in to see him, the doctors office did a search and found my blog post that I had written 6 months prior. My doctor himself wrote me a certified letter stating that he would no longer see me as a patient, because of writing that blog post. My mom said it was because he was afraid writing that post would hurt his business, which I highly doubt would ever happen, but still I thought that was a strange thing for a doctor to do.

    He was a specialty doctor, only 3 exist in the entire state of Indiana, so I had to goto Indy to find a doctor I could see, 3 hours away, which is not a good thing when your blind and can’t drive a car.

    What do you fellow blog owners think of that? I talked to the doctor in Indy about it, and he asked me, “why was the doctor going on the internet looking for you in the first place?” that was a question I wondered as well.. I could understand if I used his name “doctor so and so” but I didn’t, so what do you think? where is the line from free speech drawn? besides the fact that the post wasn’t even relavant anymore. The doctor stated in his letter something about “we don’t see patients who are unhappy with us” I wasn’t unhappy with the doctor, I was unhappy with the scheduling nurse who didn’t tell me the doctor wasn’t going to be available that day, when she knew he wouldn’t be there when the appointment was scheduled. I consider that her mistake, which is a BIG mistake when you can’t drive a car and have to call a kab to another city to get there. what do you guys think on this? where is the line drawn?

    • bubazoo (213 comments.) says:

      oh and another thing, that blog post was printed off and put in my medical report, for every doctor I have to see. I didn’t think that was right for them to do that. Even if he did agree not to see me anymore, does he have the right to put a long since gone blog post into my medical file?

      • Panete says:

        Wow, that’s some serious case of web stalking!
        If you are from US, which I think you are from your comment, you can probably sue that doctor and get something out of it.
        About the topic… yeah, I see no need to close comments since there are good anti-spam plugins out there and some posts just never get old. On the other hand, it can get annoying to read trough all those ‘pending’ messages to see if they are all spam or not. Do you guys also get an awful lot of them? or should I be using a better anti-spam software? right now Im with akismet and intensedebate

    • gerrica101 says:

      I think it’s a shame you had to undergo that. It must be very frustrating for you. Thank you for sharing it with us; it added a lot of value and relevance to the topic of the original post.

  22. Len (24 comments.) says:

    I’m with the others. Between Akismet, Bad Behaviour and moderation no need to close comments.

    • Andrew Edmonds (9 comments.) says:

      True to a point, but it makes no sense really to continue a comment thread if the post relates to something like a competition. I run weekly puzzles and close the comments once I postthe solution, this prevents spamming.

  23. Network Geek (21 comments.) says:

    You know, I have traditionally closed comments after 60 days, or so, due to spam. I started doing that back in the days *before* Akismet, when it was, in fact, a BIG problem. But, Keith makes a good point. Now, there’s not really as big a need to do that, thanks to the modern tools to control spam. Hmm, maybe that’s one less plugin I need to keep updated and activated!

  24. Hikari (79 comments.) says:

    I agree with you, comments are part of our posts’ content. Ppl find our posts all the time, and some times they want and have good stuff to say about the subject.

    If a post is outdated and I don’t want the subject to emerge again, I will close its comments. But if it is still alive just leave it there.

    What would be better is a plugin that enable comments to be published instantly on newer posts, that have more visits and activity. And that after some time or after it is not that popular anymore, it is set to send all comments to moderation.

    This way most visited posts would have a more dynamic comments flow and older ones we could see what new commenters are saying after so much time.

  25. Syed Balkhi (3 comments.) says:

    I think it really depends on a site. For WPBeginner.com we keep comments open on all posts because its just the nature of the posts. They are tutorials and people will have questions about it no matter how old they are.

    But on my personal blog, I do close comments on older posts. That is because I list top commentators on my blog. Now there are hundreds of users who are simply coming and commenting on where I ate a year ago. It does not make sense. So I think when I revamp the site, I will completely get rid of the top commentator feature, but I will still adhere to closing comments on posts that are old.

    Again don’t miss the key point. The decision depends on the nature of content your blog contains.

  26. Ajay (209 comments.) says:

    I have closed comments on quite a few posts. I prefer using my own plugin to control this, instead of WordPress.

  27. infmom (8 comments.) says:

    In general I don’t close comments. But there was one post that appeared to be a magnet for spammers, and after checking Spam Karma 2’s results for a while I closed comments on that particular post.

  28. The GTL™ (5 comments.) says:

    I close comments after one month automatically. I find it useful to do so because of the nature of my blog — current events and current political topics. The relevance of a 2006 post about a particular Senate race (for example) has little relevance today whereas; the winner of that seat’s current behavior does.

    Were I to blog on less time-sensitive topics like the owner of this blog and many other commenter’s blogs do, I’d probably leave them open indefinitely :-)

  29. CGHill (3 comments.) says:

    I don’t post much time-sensitive stuff – indeed, it’s arguable whether I post anything sensitive in any sense – but I close down comments after three months, perhaps after years of exposure to message-board “Don’t reopen old threads!” warnings.

  30. Kelson (20 comments.) says:

    For the most part, I prefer to leave comments open. One of my blogs gets most of its traffic from searches these days, so old posts get more comments than new ones. For a while, I had a couple of posts that continued to have lively discussions for *years* after they went up. The only posts on which I closed comments were those that seemed to be a magnet for spam or trolls, or had broken into flame wars.

    That said, I recently mass-closed comments on two types of posts on one of my blogs. One was a series of weekly digests of posts to Twitter, where most of the discussion had already happened out-of-band, and the other was a weekly list of new comic book releases. In both cases, these posts were all about the “now,” and not particularly comment-worthy several months down the line.

  31. Michael Hampton (14 comments.) says:

    I closed comments temporarily while I was unable to update my blog regularly for a few months. Once I returned I reopened comments on all posts. There are still a few old posts that still have active discussions, and that means eyeballs, greater interest from Google, and of course, more ad revenue.

  32. Oliver (2 comments.) says:

    Nope! I don’t! I don’t see the point… if the post is old, it will most likely still be relevant, so whether I posted it in the last week or the last year it doesn’t really matter! I think it’s great when people find your old posts and start asking questions and you can help them out!

    Cheers

  33. Justin Tadlock (51 comments.) says:

    I get tons of legitimate comments on older posts, so closing them would probably do more harm than good.

    However, what I do to help prevent spam is moderate all comments on posts older than 60 days for users that’ve never left a comment on my site. And, I moderate all trackbacks and pingbacks. This leaves posts open for commenting with no spam getting through on older posts.

  34. jan (2 comments.) says:

    I manage a multi-author blog in Italy. We close comments after 3 months because it’s easy to miss old threads in the daily flow of comments. Missing, i.e. ignoring additions to old threads is not nice to the readers and could expose us to legal liabilities (we have to remove some comment on legal basis from time to time).

  35. WordpressBlog (1 comments.) says:

    I close the comment form since i don’t have much reader want to comment on my blog :D
    How about that? fair enough right :)

  36. Sandro (4 comments.) says:

    Personally, I prefer to leave comments open, although I believe much depends on the topic of your blog. My main blog is about music, so I don’t see any point in closing comments on something that new readers can find interesting to talk about. My Akismet takes care pretty well of spam comments, so, in this context, I agree with most of the fellow readers.

  37. Alex Ford (1 comments.) says:

    This actually bothers me a lot. More than once have I come across a great post and wanted to leave a comment. Sometimes I have a question and other times I just want to thank the author for the post. I even occasionally have criticism or updates that I would like to add. It’s super annoying when you have something to say and find out that they closed comments. I always find myself asking what the point of closing the comments was, and in-turn asking what the point of the post was if I am not allowed to comment on it.



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