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Spam, discussions and closed comment threads

Did you ever want to comment on some great Blog post you found only to discover that the post is a bit old and the author has already closed the comments – so no new ones can be posted? I often do and I find this issue rather frustrating…

The reason for closing comments is pretty straightforward – spam. Each Blog post that accepts comments is a target for spammers – so the more such posts you have you’re increasing the amount of overall spam your blog receives every day.


A common strategy for dealing with comment spam is to close comments on older posts – after two weeks, a month etc. Which brings us to the original problem – closing comments on older posts prevents future discussions, even if those would really make sense long after the post was published.

Imagine yourself browsing Flickr and finding a great photo. You want to tell the author how great the photo is or ask a question, but you discover that the photo was uploaded two months ago and the comments are already closed! I couldn’t imagine such a scenario, because more often than not I discover photos long after they have been uploaded and I often see discussions go over long periods of time, being re-newed etc. – which is great. Unlike discussing some current events, discussing photographs cannot really be limited to a short period of time.

Many Blog posts are exactly like that, IMHO. People often search the Web for a specific topic and find old, but still relevant blog posts, and there is absolutely no reason, other than spam, not to allow the discussions on these posts to keep going.

My suggestion – a simple two-level comment protection system. Comments can be open or closed, exactly as today, but a third state can be introduced – let’s call it ‘protected’. In this state, posting a new comment is still possible, but more difficult – protected by CAPTCHA, verification via email etc. Now, after two weeks, instead of closing the comments, they can be set to ‘protected’ mode – this allows minimal barrier to commenting initially, while allowing valid conversations about the post to continue forever.

2 Responses to “Spam, discussions and closed comment threads”

  1. Jay Says:

    If your blog is powered by WordPress you should also use Akismet. A great anti-spam tool from Matt Mullenweg of WordPress.

  2. Iosart Says:

    @Jay – yep, I’m already using Akismet. It’s great, although lately it has been missing a lot of spam (mainly non-english one)…