Blogging Best Practices: Enabling Your Readers to Subscribe to Comments

Few realize yet how many decisions go into the best way to add every single feature to a Web site. Where you place it, whether you use text or icons, which plug-ins or widgets you select – each and every one of these factors contributes to how successful your blog, site or store will be.

Here is one simple example. I requested Derek Semmler’s assistance in adding a subscribe to comments function on this blog. Here are the questions he immediately asked:

  1. Do you want a simple text link or images? If images, what image?
  2. Where do you want it placed?
  3. Do you want to use the WordPress Subscribe to Comments plug-in (He uses it at
  4. Or would you rather have your comments look like those on the Threaded Web Blog?

Those questions led to many more of my own such as:

  1. Do we want to offer a subscribe to comments feed AND a subscribe to that specific post’s comments or is subscribe to a particular post enough?
  2. Do we also need a subscribe to comments via email option?
  3. Do I like the way Problogger displays their comments? Pros: I like that blog posts there show the number of comments at the top and provide a link to jump down to them because I often revisit to read the comments on a blog post I’ve already read. Cons: 1) I would prefer to have the time/date under the commentator’s link to make the comment space wider so long comments don’t take up so much vertical space. 2) They don’t display Avatars.
  4. Many blogs now show your Avatar next to your comment. I like this but which plug-in / widget is required? Once again there are many. See CopyBlogger or DerekSemmlerDotCom for examples. Avatars can be pulled from MyBlogLog, Gravatar or Open Avatar.
  5. Should I be considering Disqus for comments used by such notable blogs as LouisGray? Disqus pros: collects your Disqus comments in one place. Disqus cons: You can’t click through to a commentators blog or profile if they haven’t claimed it. I like to be able to visit the sites of those who leave intelligent comments anywhere I roam.
  6. If you think BackType might become important do you want to ensure whatever you use is compatible?
  7. I noticed Derek’s blog also uses CommentLuv and KeywordLuv. How do those interact with comment subscription? Shouldn’t I add those too? (Derek’s blog has a VERY loyal community and these are no doubt at least a small part of why he does. His use of a Top Commentators plug-in and also the Recent Comments plug-in are also part of the reason. That leads to another blog post: which widgets or plugins is he using and why – there are many!)
  8. Do you want your subscribe to comments to default to have the box to subscribe checked or unchecked? Derek and I suggest unchecked to allow the comment leaver to opt in rather than opt out.
  9. Which nofollow plugin should you use? LinkLove doesn’t remove nofollow until after X comments with 10 set as the default. Lucia’s LinkyLove also allows you to configure how many comments are required before nofollow is removed. Some dofollow plugins remove nofollow from every comment.


  • A comment RSS comment feed is probably not necessary because the ability to subscribe to comments in a particular blog post makes more sense. (On a busy blog getting ALL the comments would fill your email up!)
  • Use a bubble icon with a link to jump down to comments with the number of comments.
  • Ensure the comment area is wide enough for longer comments.
  • Definitely include a do-followed clickable link to the commentator’s blog and preferably to the post they prefer to link in. For this you need to install a dofollow plug-in.
  • Display Avatars to provide greated visibility for regular visitors and help them find each other. One option is WP-Gravatar which pulls Avatars from Gravatar, MyBlogLog, OpenAvatar, Wavatar, Identicon, and monsterID. Derek uses MyAvatars because he is an early adopter and there weren’t as many options when he selected that one. He’s off researching because I asked which was best.
  • Use CommentLuv and KeywordLuv to reward commentators.

Although not specifically about getting a subscribe to comments function working on GrowMap, researching this reminds me that a blog wishing to build a strong community should also consider using Top Commentators and Latest Comments plugins or widgets.

Now you can see why I asked Derek for his assistance. After studying the issues I decided that what I would most like is precisely what he has used on his DerekSemmlerDotCom blog. While higher profile technical bloggers would do things differently, Derek’s style most strongly encourages community participation.

Here are the exact WordPress plugins we ended up using that pertain to comments:

Once again I’d like to make a call for collaborators. Instead of every blog reinventing the wheel why don’t we pool our knowledge in the WordPress Theme Joint Venture Room at FriendFeed.  Once a subject has been discussed the consensus views and how-to links will be posted at GrowMap and possibly elsewhere for easy reference.

WANTED: Your Participation! Would you use Derek’s methods or do you prefer Disqus or another comment tracking service? Which plug-ins or widgets do you use and why? Leave a comment and let us know.


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Gail Gardner

Small Business Marketing Strategist at GrowMap
Creator and owner of, Gail is primarily known for mentoring small businesses and encouraging bloggers to join collaborations to share skills and support small business.


  1. I find the concern is always getting so many irrelevant “comments” on my posts. Any suggestions?
    jack would love you to read ..Asian Matchmaking moves to the Digital AgeMy Profile

  2. Interesting how much thought went into this. It is great to have some assistance from somebody who has already thought about it. But still it is good to test different things.

    I guess your plugin list is not up to date anymore. Like you are using Commentluv+ in stead of commentluv and keywordluv.
    Danny would love you to read ..Remington RM1015P 10-Inch 8 Amp Electric Pole chain SawMy Profile

  3. John Knights says:

    When you say subscribing to comments are you talking about “Notify me of followup comments via e-mail”?

  4. I really like your list of BEST PRACTICES…You keep it simple and easy to understand.
    Buffalo Tees would love you to read ..Buffalo Cool Place T-ShirtMy Profile

  5. Affordable SEO Services says:

    Thank you so much for such an informative post!
    Affordable SEO Services would love you to read ..Google Loves Web Video for SEOMy Profile

  6. Rapid Cash Tornado says:

    I agree, I too look for these plugins! I am an avid commentor on blogs as I love reading and seeing what people are posting to see what their insight may be on any given subject. It’s nice to know that you get rewarded by doing so. Thanks! I love your blog like always!
    Rapid Cash Tornado would love you to read ..Rapid Cash Tornado BonusMy Profile

  7. Nice questions. From that I also consider it to my own. Anyway, in cases that people are looking for some reward by commenting, commentluv and keywardluv are very ideal. When I make a comment I first look for those plug-ins. Thanks!

  8. Birmingham mls says:

    Websites should have comment feed for the owners to know the feedback of all the subscribers and visitors of their sites. Because feedbacks help a lot for the improvement of the site.

  9. Keywordluv is a great plugin, because it helps us to get the backlinks that we need in order for our website to get more traffic directed to it. Thanks!

  10. It’s pretty much exactly what I would have also decided to use out of the many plugins out there.

  11. Air Jordans says:

    Thanks for sharing the Business Friendly Akismet Free DoFollow Blog List.

  12. I would love to see this active on many more sites. It seems that quite a bit have scaled back on the use and are probably missing out.
    .-= Susan@Short Sale Tax Relief´s featured blog ..By: Pros and Cons of a Real Estate Short Sale | =-.

  13. oil paintings for sale says:

    Whoa! Your blog is very informative. It helps me enhance my knowledge in putting comments to blogs. I will share what I have learned from your blog. I’m gonna introduce the plug-ins to my friends and colleagues as well. Keep it up!

  14. Great blog and I notice you are using the keywordluv plugin which I think is great! However, some blogs are now disabling this feature, is google starting to frown upon this plugin? Or are bloggers regretting opening there doors to those who may not be at all interested in there content? My personal opinion is it’s a win win situation for all concerned… the blog owner gets people reading there page and those who comment get a link and potential traffic! Keep up the good work..
    .-= UK Business Directory´s last blog ..Jobs in Gulf =-.

    • Many bloggers are not totally clear on why encouraging businesses and blogs to use appropriate anchor text is important. Some get tired of the spammers and think they are being attracted by KeywordLuv or being dofollow. While that may be partially true, even nofollow blogs that don’t use these plugins are spammed.

      The number of KeywordLuv blogs is growing and we are finding each other more effectively. I encourage those who have quality blogs to install it and fully intend to focus my time and efforts on collaborating with and cross-promoting blogs that choose to use these plugins.

      That does NOT mean I discriminate against quality content or will not share what they do but it does mean that my time is very limited and I will go out of my way to support those who are willing to give to others.

      The post featured in CommentLuv in this reply is a great way for businesses and bloggers to understand why supporting each other is critical and how best to do that.
      .-= Gail @ Social Media Marketing´s last blog ..MEME: LinkLuv in Support of Small Businesses =-.

  15. I think the way to really take advantage of dofollow and keywordluv is to actively seed out bad comments and keep good comments, and encourage the good commenters to come back. That way, you’ll get active, healthy discussion on your blog, and the commenters get more links per comment. Everyone wins and the internet is happy. :)

    • Hi Darren,

      I’m sure that is what most bloggers try to do. It is not always easy to decide which comments to keep and which to delete. Many commentators are not very good at writing or do things they may not truly understand are wrong like the copied comment issue I wrote about in the post I’ll use in CommentLuv in this reply.
      .-= GrowMap´s last blog ..Copied Comment Spam and eBusiness Ethics =-.

  16. Hi Barbara
    Like what you said about having an Avatar display with your comment. I need to look into your references and see how to do this on my site. It does make the comments easier to identify the authors and follow their threads. Thanks Very nice site.

  17. Hey

    Wow you are the master of engagement, that you for the comment and link.

    .-= Murray Newlands´s last blog ..Publishers Clickbooth thanks =-.

  18. Nice Blogger says:

    Indeed,KeywordLuv is a useful plugin for blog readers and blog owners.Sometimes you see meaningful comments but they use names “make money online” or something like this ?Should you delete them? I wouldn’t,you lose your readers doing that.It’s obviously that the author read the post and is trying to contribute.
    All these plugins are great but be i would recommend installing WP-SpamFree also since spam will increase and Askimet is not doing very well.
    .-= Nice Blogger@SEO Blog´s last blog ..Digg Added NoFollow on All External Links =-.

    • Hi Tzancul,

      I just figured out today why I have been unable to leave comments in blogs using WPSpamFree. At first I thought it was the @ sign that KeywordLuv uses; however, it turned out that it didn’t like the keywords I was using. The phrase it rejected today was Social Media Marketing.

      My philosophy is to keep comments as long as the commentator is trying to leave real thoughts. I regularly share tips to leave better comments and use KeywordLuv more effectively. The post I’m featuring in CommentLuv in this reply is one of the best on how to select and use anchor text.
      .-= GrowMap´s last blog ..Are You Playing Hide and Seek With Your Market? =-.

  19. Indeed, the comment luv plug in do entice commenters into writing more relevant comments on do follow blogs if only because they are assured of high quality link because of this plug in.

  20. CommentLuv is a great blog plugin it encourages comment for your blog plus the commenter gets a link a real win / win

  21. hi, commentluv and keywordluv blogs are very helpful for link building.,To get traffic and to become top link of SERP.

  22. Good post. Keyword Luv is an important blog tool, which encourages comments.

    Ben’s last blog post..Banner Stand Artwork Tips

    • Hi Ben,

      Yes it does but unfortunately most people don’t really understand how it works so few use it effectively.

      Internet Strategist’s last blog post..How to Add Your Business to Merchant Circle

  23. forexwatch says:

    I have installed CommentLuv and I am trying it out now.

    • Hello Forexwatch,

      How do you like CommentLuv? Since we added these plugins and wrote this post we also added threaded comments and gave our commentators the ability to edit their comments. Now I really wish we had added threaded comments much sooner.

      InternetStrategist’s last blog post..WordPress 2.7 Threaded Comments Works In Thesis

  24. @Rob CommentLuv is friendly and the most active blog communities I visit are using it. KeywordLuv is obviously for anchor text but I don’t really have a problem with allowing my commentators to gain quality links by participating here.

    Most don’t seem to understand how KeywordLuv works so I added several links to posts explaining it in my latest post and may add a post about anchor text as well.

    If someone leaves quality comments receiving a link is a small compensation; SPAMMY comments are a negative whether they use KeywordLuv or not.

    Internet Strategist’s last blog post..Tips for Leaving Comments That Don’t Get Deleted – Contributor or SPAMMER?

  25. I have installed commentluv coz it seems friendly, but I kinda feel that keywordluv is a bit too obviously only therer for SEO and backlinks.

    Rob’s last blog post..Listings

    • Hi Rob,

      I keep meaning to write a great post about why I believe KeywordLuv is an essential part of being a generous blogger. Small businesses and bloggers need to learn how to make themselves easier to find online. There is nothing wrong with that.

      What benefit is there in avoiding what will help people find your business or blog? Should only those who can afford advertising or search engine marketing consulting have businesses we can get to by using a search engine?

      Proper use of KeywordLuv allows the search engines to determine what the content of any particular page is so that someone interested in that topic can locate it. Teaching bloggers and businesses to make themselves more visible online can only be a good thing.

      I encourage you to read the post featured in CommentLuv in this reply. It has much more to say about how bloggers can assist each other and their favorite businesses.
      .-= Gail @ Social Media Marketing´s last blog ..MEME: LinkLuv in Support of Small Businesses =-.

  26. You’re so kind, thank you. And yes, I got Liz’s SOB award. I am humbled by that one.

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..Stick – Stickier – Stuck, How To Overcome Writer’s Block

  27. @Barbara I love your blog and added a link to your latest post in the related resources section at the bottom of this one.

    Adding Avatars/Gravatars and then possibly Top Commentators and Recent Comments are the next priorities on my list of things that Derek is so kindly assisting on.

    I’ll discuss your input before deciding what to add. You have a point about the Top Commentators provoking competition. That has pros and cons.

    I see you also have the Liz Strauss SOB seal of approval. :-)

  28. @Jay That is my intent here. Good to hear it is working. Derek just added a post related to this one that is linked in at the bottom of my post above. He shares not only plugins but also the other things that he does that create such a great community in his blogs.

  29. First, thank you for visiting my blog and leaving such a meaningful comment. I truly appreciate it.

    I’m in awe of the comprehensive list you’ve provided. Looking over it, you’ve showcased the best of the best.

    I’m a big proponent for CommentLuv. It gives our readers a quick glance at what the other commenters are posting, which, in turn, helps to build community not only on our blogs, but on others, as well.

    I also like showing the gravatars/avatars of the commenters as they become our identity in blogosphere and on social networking sites.

    On my blog I list the latest commenters (and their gravatars). By clicking on them, it takes the reader to their comment.

    Although I like some aspects of the Top Commenters plugin, in some ways it can appear like a competition. I prefer not to use it as I don’t want those who don’t comment on a regular basis to feel “less than” because they didn’t get their name on the list.

    For me, it’s the comments that make blogging a real joy. Having others freely share their thoughts and opinions not only shows support for the blog author, but often adds tremendous value to the post.

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..Attract Readers – Make Your Blog A Safe Haven

  30. Hello Susan. Knowing that you’re using the same plugins will help readers to have confidence in which ones to install.

    The Oceanside blog you linked is the best site I remember seeing for a city. I’m going to share it on FriendFeed as an excellent example of using a blog as a CMS.

    If you’re behind that site Oceanside is lucky to have you. For those who aren’t familiar, Oceanside is right on the ocean less than forty miles north of San Diego. Winter is a peaceful time to visit beaches there.

  31. I am currently redesigning my site, and one of the things I looked into was putting out a few more things that makes it easier for readers to revisit the blog. A few people introduced me to the concept of allowing them them subscribe to follow up comments, but I had no idea how to go about it. Now, I have a list of options to look into. Thanks a lot.

    Jay’s last blog post..AN OLD FLAME

  32. I’m glad to see the list you came up in regards to comments. It’s pretty much exactly what I would have also decided to use out of the many plugins out there.

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