Should You Close Comments on Older Blog Posts?

This is a topic that I had previously discussed two years ago, but I feel that it is worth re-examining. Back then, I had to use a WordPress plugin to close the comment form on blog posts after a certain period of time. These days, it is a feature that is built right into the WordPress platform. Needless to say, this indicates that there was a greater need for this kind of functionality. Users asked for it and they got it.

Timely or Evergreen?

Now, your perspective on this matter may vary depending on your niche and the nature of your blog. If you a blog that largely covers current events, it may make sense to close the comment form on posts after a defined period of time has passed, because “new” comments wouldn’t bear much relevance to your current readers. On the flip side, if the content of your blog is a little more “evergreen” in nature, today’s comments can be just as useful, meaningful, and relevant as the ones that were posted a few months or even a few years back.

At the time that I wrote that original blog post, I had set it so that the comment form would close on my posts the later of 365 days from the publish date of the post or 90 days from the date of the most recent comment. Since then, I’ve decided to re-open the blog comment form on all my posts indefinitely. Let me explain why.

Publicly Accessible Information

When the comment form was closed on posts, I found that I would receive occasional e-mail messages from readers. Some of these were questions, others were comments and feedback. In either case, these submissions may have provided some value to the public and I feel that they should have been made available to all other readers who may otherwise come across that post.

In the last couple of months, this has become very apparent in my post on Ufile tax software. People are in the middle of preparing their income tax returns and several are purchasing that software for that purpose. I address some issues I have with the marketing of that software and the public continues to respond. There is even a representative from the company that produces Ufile who has been quite active in responding to the (mostly negative) comments. There’s value there and my assumption is that this activity has helped to drive even more traffic to the post.

While not nearly as specifically relevant to one time of the year or the other, my post on opening a US bank account as a Canadian has received similar occasional attention. Comments still get posted there periodically, even though the original post was published way back in 2007. The core information is still mostly accurate and relevant. People still have questions and they still have experiences (and advice) that they would like to share. And I’m happy to provide the online venue for that.

Forget About Spam

Given the relative power of anti-spam measures like Akismet, the pros of keeping the comment form open seem to outweigh the cons. I’m also a big supporter of lowering the barrier to entry for comments; many blogs require people to register for accounts before they are able to post comments. That extra step can act as a huge deterrent. While I have not migrated to third-party systems like Disqus, my comment form is open and simple; anyone can post a comment. It’s fast and easy with no pre-registration required.

And on that note, I’d like to turn to you, the Beyond the Rhetoric audience, for your opinion on blog comments. Should the form remain open indefinitely on every post? Should the comments be moderated, screened, or censored? What would encourage you to post comments more often?