Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

Making WordPress More Friendly


I consider my main website and blog, but most people who comment on my entries do so on Livejournal, where the posts are mirrored.

Is there any way I can make my WordPress blog more friendly, so that you are more likely to comment there?

Today I added comment notification — commenters will receive an email when someone responds to their comment, just like on Livejournal. (You can disable this option by unchecking the relevant box under your comment.)

I realize this may be a losing battle. Most people who use Livejournal simply skim through all their friends entries on one page. It’s very quick and easy to comment, which means people do it more often. Even one extra click can deter someone from posting a “LOL!” or “Me, too!” after an entry. (Personally, I hate logging in or jumping through anti-spam hoops, like CAPTCHA.)

Those of you that request people comment only on their main blog and not on Livejournal, is that working for you?

As always, suggestions and comments welcome.

About the author

Jenn Reese


  • I haven't attempted to steer people back to my website; I figure that as long as I'm doing the mirroring, I need to do the support of both places. I'll be curious to see what luck people have had with channeling comments elsewhere.

    I found that, even in responding to your specific post on point, I had trouble making my fingers click on "there" instead of the automatic LJ comment button – that's just muscle memory, counter-acting your preference.

    Once I was on your site, I needed to set my name, email, and website – not a big deal, but three more split-second delays, all of which argue against making the comment switch.

    Eternal thank yous to *not* having a registration system – I won't go through those, unless (as recently happened) my correspondent has threatened suicide, and I'm trying to reach out to him/her…

    • I wonder if there's some way I can just let people post? Or include an LJ login? I really don't want to make it more complicated, but I do realize that having to type our names, etc. is more than most of us want to do. (I'm in that boat, too.)

      I appreciate your comments about the LJ comment wording, too. "There" is such a weak linking word — it's very poor usability. Maybe I can find a way to modify that notification.

      I also won't use registration systems unless under extreme duress. I feel it's my job to deal with spam and trolls, not my commenter's.

    • I have experimented with that in the past, and found that comments drop off significantly. (Not that I'm getting a ton in general.) And I find on Susan's blog — and for others that do that — I am less likely to comment myself. If there's a registration system of any sort, I give up instantly.

      So I am part of the problem, too. Just hoping someone else has a better idea.

      • Hmm, I don't know. As it is, I'd long since forgotten that you preferred people to comment here (if you'd ever expressed a preference).

        My gut feeling is that there's no way to move the mass of comments over here from LJ, because most people commenting on LJ aren't so much commenting on your blog as they're commenting on LJ — they're participating in the "LJ" community, not the "readers of Jenn's blog" community.

        • I've never expressed a preference, because that's not how I want it to work. I want people to comment however is easiest for them. If I can make it super easy on WordPress, maybe folks will migrate here naturally. But in the end, I'd rather have comments and check a dozen places, than lose even one comment by expressing or enforcing a preference on readers.

          I think you're on to something, though, with your "commenting on LJ" theory.

  • Wellll, I just had to re-enter my user info to comment here, which I don't have to do on LJ.

    Does WordPress do threaded comments now? Because that's THE main reason for me to stay on LJ, because for me it's all about the conversation, the little chats that break out in the comment section.

    Also, yeah, the skimming through all on one page is nice. It's true that one extra click can block me. I had a friend who for a while started her entries on LJ and then used a cut-tag to link to her "real" blog, and I rarely bothered to click through. Sad, but true.

    HOWever! If you want comments here, I am happy to do it. It's funny, because I often visit your blog via your announcement on Twitter, and then purposely go seek out the LJ version to comment. Which means extra clicks (duh!), but I just assume that any comment-conversation will be going on over there.

    • I honestly want people to do whatever is easiest and most likely to get them to comment. I don't want folks to alter their patterns to suit me — I don't think that's how the web should work. So I'm wondering if there are things I can do on my end that will make you *want* to use this blog.

      Yes, WordPress does threaded comments now. I'm not sure if it would sustain such huge comment threads as LJ, but then again, I never have that many comments anyway. :)

      Thanks for testing it out! Let me know if the email notification of my response does everything you need it to do — I can modify the template if I want.

      • Yup, the email comment thingy worked. And I see there ARE threaded comments. That does make a difference. I don't like commenting up against a brick wall (which is what non-threaded feels like to me).

        I had another thought, which is that allowing comments in both places might split the comments and thus the conversation. I worry about that sometimes when commenting on your blog, like, am I missing half of the responses?

        If I knew for sure that this is the main site, where comments are most welcome, I would certainly comment here. It'd be easier, really, as I'm more often visiting your blog via Twitter, as I said.

        • The comments are already split, with most writers commenting on LJ and most of my other contacts (from Facebook and Twitter) using WordPress. I'm looking into ways to combine the comments, but haven't found anything yet. It could be that those two communities will always remain separate, but I'd love to find some magical solution that makes everyone prefer one site over the other.

          Thanks for your comments!

  • You could integrate Facebook connect or an OpenID system to allow people to use those logins to access your comments here. Looks like there are plugins for WordPress for those, although I haven't tried them so they may not be worth it.

    • Hey Vince! (Do I get to still say Jim?) I will definitely try to incorporate OpenID, Facebook Connect, and Twit connect as soon as I find plugins that work. Thanks for the suggestion!!

  • I've been wondering this myself. I honestly think it's a matter of not wanting to go through an extra click and leave the page or open a new tab in the browser, then have to provide identifying information or log in. Since this annoys me as a user, I've enabled comments in either place. I'd be interested if there were a way to mirror comments in both sites.

    • I actually found a plugin that says it can do that, but I haven't been able to get it to work. And if you reply to a mirrored comment, the person doesn't see your comment on LJ. Still, it's nice that the potential for that option exists, and that people are started to see this as a problem and devising solutions. The plugin is called "LJ Comments Import: Reloaded," and requires the LJ Crossposter plugin, which I already run.

    • Livejournal doesn’t have an RSS feed of comments, and it has no way of incorporating an RSS feed from elsewhere, so I don’t think you can mirror comments (and threading it would probably be horrendously complicated to implement).

      One thing that the livejournal RSS feed does have though is a ‘comment count’. The way I exploited this in Steph’s website mirror is to pull the number of comments from the RSS feed and put it at the end of the blog entry on the website. (See for example). That at least gives people an idea that there is a discussion going on elsewhere. Not ideal, but better than it could be. Not sure if there’s any way of doing it in the other direction, though.

        • (Ah, I was confused and wondered if Jenn had coded Steph's site. Which is lovely, by the way. This is the first time I've seen this new design.)

          That's actually a very elegant solution. Are you using a plugin to accomplish that? (My HTML is rusty and CSS is beyond me at the moment.) I think I'd like to try something like that. But for the most part these days I'm mirroring from my website to my LJ, and anything that is more personal than professional will just go on LJ directly.

          • Steph's website doesn't run on WordPress. So, I did use a modified plugin, but for the CMS that it uses.

            Incidentally, I've never understood how people mirror on LJ. Do you do it manually, or is there some automatic way of doing it?

            • My website runs on WordPress, which might as well be magic–there's a plugin called JournalPress that I use to crosspost to LJ. I can choose whether I want it to do so automatically when I publish the post or when I flag it, and I can even select the LJ icon I want to use. It also carries over all the tags I've applied to it. I've only been on WordPress for a short while, but so far so good.

            • I used a plugin called Livejournal Crossposter than handles it automatically. The one Eugene uses is the only other one I've heard of that also works.

      • Patrick, that's a brilliant solution!! I definitely want to implement that immediately.

        I also found a plugin called "LJ Comments Import: Reloaded" that supposedly imports ("syncs") LJ comments to your WordPress blog. I couldn't get it to work yesterday, but didn't put a whole lot of time into it.

        I think I may actually prefer your solution anyway. Thank you!!!

        (I am mostly concerned that it looks like there are no comments on WordPress, when there is actually a discussion on LJ. It makes my blog seem very empty sometimes.)

        • Interesting. I'm not surprised it doesn't manage to completely sync full threads. It would be possible, in theory, but it would be bloody difficult. I agree about the 'zero comments' issue, which is why we did what we did on Steph's site. If there's a livejournal plugin that processes RSS feeds, then it should be fairly trivial to just strip out the number of comments from the feed.

  • There is a significant difference between a website and something like livejournal. Livejournal consists of an already-existing community, and in particular, a community of people who are already interconnected in various ways. It's generally easier to get a conversation going in an existing community than to create a new one.

    But it's probably worth actually analyzing in more detail the comments that you get on livejournal. How many different people actually comment? How are they connected to you and to each other?

    I suspect your answers will be: a relatively small number of people (a couple of dozen to a couple of hundred, depending on your journal readership), and that many of them know you, either in person or online, or know people who know you. Livejournal is essentially a fairly closed community, and you probably don't get a great number of new visitors per blog entry.

    The real question you should ask is 'what's the point of my blog?' If it's to have interaction with and get support of a fairly closed group, then livejournal should be your focus. If it's to promote your writing (particularly your novels) to new people, then your website is probably a better bet. Take a look at your web stats for both livejournal and the website, and see how many visitors (and, more importantly, how many unique visitors) you get, and that will probably give you a better idea of who is actually reading the blog in both places.

    I guess I'm saying that, just because you get more comments on livejournal, it may not be working as a promotional blog; it may just be people who already know you or know about you having a conversation with you. If that's what you're looking for, fine. If not, don't take too much notice of the number of comments.

    (With regards to making it easier to sign in and comment, do look for plugins that integrate Facebook, Twitter, Blogger and so on ids, to avoid the typing issue. Maybe something like Disqus has a plugin.)

    • This is a great post, Patrick. I've been thinking about my separate audiences for years, and then Twitter came along and muddied the waters somewhat. Before then, LJ was almost exclusively other writers, and people who came to my WordPress blog were other friends, family, and generally less web-connected folks. I imagine that when I have books out, the WordPress blog will be more active.

      The point of my blog is provide an easy location for information about my books and stories, and as many ways to contact me as possible. I want to be findable. The blog portion of my WordPress site (and LJ) are about me being me. Not marketing, just insight into my life. That part is more for me and not for marketing in any way. The blog itself is not intended to be promotional.

      On the other hand, I think it looks bad to have strings of blog posts with "No comments," especially when there may be several on LJ, or people might enjoy the comments over there. So I'd either like to combine commenting into one site (more and more unlikely) or find a way to at least indicate that other discussions are occurring. I love how you've handled that for Steph, so thank you so much for the idea!

      Regarding plugins: Tried to install Disqus and couldn't get it to work, but I may try again. I particularly love that you can post as a guest, which I really want for WordPress.

      Thanks again for all the great ideas and thought-provoking comments!!

      • Getting Disqus to work on Steph's journal was an enormous pain in the butt. I could not get the Facebook or Twitter logins to work. I see they've redone it a bit since, but I haven't tested the Facebook or Twitter to see if they work now.

        • I've installed Disqus (what a pain!) and migrated my comments, but I see one big problem: Is there no way to notify commenters of a response to their comment, unless they "subscribe" to the entire conversation? That's really irritating. I'll keep looking for a solution, but I don't see anything yet.

  • Personally? I don't like LJ. Or Blogger. Half the time if you're not a part of their communities, you are treated like vermin when you want to leave a message, unless the blogger allows the name/url combo. But not all bloggers do.

    So me? I love WordPress!

By Jenn Reese
Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

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