Blogging Frustrations

You know when you work and you can easily pop next door and have Madeleine or Muhammad (or their counterparts) help with your tech related problems? I so miss that– especially when running a blog!

An ongoing area of blogging frustration for me has been finding the best way to let readers know when I have replied to their comments. Since this comment notification feature is standard in the free version of WordPress, this should be easy to add to a (not so free) self-hosted WordPress site, right? Wrong! Very wrong!

Being a risk-taker, I tried a popular comment plug-in called ‘Discuz.’ Perhaps it was just my site (or my set up?), but for me, Discuz included an overly active captcha. This meant many readers could not comment on my posts at all. That kinda was the opposite of what I was going for!

Being nothing if not tenacious, I tried again.

A few bloggers that I follow have been using CommentLuv. With this plugin, readers can leave a link to their most recent post. What was not to love? Well…a few things actually. Although readers could leave a link, the free version of this plugin has not been updated in WordPress for almost a year. And although I am sure I read a review otherwise, readers still were not notified when I replied to their comments.

Ahhhhhh!

I tried additional comment plugins. On some, readers wrote to say that they could no longer see where to comment on my site. (I am very thankful when readers take the time to let me know these things.) Other comment plugins, which seemed simple enough, had a confusing ‘must subscribe’ email checkbox. That would definitely prevent me from commenting if I saw this on a blog.

I tried writing on help forums. Nada. I tried asking other bloggers what they used. (I discovered that I have many blogging friends who either do not use WordPress or use the free version with that wonderful comment notification feature already included…lucky them!) In the meantime, I received numerous comment-related emails from readers (thank you again!). Some said they still could not find the comment section on my site. Some said that they assumed I was not replying to their comments (I honestly was)! Others asked what the heck had happened to CommentLuv (turns out that many readers did like that feature)!

Insert Me: Banging head on desk.
Insert Richard: “Why don’t you just do things the easy way, and switch to the free WordPress version?” (Seriously, has he met me before?)

Rarely doing things the easy way, I researched. I looked at some great blogging sites (like this and this). I kept on trying.

So where did I end up? For now, I have installed “Comment Approved Notifier,” which automatically sends an email to individual readers once their comment has been approved. Since I always reply to comments at the same time as approving them, this will be my sign to readers that I have replied to their comments. And, since this plugin plays nicely with others, I have also re-added CommentLuv.

Please, let me know what you think. Does this solution work from your end? Or is there a better alternative that I should be trying?

And what about you? What are your blog-related frustrations (as either a reader or writer of blogs)? Perhaps we can help each other (or better still, perhaps there are ‘tech experts’ reading this blog right now who are willing to help us.

66 Replies to “Blogging Frustrations”

  1. Testing, testing!

    I like the free WordPress comment system, though I think it’s also becoming erratic. My app doesn’t always show a flag now when I have a new comment or a reply, whereas it used to be really accurate. If I come across a new blog that doesn’t have that system though I’m less inclined to comment, and I never sign up for email notifications. I get enough emails as it is and I rely on remembering next time I visit a blog that I commented on a previous post and there might be a reply. Doesn’t always work….. If only there was a system that did work really well – nothing existing seems to!
    Anabel Marsh recently posted…Red Lodge to Estes ParkMy Profile

    1. Hi, Anabel – I’m sorry to hear that the free WordPress comment system has been erratic recently. I have been in total envy of bloggers like you who use that system. It does seem like there should be a simple, hassle free comment system out there. Thanks for stopping by and sharing, I greatly appreciate it.

  2. I use the free WP version (and I’m curious why you chose not to?). The comment icon can be occasionally erratic but overall I catch them all. I have a few bloggers I follow on Blogger or other sites and unless I remember, I don’t ever see a follow-up to my comment. I tried subscribing to comments once but I ended up getting everyone’s comments and I don’t want all those emails. I am not savvy enough for a self-hosted site so I’m not much help. Although one non-WP blogger I follow has some system that automatically fills in my info when I comment making it easier. She has a block that I have to check that says “I am not a robot.” No other captcha. I will try to find her and if I get info, I’ll let you know. She blogs for a community site so I think she has access to help (I miss that from my working days too.)

    1. Thanks, Kate – This is helpful and encouraging feedback. I appreciate knowing what features readers/fellow bloggers like when using a comment system. As to why I chose to self host my blog….I had no idea what I was doing so assumed paid (and harder) would be better. Go figure!

  3. I think all of us come across problems and inconsistencies with our blogging platform. I changed to WordPress with my current blog from Blogger with my previous (sailing) blog and I still prefer WordPress. Like you, I have a self-hosted site and, to be honest, I don’t really know whether readers get my comments (I do receive answers to my questions back to some of them, though). I assume they do, if they have clicked the “notify me of follow-up comments by email”, which is what I do with other blogs I commented to. Once I see the reply, I unsubscribe from the email notifications to reduce the amount of emails in my inbox. Good for you, doing so much effort to figure this out, Donna. I am often too lazy to get to the bottom of issues and after a while, they have “fixed themselves” sometimes. 🙂 How do you find out your readers don’t get notified?
    Liesbet recently posted…WW – Spring is in the AirMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Liesbet – I hadn’t thought of subscribing to comments and then unsubscribing once my comment was replied to. That’s a great idea!! I find that the blogging community is incredibly generous. Readers/fellow bloggers wrote to say they were not receiving notification when I replied to their comments (but that they did receive notifications from other blogs).

      1. I forgot to say that I always saw your replies via my inbox. And, it is still working. I assume all the people that didn’t receive them before had marked the “comment follow-up button”… (That would have been an easy fix if they didn’t :-))
        Liesbet recently posted…WW – Spring is in the AirMy Profile

        1. Thanks, Liesbet – Many readers do not like to check the WP.org “comment follow-up button” because it generates too many emails in their inbox. What most of them would prefer is a “notify me of replies to my comment only” button. Until a good solution for that is found, your suggestion to ‘follow’ and then ‘unfollow’ once your comment is replied to, is a great idea. Thank you for sharing this!

  4. When I moved back from self hosted wp, I was so happy that comments were easier to navigate. When I was self-hosted, because I kept the wp dot com “active” and could still log in and show up in the reader, comments still worked. I have had many problems in trying to reply to a comment back to someone’s post (who are self-hosted) and the “reply failed” in red letters pops up. I follow many SH bloggers and leave comments but never hear back. That’s OK but I’m sure they are trying to create a little dialogue on the blog (yes that rhymes). Good luck finding a comment plug in that works! I hate discus by the way! It only links to my google account which logs me in under my old name, so people don’t know who I am (and I I can’t change it in google–I’ve tried.) I comment no matter what!!

    1. Hi, Terry – Dialogue is definitely what I am after! Thanks for your additional feedback on Discuz–that is good to know. You were lucky to be able to keep your WordPress.com site ‘active’ when you switched to .org. I began with a self-hosted site, so that option is out for me. Hopefully, my most recent solution will work for now. Fingers crossed!

  5. This whole conversation feels way over my head! (Maybe this is why I don’t have many commenters on my own blog.) I comment on other’s blogs when I feel like I can add to the conversation; I sometimes get notification they responded, sometimes don’t. If I’m a regular reader and I’m looking to see if it sparked something deeper than “thanks for commenting”, I might also check back next time I read their blog. I did like your “link my blog” tool and happy to see that back!! I’m on wordpress-free so I live with their changing elements.
    Pat recently posted…My Anti-climactic MilestoneMy Profile

    1. You give a great reminder that although the grass often seems greener for others, each system has its own pros and cons. I’m glad that you are happy to see CommentLuv reinstalled. This feedback is very helpful.

  6. This has been an ongoing issue and I can sense your frustration Donna! I’ve tried leaving messages on your blog in the past and admit to having trouble too. I get out off by having to jump through so many hoops just to leave a comment (not just on your blog by the way). I use WordPress.com (premium plan) but not self hosted and touch wood I have had very few problems. I have it set to automatically approve comments after the first one has been allowed and I like it that way. In regard to yours I have been ticking the box to get notified of follow up comments but like others have said I I don’t need extra emails popping in!! I don’t like that some blogs only allow for email subscriptions either, but I understand why they are that way. Hope you get things sorted out to your satisfaction, I do enjoy reading your posts so don’t want to miss out.

    1. Thanks so much, Debbie. I love reading your posts too and feel that we have much in common. I’ve always found your blog easy to comment on, and I do receive notice when you have replied to my comment. Fingers crossed that what I have implemented now will do the trick. If not, I will keep on trying!

  7. I’m sorry for your troubles, Donna. I have noticed some “anomalies” with your site (and you have mentioned that my comments go into your SPAM folder). It’s been confusing to me because since you too have a WordPress site, I figured your site would work the same as mine. Anyway, I hope you have figured out the problems. I’ll let you know if I receive the notification I’m supposed to receive after I send this message to you. Regardless of all of this, I enjoy your blog. 🙂 – Marty

    1. Hi, Marty – Thanks for commenting and for your kind words. Your comments (including this one) do consistently end up in my spam folder. I haven’t yet figured out why. Usually, it is just your comment in there–but today you were joined by Janis (Retirementally Challenged) which is unusual because she has never been in the spam folder previously. What other anomalies have you noticed on my site? I greatly appreciate any feedback that you can give so that I can continue to work away on them (or simply switch over to the free site if it all becomes too much of a hassle! 🙂 )
      BTW – Are you using WordPress.com or are you self-hosted with WordPress.org?

      1. Hi, Donna. I got my notification! That part is working normal! I’m on WordPress.com (I guess it’s the “free” one, but I do pay an $18 registration fee every year to supposedly keep the site “unlisted.”). I remember your saying my comments always go into your SPAM folder, which I agree is strange since I’m probably not accessing it any differently than others. The way your site is different from others is that comments you make in response don’t show up as a notification to me, as they do on the other WP blogs. I wonder if that’s because you’re self-hosting?

        1. Hi, Marty –
          There you were in my spam box again…this time alone…not hanging out with Janis!
          The only other legitimate comments that previously were in my spam box were from Pat (Retirement Transition). After I ‘unspammed’ them a few times, my site ‘learned’ that they were legit and Pat no longer ends up in my spam folder. So hopefully this will happen in your case as well.
          Thanks for sharing these details with me. The more feedback I get, the better I can attempt to fix any problems of abnormalities on my site.
          From the feedback that I received yesterday, it looks like readers are now receiving notification from my site that I have responded to their comments. Fingers crossed this continues to work!

  8. Hi Donna. As you know, I’m on WP free (although I’m considering going premium – not self-hosted – because I think it may give me more options). I love getting notices that my comments have received a reply but I’m not sure why I get that from some blogs and not others. If I have left a comment that (I hope) generates a thoughtful reply, I just check back to the original link until I see it. This, of course junks up my email box, but I don’t know how else to do that.

    I like CommentLuv so I’m happy that you’ve reinstalled it.

    I really appreciate that you are looking for a good solution that works for you and your readers. It is so helpful to get feedback from those who are navigating our blogs – good and bad. We don’t know what we don’t know, until someone tells us.
    Janis recently posted…GratiTuesday: The Desert’s Super BloomMy Profile

    1. Hi, Janis – I have heard great things about the WordPress.com premium site. If I do ever leave self-hosted, WP premium would definitely be my choice. I also find that it is helpful to get notices when my comments have been replied to. Without that feature, I often forget to go back and check (and thus can miss out on some great dialogue). Hopefully, what I have just implemented will address the comment-reply issue. Although I know that there will be other self-hosted issues to address. (For example, as I just mentioned to Marty above that both of your comments ended up in my spam folder. I honestly have no idea why…but am now off to try to figure that out)!

      1. I have no idea how Marty and I ended up in your spam folder. I promise that we behaved ourselves and didn’t cause any mischief while we were in there.

        It was weird not to see my comment instantly appear – I was afraid that I did something wrong and I’d have to type the whole thing over again (it happens sometimes on some non-WP blogs I follow and I usually just give up). Anyway, I received the notice that my comment was approved (yippee!).
        Janis recently posted…GratiTuesday: The Desert’s Super BloomMy Profile

        1. Hi, Janis – My apologies for not checking my spam folder earlier. I usually check it fairly regularly (you never know when Marty might be hiding in there!). When I hadn’t heard from you earlier, I assumed you were out enjoying your Sunday.
          I’m glad that the comment-notifier plugin is now working.
          PS – I just did a bit of research and looking around and I have no idea how or why your comment ended up as spam. I will continue trying to figure this out. I would hate to lose comments and have readers give up on commenting. That would be horrible!

  9. I didn’t realize you were also on WP. Just from the way it’s so *non-interactive*, I assumed it was a different platform.

    This has been an interesting problem from my perspective. As my free site is about to max-out, these are problems I wouldn’t have anticipated having when I start to pay for my site.
    I assumed it would just continue working the way it always did before. Now I’m not so sure.

    1. Hi, Joanne – I agree that this is an interesting problem to have across various WordPress sites. I too would have thought that standard features were….well…standard. If you are upgrading within WordPress.com (e.g. to Premium WordPress) then I believe the standard features are the same. It is when you move to WordPress.org (self-hosted) that larger variations occur. Here is a link of a comparison to WordPress.com and WordPress.org. I hope that this is helpful.

      1. Thanks Donna. This getting an email to say my comment has been approved works 🙂
        It seems that as long as I just upgrade my space availability, I’ll be ok. That’s good to know. I’m all for low maintenance and ease of use 😉
        Joanne Sisco recently posted…On This DayMy Profile

        1. Hi, Joanne – I am happy to hear that you just need to upgrade your space availability. That sounds like a simple solution.
          And thanks again for letting me know that my site was not notifying readers once I had replied to their comments. Hopefully, now I can quit struggling with the technical side of my blog, and start enjoying further engagement with readers and fellow bloggers!

          1. Actually, it has already happened. I have received more comments and interaction on this post than ever before. Thanks again! 😀

  10. Hi Donna,
    For what it’s worth, I use the free plugin Comment Form 7 and am quite happy with how it performs. As you know, I’m on a self-hosted site although I don’t have your courage when it comes to setting everything up myself. I rely on my wonderful web guy. He designs sites all of the time and he’s the one that chose Comment Form 7. Hope that helps. Karen

    1. Hi, Karen – Thank you for this recommendation. I have read reviews on Contact 7 and most say that proper use of this plugin takes some knowledge of HTML and CSS. It sounds like a great plugin to create contact forms. From what I read, I believe that Contact Form 7 does not send out notification to readers when their comments are replied to. I will definitely tuck this recommendation away for the future. Thanks for sharing this.

  11. Sorry, Donna. The message I just sent left out two important points. I’m tired tonight and not thinking very clearly. I wanted to say – I have no idea if Comment Form 7 will do what you want in terms of notification. I know I don’t have that but I chose not to. I’m not sure if it’s a feature you can enable.
    My other thought is a wondering if you’ve ever used the expertise available on Fiverr. There are tons of website experts there and you can probably get the help you need for a fiver (in U.S. funds).
    Now I’m going to bed. Hopefully when I wake up, the synapses will be firing again.

    1. Hi, Karen – Thank you for adding these details. Both of your comments sound very coherent to me. I’m always happy to muck around until I can figure something out (she says with confidence). Thank you for the Fiver recommendation. I don’t know much about this site but will definitely take a look. Have a great sleep!

  12. Sorry, I don’t use WordPress — I heard it was too complicated! — so I can’t be of any help. But it sounds like you’re figuring it out. So will that allow me to make a comment when I go to your site, without having to click on the individual post?
    Tom Sightings recently posted…How Things Have ChangedMy Profile

    1. Hi, Tom – Thanks for commenting. My understanding of WordPress.com (both the free and premium versions) is that users like them and they are fairly straightforward. It is WordPress.org (self-hosted) that is a bit trickier (but does has endless user-control options)! When addressing the comment-notification issue, I went with the simplest plugin possible, so it only addresses that one issue. I didn’t know that you could comment on some sites without clicking onto an individual post…can you do that on Blogger?

  13. I always opt out of those emails when someone has them set…I don’t really want to know when someone replies to my comments. That might not be worth much if I’m the only one who feels that way! I’d rather the blogger leave a comment on my blog than reply to mine…but again, I know some blog readers may care about that sort of thing.
    Stephanie Faris recently posted…Mystery Monday: Lindsay BuziakMy Profile

    1. Hi, Stephanie – Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I greatly appreciate hearing all different points of view about blogging/reading blogs. For me, one of my biggest joys in blogging is the ‘interaction’ and ‘discussion’ on topics of interest. I love that in the blogosphere I can easily find people who deeply share my passions and can offer thought-provoking points of view!

      1. Hi, Leanne – Thanks for providing these extra details. I’ve greatly appreciated receiving different points of view. Seeing the bigger picture has been incredibly helpful to me.

  14. Well, there’s lots of comments so something must be working right Donna! Sorry I wasn’t much help to you in regard to email confirmation of replies (you know I don’t like lots of email replies arriving in my inbox so it wasn’t a big deal for me). I’m glad you seem to have it fairly sorted now – there’s always something raising it’s head to frustrate us in the blogging world.
    I lost my “read more” button when I updated my theme and can’t get it back – I just have to hope people figure out how to read the whole post – grrrr.
    Leanne | crestingthehill recently posted…Wind-Back Wednesday ~ Now is Your TimeMy Profile

    1. Hi, Leanne – Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. Each comment that I have received about my ‘blogging frustrations’ has been very useful.
      BTW – I just stopped by your site, and I had no problem at all ‘reading more.’ I just clicked on the title (and clicking on the comments worked too). Since many blogs that I follow operate this way, I would not have noticed anything unusual at all if you hadn’t mentioned your frustrations with this. Hope this helps!

  15. If I want to know that a comment I made was responded to, I go back and look.
    Am I the only one? Maybe.
    I comment on a lot of blogs (etiquette), but I don’t want or need an email from every one of them (too many emails!). JMO.
    I make regular comments on blogs (& specific posts) that interest me. Not every post has to be a dazzler, but I like the camaraderie built by back & forth visits & comments.
    If I visit a blogger who never does me the simple courtesy of also reading & commenting on my blog, then I don’t feel any pull to revisit.
    Sometimes a blog is interesting to me, but has too much advertising & pop ups (irritating); in such cases the content has to be really, consistently good for me to bother with them at all.
    Mrs Shoes recently posted…Surprise!!My Profile

    1. Thanks, Mrs. Shoes – I greatly appreciate you sharing these specifics. I too absolute LOATHE popups on blogs. Usually they slow down my reading (thus hampering my full enjoyment of the post)…only to want me to subscribe. Like you, I will subscribe to a blog when the writing is good and the content consistently of interest. I also LOVE the camaraderie that comments can help build. Thanks for stopping by!

    1. Great minds think alike! I was just over at your site reading your recent post. I love the Langston Hughes quote…and Little Frost!

    1. Thanks, Grammy Dee – I am greatly enjoying your linkups. I find the other participants to be very social, which I LOVE. And you are an excellent host!

    1. Hi, Janet – Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Comment notification is a standard feature on WordPress.com, just not self-hosted WordPress. I think my new solutions is working so far (she says with confidence). Similarly, I find that I can easily ‘like’ posts on WordPress.com, just not on self-hosted WordPress sites. The is another challenge for me to look into. I appreciate you sharing this.

    1. Hello, Jean: Thank you for stopping by and commenting. After much trial and error, the simple plugin ‘Comment Approved Notifier Extended’ seemed to do the trick for me. It notifies readers once their comments have been approved on my site. As I always reply at the same time as approving, I believe that this has now solved my problem (she says with fingers crossed). If you can add plugins to your site this may work for you too. I love being notified when my comment has been responded to (because I often forget to go back and check on my own…and great dialogue can be lost). Like many readers, I do not wish to subscribe to comments simply because I can’t deal with that many emails in my inbox! Hope this helps.

  16. PS One of my biggest frustrations as a commenter on other people’s blogs is when they have the Google+ commenting system. I am not on Google+ (and don’t want to sign up for one more thing!), and many people are not on it, but only those who are on Google+ can comment on blogs with that commenting system.
    Jean | DelightfulRepast.com recently posted…Perfect Pound CakeMy Profile

    1. Hello again! Thank you for adding this detail. Although I do have a Google+ account, I really do not know how to use it. I didn’t realize that Google+ had its own commenting system. Thank you for sharing this, it is very good to know! I am off to check out ‘Perfect Pound Cake’ now…mine are far less than perfect!!

  17. Hi Donna. I’m no expert on self-hosting blogging, but I do know that some bloggers, who blog with WordPress, don’t have that little box in their comments section that says ‘tick here if you’d like to know when your comment has been replied to’. I’ve pointed this out to some bloggers who have all then gone into their blog settings and ticked a box so that the feature appears.

    By biggest frustration with blogging is having all my comments captured by the WordPress spam monster! It’s happened to me three times and the people at WordPress can’t explain why it happens. However, when I do report it they are pretty quick at getting it sorted out for me.

    1. Thanks, Hugh – I have searched and searched for that mysterious checkbox. I’m off to write to WordPress again. Thank you for this very useful information!

        1. Thanks, Hugh. I have read that page repeatedly but have not seen the checkbox that you mentioned. Am I missing something?
          PS- Thank you for your patience with this!

  18. Donna, your question is too advanced for me! I still haven’t even figured out how to set Blogger to allow replies to comments.

    Like several other responders, I too don’t like to have my email inbox filled with comments and notifications. I simply go back to the blog to see if there are any additional comments on posts of interest.

    Jude
    Dr Sock recently posted…A Sentimental JourneyMy Profile

    1. Hi, Jude – I have appreciated receiving varied points of view to my ‘comment-reply’ frustrations. For me, I find it hard to go back to check on a comment that I have made, unless I get a specific reminder. I think that what I have set up now is working so far. Hopefully it is non-intrusive. It certainly seemed to increase the comments, and the dialogue, on my last post….or perhaps it was just a controversial topic!

    1. Thanks, Dee – I am greatly enjoying your weekly ‘Amuse-Inspire-Make-us-Laugh Link Up’. I’ve been finding many like-minded people there and everyone is very interactive. I was delighted to have received the most clicks. Thank you so much for this!

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