Closing Out Comments On Older Posts?

I switched to a new comment system (more on that later today or tomorrow) on August 7th, two weeks ago.

Since then I’ve received 22 comments that are not comment spam on the old typepad system. I haven’t kept count of how many total comments I’ve received on the old typepad comment system in the past two weeks but the past 24 hours was typical. A dozen comments and only one that I kept.

Comment spam on typepad is a huge problem. I’ve tried captchas, I’ve tried blacklisting IP addresses, I’ve tried blacklisting certain words. Nothing seems to solve the problem. I guess when I was getting thirty to fifty comments per day I could live with ten of them being spam.

But now that I am getting only a dozen a day, I wonder if its even worth keeping the old comment system open. I’ll certainly keep the comments that are resident there. They are as important as the posts. But I am seriously thinking of closing comments on all my posts made prior to August 7, 2007.

If you have something to say on one of those old posts, do it now.

It also suggests that Six Apart, the company that provides the typepad service, should allow bloggers to close comments on old posts. The vast majority of comment spam comes on old posts. The vast majority of legit comments come on new posts. I think one small but important step in managing the comment spam problem is to allow bloggers to close comments out on older posts.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Chris O'Donnell

    I use a plug in with WordPress to close comments on posts after 14 days, and have done so for years. It dramatically reduces comment spam, and as you state, the reality is very few useful comments come in after the post rolls off the front page anyway.

  2. Martin Gordon

    I’ve closed comments on the my blog for posts older than a year after realizing that I was getting tons of spam on older posts. I do provide a contact form on my blog, and I think my closed comments note mentions it as an alternate way of commenting. In contrast, I get very little spam on my contacts form, probably one or two messages a month.You do have your email address listed, so maybe making a note of that on the “Comments are closed” text would be a good idea (if it’s possible under your current setup).

  3. Ric

    Fred – you can … see screenshot:… – the “more actions” dropdown includes close comments and close trackbacks …

  4. terrycojones

    Interesting observation, and true in my experience too.Amount of time since original posting should be factored into probabilistic spam detection. I’ve seen startups founded on lesser ideas 🙂

    1. obscurelyfamous

      Definitely not a thought to write off… there’s more to it of course, but you’re on the right idea path.

  5. obscurelyfamous

    It’s really an interesting problem.While a good number of comments on older posts are spam, I think there are still good reasons to leave the discussion open on older material. The approach to spam and comment preservation is just going to have to be that much better.

  6. RG

    Fred,Is the problem that sixapart’s typepad has no spam protection or that it just really sucks?I’ve had pretty good success in the past with Automattic’s Akismet. They claim to have a .001% miss rate. AND its free for personal use (just the way it should be) http://www.akismet.comA quick google search brought up this plugin: http://plugins.movabletype…. but i’m not sure if you can use that on typepad or not.I see you complain a lot about comment spam on here, but have never seen Akismet brought up before.Good Luck!-RG

    1. Greg (Wise Bread)

      I can totally vouch for Akismet. We went from dealing with dozens of comment spam a day before Akismet to forgetting what spam looked liked. Akismet is that good.Cheers,Greg

  7. Jonathan Marks

    agree with you. My experience is that there is little conversation lost by closing the comments on posts older than 30 days. I have had excellent e-mails from people who have been trawling a specific subject and come up with the blog entry through Google or Yahoo. But they didn’t need the comments space to do that. Success with your blog….its a must read here in Europe.

  8. Tom W.

    Fred, I’d personally never close out comments on the old posts – I have several years-old threads that I love. Bet you have a few – I’d urge you not to close the old threads.

  9. RA

    Typepad does need this feature… but what it needs even more is pagination.It is the only big blog platform out there that currently provides you with no way of seeing older posts at the bottom of the page (and the familiar “Older” – “Recent” navigation). For people who host ads and get paid by page views this is easy money left on the table). Instead of generating several page views by allow users an easy way to get to the next page of posts most people will just leave the page. Since Typepad has schemes to share ad revenues with bloggers this is also money that Six Apart doesnt get.They have been promising this forever but it never comes.

  10. RacerRick

    If older comment posts are closed… the last hole in the Fred Wilson communication defense system will be plugged.

  11. jackson

    A little off topic here, as I think it’s a no-brainer – shut ’em down, I don’t think Danielha should get points. Can Lotto employees play Lotto?Hey, what do we win anyway?

  12. jackson

    Okay, now I’m getting a bit concerned. It seems to me that Danielha has an unfair advantage, like it’s part of his job description to be checking your blog, and well, he’s probably a much faster typer than I am, and shit man, I got things to do, how am I supposed to keep my King of Comments status?Danielha, love ya man, but this is my corner, got it?

    1. fredwilson

      you have a four year advantage and Daniel’s hopefuly going to come up with a way you can comment in your sleep 🙂

  13. Zaid

    Closing older posts to reduce spam is still beating around the bush. Let’s say this idea becomes popular and gets well adopted…it will take a couple of clicks for spammers to stop spamming old posts with comments closed and go after the new posts.This may be a solution–but a very temporary one.

  14. Drew Meyers

    Totally agree with your suggestion. I’d love to be able to close all comments on every post over a month old. WordPress is great, but I haven’t been able to figure out how to do this — anyone know?

  15. simon

    definatly shut them down.

  16. Raj

    In our analysis, we find that the vast majority of comments attached to older posts can be attributed to spam comments by a significant majority. Very, very little value is gleaned by keeping old posts open for longer than 2 weeks or so.

  17. Shannon Clark

    A variation you might consider is to start by closing comments on non-commented, old posts (i.e. ones without a comment). For ones with a comment you might reset the timer on closing them to comments based on the last comment (initially I’d suggest trying 14 days after the last comment, but you might also play with variations that shorten that period over time – active discussions might remain open for months even years, but mostly dormant ones would shutdown.There is indeed value to the comments in certain old posts – I know of many bloggers whose old posts on a given topic have sparked a small community in the comment threads for a given post (usually on topics hard to find elsewhere online). On my own blog the majority of my comments happen around when I post something – but not uncommonly they pick up again when a post is picked up by another blog.Shannon

  18. Mat

    Closing comments on old posts is an unfortunate concession to spammers that limits the level of discourse in the blogosphere. We should not be so willing to let spammers take this point.Fred, surely you have come across plenty of older blog posts where the discussion thread has “come back to life” after some time? To unilaterally prevent this from happening is tragic.A better solution is to simply do a better job filtering spam comments, and to make spam management less of a burden on bloggers. It’s not impossible.

  19. Prakash

    Let’s forget the spam issue for a while….just the thought that the blogger should be able to close comments is a good one.

  20. Kostas