Site Maintenance: Discussing Closing Comments on Old Posts

The more popular a site gets, the more spam comments it attracts. This site receives between 100,000 and 200,000 spam posts each year. The spam filter catches most of these, but spammers are always working on clever ways to get around that filter and make me delete those comments manually. Most of those comments are on old posts, often ones months or years old. 

Also, a fairly high percentage of comments on old posts are irrelevant, often in a funny way. Many—dare I say most—comments on older posts are made by people discovering the post on a Google search, and expressing regret or excitement over a story that is often several years old. We see posts of condolences to Stephen Hill’s family on his passing, and posts of excitement (to this day) that Tim Duncan has joined Canton Junction or that David Phelps, Michael English, and Mark Lowry have returned to the Gaither Vocal Band. These posts can be a rather funny, but I can feel quite guilty laughing at someone else’s expense!

For these two reasons, I have been contemplating closing comments on posts older than, say, one month. I would probably add in a message something like: “Comments on this post are now closed. If you want to discuss this topic further, visit one of our weekly Saturday News Roundup / open threads posts [link].”

With all that said, I’m open to be talked out of this. I’m just leaning in this direction—I haven’t made a final decision. I’m also open to being persuaded to setting a different time stamp than one month. Do any of you have opinions on the matter?

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24 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. That sounds fair. Considering there would be a few Saturday News Roundups to post on, that should be sufficient, in our opinion.

  2. Daniel — I would be in favor of your proposal as stated. To me having comments come through on posts that are so old clutters the current comment threads and seem mostly irrelevant anyway. I’ll admit to having gotten a few laughs at some of these and some of them are real “head-scratchers”. Anyway, I’m all for the close outs.

  3. I completely understand what you are saying. I think it was during this years NQC after GVB performed that someone wrote (on another blog) : “I love GVB, where’s Guy Penrod?” That sorta stuff makes me want to jump in there and say ‘apparently you haven’t watched GVB in about 5 years’. Sarcasm abounds! What you are considering would be very beneficial to my mouth, too! Whatever route you choose will be ok with me…as long as you continue with your blog.

  4. Completely understandable. I can’t think of a topic since I started reading this blog that was still active a month later. Keep up the good work, and I support this move.

  5. I agree with you Daniel. I hate all the spam, I recently changed my email just to get rid of all the span.

  6. I think this is a wise decision that would cut down on irrelevant posts and the time it takes for your maintenance of the site.

  7. Thanks, everyone! AJ, I completely agree; you did a great job at putting words to something I intuitively knew but hadn’t quite found a way to state yet: 99.99% of all truly relevant discussion on a post takes place within the first 30 days. In fact, probably 98%-99% takes place within the first 7 days! 🙂

  8. Daniel,

    I think this is a great idea except I wish you would leave the one post about tracks vs live music. There was some comments there that made me roll. I might just get a screen shot of some of those post

  9. As long as the posts themselves remain available to read, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to close comments on the older posts at all.

  10. Just to clarify something that I must not have made all that clear: If I close comments on old posts, (a) the old posts themselves still remain available to read, and (b) the comments already posted on those old posts still remain available to read.

  11. Your site. Your rules. That’s how I look at it.

    • Thanks! If I thought the decision was incredibly clear-cut and obvious, I would have just made it. But, for something like this, I thought there was certainly a possibility that there were factors and details I hadn’t thought through.

  12. I can think of a topic that still remained active a month later, the one about the greatest bass singers. I suggest you extent the time to two months.

  13. WHAT? David Phelps, Michael English, and Mark Lowry joined the Gaither Vocal Band? When did this happen? I love the Gaither Vocal Band and follow them religiously. I haven’t read this anywhere else! What happened to Steve Green, Gary Mcspadden and Lee Young? 😉

  14. But seriously, folks. I think you should look at it on a frequency basis. When the frequency of comments drops below a certain amount per week (or month, whatever), it’d be safe to say the topic is dead and the comments can be closed. Just my humble opinion…

  15. My biggest hesitation in automatically closing old comments is the ongoing valuable discussion around the Songs from the Books of the Bible series.

    • Daniel, why not keep open the ones that you feel are most important and close the others.

      • Well, if I were to do it, I’d pretty much have to do it automatically. I couldn’t imagine doing it manually for 3,300+ posts!

    • I can understand closing it and think it would be a good idea. Concerning the Books of the Bible series, would it be possible to automatically close all of them after a month like you mentioned then go back and reopen comments on those 26 posts?

      Either way you’re doing a great job and if it makes things easier for you, I’d reccomend closing comments after a period of time.

      • The way I was thinking of doing it, using built-in WordPress functionality, the answer is no; but there are other ways to do it where that would be possible.

  16. Maybe close comments on news stories only?

  17. I find it funny that a couple of old stories have been commented on since this post went up yesterday.

    • I have found those funny, too. On the one hand, yes, Aaron McCune has left Gold City, and that happened back in 2009, over four years ago.

      But on the other hand, one of the comments (looking for a particular song) reminded me of the usefulness of having comments open on old posts. That one comment – and the ones it reminded me of – has me giving some serious consideration to keeping things as they are. 🙂

  18. I will support you no matter what Daniel. As may God lead you to doing what is right! Praying!