Comments make blogs come alive. Encourage them on yours!
Allowing visitors to leave comments on your blog is a great way to build a community around your site. The same way that participating in discussions on other blogs will have positive repercussions on your own.
Participating, not spamming!
However, on certain blogs it is not always possible to easily follow a single discussion without having to subscribe to the whole RSS comments feed. And if your blog is aimed at a non-technical audience, you really should take extra steps to remove all the barriers that could get in the way of people engaging with you or it.
Allowing people to follow a discussion by email, should therefore be high on your list of priorities, as should offering email subscription alerts. WordPress has many plugins available and the one I would recommend for this task is called subscribe to comments by Mark Jaquith.
What does subscribe to comments do?
Subscribe to comments adds a small checkbox to your comment form, allowing people to subscribe to discussions by email.
On smaller blogs it is a great way to get responses as people who left a comment automatically get alerted when someone replies to it. The plugin also allows to follow a conversation without having to join in, and your visitors don’t have to be familiar with RSS technology, which can be a real bonus on accountancy blogs. Finally, it is easy to subscribe and unsubscribe to any alerts so, even on larger blogs with lots of comments, the benefits are clear… for both user and blog owner.
Like many WordPress plugins, subscribe to comments is a doddle to install and configure, simply download the zip file and upload the folder to your WordPress plugin directory. Then go to:
Admin > Settings > Subscribe to Comments
Making it better
The plugin comes with the subscription box unticked by default, which is counter-productive for the task at hand. You can change this to have the checkbox automatically ticked, but it requires some PHP programming knowledge to do so. Have a chat with your web developers about it, as any plugin update will also revert back to the default state of being unticked.