Why “Comment Reply Notification” Is A Must Have Plugin For Your Blog – Otherwise…

by Klaus on October 20, 2009

in Tips

blogging… you could be missing out on some sweet commenting action! Allow me to explain:

When it comes to WordPress, there’s usually three kinds of bloggers (more or less):

  1. Those with a pretty standard WordPress installation and no “subscribe to comments”-plugin whatsoever.
  2. Those with some 3rd party comment-system like Disqus or similar, that handles it all for you.
  3. Those with the “Subscribe to comments“-plugin from Mark Jaquith (very popular plugin).

If you’re blogger #1 then you could most likely increase comments/awareness to your blog by doing something. If you’re blogger #2, you are probably all set and don’t need to do anything. If you’re blogger #3, you could be annoying to many of us. Allow me to explain, further:

Blogger #3, which is using “Subscribe To Comments”, knows how important it is to offer your commenters a way of receiving follow-up emails when there’s a new comment, so you can keep them engaged in the conversation. But let’s be honest, how often does a blog post/article turn into an actual conversation? Most of the time, somebody provides a (usually valuable) comment and the blog owner/author replies to it and that’s it.

Meet The Bacon

Spam is e-mail you do not want. Bacon is e-mail you do want, but maybe not right now.

What “Subscribe To Comments” do, is to e-mail the commenter (if they opt’ed in to receive an email) whenever there’s a new comment to that blog post. Meaning, you could easily receive 10+ e-mails overnight, because other people are commenting on a post you also commented on. A little later, the author decides to reply to each one individually and you have another 10+ e-mails in your inbox. That’s bacon.

Imagine doing that at 5 blogs a day and you’ll have 100 e-mails in your Inbox in no time. Thanks to “Subscribe To Comments”. And five of those e-mails are probably a reply to you, from the post author. Five, out of a a hundred e-mails.

I’ve been a blogger for almost 4 full months now and I stopped ticking the “Notify me via e-mail of follow-up comments”-box over a month ago, unless I really, really, really want/need to know what other people are writing and/or if somebody decides to reply to my comment. Otherwise, I really don’t have the time to clutter my Inbox with all that bacon, unfortunately. And I know for a fact, if I create a mail rule to automatically fry that bacon and put it into a different folder, then the pile of bacon will just grow so much that I will never be able to consume it and eventually I have to trash it all.

Meet The Solution

There’s a solution, it’s a WordPress plugin called “Comment Reply Notification“. Offer your commenters the use of ‘”Comment Reply Notification” and they will might love you for it. It’s a fantastic plugin, that only e-mails the you when somebody replies directly to your comment. I offer it here on TechPatio.com, have a look at this screenshot:


Now, the text you see in the above screenshot is not the default text. It’s actually very much the same as the text from “Subscribe To Comments”, which I don’t really understand why that is. I modified the plugin a bit, to make sure commenters understand that they will only receive an e-mail when somebody replies directly to them.

If you want to do the same, FTP to your WordPress installation and go to \wp-content\plugins\comment-reply-notification and edit the file comment-reply-notification.php.

Go to line 239 and 241. There you will find the default text, something like “Notify me via e-mail….”. I replaced both of them with this text:

Notify me via e-mail when someone <i>replies directly to my comment</i>

Be aware though, if the plugin ever gets updated you will lose the change and have to modify the file again.

Some blog owners don’t even offer the commenters to decide if they want to receive an e-mail when replied to or not. I know ExtremeJohn.com doesn’t offer the choice, though I’m only 99% sure it’s the same plugin. I think that’s a perfectly acceptable way of doing it and I might even do that too. I mean, I know from myself, that is, if I comment on a blog and the author takes time out of their busy schedule to reply directly to me, I sure as *censored* wouldn’t mind receiving an e-mail about it. After all, blog commenting is not supposed to be a one-way street in the sense that you only comment to advertise for your own blog. If getting an e-mail when somebody (or just the author) decides to reply directly to you, is too much to ask for, maybe joining a forum and comment in there instead, is more your thing, then?

spam_baconBut for now, I still offer users the possiblity of unchecking it, though I leave it checked per default (and the “Subscribe To Comments” box unchecked, because I don’t want users to get spammed with bacon, unless they say so themselves). Hmm, spam with bacon, gotta try that sometime!

To really take advantage of the “Comment Reply Notifcation” plugin, you need to enable nested comments in your WordPress installation. Go to Dashboard > Settings > Discussion and allow a few levels deep, in nested comments. I’m currently allowing 6 levels. If your theme doesn’t support nested comments, it’s probably an older theme not updated to newer version of WordPress. Consider getting the Thesis theme instead and benefit from a greater Search Engine Optimization too.

Features of Comment Reply Notification

Now that I’ve used around 850 words to rant about “Subscribe To Comments” ramble on about why I think you should use “Comment Reply Notification” (and congratulations for making it this far, by the way :) ), let’s just quickly get into some of the behind-the-scenes settings of “Comment Reply Notification”.

You don’t have many options, but then again, it’s a really simple plugin that does great things for your blog. The following options are available for enabling the plugin:

Besides that, you can also edit the subject of the e-mail and the content. You have some placeholders available to customize the message to your likings. You can’t, however, insert a list of your latest 5 posts in case you want to do some extra advertising for your blog. At least not without modifying the plugin even further, directly in the code.

It’s time for you to go visit “Comment Reply Notification” and consider adding it to your blog. If you have already added it, or you plan to do so, please leave a comment below. I can gurantee you that I’ll be ticking that box when I see it on your website, I don’t mind getting an e-mail when somebody replies directly to my comment.

Also feel free to comment no matter if you agree or disagree with my views on both “Subscribe To Comment” and “Comment Reply Notification”, all views are welcome!

Finally, don’t forget to digg/stumble/retweet – the buttons are available just below here :)

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