Is The Top Commentator Plugin Worth It?

The Top Commentator WordPress plugin is very popular. Bloggers use it to reward their loyal readers and encourage visitors to comment. But there are additional benefits as well. Blogs which use this plugin, for example, have increased subsribers, page views, and overall traffic.

But there are some negative things that bloggers have also noticed, which makes us ask the question: "Is The Top Commentator Plugin Worth It?".

Drawbacks to Using Top Commentator Plugins

Some disadvantages to using Top Commentator on your blog include:

1. Increased Spam

There are individuals and businesses that regularly look for blogs containing the Top Commentator plugin so that they can get some free promotion for their own websites. And while this is not bad in and of itself, these individuals do increase spam because they often submit dozens of useless comments just to find themselves in your top commentator list.

For example, we have noticed an increase in the number of comments that are made solely to increase the comment count, such as "Nice Post" or "Good tips!".

2. Comment Surges

On most blogs, the way that the Top Commentator plugin works is that it always displays the top commentators for the current month, resetting to zero whenever a month ends. So at beginning of every new month, these blogs experience what LinkersBlog calls A Race To The Top. What happens is that there is a comment surge as visitors jockey for position within the Top Commentator list.

3. Potentially Bad for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The Top Commentator plugin is typically placed in the sidebars or footers of blogs, and are shown on every page. And while this is not bad, if the links are not nofollow links, then your website is leaking PageRank and could be hurting the overall position of your website in search engines.

Don’t Remove It, Just Improve It

Because of all of the problems that bloggers have observed from using the Top Commentator plugin, many consider removing it.

Jonathan over at How To Blog rants:

I’m considering removing all comment plugins, because if people are visiting my site and commenting only for the purpose of trying to help out their own site, what purpose am I serving? I always get excited when I have a comment without a url attached, because that means they weren’t doing it for their own benefit, but rather were doing it to actually comment their opinion.

And this sentiment is shared by many bloggers. However, removing this plugin is a very drastic move. Instead, it might be better to keep the plugin, but improve it. Here are some tips.

1. Change the way the plugin resets.

The cause for the comment surges mentioned above is the fact that the plugin resets at the beginning of every month. To fix this, don’t let your plugin reset. Instead, create a ‘sliding scale’, where the plugin counts the last 30 days, or the last 7 days. This way, there is less of an urge for people to create a lot of comments and then sit idle for the rest of the month. (We use the Show Top Commentators plugin by Nate Sanden.)

2. Don’t show the list on all pages OR add nofollow to links.

Some blogs fix the SEO problems by only showing the Top Commentator list on certain pages. Others simply add nofollow to the links to completely prevent PageRank leakage.

 

So, what has your experience been with the Top Commentator plugin? Have you considered removing it from your blog?

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34 Responses to “Is The Top Commentator Plugin Worth It?”

  • Jonathan Muller February 1, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    Thanks for the link, and you’re right that would be a little drastic. I really like your suggestion though, to just shorten the amount of days until it updates. That would really help I think. I’m going to change that. Nice post, I appreciate the feedback, and for getting your opinion on this issue.

    Best of luck in February.
    Jonathan

  • Kim Woodbridge February 1, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Hmmm … the things people do. Any site where I’m in the top commenter list is a site that I really like.

    I need to change the top commenter plugin I use – I like it because it has the gravatars but it doesn’t reset. That makes it really hard for anyone but the top people to ever be in the list. The person in the #5 spot hasn’t visited in ages – I feel like he’s never going to drop off the list. I guess I’ll had it to my to-do list.

    • Velvet Blues February 2, 2009 at 1:13 pm

      Yes, I was wondering about that with your Top Commentators list. I noticed that the people in your list never change, and I thought that it was less of a ‘Top Commenter’ list, and more of a ‘Favorite Commenter’ list. :-)

      Yeh, don’t you hate To-Do lists? I takes me ages to get around to the things that keep piling up on mine.

  • Jen February 1, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    I don’t have the top commentator plug in on my blog yet- I like observing something for a while and reading a few reviews on it before I add something.

    As far as making comments just to get on the top commentator list- if you are making spam comments just to get on the list it really gives an insight into your personality and business practices and I think it will come back to bite you in the a–.

    • Velvet Blues February 2, 2009 at 4:55 am

      Well, said. I hope karma does work in such ways. Unfortunately, I think it takes a while for karma to work on the web… Meanwhile, the spammer is getting plenty of Google link juice. :-(

  • Ben Pei February 2, 2009 at 5:36 am

    Well it definitely attracts spams, but it is also a good way to get more people to comment. I guess there are no win-win situation here.

    • Velvet Blues February 2, 2009 at 10:05 am

      Yeh, I too have considered removing it, but the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

      • Ben Pei February 3, 2009 at 5:22 am

        I mean if you look at it positively, it is just a good way to reward the readers who have been commenting often on your blog, trust me, they do keep coming back!

        • Velvet Blues February 3, 2009 at 1:16 pm

          Indeed. It is a great way to reward your regulars. I know that I enjoy getting something when I comment on the blogs that I read.

  • Kurt Avish February 2, 2009 at 10:52 am

    I am 2nd on your plugin. I am a spammer. :-(

    Well, I use this plugin on my blog too. I have set up mine to reset monthly. On my blog I don’t think people bother much about it even though its fun to see the data changing from day to day. :-)

    I let mine as dofollow as a way to reward those who are very active and participate in discussions a lot. Concerning encouraging people to comment, I think its true. Well as you mentioned above… the benefits outweight the drawbacks.

    • Velvet Blues February 2, 2009 at 1:14 pm

      Yeh, won’t you stop spamming! ;-)

      It does seem like your visitors aren’t concerned at all with the plugin, which is great. And yes, I don’t know which is more of an encouragement to comment – commentLuv or Top Commentators – but ever since they’ve been added here, the comment count per article has increased.

  • Dennis Edell February 2, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    I have it as well…

    1. Big changes coming to my comment policy, and it WILL be read once folks start not seeing comments showing up.

    2. I have mine set to auto-renew every 30 due to the contests.

    3. Auto-ticked as no follow. I give more ten a fair share of comment/link love. ;)

    Off hand, I’m not sure which one it is, but mine has lots of handy dandy 1click settings in the admin. :)

  • Ajith Edassery February 2, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Shirley, you are right on the reset mechanism (as we discussed at linkers’ blog once). As for its pagewise listing, I seriously considered it in the past and figured out that most people wants it on the homepage which is your highest ranked page. There’s nothing much I can loose on the sub pages (well, not completely)…However, since you reminded me of this, I am going to try it out till the next PR update to see how much of impact it has.

  • Nihar February 2, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    You are absolutely right. In last week of Jan, I was hardly getting comments. From Feb 1st – till date. I have got lots of comments and have see same commentator commenting on different posts. I now know why they i get lots of comments during the beginning of the month. I have to either remove the plugin or put nofollow

    • Velvet Blues February 4, 2009 at 1:16 pm

      Yes, there is a set of bloggers who regularly fight for top spots. However, as long as the comments are good, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, to spread out your comments, just update your ‘reset’ settings.

  • Binaryday February 3, 2009 at 4:22 am

    I will not be worried about pagerank leakage. I would have linked out to more than 200 blogs in the last 1 month and my rankings have gone up if anything.

    Rather I would worry about some spammer getting a link from the page through the top-commentators page.

    • Velvet Blues February 4, 2009 at 1:16 pm

      Well, good for your with the free linking. Apparently, I am a bit stingier than you. :-) And yes, a spammer getting a link is serious trouble.

  • Donace February 10, 2009 at 4:32 am

    As mentioned I think the widget is more of an incentive to some to comment; however I feel it is just a reward for commentators.

    I have actually do-followed the links from my site but restricted it only to my PR4 homepage. So the SEO value is significant and as I am now working to optimize the actual posts that I post, it does not really deduct from the SEO value of the overall site.

    • Velvet Blues February 11, 2009 at 12:14 am

      Yes, I see that you realize the value of these links. Many people who do have ‘dofollow’ links throughout their entire website would realize significant increases in PR if they simply ‘trapped’ their pagerank.

  • stratosg February 16, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    i have the widget myself as it’s the main way of me giving back to my readers. fortunately there are rarely meaningless comments so i think i’m good just because i am lucky ;) nice post!

  • Simon | Teenius March 30, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Great post, made a good read. :D

    Personally I’m still a big fan of the Top Commentator Plugin. It might attract a tiny bit more spam, but I find the genuine commentators often compete to get to the top, thus giving me more comments ;)

  • CharlieC July 26, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    At the end of the day, it’s all about numbers. If you get bigger numbers to your site as a result of the plugin, then you have to expect a payoff, and that is giving some PR away to those who are making an effort on both of your behalves.

  • Website Design UK October 18, 2009 at 7:40 am

    I think that the top commentators plugin is great. I’ve added it to my blog as well and have seen an increase in comments. It really does encourage people to leave a comment. Of course there is going to be some abuse but you can control that a bit. I just need to figure out how to add the top commentators to just the home page because right now it is showing on every page… If you know how to keep it just on the home page let me know.

  • oes tsetnoc November 22, 2009 at 1:35 am

    the top commentators widget is a great tool for creating backlinks but webmasters should beware of spam with it.

  • Harshit Singhal June 30, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    I dont think its a good plugin at all.Nice points you’ve mentioned.I wouldnt recommend using it.

  • showtime professional rotisserie grill September 2, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    I like the ‘Top 10 Commentator’ plugin a lot. There’s no doubt that you will get some spam but you have the authority to trash those comments so that they never see the light of day on your blog. I go through all of my comments and delete appropriately when its clear that the commentator has no clue what my blog is about; didn’t take the time to even read the titles.

  • Catalin @ DevIngredients October 25, 2010 at 5:56 am

    It really depends how you look at things. If the comment is placed with own interests or not, it still is a contribution, your job is to read it and realize whether the commentator has read your article, that by checking the comment’s relevance. If it’s relevant, you should be as happy as with a comment without an URL towards the contributor’s website (hopefully, that being a nice legal website :) .

  • Steve Karagioules November 14, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Nothing eats me up more than all of the low-life, scamming that goes on by supposed SEO pros. I meet clients who have paid thousands for search engine optimization only to receive empty promises. We really have to work at weeding out these people in order to build the reputation of our industry and our results.

  • Dion November 29, 2010 at 6:01 am

    I agree with the points you raised. I was thinking of wanted to install the plugin but now it seems i need to reconsider.

  • Alex January 21, 2011 at 4:33 am

    Does anybody know how to set the top commentators plugin to nofollow? That’s my only concern. Otherwise it’s a great plugin and you can take easily care of the spam with Akismet.

  • Justin P April 10, 2012 at 2:01 am

    Thanks for this post. I was thinking to put the top commentator plugins for blogs. Reading at this post I am rethinking my decision.

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