Comment Form vs. Contact Form: Do You Mistake One for the Other?

Many of the blogs I run, manage or write for contain a handy contact form for directly emailing the blog’s owner straight from the browser. For those familiar with the difference, you would know that contact forms send email directly to the blog owner or author, while comment forms will leave a message viewable by the public. For instance, you can use this form to email me directly. Or you can leave a public comment at the comment box below.

But apparently, to some, it makes no difference whether you leave a comment or send an email as long as the message goes through. The mixup sometimes results in headaches and annoyances. For instance, a reader could be writing with the intent of replying to an existing comment. But if he uses the contact form, then the messages goes only to you. Are you obliged to re-post the message as a comment?

Or perhaps a reader wants to send you something in private, but instead publishes a comment. It’s probably easy enough to just unpublish the comment and respond to the writer via email (WordPress conveniently sends you alerts when there are new comments). But what if that message contained something you’d rather not have everybody read? Even if you hit the “unpublish” link, you can’t be sure that a comment would not leave traces (such as in comment RSS feeds).

There’s a simple solution, and this involves properly identifying both your email forms and comment forms. On the email form, you can write something like:

We appreciate your feedback. Please use the form below to send a direct message to the author/owner of this blog. Messages are sent directly to the author’s email inbox and will not be viewable by the public. If you wish to post a public reply, comment forms are available at the end of each article.

And then for comment forms:

Comments entered in this form are published for public viewing (once approved from moderation, if applicable). If you wish to send the author a private message, please use the contact form.

With luck, this should result in less confusion, and your readers will appreciate being told where their message will go.

5 thoughts on “Comment Form vs. Contact Form: Do You Mistake One for the Other?

  1. Hi !!!! ^_^
    I am Piter Kokoniz. oOnly want to tell, that your blog is really cool
    And want to ask you: is this blog your hobby?
    Sorry for my bad english
    Thank you
    Your Piter Kokoniz, from Latvia

  2. Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

  3. To be honest J, I don’t think I’ve ever confused the difference between a contact form and the comment form. I think this is in large part due to the fact that I have to CLICK on the CONTACT link which takes me specifically to a contact page. I assume that comments are for public consumption while the emails are private unless otherwise stated.

    Good information though on how to minimize people from mistaking which is which.

  4. I don’t think that I have seen any websites where there was any ambiguity between the contact form and comment form… Usually there is some sort of subheader that lets users know that they are commenting on an entry. Similarly, a contact page is often called a contact page and reachable by a ‘contact’ link…

    Although, I suppose that such a message wouldn’t hurt…

    On the other hand, this would be industry specific. Most people that comment on tech blogs are familiar with the ‘blog’ concept and know exactly where their comments will appear. If, on the other hand, you were writing a cooking blog, it might be beneficial to include such a note…

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