Results Of My URL Field Experiment

Back in September, I created a poll that asked if you would still comment on a blog if the URL field from the comment form was removed. 36 of you said yes while 27 of you said no. I followed that poll up with a post explaining what I believed to be the pros and cons of the URL field. At the end of that post, I described an experiment I would do on my personal blog to see what would happen and this is the result.

After publishing that article, I went over to my blog and edited the comments.php file that was part of my theme to remove the URL field. To make a long story short, comment spam did not decrease but remained the same. However, once I removed this particular field from my comment form, a number of plugins on my WordPress installation broke. These plugins include CommentLuv, Ajax Edit Comments, WP Comment Remix, etc. I have no idea on why these particular plugins broke but even after I added the URL field back to my comment form, these plugins remained broken. I’ve since performed a fresh installation of WordPress in a brand new database and all appears to be well.

The bottom line is, removing the URL field is extreme and apparently, can be problematic. Instead, I suggest that you use a plugin that allows you to de-link a comment author so that if they publish a relevant comment but link back to a site that you don’t agree with, you can easily remove the link but keep the comment.

I’ve been giving this some thought and I’m beginning to think that de-linking will become a blog authors new best friend. I’m noticing a large increase of comments being published by people who appear to be legit but the link in the URL field is for some type of marketing site or is directed towards a product or a service. Of course, what I deem to be a site not worth linking may be just fine for you.

In a follow up post, I will present to you a number of plugins or perhaps hacks that give you this de-linking ability. As for the experiment, don’t remove the URL field from your blog. You’ll end up causing more harm than good.

3 thoughts on “Results Of My URL Field Experiment

  1. It’s extremely rare to see a blog without a URL field in, and when you do it’s usually because they are a very successful and don’t really care about alienating any users.

    As for the 99% of other bloggers…

    Ultimately, if you think you have a problem with link spam then go nofollow.

    That way, it won’t matter who people link to…

    “Dofollow” isn’t for everybody as it does require more attention to your moderation

    You test proves one thing – don’t mess around with the core code of a blogging platform or CMS.

    Although it’s interesting that the spam didn’t decrease after you took away your URL field.

  2. Well, as long as you have nofollow links, is it really awful to link to a product or service site? Also, you don’t need a plugin to remove those links. You can edit comments from the WordPress panel. I know this because occasionally people make typos in their URLs and I try to go in and fix them.

    Also, I always hover over links to see the domain they lead to. As for removing URL from comments, I think that would scale down the number of comments being left throughout the blogosophere considerably. I can’t say I would stop commenting but I’d sure do a lot less of it.

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