Stay In The Conversation

Update (May 17): Since this feature went live we’ve had a bunch of feedback and it looks like following comments by default is not a good fit for a lot of bloggers (and their readers) after all. We looked at a few different options, but for now we’ve just changed things back to how they were before. To follow a conversation, make sure you check the box when you post a comment.

It’s now much easier for you and your commenters to keep track of the conversations you’re involved in across WordPress.com. Some recent tests have shown that by subscribing commenters to new comments by default, they are more likely to stay engaged and come back and comment more on your blog. With that knowledge, we’ve changed the default comment following behavior to help you get more conversations going on your blog.

We made the initial changes last week and after great feedback from you we just launched an update. Here’s how it works:

  • By default, posting a comment will now subscribe you to receive follow-up comments via email for that specific post, keeping you updated on the conversation. This is indicated by the checked box in the comment form.
  • If you have a WordPress.com account, you now have a global setting to change this so that by default you will not be subscribed. If you don’t have an account, then you can create one over here.
  • If you don’t want email notifications for a thread, just uncheck the box when you post your comment. If you’ve disabled the feature, you can also subscribe to a specific thread by checking the box in the comment form.
  • There is also a link at the bottom of every notification email that will allow you to change your subscription options.

If you’d like to find out all of the details about how this works, we’ve also updated our support documentation about following comments.


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Beau Lebens

83 Comments

Comments are closed.

  1. Dr. CaSo

    I am sorry but this default setting is SUPER annoying! Especially for non-wordpress bloggers! This, plus the serious problems non-worpress users STILL have with being unable to leave comments on wordpress blogs makes me really wonder why I stay with wordpress. We are becoming a sect and outside readers will soon no longer be able to leave comments or no longer WANT to leave comments because of all this! Sad!

    • Beau Lebens

      The majority of the feedback we’ve had is that this is a change for the better for most people, and lots and lots of other web services use similar settings to this, We understand some people don’t like it, which is why it’s an option now. As for non-users not being able to comment; if your users are having specific problems then please have them contact support with details about where they’re posting, the details they’re using and any errors they see, and we will get them fixed up. Stopping comments is the exact opposite of what everyone wants.

  2. beyondanomie

    Thanks for explaining where to find the setting to change it back to the previous behaviour. I was looking for where the setting was buried but couldn’t find it.

  3. Spoon Feast

    Thanks for sharing the global setting. For the most part, I think this is good, but it is also nice to know how to turn it off as the default option.

  4. sushubh

    Any plans to allow users to subscribe to specific threads in a comment stream? Personally, I would prefer to get responses to the thread I participated in not in all the comments that are posted in that post. Ex. I had like to get notifications to any responses made to this comment of mine. I have little interest in other comments posted by other users!

  5. The Hook

    I think this is a step in the right direction. Good work, WordPress!

  6. Mikalee Byerman

    Thank you thank you THANK YOU for the info on changing the setting…as an avid reader and commenter on Freshly Pressed posts, I’ve been inundated as I keep forgetting to uncheck the box! ;)

  7. Vaneeesa Blaylock

    Hi Beau! I have not had the issues that Dr. CaSo reports – it all works pretty easily for me. Although I do have a friend who’s been complaining that Gravatar is “messed up” (she was probably more specific, but basically complained that she would’t be leaving any more WP comments — ironically, her blog is on Blogger where IDK if I’m dyslexic or what, but the captcha’s I have to type over there for every single comment, even though I’m already logged in to blogger, are driving me crazy. Either they’re getting harder or my vision is failing, but it seems to take me 3 captcha’s to post one Blogger comment and I confess I’m losing interest over there! :P

    Anyway, thanks for everything!

    I do think this feature is good, and I also am sensitive to Dr. CaSo’s comment — what the default should be is always so tricky… flickr is very generous with Creative Commons options… but because their default is Copyright All Rights Reserved, there’s an ocean of photos over there that will never become part of any active sharing / remix community even though the user might actually be happy about it… I would LOVE to see their default be Creative Commons Attribution or even Creative Commons Non Commercial… with Copyright ARR always just a click away for anyone who wants it… of course we can imagine the complaints if they ever did that… so I am very sympathetic to Dr. CaSo’s perspective… but also happy that you’re taking a little heat in an effort to create a more engaged community.

    Here’s my question:
    Since I already have your cool “Orange Number in the Upper Right,” as a logged in WP user, why do I want email comments? Personally, I like them better in your nice interface instead of “stupid old email” :P

    So I do think your new move will promote a bit more discussion – yay – but as a logged in user, all I’m missing is comments unrelated to mine, correct? Any comment “in reply” to mine I get an “orange number” yes?

    TY!!!

    • Beau Lebens

      Since I already have your cool “Orange Number in the Upper Right,” as a logged in WP user, why do I want email comments?

      We love the toolbar notifications as well! We have lots of users who don’t spend a heap of time on WordPress.com though; they just drop in to write a post or read something then they’re off for a few days at a time. For those users, or even for people who use a desktop blogging client and very rarely come to the WordPress admin, email notifications are a critical part of their workflow. If you spend a lot of time at WordPress.com though, then you’ll probably want to turn off the auto-subscribe option :)

  8. Sandra Pawula

    I’m so grateful for the global setting to turn off subscription to comments by default! Thank you! Personally, I find the automatic subscription to comments extremely annoying on any blog, it’s not personal to WordPress.com. :) That’s the same feedback I’ve heard from others so I guess we are speaking with different folks! I’m so delighted you’ve now given us an option for turning this off, which I’ve alread done. I know your intentions are good; this is just one feature that doesn’t work for me at all.

    As Dr. Caso said, many commenters are still having problems leaving comments on my blog. While it’s very kind of you to offer support, most people aren’t going to go to so much hassle to leave a comment. Of the recent changes, this one distresses me in particular as some of my favorite people are no longer commenting. And it’s impossible to know how many other people are effected. I’ve had an incredibly positive experience at WordPress.com and am very grateful for all the support and innovation. At the same time, this particular change makes one seriously consider moving on.

    • Beau Lebens

      The change that requires users to log in to use a registered email address is something that probably should have been done a long time ago to protect people from other folks impersonating them (by using their email address). Unfortunately we were seeing it happen more and more often, so we had to go ahead and put that protection in place.

  9. Anne @ The Frump Factor

    Aha! And this would be why my email runneth over! Mystery solved. Thanks for the information.

  10. J. G. Burdette

    Normally I’d be annoyed with this feature but since I can unfollow comments I’m alright.

  11. Barry Peddycord

    Aha! I was suspicious when I starting having to uncheck that box during my commenting – I knew something was afoot! Thanks for letting us know how to uncheck it. I used to use it a lot, but I was so thankful when you introduced the notifications in the top right that let me know about replies to my posts. Now that I can do it that way, it keeps my e-mails uncluttered.

    *remembers to uncheck it for this comment as well*

  12. clumsykristel

    I wish it were an opt-in, rather than an opt-out. Obviously you’ve found people who like it, but I find it pretty irritating.

    Like someone else mentioned, I’d love to be able to subscribe to a specific thread.

  13. bccmee

    How do I turn this function off for all commenters on my blog? Many of my readers have complained.

  14. susielindau

    I am spreading the word about the update on Facebook! Thanks WordPress!

  15. earthriderjudyberman

    This new default system was a real pain this past weekend. I started getting inundated with email from bloggers responding to blogs I’d been on. As I follow about 40 blogs, it was overwhelming until I found out how to stop it. If I ever prayed for a feature, it would be that I would know exactly when someone responded to my specific comment. That would be beneficial. Glad to see – based on post above – that this is something you’re looking into.

  16. Sajib

    Thanks for the global settings update. When I realized I was getting subscribed automatically, I looked for this option in the subscription settings page. I believe the option to opt-out of auto-subscription to comments wasn’t immediately rolled out. So, I was quite annoyed by this.

  17. pravinchn

    Reblogged this on pravinchn.

  18. nguyencungtan - TỨ DUY

    Very good !

  19. katharinetrauger

    Wow. You guys sure have endured a LOT of angst about one tiny checkmark! And endured it gracefully, I add.
    When some of us had to remember to check it, did anyone complain? Mneh.
    Now some of us have to UNcheck it and LOOK OUT!!! :-D
    So glad it’s you and not me . . . I <3 wP!

  20. Sathya

    I am still debating on the default setting. But initial reaction – it is super annoying, especially when I leave a comment here in the wordpress blog. I left a comment yesterday on an article and had 50-60 email today :(
    Also this needs to be a smart setting, current when I respond to someone on my own blog, the setting is on by default. As a result I have been getting duplicate notification – one for the specific comment notification that I have enabled and the other for the comment subscription that got enabled by default (that I overlooked) when I replied …

    • Beau Lebens

      Thanks Sathya. The specific situation you’re referring to where you’re getting double notifications as the owner of a blog is something that we’ve recently identified (it’s technically unrelated to these changes), and we’re working on a fix for that as well.

  21. Jean

    Thanks for letting us know about the global setting that we can change. I really didn’t want a flow of email streaming in from other commenters. What is useful to remember is that people surf, read and comment quickly these days. Blogging, commenting only forms a tiny fragment of some our lives when we work full-time, have family and many other things going on life.

  22. Sally

    Thanks for listening. Since the default opt-in on subscribing to comments was brought in, I disabled the subscribe to comments options on my own blog and know others who did so too. It was super annoying to get so much email because you forgot to uncheck the box when commenting on someone’s blog. Thank goodness there are no ‘capta’ codes on WordPress – keep up the good work.

    • Beau Lebens

      If you forget to uncheck it, you can also click on the unsubscribe link in any of the email notifications that you get and unsubscribe from just that post’s comments.

  23. فريق الابداع لمدرسة عاطف السادات الثانوية

    nice nice

  24. Chorwin

    This is cool feature! Comment follow up is a plus, and reply to comment sometime may need as a respect.

  25. kellieanderson

    Just chiming in with all of the others who say that they aren’t too keen on the opt-out aspect of commenting. After getting confused with all the notifications I did notice the already ticked ‘subscribe’ box lurking just as I was pressing send, but by then I had a number of blogs to go into ‘subscribe to comments’ bit and uncheck. A small thing, but annoying nonetheless. And I agree with others that following threads would be more useful as most of us would like to know if our comment has been commented on but don’t have the time to read everyone else’s comments, much as we’d like to. Moan over with it is good that there is a monitored forum for us to feedback to. Thanks!

  26. AlphaBible

    For any detractors, the yellow box still lights up for replies to your own comment, and thus elevates direct replies either way. But it certainly seems to make sense that when someone is interested enough to contribute a comment, that they would also normally by default like to be notified about the other people who contribute comments, at least as long as they still have an option. With such settings being foundational, it would equally apply to entire blogs (minor vote of concern in favor of also adding blog subscriptions by default). Yet, even just for the comments, the check box should be moved ABOVE the (Submit Comment) button (MAJOR vote of concern, and seems very easy to fix)! No doubt harder to explain than to understand, but being fully up-front with readers is VERY important!, and that one single half inch amounts to a whole universe of difference! (Applause Please)

  27. copaceticjam

    Sounds good and since I’m just starting and really don’t know how it all works, I’m just going with the flow.

  28. ekolbinger

    Okay I’m back in the Conversation. I need to start ‘doing this to make sure the people who comment on my blog keep coming back. Good Idea!

  29. elisabettagasperini

    Thank you, I’m just starting and I really need all these info!

  30. festivalking

    Thanks for the information!

  31. P. C. Zick

    Thank you. This was helpful.

  32. hcfbutton

    Thanks for explaining. I couldn’t for the life of me understand why all of a sudden I received 38 emails after I commented on a blog. I didn’t even notice the little tick. It came as quite the surprise. Its not bad, but I’m not sure it should be automatic. I have turned that feature off for all social platforms, otherwise, my phone would be getting emails every second.

  33. O. Braga

    That’s good!

  34. darebear12

    Being able to switch this on and off really does help thanks for helping some other people understand!

  35. beebeesworld

    Im not very tech savvy so alot of changes CONFUSE ME. i REALIZED YESTERDAY THAT i COULD look through the blogs I had responded to or checked-now left checked- to receive email notifications for, can be reset on each individual blog. If I read an article and respnded and have received more comments than I care to handle ,I can click the red opt-out sign below the article name(I forgort what it is called) and stop receivng comments for that particular blog. It takes a little time, but seems to work-I can stay on the opt in for a persons “about me type” site and look at comments on other artcles without getting comments on every article that person generates. After a few days, I hust don’t want to see comments that hare general in nature that have nothing to do with my response to the article, so I remove that particular blog from the list I want to get email about comments. These information blogs from wordpress help me understand and learn about publishing and fesponse options. Thanks.

  36. elPadawan

    Just a couple ideas: Why not have the following possibilities:
    1) follow up new comment by email
    2) follow up new replies to my comment by email (new)
    3) follow up new posts

    Also, for blog owners, the ability to decide, for each of those three options, whether the box should be ticked by default or not (maybe not for the third option, actually).

    Sounds like the best way to keep everyone happy, no?

    • Beau Lebens

      We would love to do that, we just want to make sure that we’re not adding too many new options that potentially confuse people. We’re definitely looking into being able to subscribe to replies only, but we don’t have a timeline for that yet.

  37. b_y

    If I turn off the comments globally, will it shut down the strings that I actually do want to follow?

    Since this is the first addition that I strongly dislike, I feel I must say. Please stop. Please. Don’t turn into Better Homes and Gardens and subscribe me every time I look at a page.

    • Beau Lebens

      When you change the global setting, all you’re doing is changing the default state of that checkbox in the commenting form. So if you then go and post a comment somewhere and decide that you do want to follow that conversation, you can check the box just that one time and you’ll get emails from that post.

    • Victoria C. Slotto

      Amen!

  38. Lois Farley Shuford

    I just disabled this on my global settings. I to was inundated with emails. But now I’m not sure how I’ll know when a blogger that I follow responds to my comment. What I would like, is to know when the blog I commented on replied to my personal comment. Not every single comment from others on everry blog comment. It’s just too much, really.

  39. poddys

    I have always felt that comments and discussions are one of the best ways to make a blog popular, it’s not just about blasting out lots of posts and not knowing who reads them, it’s the interaction with your readers that matters.

    I have debated a few times about creating a blog that is purely about controversial questions.

    It could be religion, ethics, social issues etc… Publish a post on something that people love to argue about, get the discussion going and watch it “hopefully” go viral as people keep coming back to see what others have said.

    By setting the subscriber flag on as a default, that is hopefully going to do the trick. People can always unsubscribe after all.

  40. cweenmj

    I have a blog that has about 50 regular commenters and most of them don’t want to have their email inboxes filled to overflowing with these notifications. They have no problem keeping up with the conversations on their own and told me so in no uncertain terms.

    Also, you should know that I have my blog set to send me an email when people comment. By having that email comment follow-up box checked without my noticing it, I was getting TWO copies of the comments!!! DO NOT WANT!!!!

    I am glad you FINALLY told us how to change the default back. We were all getting tired of having to uncheck the stupid thing every stinking time we made a comment!!!! In the future, please provide this type of info at the time you implement a change instead of days later. It would have saved me and my people lots of headaches.

    • Beau Lebens

      Thanks for the feedback. As you see above, we’ve reversed this change now. The bug you point out about receiving 2 emails is something that we’re aware of and are working on a fix for. It’s not directly connected to the changes described in this post, but we agree — it sure is annoying!

  41. oandarilho01

    Great! It always seems right for me to be automatically subscribed when commenting out. it’s much more logical. Everyone which leaves a comment (and has a desire to contribute positively) wants to know how his comment was received.
    Ironically, in this very post, this comment of mine don’t fit in the description I just gave :)
    I believe it just meant to be an approval.

  42. dianeskitchentable

    I’m not sure what Alphabible is referring to regarding “the yellow box stills lights up for replies to your own comment” but I too would like to add my support for a feature where I would only get an email if my comment on another person’s blog is responded to. A very frequent example is on food blogs: I might comment & might ask about a specific ingredient. I would like to know if the blogger responds to that but I certainly don’t need or want 87 emails from other bloggers who just wrote the comment “oh wow, that looks soooo good”. So I’m definitely in favor of just getting notified of my comment being responded to.

  43. Kay Lynn

    This is brilliant. I love it! I like being notified of other comments, but I have a permanent case of Pregnancy Brain and usually forget to check that little box. Now it’s done for me – woot! One less thing to remember! :)

  44. EllieAnn

    Thank you SO much for letting me know. I was not a fan of the change, so I’m super thankful to find a way to default it back. =)

  45. Cardinal Guzman

    I think it’s good that people have the option now. If you want to follow comments you can. If not: just turn it off. That way you don’t have to turn it off on your blog, because there’s always some people that wish to follow the debate.

  46. Real_Ale

    Do not like. Do not want.
    A “subscription” should be opt-in, not opt-out. I am not “subscribed” to everything I feel like commenting on.
    Very unfortunate, WP. Very unfortunate.

  47. Laurie Kolp

    I beg to differ with you, Beau. I find this checkmark feature a complete onus as I visit dozens of wordpress blogs daily and find it a nuisance to have my email unindated with replies. Many of my fellow poets/writers agree. I also have a blogger blog which I find much more user friendly.

    I think if instead of getting notified after every single comment, the option was to get emails after specific repies to your individual comment then your system would be more effective.

    • Beau Lebens

      Yep, we agree about the option to get notified of direct replies Laurie. We’re looking into it to see if it’s something we can do.

  48. Barbara Blackcinder

    I think this will help me connect with more people. And if I decide it isn’t working for me, I am thankful for the easy process to change it.

  49. Paul T. Shafer

    Curious how may people left the box checked for this post :)

  50. Kerry

    I was wondering why comments on my blogs had dropped so drastically, and now I know why. The majority of my blog readers are NOT bloggers, therefore they don’t have accounts with either Gravatar or WordPress, and asking them to sign up just to comment is ludicrous… it’s actually worse than Blogger and their captcha codes, which is one of the main reasons why I wet with WP in the first place… because commenting used to be easy. I understand your that your intentions are to prevent identity theft but there has to be another way to do this, without completely alienating people who don’t have WP accounts. I also see that you can log in via Twitter or Facebook which is a good start, but it would be better if you could make that option a bit more obvious, those 3 tiny little icons in a corner aren’t really attention grabbing. By the time a (potential) commenter has gone through the motions of filling out their email and name, only to be told they need to log in, they give up in fustration and leave, without ever realising they could have used their social media account.

    • Beau Lebens

      We didn’t see this specific change have a significant effect (across the board, although it may have on specific blogs), but it’s possible that a previous change around email-protection at least temporarily affected comment numbers. If commenters are using email addresses that belong to an account, then they’ll need to log in so that we can confirm that they are the owners of the email address (and not someone else pretending to be them). They should only need to log in once though. Our commenting system is constantly evolving and we try to experiment with getting the balance of making the login options obvious enough, without getting in the way of people who don’t want to use them. Thanks for the feedback that they could be a bit more obvious!

  51. randosrant

    Anything that helps to simplify the ability to make comments is most important for me. I need support to achieve my aim to assist cancer sufferers

  52. David Bennett

    I too would like to add my support for a feature where I would only get an email if my comment on another person’s blog is responded to.

  53. shoreacres

    I thought the move to a default “follow comments by email” policy was misguided, but had sorted out how to eliminate it in my own life. Still, people do exist who (1) follow blogs and (2) barely know more about computers than how to turn them on and follow a link. This isn’t a criticism of them, it’s a fact of life. By reverting to the previous policy, you’ve made their life easier and mine, too, since I don’t have to try and maintain readership by reducing people’s frustration level over the new policy.

    Thanks ever so much – this is all good.

  54. Lisa

    This new feature is uber annoying. It has turned WordPress comments into feeling like I’m getting spammed. Glad to finally know how to turn this feature off. (Curious about the claim that people love this feature.)

  55. Val

    YES! I’m so glad you’ve changed this back. I’m trying to create a new blog and I can’t tell you what headaches the previous move was giving me. Thank you, thank you! :)

  56. Sharp Little Pencil

    We know of at least five bloggers who complained about the checkbox, including myself, and their comments are still “awaiting moderation.” There is nothing in this post to offend; however, it feels like censorship. You are only posting those who agree with you. Please post all opinions and be fair. Thanks, Amy

  57. Olo O'matthew

    Thanks! Always liked being notified of comments because I always respond. Wouldn’t like to have some comment out there with out a proper response now would we !

  58. Morgan R. Lewis

    Beau, Thanks for the update and the decision reversal. Good on you.

  59. Darren Bayliss

    Very helpful cheers

  60. Sparks In Shadow

    I didn’t comment before because WordPress didn’t seem to get exactly what the problem was with the comment follow box being checked without a commenter having decided it was what they wanted yet. (It brought an avalanche of spammy email.) A commenter should be thinking about our conversation, not about reading everything under the box like it was an important contract or something.

    I’m just glad WordPress seems to have changed it back. I’ve gone back to Settings and brought the option back to my readers, now that it won’t vex them anymore.

    Personally, I prefer to keep up with the “Comments I’ve Made” feature, to see if anyone has answered one of my comments.

  61. socialaspects

    THANK YOU for the info on changing the setting…as an avid readerand commenter on Freshly Pressed posts, I’ve been inundated as I keep forgettingto uncheck the box!

  62. fogsmoviereviews

    Thanks for being responsive to feedback WordPress.

  63. amelie

    I blocked all email from WordPress and I find it very easy to simply uncheck that box. However, things have become awfully complicated around here. The Blog Surfer was great, I could just follow my fellow bloggers. Now it’s limited to the Blogs I Follow which half the time does not load and my friends now don’t see my new posts until several days later, plus the complicated nature of outside blogs; as a WP user it’s nearly impossible to comment on some blogs and my outside blog friends have trouble too and have stopped commenting. It would be nice if WP worked more towards a community feel instead of away from it.

  64. simonrphotography

    Being new no blogging I’m learning something new everyday so thanks for the updates I’m slowly getting my head around things.

  65. dribblingpensioner

    Thank you for changing it back, it is the best move and the correct one.

  66. iammedhezzie

    Reblogged this on iammedhezzie.

  67. J. G. Burdette

    So very happy it has been changed back!

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