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Why users are afraid to subscribe to comments (and what we are doing about it)

Comments are the foundation of engagement on WordPress sites. They are a small but important piece of a larger story – one we are rewriting with Postmatic.

Comments have been a part of WordPress since b2. Somewhere around 2003. They were born out of the early days of the web in which a guestbook served as a simple way for visitors to share a thought or feedback. There is a brilliance – intentional or not – to the flexibility of the comments section in WordPress. On a personal blog, news site, community forum, or support system, the comments section provides a solid foundation for users to exchange information which is related to a published piece.

But that’s exactly the thing. Comments have been here since b2. And that’s about it. Not a lot of innovation has gone into it since. Publish a piece. People banter back and forth in the section below it. Mostly they leave a few thoughts and then just walk away. Missing from too many sites (and too many pieces of great writing) is thoughtful, engaged, and long-lived conversation.

The necessity of comment subscriptions

Subscribe to Comments and Jetpack Subscriptions are both solid proof that comment notifications are vital to keeping conversation going. The idea is simple. You leave a comment and check the box to be alerted of followup comments via email. That’s also the problem. You get all the comments via email. The premise is great but self-defeating. As your community and comment numbers increase the value of subscriptions decrease because of too much [non-relevant] email. It’s the email paradox.

In Postmatic 2 we have redefined comment subscriptions with the introduction of Comment Intelligence as well as Comment Digests. It’s now safe to check that little subscribe to comments box, but it’s going to take work to regain trust in it. The subscribe to comments experience has been not-so-good for way-too-long.

The subscribe to comments experience has been not-so-good for way-too-long.Click To Tweet


Meet your new best friend: the Postmatic Tooltip

Today we are introducing a slightly modified subscribe to comments experience. It’s not a huge departure from the traditional checkbox, but adds enough pizazz to make people look twice – and learn what modern comment subscriptions should be. Here is how it looks:

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 12.15.55 AMWhat’s different about this experience?

  1. The text inviting users to subscribe is followed by a small question mark icon.
  2. When hovering over any part of the subscription invitation checkbox, text, or question mark icon a tooltip is immediately displayed. It explains that by subscribing you’ll only get relevant and timely notifications.

The Postmatic Tooltip is a small addition to the plugin but we hope it will have a solid impact on educating users and increasing engagement. Give it a try below.

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