Feedback with !JoomlaComment added

By on December 28, 2009

Need to get out moreOur company is improving its outward communication, and as one of the steps, we are allowing commenting of all the articles on this site. Read on to see our goals described, as well as the steps we took to enable the feedback feature on a Joomla site.

The Goals

I have to say it — we need to get out more. As a company. Being a mainly outsourcing service provider, we have our projects, they keep us busy (sometimes — very busy, which is a good thing), these projects are mostly products which we design, develop, QA and maintain for our partners and customers, and there is usually not much that we see we can share about our experience.

Yet I strongly believe it is not true, and there is something we should be able to share, from our findings, our experience, our successes and (as they sometimes happen) difficulties. The main goal of all this is to benefit the community, to give. The secondary goal is to benefit us, as we can only learn and benefit from such rethinking and sharing — and there is always good in getting trust from our users, more incoming traffic to the site, more business, etc, etc. If we are worthy.

As part of this strategy, we need to hear from our visitors. For this — we need to have a possibility to comment on this site, in addition to the other means of contact that we provide here.

Commenting in Joomla

We use Joomla CMS for this site, which is very convenient for simple setups (giving enough flexibility to create complex sites as well), yet it lacks a commenting feature. It is something that is already included in some other CMSes natively (WordPress, Drupal etc), yet Joomla needs extending to allow this, and there are a lot of available extensions. You can find a list of some options on the official Joomla Extensions Directory.

Having looked through these, checking feedback, searching for what the other sites are using — and how those extensions behave and look on those other sites, I decided to try !JoomlaComment, a self-proclaimed “best” comment system for Joomla.

Don’t you love such slogans?

To my pleasant surprise, so far it has shown as a very convenient and well though-out tool. The installation and configuration are very simple, especially since I knew what exactly I want from this functionality:

  • Possibility to add comments to articles (should not assume the obvious).
  • Access for non-registered guests (we do not even have registration on the site, as there are no subscription-based services).
  • Anti-bot protection (the dreaded “captcha”, unfortunately unavoidable for simpler solutions).
  • Possibility for commenters to subscribe to thread updates.
  • Notifications to the site administrator when new comments are added.
  • Possibility for administrator to edit, remove, block comments (the intention is to deal with spam, not with poor feedback — we will deal with justified poor feedback by improving our service).
  • Simple design, that would fit the site’s style with minimum effort.

All of the above is provided by !JoomlaComment, and more — but the “more” part is not overwhelming, which I really appreciate about this extension. After about an hour of reading, installing, configuring, testing and tweaking, the new commenting system is now live!

Any Downsides?

There some nuances, though. Previously the site featured mostly static content (the updates were infrequent, to say the least), so most of the pages were cached — with addition of !JoomlaComment the caching needed disabling, as I couldn’t even see the comment entry form. I am yet to see how this affects the site’s performance, so as we get more visitors, I may write on it again.

Update to the above: looks like the cache cleaning was only necessary to initially see the comment entry form on the content pages. Otherwise the commenting works fine with Joomla caching on, which I am very happy about. If you see any difficulties with comments, please let me know!

Another thing to look forward to is how this component copes with spam-bot attacks. Also a topic for another post, someday, if it is ever needed — perhaps the included captcha deals with it well enough, then you’ll not hear from me on this.

In general — a simple and pleasant experience. I would love to hear what you have to say, perhaps recommendations of even better extensions for others to choose from. If you have any questions about how I configured the extension, the site, or anything else — please write in the form below.

That’s what it’s there for, from now on.