It is not uncommon to find hundreds of reader comments on any TechCrunch story – some of these comments are genuine, some are trolls while some comments are made just for the purpose of getting eyeballs.

If you are a frequent commenter on TechCrunch blog, here’s a slightly disheartening news for you – TechCrunch has stopped displaying user comments on all stories that are older than 10 days. Your comments have not been deleted from the actual WordPress database but they aren’t putting them on the site anymore.

Popular gadget blog Engadget recently had to shut down comments because of anonymous trolls but they at least informed their readers before implementing the change.

It would be great if Arrington too, who is rightly getting all the good press for his handling of the TechCrunch bribery scandal, could share a few details about their new comments policy with his loyal readership.

Why Blogs Remove Comments

Some blogs automatically turn-off the commenting feature from posts that are older than ‘n’ days to avoid spam but they rarely hide existing comments from their old posts. I can think of two reasons why TechCrunch may have taken this step:

1. When you have hundreds of comments on a page, it increase the size (bytes) of the page thus increasing the load-time. Matt Cutts from Google earlier hinted (see video) that site speed may be factor in page rankings and that partially explains why TechCrunch wants to limit the size of their pages.

2. Comments always have rel=nofollow so they don’t pass any link-juice to the commenter’s website but the problem is that they still dilute the amount to Google Juice that gets passed to other “dofollow” links. By removing comments, you are passing more concentrated juice to editorial links.

[*] In the following video, Matt Cutts told WebProNews that page speed may soon be a factor in Google Search.

..a lot of people within Google think that the web should be fast. It should be a good experience, and so it’s sort of fair to say that if you’re a fast site, maybe you should get a little bit of a bonus. If you really have an awfully slow site, then maybe users don’t want that as much.

Update: TechCrunch says “your comments are safe with us”. Read the response from Robin Wauters here.