Visitors to non-commercial websites expect to find guestbooks. In fact, they often get quite annoyed when they cannot find one, especially if they want to compliment webmaster. Many visitors are disappointed if they cannot find one even on commercial websites.
Imagine how it feels to really want to tell a webmaster that he's done a great job, and you cannot find an easy way to do so. It's enough to make anyone annoyed ... upset enough not to come back? Perhaps not, but after working so hard to get a visitor to your site why anger someone who only wants to tell you that you've done a good job?
On our site we have gone through many different guestbooks. Like many sites, we began with standard remotely hosted versions. In general, these did job but as our site matured we jumped from service to service, attempting to find one that suited our needs. After much searching, we decided to maintain our guestbook by hand (what a pain that was), until stumbling on best guestbook script we have ever seen. Once we installed vizbook we realized we were in guestbook heaven.
Anyway, virtually all of remotely hosted guestbook services will do job. If your site is based on a web host that allows for user installed CGI routines, then vizbook comes highly recommended.
User Installed Scripts
User installed guestbook scripts are most definitely preferable to remotely hosted versions. If you are allowed to install your own scripts, then by all means do so - you will get a much better guestbook.
Vizbook http://www.dtp-aus.com/cgiscript/vizbook.shtml I personally tested virtually every guestbook script that was available on cgi-resources (http://www.cgi-resources.com). Once we stumbled upon script called vizbook, we realized we had found perfect guestbook. Let me emphasize that point - this guestbook is absolutely incredible. It has everything, and was even completely customizable to match our site perfectly. If you can install CGI scripts on your server, then there is no other choice as far as I am concerned.
Many sites take advantage of many remotely hosted guestbook services that are available. The advantages of using a remote service include:
- The maintenance required to upkeep guestbook is minimal and generally consists of reviewing entries.
- Your bandwidth and disk quotas are not affected by guestboook.
The disadvantages include:
- Remotely hosted guestbooks are supported by advertising, which means banners. These cause visitors to be drawn away from your site.
- Configuration of remote guestbooks is usually very limited, so guestbook will not match your site.
- You are stuck with features provided by guestbook provider.
- Most importantly, these services have proven to be highly vulnerable to slowdown of internet advertising. As a result, quite a few have disappeared or become fee driven in recent months. This can be disastrous for a site when a guestbook with hundreds (or even thousands) of entries is lost without notice.