One of the most enduring artifacts of the pre-Web 2.0 Internet are free guestbooks for websites. In this article, you'll learn about the evolution of the online guestbook and where you can find a free one for your own website.
People Still Use Guestbooks?
Whether you call it a comment box or a feedback form, the method of submitting your response to a website or web page content remains much the same as it ever was, except it now goes by a variety of names.
What's in a Name?
The very first guestbooks were simple submission forms that website visitors could use to leave their feedback for the webmaster. These were originally called a "guestbook" because, just like a real life guestbook, visitors could enter a comment and "sign" their name. Webmasters would typically use server-side CGI scripting to accept and process user input and display those comments on the web page. Eventually, as blogs became the more popular format for websites and web designers turned to content management systems with embedded widgets to handle web page functionality, guestbooks transformed into comment areas, feedback forms and for businesses, even order forms and service requests.
The only thing that differentiates the comment form of Web 2.0 from the guestbooks of the early Internet is that the background scripting has evolved into newer server-side languages, and the forms now exist on multiple website pages, rather than just one page devoted to user feedback. As the web moves more toward an interactive community format, websites are no longer static sources of information with one-way interaction. Instead, visitors can comment on individual articles and stories within a website. This means that websites are not outdated, they've just transformed into new tools with new functions.
Finding Free Guestbooks for Websites
Today, there are many sources for free guestbooks, depending on how you want to implement it into your website. The guestbooks that you can find for free and integrate into your site include scripts, widgets, or hosted guestbooks. Most of the free guestbooks for websites listed below are intended either as stand-alone pages where your visitors can comment about your website, or you can embed the script at the bottom of a page so that visitors can comment on individual pages. Keep in mind that if you're using a WordPress or Blogger blog, most of the blog templates have these "guestbooks" built into the theme.
Free Guestbook Scripts
The following websites offer excellent free scripts that let you embed fully functional guestbooks onto your web page. These scripts include Pearl, JSP and PHP, but there are a number of additional languages that web designers use to create guestbooks - these are only a few examples.
- 2CreateAWebsite provides this free guestbook script that uses a PHP script, a couple of DAT files and a few images that you simply upload to your web hosting account. All you have to do is edit the index.php file to customize it for your own website.
- Gentle Source offers another free guestbook PHP script that looks great and offers a range of features such as flood protection so users can post too frequently and the ability to ban certain IP addresses if you end up with a troublemaker posting to your guestbook.
- HScripts offers this free Java Server Pages (JSP) free guestbook that requires some database functionality, so make sure you have at least moderate website programming knowledge if you plan to use this one.
One of the easiest methods to add a guestbook to your website, especially if you have very limited website development skills, is adding a hosted guestbook to your site. These free guestbooks for websites transfer visitors from your site to the secondary site in order to ender their comments, and then the comments are either displayed on the hosted site with a link back to your original web page, or some hosted services proved embedded scripts that display the comment stream on your page.
- sGB is a UK based free guestbook that is also one of the few free hosted guestbook services that doesn't add advertisements to your guestbook page.
- Website Goodies offers very professional guestbooks, but they also have ads unless you pay the monthly fee.
All of these options are perfect for when you simply want to embed a guestbook on your site without the need or frustration of scripting. In most cases you simply insert a link or a short clip of code in order to install the hosted guestbook.
Another option to add free guestbooks to your page is by using widgets. Widgets allow you to insert just a few lines of code into your website or blog in order to embed a guestbook feature. Another option is to just install a simple content management system like Wordpress or Joomla and use the integrated comment feature that those systems already have.