Do you have a blog? If you do, you are probably happy when lots of people come to visit it, and perhaps even happier still when people comment on it. Comments are wonderful. Comments show your blog visitors that your blog is popular with other blog visitors. It’s recognition. So here’s the question: are you making it distasteful, difficult, or even impossible for people to leave comments and otherwise participate in conversations on your blog?
It has become an almost daily occurrence for me to visit a blog, write a comment, and then stop before submitting it. Why? Because the sign in/login process for many blogs is, for me anyway, too troublesome. Actually, “onerous” might be a better word.
I realize that spam sent via blog comments is a problem, but this is one of those cases where the baby is getting deleted with the bath water.
Many blogs require “signing in” before writing anything. Ok, I’ll leave my name, email, and website, those get autofilled no problem. But sometimes the only option is to sign in via Yahoo or Google or facebook. C’mon folks . . . I’m not about to give out major passwords on some unknown blogger’s web site. Then there are other choices like Livejournal, AIM, and OpenID. I have no idea what those are.
There are other, third-party options, like disqus, but I signed up for it over a year ago, and I don’t remember my username or password. So when I after encounter such barriers, am I really all that eager to leave a comment that I am willing spend 20 minutes of my life going through the “lost your username / password” procedure? Probably not.
There’s another increasingly common thing that, quite frankly, creeps me out: just yesterday I went to a blog of a total stranger (after clicking on a link in a facebook post), read the blog, and when I started to type a comment, my facebook profile picture appeared to the left of the comment window. How the heck do these people know who I am??? There was even a little checkbox saying, “post this comment to your facebook profile?” I appreciate the convenience factor being offered to me, however, I sincerely doubt that my rank-and-file facebook friends are interested in comments I write on blogs regarding the mating habits of monarch butterflies, or audio problems in hotel meeting rooms. You get the idea. In other words, I don’t think that everything I write is universally appealing, and I would like to be able to just keep my facebook profile separate from my blog commenting persona. Whenever I feel as though the Internet’s ever-invasive software is trying to get its hands on me, I just give up. Delete comment. Close window.
Another problem: some blog comment software requires that you gain entry by typing the letters that look more like a Rorschach test than actual text. I am pretty impressed if there are software programs out there that can read this text, as half the time I cannot decipher it. If I can’t get it right on the first try (if I try at all), I give up.
And one of my even bigger complaints is that I don’t know what the big hoop or hurdle to jump through will be until I’ve been finished writing the comment. It’s making me feel like not really bothering to write comments any more. Is that what you want visitors to do? Because if you do, the spammers have won. Now nobody is commenting.
I have a very simple procedure for comments on my own blog. No signing in, no security, no Rorschach tests, just put in your comment and click enter. I did have to institute a comment moderation step, because 90% of the comments I get are promotional spam, and I object to these people using my blog space to post free advertising. So your comments on my blog won’t appear instantly, but at least there isn’t any issue preventing you from writing one. (At least I think there isn’t, this wordpress platform is new. And now that I have Askinet spam filter in place, I may turn off the moderation step too.)
It’s astonishing to me that I just wrote an entire article about the many ways comments are prevented.
Each has their taste, and maybe you want people to identify themselves and give you lots of information about themselves before writing any comments. But if I visit your blog, and I have to remember an arcane seldom used password, or give out my email password, or I have to decipher a headache-inducing visual puzzle, or let everyone on facebook know that I am commenting on your blog, well, . . . no comment.
© Justin Locke