I read a lot of blogs. But my time is limited like most people, and that means I can't always comment as much as I'd like.
When I do take the time to write a comment for one of your posts, it's because I thought you had something interesting to say and I wanted to engage in the conversation. But sometimes in the process of trying to leave a comment, I change my mind and leave.
It's usually because a blogger has put some kind of road block in my way. Are you making one of these mistakes and potentially driving away commenters?
Here are three things that stop me, and possibly some of your other readers, from commenting on your blog.
1. Forcing Registration Before Commenting
I can't believe people still do this, but every week I come across at least one or two blogs where you can't comment without registering. You're long past the point of needing registrations to control spam. All forced registration does is piss readers off. I don't care what your reasons are, and most of your readers don't either. Don't do it.
Registrations can be optional if they grant access to other features of your site. But there's no good excuse not to allow people to comment as guests these days.
2. Exercising Poor Spam Control
There are two basic ways you can screw up spam control on your blog:
- Letting spam go live on your site.
- Over-moderating comments.
The first is a problem for your legitimate commenters. Spammers might expose them to malicious links if you don't have any kind of spam protection in place. And spam in your comment stream disrupts the real conversations.
That said, trying too hard to prevent spam can also stifle conversations. Any extra step a reader has to take in order to leave a comment presents an extra obstacle that might send them away.
I understand the need to protect yourself from spam. But you don't need complicated captchas to do it.
I've used a number of anti-spam plugins in the past. I started with Akismet, but it had problems where legitimate comments were being blocked (not even making it to the spam folder). So I switched to the Growmap Anti-spambot plugin which only requires commenters to check a box.
In recent months all of my bigger sites using that plugin were heavily hit by spam -- hundreds of spam comments every day. It appears someone figured out a way to target users of the plugin, and I was far from the only person having this problem (although my much smaller sites seemed to be fine with it).
I've also tested a variety of captcha (both word and math varieties), and found none of them struck a good balance between protecting my comment stream and maintaining active discussions. Leave the captchas for things like comment forms instead where they'll impact fewer people.
I more recently switched to an anti-spam plugin simply called "anti-spam" in the plugin repository. It's fantastic so far, blocking spam and not requiring real commenters to do anything extra.
Try a few anti-spam solutions out and see what works best for your blog. But keep in mind that your efforts to control spam on the back-end shouldn't impair someone's ability to comment on the front-end.
3. Using 3rd Party Comment Management Systems
Okay. So this one is more of a personal complaint. But it's a big one. I despise third party comment management systems (such as Disqus and Livefyre). I almost never comment on blogs that use them. I find them invasive and obnoxious.
I won't go into all of the reasons I can't stand seeing blog comment management systems. But I'm far from the only person who avoids blogs that use them. Know that doing so might mean losing some commenters -- not good if your goal in using them is to bring about more open conversations.
If you absolutely must use one of these kinds of tools, consider the following:
- Don't let your comment management system force registration with their service. Readers shouldn't have to register on your own blog to comment, and they sure as hell shouldn't be forced to register with someone else.
- Give people the option to comment as a guest if possible, and do so without posing extra limitations on them (like not letting them add a link to their handle so other commenters know where to go to learn more about them). People shouldn't be punished for not wanting to register. The only reason you wouldn't do this is to prevent spam. And as I've already pointed out there are other, and better, ways to thwart spammers.
- Don't let your comment management system pull things like Twitter mentions into your comment stream. First, it does little more than stroke your own ego and give an inflated sense of your own influence when you add little-to-no-effort-required tweets linking to your post as if they carry the same weight as thoughtful comments taking part in a conversation. Don't use pseudo-"synch" features to bring Facebook or other social media comments to your blog comments either. Just because something is publicly-viewable, it doesn't mean you own it. The bigger issue though is noise. Readers get enough of that as it is. They don't need it in your blog comments.
These are three of my own biggest pet peeves as a blog reader -- things that frequently stop me from taking the time to comment on blogs I otherwise enjoy. What most often stops you from commenting on blogs? Would you register just to leave a comment?
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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.
She owns 3 Beat Media -- a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.
Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.
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