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If You Want Comments On Your Blog Make It Easy! (Rant Warning)

comments on blogsOne of the advantages of a blog over a more static website is the ability to interact with your readers through comments. Most bloggers love to get comments and many make it a policy to at least take a look at your blog when you comment and maybe even respond in return. I know I do.

One of the most frustrating thing for me when I try to encourage conversation by returning the favor are the bloggers who are so frightened of spam they make me jump through hoops to participate.

At least I guess they’re afraid of spam. I can’t think why else they’d set it up to make it hard for me to respond to a post.

There are all sorts of anti-spam schemes out there and each one is also designed to make it more difficult for your reader to participate in the conversation. Some make me register, some make me try and figure out a weird series of letters. One I recently found wanted me to log in with one of my social media accounts – I want to be able to at least list my blog for crying out loud. Some ask me to add up numbers, and others want me to check a box to prove I’m human.

Checking a box is probably the least offensive except it’s awfully easy to miss, meaning I get an error when I submit, making it tempting just to abandon my efforts to participate in that blog.

The most popular bloggers put up barriers

The most popular bloggers don’t put such barriers between their blog and their readers.

Respond to a post over at Problogger.net, (Darren is a 7 figure blogger) and you don’t even have to verify that you’re human. I suspect that’s one of the reasons he’s been so successful.

Most bloggers use Akismet to prevent much of the spam that shows up in blog comments. It doesn’t eliminate it all, but it does make doing your own screening almost easy.

CommentLuv, which will show commenters recent blog posts, now allows you to delete the post link if you think it’s spam or inappropriate. Spammers are getting more and more clever and sometimes I can’t be sure what is spam and what isn’t. When I can’t be sure I’ll do that and so far none of them have come back because I’ve defeated their purpose in creating links.

Treat your readers like guests

If you want more readers treat them like guests.

You don’t make your house guests perform tricks before they can come into your home do you? That’s what I thought.

I want my blog to be as hospitable as I can make it. I want to encourage your to join the conversation – that’s why there are no barriers here.

Sure a bit of spam slips through – so I delete it, just like I wash the dishes after serving dinner to friends.

My suggestion is you try removing all the barriers and see what happens. If you get a ton of spam, implement the easiest-for-your-reader solution you can find. Until you experiment you’re protecting yourself against something that may not even happen.

What do you think? Am I right? Or not? Let’s talk about it.


Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by jonbro

{ 47 comments… add one }
  • I get comments on my blog that are supposed English but are so incoherent they make me wonder if it’s some machine throwing in words at random. The comments have absolutely nothing to do with my content. I use Askismet so those comments never see the light of day.

    I don’t mind proving I’m human, sad that we even have to do that, reminds me of Terminator and Skynet, but I won’t jump through hoops. No time.

    • Yeah, the whole commenting thing may be going the way of the guest post… which is sad.

  • Yes interaction is necessary in blog and you are doing great work annew. Please if your read my comment try to give tips for making writing work more efficient. Thanks in advance annew. You are cute 🙂

    • Hmmmmm, a blog post on writing efficiently… thinking….

  • Dee

    Thank you for posting this, and for those on LinkedIn – take note! It’s bad enough I’m trying to get through irrelevant snippets on a business (?) networking site, but then I click a link to read the blog post when all hell breaks loose.

    Login to read the post – then log in to comment? Nope, I’m done. Make note self: Do not read anything by this idiot again. If you don’t know how to use something, there are people and tools to tell you how to do it. Use them…(puff, puff, sigh). Thanks Anne, needed to get that out my system:)
    Dee recently posted..Four W’s of ConsultingMy Profile

  • You’re absolutely right. I hate all those hoops one has to jump through to leave comments. I won’t leave comments on any blog that doesn’t have this type of comment system, so there goes Disqus, Livefyre, etc. I hate captcha because it’s hard to see, and though there are other clever ways of doing it I’m not crazy about them, but I’ll use them here and there. I hate my comments always being moderated but I guess one has to put up with that from time to time.

    And if one wants an extra level of protection, tell them to get the Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin; it’s not perfect but it’s a lot better than the norm.
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted..5 Ways Blogging Is Like A Toaster OvenMy Profile

    • Thanks Mitch… didn’t know about Growmap… sounds good.

  • I agree wholeheartedly!
    Susie Klein recently posted..You Know Me (feat. Steffany Frizzell) – Bethel Music (The Loft Sessions)My Profile

  • I’ve never seen anyone find the addition boxes of the Captcha’s so terrible. Maybe they just don’t tell me because I don’t ask? Food for thought, Anne, thank you.
    Jae Blakney recently posted..Wiki Or No Wiki – Does Having A Wiki Page Help Your Book?My Profile

  • Ooh, I hate that too. Many of the bigger news sites take comments, but getting through the barriers often ensures I won’t bother. I’ll just leave my opinion on Facebook and link to the article.

    I don’t moderate or use any CAPTCHA things on my blogs. I do have a Terms and Conditions/Comment Policy page to make sure I’m covered, however. Anne, it was you that told me about Wordpress and I put the Akismet thing on both of them right off. It’s worked great. No spam!
    Elizabeth West recently posted..Gran Torino: Hollywood Gets it RightMy Profile

    • Glad Akismet works for you… I’ve noticed more spam sometimes slipping through comment luv somehow. If the comment make sense to me but the link leads to a single page I’ll just delete the luv.

  • What are your thoughts about comments using Disqus and Intense Debate?
    Gina Conroy recently posted..Big Dreams Walking?My Profile

    • Gina, Disqus seems to make me jump through hoops on other people’s sites and I’ve never run into intense debate… do you like either of them?

  • I don’t even know what my blog does in terms of comment protection! I’m ashamed! It doesn’t make ME do anything when I comment but I guess that doesn’t mean it lets others comment freely. Do I even have choices like these if I use blogger.com?

    (Feeling very stupid right now…)
    Brenna recently posted..This post goes a lot of placesMy Profile

    • Brenna, you do. I use Blogger too. If you go under settings then select “comments” from the settings menu (across the top of the page), you get a full menu for comment options. I keep mine pretty wide open and delete any spam I get.
      Amelia Ramstead recently posted..Zombie Blueberries!!My Profile

    • Breanna, none of us were born knowing this stuff and each one of us has had to learn it bit by bit. I don’t have a clue about how blogger works but I suspect you’ll find you have options. Might be worth exploring to find out what changes etc. you can make.

  • I’m with you. There’s some blogs I’d love to comment on, but I don’t because it’s just way too complicated! I love Akismet and find it quite effective.
    Ellen recently posted..Bad pennyMy Profile

    • Like you, Ellen, Akismet seems to work well for me too.

  • I cringe every time I see those crookedly displayed and weirdly colored letters and numbers. Even if there is a way to hear the words, it takes several attempts to get it right. There are a few bloggers whose posts i like and I endure the captcha, but most of the time it’s too annoying to bother.
    I even added the numbers wrong a few times (to my embarrassment) and was sent away as a spammer:)
    Yes, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I set up my comments to be approved by me for the first-time commenters. Spammers get through once a while, but it’s not too hard to kick them out:)
    Lana recently posted..Lioness in the WinterMy Profile

  • Oh Anne, this is absolutely my pet peeve, too. I stopped following a good blogger because her site was impossible to get to. First, you had to sign in just to finish reading the damned thing. Then you had to sign in again to comment. Then the comments were monitored….

    Overkill that killed it for me.
    Lori recently posted..Open Thread: What’s Part of Your Job Do You Like Least?My Profile

    • I truly don’t understand why people put up such barriers… truly.

  • One thing you may have missed with the CAPTCHA is that some of them are so damn dark its hard to see the letters or numbers clearly. Recently I ran into one with dark green CAPTCHA on striped two-tone green background. Try getting through that one.

    The GASP box isn’t too bad but I often wonder if someone will come up with a way around that. And I miss that one even on sites I usually visit.

    Other than that, I don’t have to worry about people not leaving me comments because the site was set up by a knowledgeable writer friend of mine 🙂
    Bill Swan recently posted..Four Sales to Avoid at Food StoresMy Profile

  • Judith

    You got it right! If we want to have an intelligent and free-flowing conversation in the comment section of our posts, we should make it easy for the people to express their mind.

  • Are you saying something to me? Ha ha
    Ron’s Copy-e-writing Blog recently posted..Should A Freelance Writer Offer Free Service Ever?My Profile

  • Right on!! I have never used any barriers, and while I don’t get a ton of comments, at least my visitors feel welcome. When a spammer gets through–happens maybe twice a month–I delete it. Big deal. When I can’t easily comment on a site, I just give up and go away. I agree with every word you said!
    Marcy Sheiner recently posted..Ghostwriting Sample #1My Profile

  • I don’t use captcha because it stops blind and partially sighted people from accessing the comments. I do use the ‘click the box if you are human’ thing though, because the spam I was getting was into the hundreds every day, and I was ready to get rid of my site!! It has slowed it down, though I appreciate it is annoying if you don’t spot it and have to go back.

    It’s always hard to get the balance, isn’t it?
    Philippa – Social Media Writer recently posted..Protect Your Privacy on Social Media (Infographic)My Profile

  • This is a timely post for me, as I just spent 15 minutes tying to leave a comment before giving up. The site in question didn’t have captcha–you just had to enter name and email the way you do here–but since my email is already associated with a Wordpress account, it wanted me to go back and log in. Only there were no login options on the site in question. If it’s a pain to leave comments, I don’t.

    • I’ve had that happen Cheryl… I usually figure the site owner doesn’t have a clue how difficult some of these things become… if I can find an email I’ll tell em… but finding an email addy is often just as difficult… another whine of mine.

    • I HATE those options. I have an old wordpress account, but I don’t use it and I certainly don’t want it linked to comments I leave. When that pops up and doesn’t leave me any other option, I go away and never return.
      Amelia Ramstead recently posted..Zombie Blueberries!!My Profile

  • Ouch. You got me Anne. I do use Captcha to prove visitors aren’t robots. I installed it because I was getting a square tone of spam comments every day. It helps. I do understand your point, though, and I might give Askimet a try.

    But I don’t agree 100%. I don’t think the extra step requires that much more time or effort. The immediacy of everything online seems to have made us more impatient. If I’m going to take he time to join a conversation … if I’m interested enough to want to add my voice … then I can spare the extra few seconds.

    • Tracey

      I find CAPTCHA virtually unreadable. Distorted numbers and letters are difficult to read anyway, but try reading those numbers when you’re dyscalculiac! (Basically, dyscalculia is math dyslexia.) Numbers like threes, fives and eights or ones, sevens and nines are already hard for me to distinguish. CAPTCHA makes it hard to the point of impossibility. There have been times that I’ve been blocked from commenting simply because, despite repeated tries, I couldn’t get the CAPTCHA right.

      My record for fighting CAPTCHA is fifteen minutes. After that, the site shut me out.

      So I avoid sites that use CAPTCHA. I don’t mind having to prove that I’m human…but I do mind that it’s so difficult for me to produce that proof.

      • An excellent point. Thanks for that perspective Tracey. Another reason to look at other options.

        • Yeah, I hadn’t even thought about folks with vision problems in my rant… (blush)

      • Maybe I’ve got a touch of dyscalculiac! Never heard the term before but I do have trouble with numbers… you are much more patient than me… 3 or 4 tries is my limit period.

        • My son has dyscalculia and he can’t use Captcha and stuff like that at all. He has a really tough time. I don’t have any issues and I STILL have problems. I never get Captcha right on the first try. It makes me nuts!
          Amelia Ramstead recently posted..Zombie Blueberries!!My Profile

    • Michael, if everyone had the same system I might agree… but when I can’t even figure out what to do, or, as often happens to me with captcha, can’t seem to get it right in the first or even second try, it becomes a barrier to communication… and my frustration level goes up. A yes, try Askismet… it’s free.

  • Good discussion, Anne. I moderate the first comment. After I’ve approved that one, others are automatically approved. For me, that provides a good balance between being reader friendly and thwarting the spammers. I never object to my comments being moderated on other blogs and will often check back to see if they have been approved.
    Sharon Hurley Hall recently posted..Putting You in the Picture About My Blogging SkillsMy Profile

    • Sharon, I may put back moderating the first comment… I don’t now but I have been picking up more spam… we’ll see.

  • I love the washing dishes analogy. Although I admit, some spammers are tougher to scrape off than others. 🙂

    I’m totally with you on this one, Anne. I know my site doesn’t get near the traffic that the popular blogs do, but Akismet has worked great for me. The occasional spam slips through or the occasional legit comment gets put into the spam folder, but the spam caught far outweighs the misses.

    I hold 1st time comments in moderation for approval and have an email sent to me so I know it’s there. Again, maybe I would have a different view about that approach if I had 200-300 comments rolling in. but how many of us are there?

    I don’t mind the GASP check box I am not a spammer, although my boomer eyes often misses it also.
    Cathy Miller recently posted..Removing the Duh From Business WritingMy Profile

    • Thanks Cathy, love it when you and I agree. The GASP box is the least offensive imo, and like you I often miss it. The 1st time moderation and some limit on the number of links in a post work for me.

  • I trash or spam about a dozen comments a day across my multiple blogs, yet I allow anyone to leave a comment with no hoops to jump through.

    A related issue is comment moderation. Many newer bloggers moderate comments, or at least the first comment a person leaves on the blog. This often happens to me when I decide to leave a comment on a newer blog. When I see my comment is withheld for moderation, I rarely come back to follow up on the conversation.
    John Soares recently posted..Is a College Education Necessary to Be a Successful Freelance Writer?My Profile

    • I knew I was in good company John. Maybe we ought to start a no-hoops list of blogs… that actually might be a good idea.

      • Hmm…I may have to rethink the moderation thing. So far, I am very responsive to approving one held in moderation, so I don’t see it as a big deal, but there are two sides to every story. How’s that for a cliche? 😀
        Cathy Miller recently posted..Removing the Duh From Business WritingMy Profile

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