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How not to Encourage People to Comment on your Blog : Communications FAIL

Pete Brown - 10 September 2008

One of the greatest things about blogs is the ability to have a dialog with your readers. While the comments mechanism is far from perfect in that respect, it works well enough to at least be useful.

My own blog requires a CAPTCHA, something I'm looking forward to removing when I move to a new platform. Anything that comes between your reader and the ability to post feedback is going to kill a potentially valuable conversation. Even with CAPTCHA, I get tons of blog comment spam every day, but that's the tradeoff for allowing anonymous comments.

So, I wanted to comment on a post in Ryan Stewart's blog today. When I clicked the comment button, this is what I was met with:


A multi-step registration process requiring all sorts of personal information and wants to sign you up for email. Yuck.

Now, I can't entirely fault Ryan as this was obviously imposed by ZDNet, but criminy! This is an instant FAIL when it comes to encouraging participation with your readers. I know I decided not to bother commenting due to the friction.





posted by Pete Brown on Wednesday, September 10, 2008
filed under:      

9 comments for “How not to Encourage People to Comment on your Blog : Communications FAIL”

  1. Maggie Longshoresays:
    Q: How to encourage people to comment on your blog?
    A: Write a blog post on how not to encourage people to comment on your blog.

    I agree - I would not register that form to add a comment. I don't mind most captcha either. Yours is easy; Yahoo has one that I get wrong more times than I get it right.
  2. Matthew Fabbsays:
    ZDNet is own by CNET and unfortunately they don't want you to just comment on a blog posting but become a full CNET user, so that you also rate articles, rate products, etcs. More users they have participating with CNet articles and the more value they add to those articles, which is why they want you to jump through those hoops.

    However, Ryan Steward's own blog (http://blog.digitalbackcountry.com/) doesn't have any of those restrictions.
  3. Peter Brombergsays:
    This is a classic example of Form vs. Substance - creating a bar so high that it has the reverse effect of that intended.

    Jeff Attwood (CodingHorror) has the perfect solution: He displays the word "Orange" as the sole Captcha phrase for leaving a comment. It's easy to read and it works 99.9% of the time!

    Go figure...
  4. Joshsays:
    I agree there is a UK MS employee, a great Silverlight blogger, who asked recently for replies to his blog so I went to leave a comment but you need a username and password which are unavailable to the general public so there is not even a registration process it is a closed comment audience. If you are that worried about comments vet them before they are published but why restrict the input ?
  5. Pete Brownsays:
    @Maggie. lol. Works every time! ;)

    @Peter I recall seeing Jeff tweet about his "Orange" CAPTCHA at one point or another. Pretty clever :)

    @Matthew agreed on ZD/CNET. If that is their real goal, then I can't really fault them. However, they lose something in the process. I read Ryan's other blog as well. His ZDNet one tends to be more balanced though, IMHO.

    @Josh now that is just odd. A public blog with restricted access should just be placed on a restricted network/server somewhere. Otherwise it is just a tease :)
  6. Anye Mercysays:
    You're totally right, I would never bother filling out a form like that just to leave a comment. To download a code sample, perhaps.

    I have custom "Math-cha" on my eponymous-domain website's "contact me" form. It's not hard math - just requires knowledge of "squaring" and some elementary reading comprehension skills without which, chances are, I don't really want the person contacting me anyway. I have not gotten any spam at all since I put it in, and I have discovered that recruiters can apparently get past it :)
  7. Karloniasays:
    Two methods that can help to encourage comments are allowing DoFollow links (removing default nofollow attributes so that "link juice" is passed to the sites) and installing the KeywordLuv plugin, which significantly helps commenters with SEO because it allows them to choose the anchor text for links. Overall, it is a good thing to encourage comments because the extra content provided by other people adds more keywords to your posts, which in turn brings in more traffic from the search engines without costing you any more time than it takes to write the original post.
  8. Pete Brownsays:

    I'm not interested in the SEO aspects of comments in a blog. I'm more interested in having a conversation with the community.

    As for removing the "nofollow", I don't reward people who comment on my blog just to try and direct traffic to their own. FWIW, I'll even sometimes remove the link or otherwise edit it if it is spammish (like the link you included)

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