Comments About Comments

This site recently passed a great milestone of having over 5,000 comments. I love the comments this site gets. I’ve gotten so many great ideas. Last year I added comments to my coffee site INeedCoffee. It was a disaster. Despite having ten times the traffic this site has – very few readers left comments and those that did added no value and were often spam. I ended up shutting down the comments. I may restore it to selected articles in the future, but not right now.

Photo by Premasagar Rose

I don’t comment on other blogs as much as I’d like to. Recently, I thought about the barriers that prevented me from adding a comment and came up with this list.

Why I Didn’t Comment on Your Blog

  1. No Option to Subscribe to Comments – This is the number one reason I won’t leave a comment. WordPress offers several plugins that manage it all for you. Google’s Blogspot offers a clumsy way to subscribe to comments, but it works. If I really like the site and they don’t offer a way to subscribe, I’ll send an email to the website owner requesting the feature. If it gets implemented I’ll become a more active reader and participant in the site, because I feel invested in their success. If my request gets ignored, I may stop reading the site altogether.
  2. CAPTCHA – I hate CAPTCHA. It often takes me multiple attempts to see those letters. There are far better ways to prevent SPAM that don’t annoy the reader. Blogspot sites are most guilty of this. And I hate Blogspot. I find it ironic that Google engineers are geniuses when it comes to filtering email spam, but are blithering idiots when it comes to comment spam.
  3. Force Me To Log In To Comment – If I have to sign up for account or use some authentication method that requires a form to fill out, I won’t leave a comment. As bad as DISQUS was at filtering SPAM, they have a great interface for authenticating users. If you are logged into Twitter or Facebook, you can click a single button to be authenticated without filling out a form. Meanwhile, Google is completely stupid on this point. Even though I’m logged into GMAIL, YouTube and other Google services, I am forcing to log into their Blogger service to leave a comment on Blogspot accounts. There is also a bug that if you can’t request to subscribe to comments until after you are authenticated. *BTW, I no longer report bugs to Google. I have a long history of them ignoring every bug request I’ve ever reported.
  4. Censor My Comment – Not “holding for moderation“, but outright censored. I’m always respectful and never combative in the comments I leave. Once I figure out that a site censors comments, they are dead to me. High Intensity Nation censored two of my comments. I am no longer a fan or supporter of that site.
  5. Too Many Comments – If a site is super popular and receives lots of comments, I’m less likely to comment for two reasons. One is that I feel that someone has probably already said what I’m thinking and the second is that I feel my contribution will get lost. It would be better to flesh out my idea over on my own blog.
  6. Comments Aren’t Maintained – If I see lots of spam in the comments or if the author of the article doesn’t respond to simple direct questions from their readers, then I won’t leave a comment.
  7. Comment Thread Has High Noise Factor – Look at the comment threads for the articles over on Yahoo! Sports or most investment forums for examples.
  8. Site Has Coding Errors – Maybe everything is right about the site, but one of the plugins looks like it is throwing an error. I’ll assume the comment system may have issues as well and leave. I once left a comment on a blog that errored out. I emailed the website owner the bug I was experiencing and I got an “LOL” response. I unsubscribed from the site and have never been back.
  9. Site Has Poor Typography – I’m a sucker for a clean user interface. If you use small gray fonts on a white background, I won’t comment. I can use the Readability plugin to make your site legible, but that plugin doesn’t clean up the comments, just the content.
  10. Author Doesn’t Ask For Specific Feedback – Sometimes I’ll read a great blog post and the only thing I can think to comment is “great job”. But that really isn’t enough to motivate me to comment. When the author closes with a few questions to extend discussion, I’m more likely to comment.
  11. Doesn’t Support Trackbacks – I am more likely to link to and engage in the comments of a site that supports Trackback links. Sites like FreeTheAnimal and PerfectHealthDiet have linked here and me to them. We all honor trackback links. Blogger and Blogspot sites do not support trackbacks. This one isn’t a deal breaker, but a nice to have.

Those are my reasons for not commenting. Did I miss anything?

Published by

MAS

Critical MAS is the blog for Michael Allen Smith of Seattle, Washington. My interests include traditional food, fitness, economics, and web development.

7 thoughts on “Comments About Comments”

  1. here is a reason, author does not get involved in comments. nothing worse than providing feedback or adulation with no response.

  2. @Chuck – That is sort of like the second half of my #6. To me that provides the appearance that the comments aren’t being maintained. Something else I could also add to the list is when comments go into an endless “hold for moderation” state.

  3. A form of number 10 is the reason I typically don’t comment here. I’ll typically enjoy and learn from the posts, but I won’t feel any particular need or motivation to comment. I’m sometimes surprised at the low number of comments on some posts here, but I think others may share my sentiment. So, please continue on, as we read and enjoy in silence.
    🙂

  4. @MAS,
    I’m glad you are happy with the number of comments you get. In retrospect, my comment does seem a bit “off” based on the topic of the post (5000 comments), so I guess was just commenting on certain specific posts. Also, your comments have a very high signal to noise ratio (your point 7).
    Yes, Richard is at one end of the spectrum. Another trend, as you are aware, has been to disable comments and focus on content (e.g., Seth, Leo, INeedCoffee). Thanks again.

  5. Glad to see that trackbacks are optional ;). I stopped displaying them for the same reason I stopped displaying likes … 9 times out of 10 they were from spammers thinking they were generating link traffic for SEO.

  6. @Beth – I have a really good SPAM filter setup. Akismet + WordPress Hashcash + NoSpamNX. That combo works better than anything I’ve ever used before. It is better than GMAIL Spam filtering.

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