Don’t lock down commenting too tightly

by Maskil on August 6, 2008

In a post on my Workbench blog a couple of days ago, I had this to say:

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Comments settings for all blogs

I’ve made a number of changes on the Comments settings across all blogs. The most significant change has been to the setting “Who Can Comment?” which is now set to “Anyone – includes Anonymous Users”. I’ve always suspected I might be discouraging comments by using the “Registered Users – includes OpenID” option, as this obviously doesn’t allow for on the fly comments.

I hope I’m not opening myself up to a barrage of spam and hate mail. I do still have the following safeguards in place though:

Comment moderation: Always

Show word verification for comments? (CAPTCHA)

I’m also trying out “Comment Form Placement” as a “Pop-up window” instead of “Full page”.

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The very next post on Altneuland picked up two comments in the first day or so. Previously, that’s only ever happened when I’ve given a commercial product some unfavorable publicity!

The lesson here is to not lock down your comments too tightly, i.e. to the point where you’re actually discouraging readers from having their say. Feedback is what blogging is all about, after all. I know from my own experience that if I’m expected to jump through too many hoops in order to post a comment, I’m likely to abandon that particular transaction.

In my defense, the reason why I built walls around my comment facilities was because I’m mostly blogging about politics and religion, topics that always generate a great deal of heat, especially in the J-Blogosphere!

Most commenters would probably like the immediate feedback of seeing their comments on the post page. I’ve therefore gone to the other extreme and also changed the comment moderation settings as follows across the board:

“Comment moderation” is now set to “Only on posts older than 90 days”, i.e. comments on posts less than 3 months old will not require moderation.

The CAPTCHA setting remains in place for spam. I will also still receive an e-mail message each time a comment is posted, and I’ll still use the Delete key in need (I haven’t up until now), but won’t get in the way of a civilized debate.

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