Comments are blogger gold, we’re told. It’s good to engage readers in dialogue. Dialogue fosters community and communities visit blogs more often than casual readers.
So, I have to ask, why do so many bloggers do things that make commenting and engaging in dialogue difficult and frustrating? One answer to why bloggers fail to engage readers is simple:
Bloggers fail to build audience when they make it difficult for readers to comment. Since I belong to several groups of bloggers who support each other by commenting on one another’s blogs, I’ve gotten to see all the many ways bloggers fail to engage their readers. Here are three ways bloggers can actually BLOCK dialogue.
Complex Anti-Spam Captchas
Yes, I know spam sucks. But those long rows of tiny grey number combinations that some anti-spam Captcha systems use are almost impossible to get right on the first try.
Even the shorter Captcha numbers are hard to read: more often than not I’ve got to get so close to the screen I bump my nose.
Captcha can be frustrating, so frustrating that readers abandon their comment. I know this because I’ve abandoned my own comments after taking time to think and write. Captcha rebuffs me.
And here are some of the worst Captchas:
Why would bloggers who want to encourage comments use Captcha, when there are easier alternatives?
I use Akismet, which prevents 99.99% of spam from reaching my comments section. So simple. And transparent to commenters. And I love commenters.
Other bloggers use tick boxes: check this box to prove you are not a spammer. While I think any extra keystroke required of commenters can be prohibitive, the tick box is certainly better than the Captchas I see on too many blogs.
The message “You have not been on the blog for long enough.”
This is so annoying. I read dozens of blogs a day and try to comment on most of them. The reason I can? I’ve been a speed reader since junior high. I don’t want to sit on a blog forever, even though I know its numbers are better if I stay longer. But my time is valuable and I don’t want to spend it waiting until the allotted time is up. I feel manipulated into being just a statistic on your site.
At first I’d just leave the blog up while I did other things and come back later, after enough time had elapsed. But now I just don’t comment. At all.
The message “Your comment is too short. Go back and write a longer one.”
Seriously? Are you kidding? Less can be more when comments are concerned. Sometimes I just want to say something like “You go, girl!” I don’t want to write chapter and verse. Oh, I know the purpose is to keep me on your blog. But what it does is keep me OFF it. So here’s my hypothetical: do you want five long comments when you could have 10 shorter ones?
I love you, I do. I love reading your blogs. But I don’t want to spend my time figuring out your Captcha.
I don’t want to feel manipulated, like just another number in your blog statistics. Even if I am. Allow me my delusion. And save me some time.
So–come on over and comment on my blog any time, Captcha-free. Stay a minute or five minutes, your choice. You’re welcome to leave a one-word comment or a 500-word comment. I just like to see your name in comments.
And I really, really like the dialogue that goes on in comments, the kind that brings context and color to subjects like depression or violence. I appreciate hearing your responses and your views. It’s one of the biggest reasons I blog every single day.