Writers who blog seem to have a unique fear of spam. I know everyone hates spam posts and trolling, but the level of protection some writers go to to protect themselves from angry denizens of the internet or robots is strange to me.
Our blogs and websites are our virtual homes, where we want to meet people and get to know them. We love comments, and we love the interaction. Even so, how many writers use every comment protection available in their chosen blogging platform?
On Blogger, Google’s blogging platform, for example, you can use computer generated Captchas, you can require moderation, you can force the user to be logged in to a related service, or any combination of the above! Many blogs I read do use multiple steps, and every step you put between leaving wanting to leave a comment, and the task of doing so removes people willing to talk to you!
Now, my opinion states, the truth is, there are a lot of people who abuse the power of the internet. Expect bots. Expect tangential comments. Expect people who don’t like you. They exist! So some of these features are good.
Captchas, or word verification tests, are built to stop bots from posting spam comments. I do like these if you don’t have screening software, and they’ve got a real use. They’re also becoming more and more common on the internet, so often seen as how things are by users. You’ll notice, I don’t have word verification in use here thanks to the software wordpress.com has installed. If you’re in a topic with a very high number of moneymaking keywords that bots are known to abuse, I absolutely say take advantage of Captchas.
Logging in or requiring an email is another feature available on most blogging platforms. This is becoming a norm across the internet, especially with Twitter and Facebook making APIs allowing readers to log in through their servers. Having to offer your email or username discourages certain types of internet trolls and helps encourage more in depth comments. On this blog, I only require an email to post a comment. I like community building, so I suggest this as a key feature all the time!
Comment moderation is the ultimate tool for controlling what gets said on your blog. Everything has to run in front of your eyes before making it to the website. This is less common on blogs, and even less common on other social websites. Unless you have a history of internet trolls saying things that are untoward to anyone involved with your blog, I absolutely suggest not using this. It makes it seem like you have something to hide, or you don’t trust your readers.
With that suggestion in place, if you only use moderation for the first post a person makes on your blog, this is something tolerable, and even understandable.
Some blogs close comments after a certain time period. This is a nice feature for high traffic blogs, but generally I feel it’s an unnecessary piece of protection for smaller blogs.
We love our blogs. We love commenting. But we need to make sure we’re not making it difficult for our real readers while trying to discourage abuse. Roll out a real welcome mat, not something like the above.