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4 Ways to Make Your Blog More User-Friendly for Commenters

I don’t know what your main purpose in blogging is. Maybe you want to make a little extra money. Maybe you just want to write and be read. Maybe you just want to write.

Whatever your motivation, I hope you’re successful.

When I was doing the Carnival of Personal Finance, I got the chance to visit a lot of blogs. I didn’t feel comfortable e-mailing the bloggers and saying “Here, you should change this,” since I didn’t know them. But I thought I’d do a post with my observations.

1. Don’t make people register to comment. (WordPress-type blogs)

You can only do this if you’re already really successful, like the Consumerist.com or LifeHacker. If you’re trying to build an audience, then leave the comments accessible. Some people may sign up to comment, but most won’t want to bother with the hassle. People only have a limited amount of blog-browsing time, and you want to make it as easy as possible for them to respond.

2. Similarly, if you’re in Blogger, don’t make them be logged in to Blogger to comment.

If they don’t have a blog-specific Google account or aren’t currently logged in as that user, they probably won’t bother. Commenters like to be anonymous (most of the time) behind their screen names…they’re not going to want their real ones up there. Or they might not have a Google account. You are basically limiting your audience to only people on Blogger.

3. Consider not having the Captcha.

The Captcha is the little letter/number combination people have to use to prove their human. Take it down for a day and see what happens.

You see, I’m slightly dyslexic. Typing in skewed letters and numbers in a random combination (normal word Captchas–not available on Blogger–are much easier) is horribly difficult for me. It requires a lot of concentration. So even though I’m a rabid commenter, I may decide that it’s not worth the effort to comment.

4. Consider not using Blogger’s popup comment boxes.

They have the advantage that you can still see the post while you comment. But honestly they’re a pain in the butt and the click-through allows one to pull up the text on the left anyway. It won’t stop me from commenting, but it’s a pain and may lead me to be annoyed with your site.

And this isn’t just me talking, there are a number of bloggers I’ve spoken to who say that they’d like to comment more often on interesting posts, but are dissuaded by these factors.

Commenting is a very valuable part of the blog–it’s a place for discussion, it’s a way to know who’s reading and what they might like to see in the future.

I won’t subscribe to a blog where I can’t comment–there’s no point.

I’m feeling sort of what Patrick said in a conversation:

I like leaving comments, and I especially like to thank bloggers who mention my blog or an article. I do appreciate any mention of my site, even if it comes from a blog with 1 reader. The fact they mention my site means a lot to me. But Blogger [and I’d add registering to comment] just makes things difficult and frustrating.

(Note, I do subscribe to Blogger blogs and suffer through the Captchas, but I know some people who are saying “Screw this” and giving up. If you want a free platform, consider WordPress.com. Downside is that you can’t use scripts or ads.)

How do you make your blog more user friendly? Do you agree with my suggestions or have any to add?


{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

CatherineL January 10, 2008 at 7:10 am

Mrs M – Great suggestions. And you’ve said exactly what I’ve been feeling for a while.

I’ve lost count of the number of times where I’ve taken the time to comment on a blog post – then I come to fill out my details and find that I can’t leave the comment because I’m not on blogger.

Captcha’s are a real pain if you don’t have great eyesight – I hate them.

And bloggers own comment pop up is a nuisance. I was going to mention this to RacerX, but you’ve broken the ice for me. I browse in firefox and the pop up doesn’t allow me to type in the comment. So, to comment on his blog, I have to open explorer and copy and paste the url, so it can be a real pain.

On the blogs that require me to register and wait for an email – I just don’t bother. And most of the time I don’t bother going back to the blog either. Time is short and there’s too many great things to read out there.

Lily January 10, 2008 at 8:37 am

Migrate to your own domain / host?

I realize this isn’t financially feasible for a lot of people. But now it’s so cheap to get a domain if it hasn’t already been registered. And the monthly cost of hosting, for me, is about the same as the cost of two coffees. You don’t have to been a tech whiz to migrate either. I knew almost next to nothing about it but found plenty of resources on the Internet to get it done. If you get WordPress, the interface is almost as easy as Blogger.

Besides being able to customize your comment section the way you like (forget the pop-up!), it’s easier for readers to remember where to go. You also look more professional than if you had “.blogspot.com” affixed to your site. This encourages more subscribers, which can mean better quality discussions in the comments.

mrsmicah January 10, 2008 at 8:40 am

“Migrate to your own domain / host?”

That certainly solves #2-#4. As you say, though, it may not be feasible…especially if people are working on getting out of debt. But I found it pretty financially reasonable, I used alternative income to get it started and it makes me enough to cover the cost of hosting.

Kacie January 10, 2008 at 9:18 am

Captcha was a big turnoff for me. I know it’s easy to type two characters, but it annoyed me because you had to click “back” to get back to the site, instead of automatically being redirected.

I hope this means you got rid of your captcha! 🙂

mrsmicah January 10, 2008 at 9:28 am

As far as I know there shouldn’t be a Captcha…but my site sometimes does strange things.

Eden January 10, 2008 at 10:13 am

Yes! I’m glad you said this. I have been quietly annoyed with blogger templates for a while now. I don’t want to be logged in with my Google account to leave a comment AND I want a link to my site to be associated with my name (like the standard WordPress comment system). For the most part, I have given up on commenting on Blogger blogs.

And captchas are lame. I’ve been foiled by them more than I care to admit and more than I should have (I AM a real person).

*Safety tip – before I post a comment I hit ctrl+a (select all) then ctrl+c (copy) so that I still have my comment if something bad happens to the site and it doesn’t get posted. Then I can just paste it in and try again. You know, since I write such long, brilliant comments. 🙂

Patrick January 10, 2008 at 10:14 am

Hi Mrs. Micah,

I agree with your assessments on how to make your blog more user friendly. I have almost given up commenting on blogger sites because it is such a hassle and more time consuming than commenting on other formats.

Another problem with the Blogger platform is that many corporate firewalls block it, so those bloggers are missing out on a wide audience and a lot of opportunity.

MM, you may have a captcha in the form of the SK2 plugin which may require some users (not all) to fill out a captcha before leaving a comment. It has to do with security settings.

Becky January 10, 2008 at 10:43 am

Very good tips. It makes me think about dropping Blogger. I think they do allow you to leave your URL now, don’t they?
I will drop the Captcha and see how it goes.
Thanks for the ideas!

RacerX January 10, 2008 at 11:53 am

I just changed my comment section to the non Pop-window. I had it thatway because I actually like for me personally, because after you comment some sites cache weird and hang you up if you “back” button.

However, the main thing is to make sure thaose that want to comment can do so easy, as far as I am concern that is their section of my site, so it should work the way they want to, not me.

My peave on commenting(as a commentor) is when the site looks like it didn’t go through, so you resend and look like a spam-monkey!

Really helpful post though for us newbs, thanks!

Money Blue Book January 10, 2008 at 12:13 pm

The blogger account part is so true – when I see that I just run the other way and take my comments with me! The other things don’t bother me as much
-Raymond

Early Retirement Extreme January 10, 2008 at 12:30 pm

Today’s word:

Rabid commenter, hahaha!

😀

In 99% of the cases, I don’t comment if I have to register. Captchas are slightly annoying especially when they appear on a subsequent page. Often I will comment and then leave the tab while waiting for the comment to process only to come back to it two minutes later to see that it’s waiting for a captcha.

mrsmicah January 10, 2008 at 2:42 pm

“My peave on commenting(as a commentor) is when the site looks like it didn’t go through, so you resend and look like a spam-monkey!”

Yeah…that confuses the heck out of me. But I just hope the owner will delete any duplicates. It may be out of their control or it may have to do with the refresh rate.

plonkee January 10, 2008 at 4:07 pm

I hate it when my comments get caught in spam filters. I feel like I’ve been unfairly penalised for something I didn’t do. But I know that these things sometimes happen.

My pet peeve is subscribe to comments being automatically checked. Normally I don’t want an email coming in for every comment, especially if there are going to be a lot.

Logging in to comment, just isn’t going to happen. At good blogger blogs you can link your url to your name – I prefer that as I like to comment as myself, and it’s easier for people to contact me if they can find me again.

Flaime January 10, 2008 at 4:23 pm

And how, praytell, do you deal with comment spam?

mrsmicah January 10, 2008 at 6:12 pm

“And how, praytell, do you deal with comment spam?”

Spam Karma does a pretty good job…it occasionally means someone has to do a Captcha on the next page. When I was on Blogger it seemed to work ok without the Blogger word phrase. I got almost none.

Kacie January 10, 2008 at 7:41 pm

Yeah, you have a “kind-a-captcha” installed. I have to enter 2 characters to leave a comment. Remember?

mrsmicah January 10, 2008 at 7:44 pm

Hmm……

Kacie January 10, 2008 at 10:09 pm

test

Chief Family Officer January 11, 2008 at 12:01 am

I thought these were all good tips – I’ve certainly thought them myself at one point or another. Based on your post, I did go ahead and do away with the pop-up window for comments! But I can’t bring myself to turn off verification – before I had it, I would get TONS of spam and it drove me nuts! I’ll see if I can come up with a different alternative (I’m not crazy about Karma).

Becky January 11, 2008 at 5:44 pm

I was just thinking, it’d be great if you (or someone else out there who gets read a lot) would let people know that you can now leave your URL on Blogger sites. I think it’s a new thing and a lot of people who have given up on leaving Blogger comments might not know that.
Thanks!

FourPillars January 12, 2008 at 9:34 pm

Good post. I find the Captcha hard to read sometimes and often get it wrong. Very annoying.

Mike

FreelanceVenue July 6, 2008 at 1:08 pm

Good post you’ve got. You’ve challenged what people typically do with their blogs, but you’ve got some good points there!

By the way, an alternative to image CAPTCHA is a text-based one, generally in the form of a question. I personally find those image captchas hard to distinguish many times.

Example: “What is 2 + 2?”

Anyone can read that )and hopefully answer too!

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