As long time readers will know, this blog has had a serious comment spam problem for some time. Today, I believe I have the best possible solution: Comment liberation.
I currently attract around 3,000 automated spam comments every day, trying to bypass the various filters I have in place. I also get human generated spam, from people who manage to bypass the filters and need to be manually moderated. It takes a lot of time dealing with the spam problem and also the knock-on problems caused by the spammers.
The comment moderation time suck
I thought I had found a solution, but the solution itself has caused just as big a time suck as the original problem. The various filters I have applied to the blog to catch the spammers also catches legitimate comments and stops people every day from leaving comments. I then get emails from them asking where their comment is and have to get into the software, fish their comment out, add their ip address to a safe list, then publish their comment.
I looked at other commenting systems and each does some of what I need but none do everything. However, all of them offered an option for comments from social networks to be pulled into the blog.
This got me thinking
I then had a bit of an epiphany. I found myself asking better questions:
Why do I actually need to monopolize comments here on the blog? Surely it would make more sense to liberate comments, so people could make them wherever they want, without me moderating anything?
Even if I had zero issue with spam comments and trackback spam, I’m not sure it makes sense (for me) to hog the comments here on my blog.
Yes, hosting comments on a blog is a good idea and has a number of advantages for most bloggers. Here are just a few:
- It generates more page impressions to their site, as those who comment or follow the discussion on their blog keep returning to comment or check for new comments.
- It could help with SEO, as new comments may count as ‘frequently updated content’, something Google rewards.
- If the blogger doesn’t publicly publish their email address or they get very few email comments, it’s a useful way for them to get feedback from a subset of their readers.
None of those apply to me:
- I don’t need page impressions, as I have no advertisers to keep happy.
- I don’t SEO the site beyond the absolute basics. I write it exclusively for humans and not robots.
- I talk to readers about my posts daily on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.
- I publish my email address publicly and get feedback all day every day from readers (which I love).
Social networks have given everyone a voice
I connect every day with readers on social networks, something that wasn’t possible when I started blogging. Every reader now has an account with at least one social network, giving them a voice and a community to say what THEY think about what they read.
All this for less than 7% of the feedback I receive
It’s insane that I currently spend almost as much time dealing with comment spam and the issues it creates, as I spend writing blog posts! All this aggravation makes so little sense, when you consider that published comments on average, make up around 7% of my entire daily feedback from the blog.
So, as from this post, I will be closing the comments here and opening up the conversation, by passing it over to you, to talk about wherever you wish. Social networks and email is, after all, where most of the conversation around my work has been for the past 18 months, anyway.
If you want to chat with me away from the gaze of your social network, you are very welcome to email me. My email address, firstname.lastname@example.org is on every page of this blog. My full address and phone number are listed here.
Not for everyone
Not only is my approach not right for every blogger, I think it’s the wrong approach for the vast majority of bloggers. For example:
- If your business model needs the additional page impressions that come from comments, this is not for you.
- If you prefer to have the conversation hosted on your property, this is not for you.
- If you write just a couple of times a week or less and have lots of time to moderate comments, this is not for you.
- If you are just getting established and need the social proof, which lots of comments can provide, this is not for you.
- If you don’t get regular emails from readers and need comments as a way to see what people think about your posts, then this is not for you either.
However, I truly believe this is the best way for me to provide you with as much value as possible. As you would expect, I will look at the situation over the coming weeks and let you know what my experience has been.
Clearly, if I find I have made a mistake, which is possible, I will try another solution.