You must be a registered user to comment on this article

Portrait of man sitting inside a cardboard box

I love reading other people’s blogs and websites. Not too long ago, I read this really interesting blog entry on the Dalai Lama.  I thought it was clever, funny and very well written.  I wanted to leave a comment on the blog that said that.  But unfortunately, you had to be a registered member of the site in order to comment. And that was the only way to leave a comment. My response? I hit the back button.

Sad to say, on many websites, in order to comment, I find I have to create an account and login. Or, I can only comment with a Google account.  Which I don’t have. Or a Facebook account. Which I also don’t have. So, since I don’t want to create an account and won’t use Google or Facebook (which seem to be the most popular accounts for website sign in), I am hitting the back button. 

 For me, it doesn’t matter if registration is free, easy, or even offers me a prize. Unless I am passionately interested in that site and plan to be spending a lot of time there, I am not interesting in joining just to leave a comment.

Why? The short answer is I just don’t have time to create a new, unique username/password combo for every website I visit. (Read that as not using my dog’s name everywhere on the internet so that I’m not too likely to have my account hacked.) My last feedreader exploding due to thousands of unread posts may have something to do with it as well.

Want a few examples? From Social Media Today:  

Please note that comments from non-members will be sent to a moderator for approval within 24 hours. You can also register as a member for this site to have your comments approved automatically.

Or perhaps from boingboing.net:

Warning: Anonymous messages are held for moderation. This could take a (long) while. Or your comment may not be posted at all. Please consider creating an account and logging in. It’s fast, free, and we don’t spam, ever.

Get the impression that sites really want you to become a registered user? I sure do. And I understand why. But it still does not make me want to sign up for an account.

Homeless man warming his hands by a fire

Some sites take it to extremes. An author I was interested in reading was having a contest for a signed advance copy of an upcoming new novel.  To enter the contest, you had to visit a popular genre blog and post a comment.  Whe I tried to post, I found that you could only post if you signed in with Google Friend Connect.  When I nicely questioned the blog’s owner if there were other ways to comment, I was told that there were not.  Furthermore, I was told that the reason for the Friend Connect only comments rule was “to improve the quality of the discussion” and thanks for stopping by.

Gee. I realized I had just been called Internet riff-raff.  And not even based on my clothes or my hair or my car or any of those other status symbols people usually judge each other by.  It was based on the fact that I didn’t use a particular social networking system.

And from a marketing perspective, that blogger just lost my readership and my business (if he’s selling something).  He just lost the  potential to  get my business.  And he probably lost the business of a lot of people that I am going to tell about it. And the author who used that site for a contest that should have been open to everyone doesn’t fare too well in my opinion either. Because I won’t be back to visit that blog again.  Ever.  Just like I wouldn’t go back to a brick and mortar business that treated me badly.

And if you are a business blogger, that is not good.  Because for a business, building blog readership is crucial to building your business. And turning people off is not building relationships.  And, honestly,  most people love comments as it gives the impression that this is a site people are really interested in. 

So how do you make your blog as open as possible for readers and commenters?  Without driving yourself insane trying to fight off the comments from the dark side, of course.

The range of options seems almost as wide as the types of websites and blogs out there.  Unmoderated with spam filters.  Captchas of all varieties.  Moderated.  First post moderated and then posting is allowed. Sign in with Open ID. Google or Facebook or WordPress.com.  They are all options, although I personally have issues with most of that list.  What about a comment policy for your blog to help cut down the work? Ask people to play by the rules?  And why can’t I sign in with Twitter? 

The other extreme is a site like Topix.com. According to this article, they get tons of comments by allowing anonymous ones, although deleting them also seems to be a full time job.  There has to be somewhere in between.

While anonymous comments seems to be an invitation for trouble, many people like signing in with name and URL, even if it is moderated.  It helps to promote your own blog by inviting return comments.  I myself have discovered many a new blog or website by checking the links from an especially witty or well-thought-out comment. I have observed that the more open the comment process, the more interesting and intelligent the discussion seems to be.

So, do you do anything to make the comment process more open on your blog or website?  Or is there a reason why you keep the process limited in some way?  I’d love to know.   And, contrary to this blog post’s title, you don’t have to be a registered user to comment. You just have to wait for me to get around to approving the comment.

19 thoughts on “You must be a registered user to comment on this article”

  1. Great post! I’ve been seeing so many blogs lately about comment abuse – and until recently, I never really thought about it. When I started blogging it was just about me having an outlet for “stuff” so moderating comments wasn’t an issue. In a sense, it still isn’t because my blog isn’t widely marketed – I still have a hard time wrapping my head around why anyone would want to read it 🙂

    Though I can see why people might want to moderate their comments, I’m with you – make it too cumbersome, and it isn’t worth my time. There are far too many books and blogs to read out there, and frankly, if I’ve got time to do this much messing around, I should be writing anyway.

    1. Dawn, we read your blog becuase it’s interesting. (The eye candy doesn’t hurt, either, LOL!) But you have also made it very easy to comment on your blog for people who are interested in doing so. 🙂

  2. Great entry. I totally agree. There’s enough that you can tell from an email and IP addy to have OpenID or a simple name and URL to be sufficient.

    Don’t even get me started on Blogger and Google. They just annoy me. Why I never have and never will have a blog with them.

    1. Kelly, I too have noticed that the Blogger blogs seem to default to very limited comment choices. I think that if you don’t check, you only have those account available.

  3. I hate that exclusive thing regarding leaving a comment and the trouble it sometimes takes. Good insights by my honey! Simple moderation is good enough for me! Jim Skafish

    1. Yeah, Mark, I’ve heard that’s the reason you have to register, LOL. And, yes, you did have to fill in your name, email and website to post. But at least you didn’t have to register! 🙂

      Seriously, though, we hear so much about the comments and spam from the webmaster’s point of view. I just think it’s important to look at it from the consumer’s point of view as well. As bloggers, we actually want someone to read us, right? And, hopefully, comment to add to the discussion.

  4. I admit not leaving comments on some sites that require registration or other hurdles to jump through in order to post.

    I’ve found that by using WordPress with Akismet, Bad Behavior and putting comments with too many links (3 or so) into moderation does the trick. It knocks out most spam comments while keeping it easy for legitimate folks to join the in the conversation.

    I have given into the need to register with Discus, and have used my Google account to leave comments, but I’d much rather just enter my own information and my website. It’s just easier and friendlier to ask for name, email and website, rather than having all sorts of requirements for comment posting.
    .-= Chris Hedges´s last blog ..I’m a social network addict =-.

    1. Great comment! “Easier and friendlier….” I so agree! Is bad behavior a plug in? I will have to check that one out.

      Personally, I have severe privacy issues with Google and Facebook. Open ID seems kind of complicated. I want to check out Discus – most of the sites which use it seem to at least allow you to comment as a guest.

      Hosestly, I wish there was a way to “whitelist” certain people without having them register. I could tell you some interesting “second comment” horror stories that are the reason I don’t use first post moderated.

  5. I’m with you, Glinda! I’m sick of all the sites that make you jump through hoops just to leave a comment. Like you, I do understand the reasoning behind it, but sometimes I really do want to leave a comment, but it’s just a huge turnoff to have to take all of that time out of my day just to leave my thoughts. I like giving and receiving comments – it gives blogging more of a feeling of community – and having to register to do so, kind of ruins it for me. Just my thoughts 🙂
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..Bellini – South Windsor, CT =-.

    1. Kate, I agree with you! I think that it is especially frustrating when you really have something to say that you feel will add to the conversation. Like you, I like to feel that sense of community among bloggers. 🙂

  6. Glinda,

    Nicely done and definitely agree with you. HATE the registration process. If they say “We never will spam you” then what is the point with registering? If its to prevent spam then a simple captcha image will work. Or if you have wordpress, implementing wordpress akismet helps a done with spam. Unless you are in the caliber or mashable.com, please leave your comments open and filter comments yourself, your blog will grow at a quicker rate.

    Great stuff glinda!

    1. Thanks, Joe! I also think that it’s possible that sites may get be able to charge more for advertising based on x number of registered users, but still. I agree with you that the blog will grow at a quicker rate if you keep as open as possible.

  7. I hate registration. Most of the time I will just leave without commenting. Like Chris (above) I finally broke down and registered for Discus, but I don’t use it on any of my blogs because I still find it annoying. I’m not real happy with the whole Blogger/Blogspot comment handling either although they do seem to not collect spam.

    On WordPress I use Akismet combined with the Conditional CAPTCHA plugin. Conditional CAPTCHA only shows up if Akismet flags a comment as spam and gives the commenter one more try with a CAPTCHA. Seems to work.

    1. Good thoughts, Brad. I like the idea of Conditional CAPTCHA. That way, some only gets it if there is a flag. I have vision problems, so I find CAPTCHAs frustrating in general. This sounds like a good alternative.

    1. No Steve, only one comment; you were good! You make some good points. Your experience getting people to open up must be better than the one I describe in the post. I think people think you are being critical of them, even if that’s not the intent. Because, really, the reverse is true: you are saying I find you interesting and want to join the conversation.

      I also think that you are quite correct that some people don’t realize that the comments are closed. I think some folks never check the defaults! G

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