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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Comment Posting Problems? Solutions?

I have received several complaints in the past couple of weeks about readers having problems commenting.  And if several people took the time to reach out to me, there likely are many more.

Since a couple of the commenters have started posting solutions in other posts, I've started this post so please post those suggestions here.

Which also raises another issue.  I've stayed away from the more interactive commenting software, such as Disqus, and deferred to standard Blogger commenting.  What do you think? 

My concern is that while switching to these other softwares will provide you with an easier way to interact with other commenters, but then the comment section may get clogged with back and forth among a small number of people.  And I also would have to start blocking trolls, rather than using comment moderation.

It always amazes me when I see a blog post with 100+ comments, but when you look at them, it's basically 5 people going back and forth at each other all day and night.  I wonder whether there is a value to having a comment section where the comments tend to be more opinion as opposed to sniping at other commenters.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

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  1. Modified reposted comment:

    I'm hardly an expert on this but I believe that there is a problem with the Blogger interface itself.

    I used to sign in using the Wordpress option in "select profile" where I would enter my blog url. That stopped working and still doesn't work.

    I've since been clicking on the "OpenId" option and typing in "yahoo.com" which verifies the credentials I set up with my internet provider, AT&T.

    Maybe having two (or more?) OpenId identities is causing a conflict? I don't know. I can still log in to other blogs using WordPress.

    On the other issue of thread quality, one of the primary appeals to commenting on this blog is the uncluttered comment section and the high quality of thoughtful and informed commentors. It forces me to slow down and think through what I am about to say more carefully than I usually do.

    There are blogs where I am attacked by swarms of people who have seemingly dedicated their very lives to hounding me wherever I comment. I even had my very own personal stalking troll. I have learned to concentrate on posting comments that the host blogger may enjoy or find useful rather than worrying about getting into chats or fights with other commentors.

    When I had my own blog, I got frustrated over how the comment section turned into an echo chamber/chat room. I really don't have the answer but lots of blogs would be better off shutting down their toxic and obnoxious comment sections.

  2. I haven't had any problems using Blogger....

    The five-people-brawling thing seems much more common in unmoderated blogs; there's no delay and the head blogger won't put his foot down about wanton thread-jacking.

  3. I'd say leave it as it is. You have a preview function available for those of us who care, and you seem comfortable with the "moderation" bit. So I vote make it easy on yourself.

    I note without rancor you don't accept very many of my comments - probably due to long-windedness and sarcasm - but that doesn't bother me. Here, you are the boss and I'm OK with that.

    You also have an interesting selection of commenters, and I find that intellectually invigorating.


  4. The problem may lie in the "Word Verification" function/system, btw.

  5. I'm sure Disqus would allow you to continue to use moderation if you chose to. IntenseDebate (Disqus alternative) does. If you want comments, it's nice to make it as easy as possible for people to do so without jumping through hoopiness.

  6. If you read the comment sections at Politico it reads like a transcript of the screams from the secure section of bedlam. HotAir is better but they can have 1000 comment threads, infested by trolls and comment hogs. I use the Google ID here and haven't had a problem. I don't like Disqus myself.

    On the other hand, many on the right abstain from comments on their blogs, maybe it's too much trouble. Commentary's Contentions, among others, could use some comments to relieve their smugness. You are to be congratulated for going to the effort to promote discourse.

    As an aside, I think readers and commentators on the right are doing a much better job recently at confronting and beating back trolls and standing up with thoughtful, informed and firm opinions. I see this happening not only in like minded blogs but also in places like the NYT and WaPo.

  7. Keep it like it is. I seldom post but do like to read the comments without reading a tome.

    More than two short paragraphs in a comment is a non-starter. If a commenter can't say it in a short space he's lost this reader.

  8. I say keep it as it is. As for me, I have had issues on occasion, but I believe my problems are *user errors*.

    This blog and the comments section is always informative and insightful, but do whatever makes things easiest for you. Thanks for asking!

  9. So far, I've not had problems posting comments here. As to Disqus (or Intense Debate), it's funny. I like them on other people's blogs because they are easy to follow up (email responses and email responses to responses, etc. Actually, this is likely why so many back and forths between a couple people occur; I rarely return to blogs to see if any comments were made in response to my comments), but I don't think I would like it on my own blog. It's a personal thing, but I'm like you and prefer comments on the OP rather than on what other commenters say (as you note, too, this is the perfect breeding ground for trolls). Your call, of course.

  10. Although I gave up on trying to comment for a while (and thus didn't visit too often) I finally did find a solution.

    third party cookies have to be enabled for some profiles to be authenticated. (I'm only guessing but that's what worked for me).

    Go into your browser's tools/options section and find the section where what kind and when cookies are allowed. Usually security section.

    activate third party cookies. Firefox allows you to enable them but have them erased when you close your browser making it less likely that a third party cookie can cause you any problems. YMMV

    As to broadening comments. Hmmm tough choice Mr. Jacobson but it's your blog and I would assume you understand the pros and cons of any options. As to my preference, for now keep it like it is and maybe look to find a more user friendly interface or go to registration.

    The easier the commenting the more spam and rowdiness BUT the more and varied opinions heard. Restrict the comments and the opinions are fewer but more considered and considerate.
    Tough choice as I said.

    I'm just glad I figured out what was wrong and can now comment. You bring up subjects and viewpoints here that aren't found elsewhere.


  11. I've been tempted to post my inane-ness on a few blogs running disqus, but didn't because it would require the creation of yet another login account.   But.   A move to disqus would probably be a plus for you, Professor, since it would mean no longer necessitating the moderation my comments.   ;-)

  12. Keep it simple!
    I'm not a fan of disqus, and quite frankly, I'm getting tired of multiple sign-ins for blogs that I like to frequent.

    One blog that I used to enjoy tremendously kept switching around their comment policy/signup to the point where I gave up. Apparently many others did as well, as the blog has died pretty much.

  13. My tendency is to compose comments a bit more carefully here than elsewhere because I must technically spell out in "long hand" any html editing I want to include. And, I know I can’t comeback to edit my comment. No doubt some others must feel likewise.

    We have to be careful to copy the word verification properly, and that may be part of the problem some are having.

    In the aggregate, the care that must be taken has surely contributed to the overall quality of comments on this site. They tend to exceed the quality of comments posted elsewhere, even when a quarrelsome debate occasionally breaks out over a point.

    The quality may also be a function of the direction of the posts themselves, but there is no way for us to have a full handle on that, in part because we don't see everything that comes in over the transom to you. But, I've only noticed once when you have posted a notice to caution trolls – during the period a little less than a month or so ago when a few gratuitous Palin-haters showed up.

    It was during the stupid but explosive "debate" over whether she had somehow caused the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords, and perhaps just after you picked up that on-air audio-kudo from Rush, as I recall.

    They travel in packs, you know!

    In that regard, I'm sure moderation has kept this site from turning into a fight club atmosphere, because just the knowledge that one might be clipped was enough to discourage many potential offenders. In other words, Professor, you may not actually single out very many comments at all for moderation, but if some form of moderation were not in place, the temptation to tack up a bunch of nasty little screeds would prove too strong for a few folks to resist, especially at a time when political passions are running high.

    And, without moderation, you'd eventually attract spam enablers, little "bed-bugs" who would repeatedly post hidden links to, uhhh ... "exotic" sites, such as within the ellipses in a comment. They can be quite clever, but their grammar is always a dead give-away!

    "This having nice site ....... many congratulations over, well good!"

    They give up when they can't get through.

    Finally, Google may be having some technical difficulties. I've had a few problems, including one this morning with my site, that really puzzled me.

    Wait and see, I'd say. You've got a solid site as it is.

  14. Well, Sir, here is a little snip from a post I did on my blog 'bout a year back. To be clear - I prefer ease in posting, but I firmly believe in moderating one's own blog.

    I decided before I started my modest little blog that I would not allow it to be over run by trolls. With Wordpress it is very simple. I even moderate my frequent commentators carefully.
    So, here is the snip:

    ""I moderate and delete as is my delight to do. If these punks were in my home they would not have the chance to behave in such a way, and they will not be allowed to insult the intelligence of anyone that comes to my blog.""

    It's a shared responsibility between the blogger and the commenter as I see it.

    If it is a bit less convenient to post a comment, it's really not a bad thing. It just thins out the goofballs.

  15. "I'd say leave it as it is. You have a preview function available for those of us who care, and you seem comfortable with the "moderation" bit. So I vote make it easy on yourself."

    And several others concur. So do I.

  16. I've used blogger for 7 years and love it. For what it's worth...
    Don't go changing, to try and please me
    You never let me down before
    Don't imagine you're too familiar
    And I don't see you anymore
    I wouldn't leave you in times of trouble
    We never could have come this far
    I took the good times, I'll take the bad times
    I'll take you just the way you are.