Layout Image

Are You Making It Hard for People to Comment?

Is it easy for people to leave comments on your site?

I’ve found lots of barriers to comment writing recently, and I’m sure I’m not alone in saying how frustrating it is when you want to leave a comment in response to someone’s writing… and you can’t.

Here are some of the hurdles I’ve come across recently.

Profile required.  What if I don’t have a profile that fits your drop down box?  This is a Blogger bugbear of mine.  I don’t use Blogger so don’t know how easy or hard it is to set up the commenting options, but if some people can set it up so I can leave name and url… why can’t all Blogger bloggers?

Subscription required. Really?  Why?

Captcha.  Captcha is well named.  It doesn’t just capture spam, it captures time, energy, words, positive intention, the possibility of making connections.  Do you really need it?

please type the word in the photo to continue

What commenting hurdles have been tripping you up recently?

Photo Credit: please type the word in the photo to continue by Mick O on Flickr

Share on Twitter


  1. Jan Scott Nelson
    Twitter: JanScottNelson

    That Captcha thing is so annoying. If you just set up ‘moderate first post’ and use Askimet to nuke the spam, there is no need to cause commenters to tear their hair out trying to read wavy letters. And as for that Blogger thing…
    What can also stop me commenting is my own flibbertigibbetness, which relates to your post today at The Writing Space. I can be deeply impressed by a post but need time to absorb it before commenting, by which time I’m doing something totally different!

  2. Julie Gibbons
    Twitter: JulieGibbons

    I never *ever* manage to enter the right digits for captchas first time, so I say a definite boo to captchas!

  3. Tweets that mention Are You Making It Hard for People to Comment? | Confident Writing -- says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Julie Gibbons and Todd Rutherford, Joanna Paterson. Joanna Paterson said: Are You Making It Hard for People to Comment?: It’s frustrating when you want to leave a comment in respon… [...]

  4. Alina Popescu
    Twitter: alina_popescu

    I think everyone hates captchas. You always need to try at least twice. The times you manage to get it right the first time are the exception. But I can take captchas, I hate subscribing or having to fill out new form to get profiles a lot more. Spam is not that hard to handle these days. There are options and plugins. So why make me use something other than my name and url when that’s the simplest option out there?

  5. Alexandra says:

    I just love your description of the captcha, Joanna. They seem to sprout up everywhere on the web and often stop me from commenting on otherwise great blog posts. People just don’t seem to realise that there are alternatives…

    Like Jan above I just moderate every commenter’s first post on my blog and let spam catcher Askimet do its thing (which it does very well).

  6. Myles Webb, New Zealand. says:

    I think that in terms of moderating comments its essential to have some kind of anti-spam thing or a block (our class page has started getting individual comments from India that are adds) but I absolutely agree that a barrier to comments is some of the profile selections. As a blogger user the settings are simple and one setting needs to be changed to sort it out so it should take a matter of a minute. Worse barrier to commenting that I have would be Moodle!

  7. Simon Kewin says:

    I do agree. Captcha is a pain. Best to turn it off but enforce comment moderation to cut out the spam in my view. Obviously this might be impractical with very busy blogs.

    I agree absolutely with blogs that put all these subscription hurdles in place. From my experience, Blogger makes it very easy compared to some. If I have to regsiter I’m afraid I don’t bother commenting …

  8. CoffeeJitters (Judy Haley) says:

    that blogger issue is a big one for me. I dont use blogger either. So many blogs out there only allow people with blogger blogs to comment - why?

  9. Iain Broome
    Twitter: iainbroome

    You’re absolutely right about Blogger, it’s so irritating. I tend not to comment on them because it’s such a hassle to get taken to a different screen, then work out which drop down option applies to you etc etc.

    All you need is the standard name, website and comment box. Disqus seems to be taking off and is widely used on Tumblr sites, and it is much better once you have it set up.

  10. Kathleen says:

    I have never seen the subscription thing, but I totally agree with you on the Blogger one. It is the most irritating barrier, and a rather baffling one. While I can understand Google/Blogger’s desire for bloggers to use it, as it “encourages” other people to have Google/Blogger accounts, it is unendingly frustrating and simply a bad choice for the blogger.

  11. Karen says:

    Great post - and I had to leave a comment just to see how easy it was for me to do so! Now I’m just off the see my own blog to check how many hoops people have to jump through to comment, thanks for raising thos Joanna.

  12. Judy Adamson says:

    That’s strange, Joanna, I have the same feeling about WordPress as you have about blogger!

  13. Clara Mathews says:

    Captcha is a big hassle when I want to leave a comment. I usually run into that problem on Blogger sites., which also require you to have a Google account.

    Another problem is when I am asked to register or create a password to leave a comment. I already have enough passwords to remember.

  14. --Deb says:

    I mind the hoops on Blogger blogs more than I mind the Captcha thing (though I mostly only see that on Typepad blogs these days). But … Blogger? Yes, there are settings the bloggers can use to determine what permutations are allowed for the commenters. (Must be a member, must sign in, must use OpenID-which I have yet to figure out.) It drives me nuts, almost as crazy as having to sign up and become a “member” just to be able to tell people I found their post to be interesting, helpful, informative, outrageous, whatever.

    If the point of social media (which does largely include blogs) is to make communication easier and more fruitful, why do people insist on putting roadblocks up? Especially since software like Akismet makes it so much easier to let the system police it for you.

    Sometimes I wonder if they’re thinking like those direct marketers who send mailings with stickers and things that you’re supposed to stick on your reply form to feel “involved?”

    Either that, or those bloggers-like the ones that only provide the limited RSS feed to force you (or so they hope) to their blog-just want to feel so very special that people will be willing to go to all this extra effort just to kneel at their feet and submit a comment.

    (To be fair, though, I’d be more willing to allow a few restrictions on the honest-to-god famous/popular blogs that literally get hundreds of comments on every post, because you KNOW they are getting huge amounts of spam as well, and maybe Akismet isn’t quite strong enough. But, really, how many blogs like that ARE there? I can only think of a few off-hand.)

  15. Brad Shorr says:

    Captcha … Ughh. Like Deb says, a decent spam filter should take care of the problem.

  16. Karen Swim
    Twitter: karenswim

    Oh Joanna you captcha’d my top ones. Sometimes the captcha codes are hard to read or I enter them wrong. I hate having to subscribe in order to comment and I have a blogger and google account but their commenting system drives me mad. I am not sure that people realize that they are actually hindering the ability to leave comments. It also bugs me when you have to hunt down the comment section. I have been on blogs where it’s not readily apparent and I end up scrolling up and down the page trying to find it.

  17. Derek Young says:

    I love the blogs that have the checkbox like yours below to notify your readers when a new comment is made.

  18. Melanie Jongsma says:

    Another frustration I’ve run into is when the blogger does not include a box you can check to receive notification of follow-up comments. It’s hard to feel like you’re part of a conversation when all you can do is post a comment and leave, perhaps remembering to check back later to see if anyone else has commented.

    Thanks for giving voice to some of these frustrations, Joanna!

  19. Lee says:

    I constantly write tutorials on my personal blog about this very thing! It amazes me that people do not know how to set up a blogger profile so it is connected to their site and turn off word verification.

  20. Kimberly says:

    The blogger thing bugs me.

    The captcha thing more than bugs me. I’m dyslexic and often the captcha is often impossible to read.

    I have problems with my students being blocked when they go to the same blogs and comment. I sent an e-mail to wordpress, and they said it probably looked like spam because it was all coming from the same place.

    The thing that really bugs me is when a “blog” does not allow comments at all. I usually remove them from by RSS feed, unless they have an excellent reason for blocking all comments.

  21. Kirby says:

    Captcha definitely sucks…but wading through countless comments to get to the box at the bottom sometimes is a source of strong irritation as well.

    I think we feel obligated to comment when reading blogs and quite frankly I think some of the blogs that turn off comments have a point thats well taken. But then blogs without comments are just faceless articles. Not sure a solution is within reach except to ban Captcha from the universe.

  22. Jens P. Berget
    Twitter: berget

    I use disqus, and to me, it’s one of the easiest ways to comment.

    The worst case I remember when it comes to having a problem to comment is when I had to solve math, what is 10 + 10? and no matter what I typed it was the wrong answer. I tried everything and I couldn’t answer it :)

  23. Julia M Lindsey says:

    I was recently on a blog and loved the post. I had to sign up to comment. Then I had to wait to have a password sent to me, put the password in and the captcha code. When I tried to e-mail and tell them that they are losing valuable comments there was not contact information to be found. Blogging is about building relationships. If you keep the doors locked no one will want to talk to you.

    I never moderate any of my comments. If I get spam I just delete.

  24. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Jan quite… I don’t even moderate the first post - Akismet is generally powerful enough anyway. Dealing with flibbertigibbetness however is another matter entirely… ;-)

    Julie you’d think the web would have evolved past such a basic sledgehammer for a nut, wouldn’t you?

    Alina it bugs me too. I know it’s only a moment or two, but it’s frustrating when there isn’t any reason for the extra work.

  25. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Alexandra I have to confess I did have captcha when I first started, using Typepad, as it was set up that way and I feared the world would come to some kind of spammy end if I switched it off. Of course when I did nothing bad happened at all.

    Myles you definitely need something, and you probably need to moderate by hand too, but we should be making it as easy as possible. I wonder if some Blogger bloggers just don’t try commenting from a logged out profile, so they don’t know how hard it is? Glad I don’t use Moodle if it’s worse!

    Simon I’m not sure the busy-ness really makes much difference - if you have things set up right then 95% of the things you want will get through, a few will get stuck and need to be liberated, a few will get published and need to be deleted after the event. But it’s not really that much work. (Answering is another matter!)

  26. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Judy it’s a mystery!

    Iain I’ve seen Disqus used on quite a few sites now - seems to be particularly good for threaded comments?

    Karen hope I passed the test!

    Judy that’s interesting - what is it you find hard about WP in particular?

  27. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Clara I’ve come across a few of the need to register sites - utterly beyond me, and beyond what blogging is supposed to be about

    -Deb I think I probably too, though maybe also because there isn’t so much Captcha around any more… It bugs me so much I sometimes stop thinking about commenting on a Blogger blog before I even check how they’ve set it up…

    Brad indeed…

  28. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Karen I guess it’s all a reminder really to try and look at our own sites as if for the first time…

    Derek that’s a good point - I love them too, and feel more motivated to comment when I can catch up with the reply (even if mine appear days later!)

    Melanie it’s a simple way to keep in touch with the conversation isn’t it? Glad you’re keeping the tick-box checked :-)

  29. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Lee I guess we just need to keep on spreading the word…

    Kimberly I have mixed feelings about no comments - I understand why people do it, and if it helps them to get their thinking clear then I’d say it’s fair enough. It’s more honest in some ways than allowing comments then making it hard for folk to do so!

    Kirby hadn’t thought about the scrolling thing - maybe I don’t comment at places with tons of comments… or is it a feature of the way commenting is set up on sites? BTW I would happily ban Captcha from the universe ;-)

  30. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Jens an impossible maths problem, now that’s making it *really* hard!

    Julia signing up just doesn’t seem worth it to me - like you say, if you want conversation it’s because you’re building relationships, and there’s no point putting artificial barriers in the way

  31. Debbie Yost says:

    I’m use Blogger and I see they are constantly improving things and trying to keep up. I like Blogger. I don’t use the captcha thing because I hate it, but I do have comment moderation on so if I get spam, I can just delete it. I used allow anonymous comments, but often I see that is abused. I’ve never had a problem with it, but people who often have something nasty to say will do it anonymously. I used to think it didn’t matter and I just wouldn’t post those anonymous comments, if I ever got one, but then I decided, I really didn’t even want to read them. So, now you have to identify yourself to comment on my blog. I’m not sure if this keeps non Blogger friends from commenting. I know I lost one anonymous commentor who identified herself but didn’t have an id. I guess it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

  32. Gaizabonts says:

    I am not sure about this, but I wonder whether all the “sharing links” and the “liking links” are equal culprits. If the end of the post is pretty busy with sharing buttons, folks would rather share (or just *like* the post) rather than adding a comment.

    The reader acknowledges your post, but does not leave a footprint on the blog.

  33. Melanie Jongsma says:

    Gaizabonts, I think that’s a great insight. You’re probably right. We may not be making it harder to comment, but maybe we’re making it easier not to! Good observation.

  34. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Debbie I completely understand the desire to have people identify who they are - they know who you are, so why shouldn’t it be an equal conversation? The thing I find about frustrating about (some set ups on) Blogger is that it’s actually hard to declare who you are - if there isn’t an option to give a name and url I can be left not being able to identify myself at all.

    Gaizabonts that is a good point and one I hadn’t thought about before… As Melanie says, are we unwittingly making it too easy for people not to comment?