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You Must Be Logged In To Comment: Reverse Quality Control for Blogs

I rarely “subscribe” to blogs. It seems wrong to me. If a blog welcomes comments, then I can comment. If it doesn’t welcome comments, so be it; it’s one-way communication. But to welcome comments, but only from “subscribers”?

Apparently that’s a kin to filtering the participant pool for quality — in reverse. Once you limit to subscribers only, you get “regulars” who think they own the place, friends who feel obliged to comment even though they have nothing to add to the conversation, and avatar-happy post whores looking for attention.

Tell me, what are the odds a sincere, intelligent and respectable individual will register at (insert blog name here) to post comments (friends and family excluded)? Pretty low. Not zero, granted, but much much lower than acceptable.

Requiring registration is reverse quality control. It eliminates pseudo-random input from high quality people passing by from outside your circle of influence (cross pollination). It raises the bar for minimum participation required to comment (I guess reading isn’t enough any more). Perhaps most importantly, it interrupts the user mission of commenting, inserting a value decision front and center (is it worth registering just to say my piece?). Usually, for me, the answer is no.

Does that simply mean that the “blocked” comment wasn’t worthy anyway? I’ll let the evidence demonstrate the answer to that question. Take a look at the “registration required” blogs and you tell me if the quality of the comments is as good as no-registration-required blogs in the same niche markets. I’ve looked, and made my own deductions.




  1. Luke Welling wrote:

    I don’t claim to be a sincere, intelligent and respectable individual on a full time basis, but I can say I have rarely registered on a blog so I can post a comment.

    Anything that reduces quality comments is a shame. Really great blog posts are often really great only because of the dialogue they foster.

    For the same reason I think comment moderation is unfortunate. Even if the blog owner is diligent, and moderates comments every day, there is a still a huge delay when commenters could have been commenting on previous comments. I can see why both exist. On my own blog, 98% of comments* are spam, but nearly all are left by automated bots so are easily caught by an automated bot.

    * yes, I know 97% of statistics** quoted in, by or about blogs are made up on the spot, but in this case I actually mean 98%, not “some really high number”.

    ** Oh, but where I said “97% of statistics .. made up,” then just meant “some really high number”.

    Thursday, March 8, 2007 at 9:36 pm | Permalink
  2. Seamus wrote:

    Good points John

    It’s often such a drag to comment that it’s just not worth it – and then the web owner may miss out on asome quality feedback/comment.

    You’re probably filtering out the quality people who are too busy to register (being busy because they’re good).


    Thursday, March 8, 2007 at 11:42 pm | Permalink
  3. Ian wrote:

    I think alot of people turn it on to stop the spam bots.

    Friday, March 9, 2007 at 2:19 am | Permalink
  4. Luke wrote:

    Exhibit A: Freakonomics.
    An entertaining blog. Often has provocative posts, that many smart people strongly agree or strongly disagree with. I have seen it start many interesting real life conversations.

    Read the comments, and estimate the average IQ …

    Friday, March 9, 2007 at 4:32 am | Permalink
  5. IncrediBILL wrote:

    Hi John!

    Just a friend stopping by to post the obligatory comment that doesn’t contribute although I have nothing of value to add to the conversation.


    Saturday, March 10, 2007 at 5:23 pm | Permalink
  6. Only real fanatics would sign up to post comments, and I would prefer all types of fanatics to stay away from my blog or the blogs I read.

    Monday, March 12, 2007 at 3:51 pm | Permalink
  7. john andrews wrote:

    Thanks Luke… for the reminder of the Freakonomics blog. I read the book when it came out, and loved the fresh approach. Good to see an active blog.

    Thanks Bill, for reminding me of the potential downside of leaving comments unmoderated.

    Tuesday, March 13, 2007 at 3:48 pm | Permalink