Commenting Hoops: Will You Jump Through Them in Order to Leave a Comment?

4 years ago

I recently turned on comment moderation on my blog for the first time in almost eight years.  My spam situation had gotten out-of-hand, and I was spending inordinate amounts of time during the day jumping onto my blog to delete spam comments that were cluttering up the space.  Spam filters failed me, so I went with the next easiest thing for commenters.

I turned on moderation so that once I approve a commenter, their words go on my screen immediately from that point forward.  Everyone else languishes in moderation for a few minutes until I can approve their comment.  Spammers get moved to the trash bin without ever landing on the blog itself.  All in all, it's no inconvenience to regular commenters, it's a bit of an inconvenience to new commenters, and it defeats spammers from getting their content up on the screen.

Oh, and it totally inconveniences me, but I don't mind because I can do moderation in my own sweet time.  I don't feel rushed anymore to take care of it because I'm not cleaning up a mess but rather just uploading other people's thoughts.

There is a fine balance between making commenting easy for the commenter, and not giving spammers free reign to leave their Viagra-laden ads on your blog.  Some people go with CAPTCHA or a similar bot-netting plug-in.  This step is a hoop to jump through for the commenter, but a small one that most people are accustomed to utilizing in the name of deterring spammers.

Image: Becky Stern via Flickr

Madame Mayo presented an interesting solution on her blog.  She doesn't have a comment box, but makes her email address easy to find so people can still express their thoughts on her writing.  She states,

I do not take comments on my blog (or my podcast or Youtube channel, for that matter). But because I hope I am not shouting into the wind here -- I do care about hearing from readers -- I always include a link that goes to a contact page on my website. So, with two clicks away from my blog post, any reader can send me an email. What I have very happily learned is that spammers and trolls don't bother.

Another option is using a commenting program that has commenters log in through Facebook or the like.  It's not an absolute deterrent to spammers, but it's much less likely that they'll create a fake Facebook account just so they can keep leaving their ads on your blog.

With all the options, there are definite drawbacks.  CAPTCHA poses a problem for anyone commenting from a mobile device.  Many people wouldn't put out the effort required for Madame Mayo's two-click system.  And I, for one, would never log into Facebook or Twitter in order to leave a comment on someone's blog.  If I feel strongly that I need to say something, I am much more likely to write my own post in my own space, and link back to the original post as reference.

How do you deal with commenting spam, and do you have strong feelings about any of the above options?

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her novel about blogging is Life from Scratch.

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