How High is YOUR Blog Fence?

I’ve been trying to spend a bit more time visiting other blogs and making an effort to write comments but only when I feel I have something valuable or useful to say. The idea isn’t to just get out there and yammer on every blog you can find just so you can say you left a comment. What you say is supposed to relate well to the original blog post and/or to the corresponding conversation generated by the post. It’s not a contest to see how many blogs you can post meaningless gibberish on in order to leave your mark which amounts to nothing more than writing graffiti on the bathroom walls telling the world “I was here.”

I’d love to spend more time blogging! Problem is that I barely have enough time to write and maintain my own blogs as regularly as I’d like to. This should tell you that I don’t hit a large number of blogs to begin with. When I do have the time, what I’m finding all to often are roadblocks to gaining blog visitors and getting some great conversations going.

Please Login

It takes a very interesting original post or response from a fellow blogger to make me want to post a reply. As I’m reading I scribble mental notes in my head of what I want to say when I’m ready to add my comment. Ok, let’s say I’m done reading and I go looking for the comment box.  What do I find when I get there? I’m required to “Please Login” before I can say a word.

Say Whaaaaat? You gotta be kidding me!?! The last thing I need is another website login! This is one of the biggest turn-offs to blogging I can think of. Ya know what happens then? I guess what I had to say wasn’t all that important anyway. In other words … the blog owner just locked the door on a new follower.

A major goal in writing a blog is to gain a following but in my opinion, nobody’s words are so made of gold that I should have to login to say something. Instead of peaking my interest to become a regular on their site, they’ve instead chased me off and I probably won’t come back.

Blog Subscriptions

These two features are useful but too many similar options can be confusing and annoying to your readers.  A Subscribe to My Blog option lets people subscribe to your entire blog. They’ll get email notifications and in some cases even be able to read your new posts in their email. Some options also allow your readers to receive email notifications for every single post and all reply comments that hit your site which means your fans won’t necessarily have to go to your site to read your blog. This can be detrimental because the idea is to get them to your site so they have a chance to see all your offerings. Remember, you started your blog on X date but new people are finding it well past it’s inception so they’re not aware of all you offer unless they visit your site.  Depending on what you set up, your readers might even be able to post replies directly from their email vs. visiting your site to comment. This can work pretty slick but if you have a high number of visitors posting to numerous posts, you are inundating your subscribers with email notifications. There’s a good chance you could wind up in their spam box eventually if they’re to lazy, aren’t given the option to unsubscribe, or don’t know how to if given this option.

Subscribe to This Post means your readers are sent email notifications of subsequent replies to a specific blog topic that they found interesting enough to subscribe to in the first place, Perhaps they’ve left their own comments for which they’ll be looking for any replies to.

The double whammy comes if you confuse people by putting both of these options in near proximity to one another. Some visitors might not quite understand them and may select both. Now they’re getting doubles in their emails! Eeeks! If you want to offer both options, my suggestion is to make the Subscribe to My Blog a stand alone link or button feature located far away from each of your Subscribe to This Post options. Your blog’s sidebar is a good place to put this. It also couldn’t hurt to add a strategically placed few brief words of explanation on how each of these works.

Multiple Verification Subscriptions

Let’s say I’ve added a comment to one of your blog posts and clicked the SUBMIT button. Instead of my comment showing immediately, a message appears telling me I need to be verified before my comment will be visible. This verification is supposed to tell your blog that I’m a human not a spambot. What happens is an auto-generated email arrives in my inbox and I have to click a link which takes me to your verification page where I may be forced to have to jump through a few more hoops to get my comment displayed on your blog. I can understand this, we all want to do what we can to reduce spam. However once is enough! I shouldn’t have to do this each and every time I add a comment to your blog. Once I’m verified as a human I shouldn’t have to prove myself repeatedly. Blogging is supposed to be fun and informative, not annoying. Annoyed bloggers go away which means that instead of gaining a following you’re sending people away.

You should use some kind of verification process on your blog because this will help keep the spam to a dull roar but find a way to do it so you’re not annoying your subscribers. It’s important that you fully understand what method you’re using. It’s a good idea to test it on yourself and maybe a friend or two before implementing it on your blog.

K.I.S.S.

Back in June of 2009 I published “Login Overload” in which I talked about requiring people to become members of your site before they could participate. Setting unnecessary requirements or to many requirements on any website is a turn-off for site visitors. Whether you have a website, a blog or both – keep it simple and easy for folks to get in, around and participate in your offerings. Things like requiring membership for folks to simply read what’s on your site, setting to many options or using annoying verification options will only keep your website or blog from being as successful as it could be. In other words, don’t build your blog fence to high.

4 responses on “How High is YOUR Blog Fence?

  1. Linda Lee says:

    I agree. I hate multiple verifications. When my clients complain no one comments on their sites, I explain to them it is hard to actually get people to leave comments, so when they want to, lets make it easy for them! :)

    • Deb says:

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments, Linda. Much appreciated. You make a great point and I hope when you have to explain things that your clients understand and agree to not put fences up or remove any fences they’ve built.

  2. smcopywrite says:

    as a new blogger you want to do everything to drive readers to your content and nothing to drive them away.
    if there are forums or blogs that request my email, yes, i do have a tendency to bypass these and not leave a comment.

    can i ask why an email address is absolutely necessary? i know there are suggestions for newsletters, etc. shoudnt you let the reader decide if they want to sign on for that or not? an option is better than a request for an email address

    • Deb says:

      I think you have a valid point worth discussing but I can only speak for myself. My site and many others are built on WordPress. The default set by WordPress is to require an email address. However, if you know what you’re doing you can disable this so that an email addy is not required. To be honest, I never thought of it and that’s why my site and those of my clients just use the default.

      In cases like yours where people don’t like to put their email address out there on blogs, requiring an email addy may very well make one’s blog fence to high. However, even though it’s required, it also is not viewable or accessible to others which makes to some degree a safety net for those who don’t like to put their email addy on a blog. Where the net fails would be if you happen to post on a site that isn’t reputable and/or collects email addys to sell to the telemarketers or some other seedy purpose. I assure you in my case and those of my client’s sites this is not the case. I hate spam as much as any other spam hater and so I keep these email addresses confidential.

      When a blog administrator sets up a moderated blog, they can also use the email address as an indication as to whether or not the post is legit or spam and act accordingly by approving or not approving a post. This is how I handle it. The first post must be approved. Once a blogger is approved they can then return to my sites and blog to their hearts content without having to wait for their posts to be approve. This is how I prefer to do things and probably will continue doing so because it makes for less spam showing up on one’s site without taking up to much time.

      It’s considered polite and good blog etiquette is to drop a reply note such as a “thank you for posting” kind of thing. In that case the email address is necessary to be able to follow through.

      There is a real easy workaround and that is to set yourself up a free Google, Hotmail or other free email address that you’d use explicitly for your blogging. By doing this you’re protecting your own email addy but opening yourself up to be comfortable blogging anywhere and not be concerned about your email addy. You could even do this using your own @mydomain.com something like “blogit@mydomain.com” works and that way you can separate and monitor this email address a little easier.

      Thank you for bringing this up. Definitely food for thought! Glad you stopped by and hope to see you again soon.

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