Sunday, November 23, 2008

A New System of Commenting on This Blog

The Comment threads on this blog have not quite descended to Guido-esque levels yet, but it seems to me that's where they are heading. Eighteen months I carried out a short-lived experiment with Comment Registration. This meant that readers could still post anonymously but had to register a Google account first. I didn't carry on with it because it seemed to discourage a lot of people from commenting. However, things have moved on apace since then.

The number of comments this blog receives has gone up exponentially as the number of readers increases. I sometimes get 300-400 comments a day, sometimes many more. It is increasingly difficult to moderate all those comments properly. If I am out for a few hours a block of 40 or 50 build up, which I then sometimes have to approve en bloc without having the time to read them all. You can imagine the inherent dangers there.

It's also a bar to realtime, live discussion when comments remain unapproved for any length of time. But I simply cannot harness myself to my laptop or Blackberry 24-7.

In addition, the number of anonymous comments on some threads make it impossible to follow who is saying what. Indeed, sometimes, I wonder if some of the anonymous commenters aren't in fact the same people, pretending to be different people. That was quite apparent on some recent George Osborne related threads.

So, what to do?

Blogger has now also made registration easier, in that now, if you have a Wordpress, LiveJournal, AIM or Typepad account you can log in under an Open ID system. It's a way to authenticate user comments without requiring readers to have a Google Account. For example, let's say your name is Brady and you have a LiveJournal profile, but no Google Account. With OpenID, you can now comment on here using your OpenID credentials and identify yourself as the owner of http://brady.livejournal.com, instead of commenting anonymously.

The whole point of this is not to prevent people commenting anonymously. I know there are quite a few politicians and civil servants who comment anonymously for wholly understandable reasons. I do not want to discourage such comments at all, and this system won't do that. All it requires is that you take one minute to set up a Google account with a username and password. The username can be anything you like. However, try to make it something unique to you, rather than just call yourself Robert or Jane. You shouldn't have to type in your username and password each time you want to comment if you have cookies enabled. Blogger will remember the information.

I want the comment threads on this blog to be more welcoming and less intimidating. Strong views and strong language are fine, but insults and intimidation are not.

Initially, I will allow all comments through unmoderated, as that is the best way to enable real, live discussion. Hopefully, this new system will filter out the nutcases and trolls who have infested comment threads here in recent months.

If anyone has trouble understanding the new system or registering a Google account, email me by clicking the CONTACT button at the top of the page.

Let's see if this works. If it doesn't, we'll revert to plan B (not that I have one :). I won't put a time limit on this experiment, but I need to give it longer than I did last time.

30 comments:

Michael Heaver said...

Hmm. It is difficult to get the right mix of comments on a blog as popular as this one given the sheer volume. However, I do think it is necessary to discourage the 'tards who seem to take great pleasure from going around blitzing blogs anonymously with stupid rambling by making them put a name to the comments.

Even if it's only a pseudonym they post behind it speeds up the process of viewing comments as you quickly get an idea of who has nothing to add to the debate...

Blue Eyes said...

A difficult balance to strike. I think this seems like a good idea. Hope it works, I really enjoy the to-and-fro on here!

Old Holborn said...

Sod that.


I let any nutter post at my blog.

Paul Pinfield said...

Well done Iain. Good move.

canvas said...

not sure what difference this will make...surely people can join as anon?

Ann said...

Trying to see if this works :) Be patient with me.

Ann said...

Yeah!!!!!

no longer anonymous said...

Will be interesting to see the result of this.

Simon Holder said...

Be sure to point out this on your paper review tonight - looks like MORI was a blip:

This is on PA:

"The Tories are clinging on to their double-digit lead over Labour, according to a poll published tonight.

The ICM survey for the Sunday Mirror found the Conservatives still 11 points ahead of Labour - suggesting talk of a 2009 general election may be premature...."

"It put the Conservatives on 42% (down one since last month), Labour on 31% (up one) and the Liberal Democrats on 19% (up one)."

Simon Holder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Geoff said...

Does Disqus work with blogger? That seems to work well also I like Stevepavlina.com comment system where each post made creates an entry on a forum - then comments are shown in the forum making the threads easy to follow

Dick the Prick said...

Boo, hiss, barracking from the cheap seats

Warsteiner said...

Quite frankly as long as you keep your blog going Iain it doesn't matter - I for one read yr blog to hear your thoughts - not the ramblings of trolling commenters.

Donkey Kong said...

Sounds good to me!

Bad Bunny said...

Sounds like a good idea to me.

I'm a bit of a lurker, read everything but don't comment much, usually because someone else has said exactly what I'm thinking before me. :)

(And yes, I'm just testing I can still post OK...)

realist said...

Thank you for that Iain, I will do your bidding.Unfortunately, being an old, miserable Git, all this new technology takes a bit of picking up but we can do it with patience.

Kippers Dickie said...

I'm just testing to see if I can still post

dizzy said...

I have a Blogger account already, OPenID is yucky though and vulnerable to man-in-the-middle phising attacks. It's ironic really that a system designed to make identification easier is actually vulnerable to ID theft attack.

Unsworth said...

Not before time. Some of the anon comment was interesting/relevent/entertaining but a large proportion was just tiresome illiterate guff. Anyway, given the size of readership they will not be missed.

Michael J said...

ok trying to see if this works

Jeremy Jacobs said...

Good idea Iain.

Matthew Cain said...

Good. Incidentally, Martin Moore says that media organisations have experienced a four-fold increase in reader contribution: http://mediastandardstrust.blogspot.com/2008/11/contributions-from-readers-quadruple.html

jingouk said...

Well done! I have stopped commenting on the Guido site as it seems to me that it thrives on homophobic and racist views - many of the so-called commentators are in fact it would the seem the same person - I am sure Guido has his own stable of characters. All-in-all not what I want to blog on.

Undoubtedly the same creeps on Guido are trying it on elsewhere.

Notory said...

Just testing

John Pickworth said...

Fully support this move Iain... and not before time.

I'm quite sure a great many anonymous posters are making a valued contribution but unfortunately there is no way to tell them apart from the 'hit and run' idiots.

Choosing an online identity is no sweat for those who really have something to say. Overall, I think the Blog will benefit from the instant appearence of comments... I wonder how many people drift away having given up waiting for approval while the moderator is in the shower?

The test Iain, will be to see if your posts attract increased participation... I believe they will.

lilith said...

Indeed, sometimes, I wonder if some of the anonymous commenters aren't in fact the same people, pretending to be different people. That was quite apparent on some recent George Osborne related threads.

Dolly Draper, I assume you mean, Iain? :-)

Glyn H said...

I've joined; I agree with your concerns and also think some of the tosh written by commenters (especially on Guido)is drearily juvenile but as ever there can be well informed nuggest in with the dross!

albertmbankment said...

I'm in, although grumbling!

Martin said...

For research purposes only ...

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Well done that man, it's been a while coming but it is for the best.

Hopefully others will now follow your lead.