I got an interesting e-mail question from Stewart Marshall today who is a long time reader/commenter. It just clicked to him that my blog is one of the few that does not have the option for a commentator to attach a website URL with their name. He wondered why as a blog in general is a great way to connect with other people and leaving a website url is good way to learn more about your readers and people who contribute comments.
Itâ€™s a great question and I figure that others are probably asking the same thing. When I started blogging, due to the nature of my blog topic I got dozens of spammers and people whoâ€™s intentions in commenting was to just get a link to their site. Reason being is that back then people thought it was an easy way to get search engine ranking benefits (ie, more links to your site).
Basically, you would just get silly and non genuine comments like “way to go” with the motivation to do so is to just place a link to their site. You can imagine with a blog that deals with things like money you attract even more of these types of people. I also come from a web publishing background and so these types of things bother me more since I know a lot of the tricks of the trade. Just look at how much spam the filter on this blog has caught in just a few months of installing it with this screenshot:
Usually for a lot of bigger traditional sites, like a news network or shopping site, that allow public commenting people can only leave their names and comment. If people really want to leave a comment in those cases they are usually very passionate or into the topic as well. Therefore, in my mind I asked myself what was the goal in me writing this blog? For me, it was to simply share my thoughts to hopefully help others and to attract people that were genuinely interested in the topic too. Likewise, my hope is that these people would genuinely want to help others as well.
Some people have a different goal such as to attract as many visitors as possible to generate sales/income. Therefore, they use the URL incentive to attract more people to keep coming back regardless of their intentions as like a business it is a numbers game and image perception. Even I’m one to say where if your goal was similar to that it works great. It’s like a person trying to get more registered forum users with a “post your link for free” thread. I didn’t want to attract those types of people and I knew with my Internet expertise there were better ways to attract genuine visitors.
It’s kind of like friends or business associates in real life too I’d say that further pushed my mentality to get rid of that URL function. For example, are these people genuinely interested in the same things that I am or do they just want to use me for a purpose and then be done? If the reason they are befriending me is that they can possibly get say money through me as an example, what would happen if I had no money or needed help afterwards? What if they knew there was no way they are going to get any immediate self gaining gratification this way from me? My bet is that if they aren’t genuine they will leave and not make an effort to hang around anymore. Same thing with commenting and contributing I’d say.
There are quite a few people I see who are a perfect example of an ideal commenter in terms of the goal/vision I had. They contributed despite there being no URL benefit and I can definitely say they are a genuine commenter that are either interested in the topic or want to help others. I see one post with well over 280 comments which is a great example too of people commenting because they want to help others and not because of some site linking benefit.
One interesting note is that as a result of this genuine interaction I created some great offline association/friendship with people I met as a direct result of this too. Maybe Iâ€™ll get to meet more people in the future too, though I know most of you are all around the world. So far I have been limited to meeting people here in BC.
I must admit, the only drawback to the no URL option is that there are people that I could interact/learn more about as I enjoy learning/engaging with others who have similar interests too. Speaking for myself, the site traffic has grown tremendously since I started. Way beyond my expectation before. And so, I was actually thinking of opening up the URL feature again to see how it works this time. It is just the issue of attracting non genuine people with that feature. Itâ€™s always one of those few rotten apples that spoil it for the whole type of deals huh?
So, hopefully that clears up any mysteriousness about that issue. I was thinking about registered user options before too, but I personally hate those. Maybe Iâ€™ll be able to think of a new solution to try this year.