Comment Policy

As you know dear reader, when we revamped the site a few weeks ago, Metblogs instituted a new policy requiring registering to comment.  That caused a lot of kvetching within Metblogs and across the Portland blogosphere.  We’re still moving on as it is something I personally as a captain have no control over.

That said, I don’t understand why people are so up in arms about registering to comment.  Over the past few weeks, I have seen comments elsewhere responding to one of our posts where someone rants about needing to register to comment.  It was on Oregonlive’s Reddit where one is required to register to comment.  What’s up with that?  In order to use Reddit, you must supply a valid email address.  What’s the difference there than here?  It seems there is a double standard.

All of you who are registerring phobic, use a thow away email address.  You can set one up on Google without giving anyone any information other than your IP which you can mask with TOR.  I miss your comments and the discussion it created here on Portland Metblogs.  If you have a strong opinion and don’t want to register to comment, you can email me your comment and I will post it for you – dieselboi at gmail dot com.

18 Comments so far

  1. brewcaster on April 2nd, 2008 @ 10:38 am

    Change can have different effects on different people. Also, it is possible that the comment change is not the only change effecting those folks. There may be other changes that happened to Metblogs that faithful weekend that has driven some away.

  2. dieselboi on April 2nd, 2008 @ 11:03 am

    Brewcaster, I agree with you and we both know what happened. Thanks for the comment.

  3. daaaaave on April 2nd, 2008 @ 12:07 pm

    One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do
    Two can be as bad as one, its the loneliest number since the number one
    No is the saddest experience you’ll ever know
    Yes is the saddest experience you’ll ever know
    cause one is the loneliest number that you’ll ever know
    one is the loneliest number even worst then two
    its just no good anymore since you went away
    now I spend my time just making up rhymes of yesterday
    one is the loneliest number
    one is the loneliest number
    one is the loneliest number
    since you went away
    since you went away

  4. sadielarue on April 2nd, 2008 @ 12:49 pm

    I don’t know what happened on that fateful weekend. All I know is that Metblogs has become pretty bland. I signed up for a login just so I could say this. I have passed up on the opportunity to comment in previous days because I just could not be bothered to get a login name and password. It is just annoying, that’s all I can say. And I don’t really understand the purpose of having to get a login name and password.

  5. brewcaster on April 2nd, 2008 @ 1:05 pm

    Seems that along with a lot of the readers, some of the writers left as well. Whether I left by choice or not is debatable, but the outcome would have been the same regardless (no longer writing for metblog). I am saying this in response to Sadielaru who made the comment that Metblogs became bland. My theory for that is that some of the writers left.

  6. siliconflorist on April 2nd, 2008 @ 1:15 pm

    Given that my last tweet to dieselboi began "Didn’t feel like registering to comment…" I will assume, albeit somewhat egotistically, that I was partially to blame for this post, if I was not, in fact, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

    Last night, when I sent the aforementioned tweet, it was simply a URL. And, at that time of night, the prospect of walking through a multistep-registration process was simply too much for my work-addled and sleep-deprived mind to bear.

    I took the time to go through the registration process, this time, because it would take more than a tweet to convey my message.

    First off, let me say that I didn’t mean to pile on or throw gasoline on an already burning fire. It was an offhanded remark on the state of my being, not a comment on the system you have here, per se.

    But as a general response to the question posed…

    Generally, I find it burdensome to go through a registration process for something that I may use sporadically, if at all. I find it less so when there is some added value to my registration. To use your Oregonlive example, I get some additional functionality out of that service, so I’m willing to bear a little extra hoop jumping.

    I think, in general, the primary issue I have with sites requiring my registration to comment is that I find it a bit arduous and guilty-before-proven-innocent to expect that the readers be treated as spammers unless they take the effort to prove that they are not.

    Second, I cannot even fathom the amount of spam a blog with this sort of popularity must cultivate. So, this may be a bit Pollyanna, but there are automated tools that ship with blogging software like WordPress designed to specifically help battle spammers. And given that, blogs that force me to register make me feel as if I’m being asked to do work to fix something that is already mostly fixed without my doing that work. In other words, I’m being asked to expend effort in lieu of someone—or some thing—else expending the same effort. And I’m generally lazy, so I balk.

    In terms of Metblogs in particular… Sometimes—granted once in a blue moon sort of sometimes, but sometimes—I have something interesting to say in regards to a post. And I’d like to be able to dash that off and be done. I had resisted the registration for the simple reason that it took longer to register than comment. So one negated the other.

    Now, because I thought your query deserved a thoughtful response, I’m registered to comment. And I’ll make sure to post those comments when warranted.

    Just thought I’d throw in my $0.02 on at least one facet of the "registering to comment" complaint, from my perspective.

  7. chris on April 2nd, 2008 @ 4:40 pm

    My biggest complaint is the "RECENT ACTIVITY" link does not work. I used to use this feature in the old UI exclusively. Active discussions are now harder to find since I have to look into each topic to see if there is change. If you are going to force registration at least a "new since last check" would be nice. "Most Active" is broken as well. In the end, I got tired of looking for new content.

  8. Steve (steve) on April 2nd, 2008 @ 4:44 pm

    My take is that the shift to requiring login is a shift toward making Megblogs a "walled garden."

    Ostensibly, this shift is to control spam and trolls, but it effectively changes the dynamic and direction of the site. As siliconflorist points out (vastly overestimating the traffic this site gets, by the way), it’s trivial to control spam with Akismet and other WordPress plugins.

    Casual readers, referred from other sites for specific posts and issues, can’t be bothered to register to leave a comment. So you end up with a smaller group of readers who will comment.

    This shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s hard enough to get quality comments without throwing literal and philosophical barriers in the way. Since you can no longer depend on casual readers writing comments, you have to focus on building a member community within the walls.

    Metblogs has lost several writers with this change. That may account for it having "become pretty bland" to the commenter above. The drop-off in voices, both as authors and commenters, was sudden and dramatic.

    I’m still pondering my future as an author here. My initial response was that I don’t want to write for a social networking site. I’m far more interested in public journalism.

    While Portland Metblogs never really was a serious venue for public journalism, it always had that potential. Now that potential is significantly diminished with the closing of the gates. I imagine page views (and revenue) are down significantly, too.

    It’s too bad, but that’s the direction the proprietor is consciously choosing. It may yet be a successful model in the end, but you end up with fewer voices participating, and the site will become even more cliquish and less representative of Portland.

    So it goes.

  9. chris on April 2nd, 2008 @ 5:17 pm

    whats the diff between reddit and metblogs?

    1) I can post a headline story under Reddit. At metblogs I’m relegated the whims of a chosen few authors.
    2) Nested comments in reddit. Metblogs? Read all the way down…
    3) Rating on stories AND comments in reddit. Metblogs? Read all the way down…

    It’s no double standard if they don’t compare.

    Given the technicals, metblogs is still more casual and less aggressive than the types the oregonian attracts. I liked Steve’s analogy of a "walled garden". Perhaps if there was an "anonymous coward" (ie. slashcode) posting ability for those who don’t want to register but still be in on the conversation it wouldn’t scare the butterflies away.

  10. Dylan (dylan) on April 2nd, 2008 @ 9:29 pm

    Weird thing is that your commenters actually seem to care about registration. Ours in Seattle… they just stopped commenting. Or even reading.

  11. roym4 on April 2nd, 2008 @ 10:19 pm

    I read metblogs with an RSS aggregator. The old website used to show the comments under each article. The new website format does not show the comments in the feed and now requires that I go to the website to read a comment.

    I agree that the quality/quantity of the articles has fallen off drastically in the last month.

    I will probably keep the RSS feed for a while but unless things pick up I’m gone.

  12. dieselboi on April 3rd, 2008 @ 6:01 am

    Thanks for all the comments all. Great discussion.

    Yes, we have lost authors after the change. It sucks to see them go and their writing leave this site. I miss it also.

    Thanks Steve for your comments. I do realize that it is cumbersome and you make a point that it takes longer to register than to comment. I take that approach when I’m out there in comment land that requires me to login. If I have the time, I do it, if I don’t…well, I don’t.

    Again, thanks for your comments.

  13. divebarwife on April 3rd, 2008 @ 7:52 am

    Good post dieselboi – it is nice to see a good discussion.

    But hey – writers come, writers go – they always have. Some are missed, some are not. Sometimes the site is very active, sometimes not so much. Things change… some folks are "glass half empty" about it, others "glass half full."

  14. Steve (steve) on April 3rd, 2008 @ 9:53 am

    Hey roym4, there is a separate feed for comments:

    I liked the old feed better, too, but this is the way WordPress does it by default (and WordPress is superior in many ways, so I can forgive it not providing a feed with posts and comments combined).

    WordPress also produces a comment feed for each post, with "feed/" appended to the post’s permalink URL, e.g. for this post:

    This allows you to subscribe to individual discussions you may be interested in.

  15. dieselboi on April 4th, 2008 @ 7:17 am

    Thanks Steve for the tech notes on WP. I haven’t figured WP out yet.

    A comment sent to me via Twitter:

    ahockley @dieselboi Since the Metblog change, nothing there is valuable enough for me to manage yet another username/passwd. Feel free to post that.

    Thanks ahockly.

  16. Betsy Richter (betsywhim) on April 5th, 2008 @ 6:15 pm

    Actually, MB decided to require username and passwords for more than just spam protection. The theory is that it becomes easier to ‘promote’ active commenters to author status – if you’re kicking in good stuff, MB invites you to write for a larger audience.

    I also think it was due to the fact that anonymous postings tend to let the assholes of the world dominate a discussion – it’s easy to toss off an inflammatory or insulting comment if it can’t be tracked back to you, for example. Some of the other MB cities have long asked for this functionality ’cause it got impossible to have a civilized conversation amidst all the trolls and asswipes.

    I know that some cities in the network haven’t even noticed a blip in the comment numbers, while others love the fact that it’s gotten easier to deal with. And yep, some cities (like PDX) just don’t have nearly as many commenters any more.

    I do agree that we need a ‘recent comments’ widget in our sidebar (and I know it’s an easy thing to implement in WP, ’cause I have it on my own sites.)

  17. nolando on April 7th, 2008 @ 9:09 am

    So you have to create a username/pwd combo to do something online – how terribly unlike so much more of teh internets… At least, here, you get to choose what those will be rather than being relegated to just your email addy or such. And it took me all of, what, 2 minutes to register, get my confirmation email, and confirm the account? I think that’s easy and I’m a lazy fella. So, again, what’s the *real* problem here?

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