Barrier to Entry

Sorry Robert, if people have to create and log into their own blogs just to leave comments on other blogs they are reading... you'll lose at least 90% of the feedback.  The barrier to entry is just to high.  I have to:

1. Read your post

2. Create a blog if I don't have one. (The 90% case)

3. Open a new window to my blog

4. Cut and paste a link from your blog to mine... or at least somehow effectively reference your blog.

5. Post my entry


Compare this to two steps required to post a comment on most blogs that support comments effectively.

1. Read the blog.

2. Stay on the same page and post a comment. 

I guess the basic problem is that not everyone in the world has a blog... nor does everyone want one.  But I DO want to get feedback from people who don't blog.   I do want to engage them in a conversation. 

Sure, the five steps don't seem that complicated, but take a listen to what the social computer users of tomorrow, bloggers of last year (not of this year ๐Ÿ™‚ ), and easily distracted/discouraged from technology teenagers from the Social Computing Symposium had to say

Two steps is too much of a barrier to entry for most people today to leave comments. Why complicate things by requiring that we all have blogs? I know there will be more than a few people that disagree with me on this one... but blogging without a comment Field is not blogging to engage in a conversation.  Want to know who a bad blogger is... ones that restrict comments to only other bloggers. ๐Ÿ™‚

Comments (17)
  1. MSDNArchive says:

    I couldn’t agree more Josh.

  2. Yaytay says:

    I DO agree more.

    Not only would this mechanism stop me from adding comments, but also I hate the auto-crosslinked blogs.

    I don’t think they work at all from the other viewpoint (that of the reader).

    They have no context, no conversation.

    They allow people to add crosslinked blogs even after comments are closed, which has problems of relevance and "lastwordmanship".

    It’ll probably totally ruin my argument in the eyes of people that are more in tune with the zeitgeist, but I prefer nntp!

    With news you have proper threading of conversations (and multiple threads of conversation).

    You have complete client download, so everything can be searched and carried around.

    What we need is a merging of blogging (which has an easier entry than news and allows more disjointed communications) and news (which is much more usable from a client point of view).

    And forums have all the disadvantages of both!

  3. Totally agree. I know already that my blog gets fewer comments just because MSN Spaces has the minor hoop of requiring a Passport ID. And there are a whole lot more Passport IDs out there than blogs. Most people will not comment unless it is easy. I think that in this case Robert is projecting that most people are like him. But he is a special case. Many of his regular correspondents are similar to him but theyโ€™re not all so common either.

  4. Tobin Titus says:

    I never liked that guy anyway. The only time I read his worthless blog is when someone points me to something very stupid that he said/posted — such as this post.

  5. Anon says:

    Perhaps the only thing is Scoble does not like anonymous comments.

  6. Gary Owen says:

    The difficulty depends on your toolchain. For me, what Robert is talking about sounds a lot easier. I very rarely post comments on other’s blogs. I’m more likely to link from mine with a note about what I think.

    I use blogger to host my blog and I have the "blogthis" firefox extension installed. So when I’m reading a blog post and I find a snippet that is interesting, I just highlight it and right click. Select "blogthis". A popup window opens including the section I highlighted with a link to the page that it came from. I add my comments and post.

    I can see the value in both methods and I would love to have this kind of "automatic trackback" available for when I don’t feel like leaving a comment.

    Here’s a question: When I post a link and response to something on your blog, should I leave a comment pointing back to my post?

    Another question: What happens when you respond in comments to these questions and I don’t see them because I don’t come back to this entry to check?

    Part of the point of syndicating blogs is that you don’t have to "watch web pages" anymore. But the syndication model for comments doesn’t appear to be working very well from what I’ve seen.

  7. Darrell says:

    Or the barrier where if I don’t enter my email address because I don’t want it displayed (which some blogs do) and then the form validation says "Need Email Address, and oh by the way I’ve cleared ALL OF THE FORM FIELDS." That’s my favorite one. I NEVER reenter the data, and probably won’t read the blog again. Just like I won’t read blogs that don’t have comments enabled.

    Blogs == conversations

    Blogs != easy web publishing tool to spew your thoughts upon the world in reverse chronological order

  8. MSDNArchive says:

    David: Thanks for the support.

    Yaytay: I agree with the threaded problem, but the issue is that a threaded view only makes sense when the complexity is warranted. In the case of technical Q/A forums the average thread length is <5 posts. Do you need the added complexity if the thread length is less than 5 posts? You do need the complexity if the comments on a blog/forum/newsgroup/etc start to run over 10 IMO. I think the ideal interface would automatically turn on a threaded view for users in those cases.

    Alfred: Thankfully passport does a good job of logging me in.

    Tobin: Lol. Lots of people love to hate Robert. I think he’s a good guy, just makes some strange statements from time to time.

    Anon: I don’t know what his motivation is.

    Gary: I agree. For you, me, and certainly Robert the scenario he describes makes sense. I personally don’t mind if you choose to blog about my post or stop by here to leave a comment. I wouldn’t turn either mechanism off. The problem is that we’ve gone through a lot of hoops to set up our nifty "blog this" buttons and blogs.

    Darrel: I know a lot of people that disagree with your statement. Which is why I simply suggested that blogs without good comment systems are blogs that are simply not interested in the conversation. Scobles comments seem strange because he is clearly into the conversation.

    I think the ultimate issue with his statements is that he seems to think, in this case, that the world has caught up to his lightening speed blog reading. Most of us haven’t and probably won’t.

  9. I think there are some "big picture" things behind Scoble’s comments; see:!1pRjebUoVh0bNLSJvrecmAEg!302.entry

  10. MSDNArchive says:

    Re: Big picture… Sure, its allready easy for me to follow conversations from RSSBandit. When the world uses a rich client for blog reading/commenting I might tend to agree more. However a magority of users read blogs because they found them trhough a search engine through the web view. A majority of comments from from web interfaces today. If the balance of power shifts and blog commenting/conversation sharing is as prevelent as IM conversations then I might agree with you. Even usenet has some extreme limitations and bariers to entry that make it hard for the magority of the world to engage in the conversation.

    And I still don’t think any sane commenting system would force every user to have thier own blog first.

  11. Gary Owen says:

    Perhaps what’s at the core here is 2 different models of communication. They are similar but distinct.

    A blog is "my voice on the internet". It’s the place where I scream my ideas out into space. Comments and other threaded discussion tools are more about conversations. From that perspective I agree with your statement: "but blogging without a comment Field is not blogging to engage in a conversation."

    Perhaps what scoble is eluding to is a tool that attempts to create threaded conversations out of all the separate screaming voices on the internet. It’s an interesting idea really, and I can see the appeal. Its the problem that tools like trackback and technorati seem to be trying to solve. RSSBandit has a feature that tries to accomplish the same thing by linking posts together (for example, I subscribe to this blog and scoble and your blog has an entry under it pointing to scoble’s post).

    Sometimes it takes big thinkers to make statements like "comments will go away because of amazing feature X". Those of us that live in the day to day recognize that we still need comments to have conversations, but without visionaries saying that comments will someday become obsolete there wouldn’t be those pushes to invent a better mousetrap. But most of us are still going to be using our old mouse traps during the conversion. (Floppy drives anyone?)

  12. Josh: you’re still missing the point. Maybe a piece of the "next big thing" is that a user wouldn’t even know they are commenting on their own blog. The system would be tightly integrated and threaded…maybe something like Gary suggested.

    Commenting is already a bit "out of control" today: a different UI with every blogging system, a multitude of APIs, comment SPAM, the nofollow fix, poor integration with thick clients, etc.

    To post a comment on USENET, you had to have an email address. Maybe a personal blog is the next email address?

    No, I don’t have the answer(s), and I have no idea what Scoble might be talking about. Sure, the "barrier to entry" might be too high TODAY…but dream a little bit.

  13. MSDNArchive says:

    I’ll pass a motion to allow for dreaming on my blog. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m not saying its not possible, but simply that the scenario scoble has described so far is not acceptable.

    He has also made several statements about removing the comments to his blog and I feel that, with todays environment, this would be premature for any blogger looking to engage in conversations.

    Your right, if every e-mail address came with a blog then it would make more sense. I’d rather not guess, but simply state that even if the cost of having a blog was 0 that there would still be a good magority of people out there who would not want a public record of their postings or a blog that makes it easy for someone to find everything they have ever said.

  14. Gary Owen says:

    Josh – Can you elaborate on your impression of the "not acceptable" scenario a bit for me?

    Are you saying "New Thing" + "Remove Comments" = unacceptable?

    I can see this "New Thing" being a good addition to the toolset available to bloggers. I would love it if I could add a widget to my blog that would index all the other blogs that point back to me and add automatic track backs to my original blog post. It helps move the conversation forward. I wouldn’t turn off comments though. I agree that a low barrier to entry is a good thing for conversation, but also that the addition of an automatic track back type feature would be a very compelling addition.

    I guess my opinion (which is based on conjecture not fact) is:

    "New Thing" + "Comments" = "Better than what I have today, sign me up."

  15. MSDNArchive says:


    I agree with your statements.

    "New Thing" + "Remove Comments" = unacceptable?

    and would agree with it until the day where 90% or more of users are using the "new thing".

    I also agree with your statement.

    "New Thing" + "Comments" = "Better than what I have today, sign me up."

    That’s really what set me off in the first place.

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