Why bloggers fail (and how not to)

August 15, 2014

There’s a reason this is called Crapcha.

Comments are blogger gold, we’re told. It’s good to engage readers in dialogue. Dialogue fosters community and communities visit blogs more often than casual readers.

So, I have to ask, why do so many bloggers do things that make commenting and engaging in dialogue difficult and frustrating?   One answer to why bloggers fail to engage readers is simple:

Bloggers fail to build audience when they make it difficult for readers to comment.  Since I belong to several groups of bloggers who support each other by commenting on one another’s blogs, I’ve gotten to see all the many ways bloggers fail to engage their readers.  Here are three ways bloggers can actually BLOCK dialogue.

Complex Anti-Spam Captchas

Yes, I know spam sucks. But those long rows of tiny grey number combinations that some anti-spam Captcha systems use are almost impossible to get right on the first try.

Even the shorter Captcha numbers are hard to read: more often than not I’ve got to get so close to the screen I bump my nose.

captchaArithmetic Captchas crack me up, especially when I type in the wrong answer. They crack me up the first time. Then, I’m gone.

Captcha can be frustrating, so frustrating that readers abandon their comment. I know this because I’ve abandoned my own comments after taking time to think and write.  Captcha rebuffs me.

And here are some of the worst Captchas:

I dare you to read this.

I dare you to read this.

Why would bloggers who want to encourage comments use Captcha, when there are easier alternatives?

I use Akismet, which prevents 99.99% of spam from reaching my comments section. So simple. And transparent to commenters. And I love commenters.

Other bloggers use tick boxes: check this box to prove you are not a spammer. While I think any extra keystroke required of commenters can be prohibitive, the tick box is certainly better than the Captchas I see on too many blogs.

The message “You have not been on the blog for long enough.”

This is so annoying. I read dozens of blogs a day and try to comment on most of them. The reason I can?  I’ve been a speed reader since junior high. I don’t want to sit on a blog forever, even though I know its numbers are better if I stay longer. But my time is valuable and I don’t want to spend it waiting until the allotted time is up. I feel manipulated into being just a statistic on your site.

At first I’d just leave the blog up while I did other things and come back later, after enough time had elapsed. But now I just don’t comment. At all.

The message “Your comment is too short. Go back and write a longer  one.”

Seriously? Are you kidding? Less can be more when comments are concerned. Sometimes I just want to say something like “You go, girl!” I don’t want to write chapter and verse. Oh, I know the purpose is to keep me on your blog. But what it does is keep me OFF it. So here’s my hypothetical:  do you want five long comments when you could have 10 shorter ones?

I love you, I do. I love reading your blogs. But I don’t want to spend my time figuring out your Captcha.

I don’t want to feel manipulated, like just another number in your blog statistics. Even if I am.  Allow me my delusion. And save me some time.

So–come on over and comment on my blog any time, Captcha-free.  Stay a minute or five minutes, your choice. You’re welcome to leave a one-word comment or a 500-word comment.  I just like to see your name in comments.

And I really, really like the dialogue that goes on in comments, the kind that brings context and color to subjects like depression or violence. I appreciate hearing your responses and your views. It’s one of the biggest reasons I blog every single day.

47 comments on “Why bloggers fail (and how not to)
  1. Carol Graham says:

    Thank you for making life easier. Well, we can hope. I hate every single one of the points you made. And don’t you love it when it says “You haven’t been on the site long enough” and your comment is lost in cyberspace, never to return.

    Thank you for the smile and hopefully it will bring some awareness.


  2. OK, I know we ALL hate the Captcha, so I have no idea why anyone uses it. But I have never experienced the other two. NO! Just, no! Those are awful!

  3. penpen says:

    I use typepad to host my blog and it comes with a captcha. I guess I need to figure out how to turn it off. I do like the sites where you just check that you’re not a spammer. much friendlier.

  4. Karen says:

    I don’t just leave those sites–I leave while emitting a string of curse words. My tip: get a spam filter. Empty it now and then. We’ll all be happier.

  5. Joan Stommen says:

    How wonderful to see this in writing……and so very well! I thought I was amiss in not having these annying detectors on my blog! Carol….not only are you a great writer; you are a loyal reader and honest, caring commenter! Thanks for telling it like it is! Here’s hoping the right folks read and heed!

  6. I do a lot of blog reading on my phone and find it nearly impossible to comment even without captcha. There have also been many times when I wanted to comment, but just couldn’t figure out the dang captcha and after two tries, I’m done. I’m with you all the way on this. Akismet blocks just about ALL of my spam. Without inconveniencing my readers (if I have any. HA!) xo

  7. Thanks for letting me choose how long I stay here @carolcassara and making this easy to read and to comment on.

  8. You are sooooo right Carol!!! I hate it too. Spam use to be out of control on my site. Now I use simple addition and the problem is solved. But now i need to rethink even this simple addition. Thanks Carol!

  9. Suzanne says:

    I have noticed that you comment on my blog regularly and I sincerely appreciate that. When I first started blogging I spent hours trying to figure out what my readers wanted to hear. I gave that up. I blog because I like having a voice and I write about what moves me personally. I no longer worry about how many comment or likes I get. I figure if I am true to “myself” it will all follow. And… if it doesn’t I’ll keep reading “me” Having said that I have met some very nice and interesting people (you are among them) and I have enjoyed the interaction. The size of this world is overwhelming. I love the internet because it makes the world a little bit smaller. Have a wonderful day.

  10. I can only tell you why *I* was using Captcha. I have a blog with maybe — MAYBE — a dozen hits per week. I update sporadically. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money paying to keep spammers off my site. I was being inundated by spammers. I’d get 20 or more spam comments per week, and it just got wearing to keep going on there and deleting their nonsense. More of my hits and comments were coming from spammers than from actual readers. It was frustrating and, frankly, disheartening.

    I only got rid of captcha and started paying for akismet (and a couple of others) when I joined blogger communities and got a bunch of comments about captcha and how hard it was to leave a comment. Also, more tools are available for WordPress users now than there were when I started. Originally, it was either Captcha or drown.

    For the record, I don’t even slightly hate captcha or the simple arithmetic or ‘click this box if you’re human’ things. I understand the motivation.

  11. Donna says:

    I couldn’t agree more! I do the same thing, if it is hard to post a comment I pass. And those little shapes and forms? Hate them!! I read, but if I feel I have to comment, then sometimes I don’t read it again. Manipulation doesn’t work when you are alone with your mouse….you get to make all the choices. I hop my comment section is easy……

  12. kim tackett says:

    Hey there, well, you know I agree with you on this. I would also add, that if it’s possible to add comment luv (as you do), it’s a generous thank you for your readers. It’s a version of “now tell me about you.” It’s easy and free and nice. I am always happy when I see it on a blog.

  13. mindy trotta says:

    I have never encountered the sites that commented on my visits, but could you imagine visiting someone and having them tell you (as you were walking out the door) that your visit was not substantial enough or you didn’t say enough while you were there? Nuff said!

  14. I hate captcha but from among you mentioned, I think that’s the most bearable one. My main problem is that most of my readers are scared of blog comments. Most of them read and then comment on my personal fb page. I don’t know how to solve that. I don’t want to activate the ‘anonymous’ option because then I end up with A LOT of spam comments. Grrrrr…….Oh well, I guess this is why I’m doing my best to broaden my audience any way I can. Want to come over and be my second commenter?? hahahahahahahahahha! Anyway, thanks for this post, Carol!

  15. Risa says:

    Great points, Carol. It’s unfortunate when our best efforts are thwarted by technology. I’ve been frustrated by these things also. Perhaps your post will encourage folks to look for less formidable spam filters, etc. We want to encourage visitors, not send them away screaming!

  16. Lana says:

    I always laugh when I’m asked to prove I’m not a robot by typing the captcha word. I’m a human and I can’t even read it! Haven’t experienced the other two, but I would be dumbfounded if I did.

  17. Bouncin Barb says:

    Excellent post Carol. I intend to get back to blogging in the near future and I will be much more diligent in how I handle comments…both giving and receiving and replying! I may even change my blog or start up another one. Lots of ideas in my head.

  18. Haralee says:

    Thanks for the tips!

  19. Myke Todd says:

    I have never been afflicted with writer’s block, but from time to time, I suffer from comment’s block, and that can cause me more problematic issues than I can account for. Goodness knows, I try to stay on topic and remain relevant, but it is not always easy… oh, and captcha is the devil.

  20. LOL, you are so right! These are all so annoying! I especially hate those captchas….I’m not very good at them!

  21. Oh, now I feel so insecure. It took months for me to learn how to add a comments section to my blog, and it was Captcha. I agree with you about the mysterious “proof of human” requirements. I’ll try and improve my comment section – I’ll hired a charming IT person to do it for me! Thanks for the information.

  22. While I agree that most of the options are annoying, I don’t mind checking a box at all.
    I don’t think I can us Akismet with blogger, but I do use Comment Moderation. It’s a pain for me but that’s a price I’m willing to pay to make it easier for friends to comment and still keep spam links off of my site.

  23. Laurel Regan says:

    My blog is ok on the first two, but I think I’m guilty of the last – but only because I’ve never gotten around to figuring out how to override it! Thanks for the motivation… off to check out my settings.

    • Laurel Regan says:

      Aha… found and disabled the “feature”! On my blog it was only set to trigger if the comment was less than three words, so you’re “You go, girl!” would have been fine, but I take your point. 😉

  24. Amen and amen. Have you ever listened to the captcha phrase???? They don’t’ make any sense. Then if you hit it a second time to listen it is completely different! I hate captcha with a passion.

  25. Captcha drives me out of my mind and I can’t understand why anyone would still use it. Just to play devil’s advocate about the length of comments, a few bloggers have said that Google considers any comment less than 8 words spam. I’m going to have to research that now.

  26. Liv says:

    I don’t think I’m big enough to get spam yet. But I totally agree with you. Many times I’ve left without a comment for those very reasons. You nailed it today Carol.

  27. Love Comment Luv-I spend more time on my mobile devices than my desktop so it better be easy to comment from a phone or I won’t!

  28. I got rid of my Captcha a long time ago because my readers were having trouble leaving comments. The downside? I’m inundated with SPAM comments. I have to delete at least 30-40 comments daily. But I guess it’s worth it to make commenting easier for the REAL readers, ha-ha!

  29. WendysHat says:

    I knew by your title what I was hoping your post was about and I was right! It drives me crazy! I also can’t comment on a phone with that on without trying 10 times. When I was on blogger I never used it and did not have spam. Now on wordpress I have a plugin called Akismet that filters spam for me.

  30. Wow, I have never, ever encountered a blog that scolds me for ducking out early or won’t “qualify” my comment. But I have encountered the little boxes with fuzzy numbers that I miss half the time and I have been told to sign in again and you’re right…you start to wonder if your goodwill might be more appreciated elsewhere.

  31. pia says:

    Wow! That means people look at their stats after every person reads and…Wow–I can’t imagine…

    I’ve noticed varying degrees of difficulty in captcha’s. I’m convinced in one professional blog I write for I could write my name backwards and it would go through–never tried that. Then there are the ones you showed. They get two chances because yes Askimet catches most

  32. AGREE, AGREE AND AGREE….need I say more! i

  33. I did comment on facebook, but I don’t moderate. I really don’t care if the Russian spammers think I have the best blog and want to know my secrets. The comment needs to know they are acknowledged. If it is too trolly, I can always send it to the memory hole.

  34. The other thing is, Captchas are really disability unfriendly. People with dyslexia, eyesight problems, processing issues, etc find them really difficult. I often just give up, as you’ve mentioned.

    Also I’ve found sometimes it only lets you comment if you have certain accounts with other websites. Sometimes they’re quite obscure websites, not the usual facebook, twitter, etc. I always think there should be one you can just input your own name without it being a big issue.

  35. Do need to add one other pet peeve re comments – those that make me sign up for an account with something or other before I can comment. Feh! I never comment on those sites.

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  1. […] blogs and websites that use complicated Captcha, making it hard for readers to post a comment.  This blog post on the subject of “Crapcha” got a lot of support. That’s because everyone hates Captcha. […]

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