Some Thoughts on Commenting

Today I dipped my toes back into IndieWeb land (lake?) by joining the pop-up session, “Respectful Responses.” I didn’t go in with a specific goal; it just sounded like a good topic:

How do we enable more positive serendipity & discovery via our websites, between both existing friends & family, and new positive interactions. And how do we raise barriers to spam, harassment, and other unpleasant social media interactions.

The session got me thinking more about the commenting experience for people without personal websites. David talked about the experience of leaving a comment and expecting it to appear immediately. Some sites will display a message that the comment is pending moderation, and some will even show the commenter a preview of their comment. My site does the former if I have not approved a comment from your email address before. I had not considered that could be a negative experience for some people. The more I thought about it, I realized that many times when I link an article on Facebook or Twitter, people will come to my site to read it then go back to the social site to leave a comment instead of using my local comment form.

This could be for various reasons. The most obvious is probably the ease of posting on the social site. It’s one text field, the comment appears immediately, and that is how people interact online the majority of the time. My local comment form with fields for name, email address, website, and comment is tedious by comparison. I realize the required email address field is off-putting as well.

I like the idea of changing that experience around so instead of a comment form that’s always public, comments are allowed from a trusted audience. That audience could be as broad as “people who have logged in to my site.” I think the barrier of logging in would still mean people would go back to the social sites to respond, though. I am not sure how to get around that. That is often the challenge with IndieWeb: creating experiences that are at least as easy as the silos.


Marty McGuire, Jan Boddez