Why you must login to comment

Over at the blog Single World of Ideas there is a follow-up post to my discussion of Ken McIntyre and that blog’s views on posthumous Oakeshott publications.

The author mentions that he (or she) attempted to post the rejoinder as a comment on the MOA site, but abandoned the attempt when confronted by the login screen.

As it happens, my relatively restrictive comment policy is something I have been in two minds about. Web industry wisdom (backed by a reasonable volume of usability research) holds that the more steps you add to a procedure, the fewer will be the people who bother to complete it. Given the total absence of comments on the MOA site, even before our early-2008 meltdown, I have often wondered whether I might be setting the bar too high in confining comments to users who are both registered and logged-in.

So in early 2009 I tried a little experiment; I quietly relaxed the comment policy, so that someone only had to provide a valid email address in order to post a comment (as they can on, e.g. Andrew Norton’s blog). The result was nothing but a massive spam attack. Fortunately, I had selected the option to hold for moderation all comments containing links, so very few of the spam comments actually saw the light of day on the site. But since the spam was literally coming in faster than I could remove it, I reluctantly reverted to the original, more restrictive policy.

Much as I would like to see multiple voices create a conversation on this site, soliloquies are better than spam.

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