Sunday, December 31, 2006

Blog Comments 2.0

Google have provided a brief but handy write up of a year in Google blogging and the blog's parting words which caught my interest.
And before long, perhaps you can begin leaving comments directly. We're working on that.
Oooh! As someone who works with international companies on their SEM campaigns I often find myself in discussions on the pros and cons of comments. More and more companies receptive to the notion of blogging. It's still new but now no longer a fad. Increasingly consumers are expecting to be able to communicate, or at least hear, from companies in a friendly "real language" and not in the less friendly "PR language" or second hand from old media. More companies seem to recognise this and wish to provide a blog. Oh, sure, this is not entirely altruistic as these companies also have an eye on the PR wisdom of a friendly blog. There's also the role of the blog in the SEO strategy. When was the last time you saw an official PR release on Digg's home page?

But there's a catch. Comments. If you let users comment then... gasp... they might say something negative. They may even say something illegal and here in the UK that then becomes the problem of the company providing (or even hosting) the blog. You can moderate comments but that requires effort. What's the ROI benefit from blog comment moderation? How much would you pay someone to moderate comments on a corporate blog?

I often point to Google blog as the easy solution. Simply put, Google has a friendly blog but it does not allow comments. I don't think the blog suffers at all from this. I go there for my official Google news. I feel that I'm closer to Google because I have access to the blog.

I'm sure Google considered letting people comment on the blog but that really would open the flood gates. Can you imagine how many inane comments they would get? The blog spam alone would be intense (Google's blog would make one hell of a honey pot!). The "to reply or not to reply" debate would be worthy of a Shakespearean drama.

Google are considering allowing comments in 2007? Well! Google are just considering it. It would be quite understandable if they conclude; "Nah! That's a crazy idea!"

... but what if Google are working on clever automated and scalable solution? Hmm. Nice. Give Google a problem and they'll naturally gravitate towards a clever automated and scalable solution.

Back in April I waffled on about captchas and cash and came up with a half-baked deposit idea. Simply put, you pay a deposit whenever you comment. If your comment is important enough to you then it should be no problem to deposit 1p until the blogger approved the comment. In a year you might end up loosing, oh, maybe 25p? A blog spammer could deposit thousands of pounds and would stop being a blog spammer. What's the ROI for moderating comments? The blog would have a revenue stream of its own (and, I admit, a new public relations hurdle to overcome).

That's one solution. I very much doubt that this is anything like Google's solution for blog comments in 2007.

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