Thursday, 7 January 2016

Commentators

A while back, probably a good five years or so, I had no "filtering" on blog comments. People, whoever they were, and if they could be bothered, were free to type their little response to whatever I had posted. I had a few of the usual "I very much like this blog post. I sell all sorts of roof tacks and hardware equipment, please browse my website" but they were easily dealt with. Whether this was actual people or just these clever little bot things I have no idea. A few were in cantonese, a few russian, a few in something attempting but failing to be english. Fine fine, this is the internet, it is expected. Then a few unrobotic comments began to creep in from anonymous contributers, and there was a distinct correlation between the ugliness of the comment and the lack of identity of the poster. Well, I like a bit of discussion, but when it starts to cross a line well that's not really what I'm in this for. The world is a big place, there are many people that hold opposing views, many that hold similar views, and that's normal for the internet too, but when it starts to get nasty it's time for censorship. And blogger allows you to do that, so rather than waste time I selected whatever option disallowed anonymous - now you had to have an ID. That worked pretty well, but something later than spurred me to go one step further and allow me to decide what got published and what didn't. I have no idea this amount of time later what that event was, but until yesterday that's how it operated. Anyone leaving a comment simply got a message that their comment would be "visible after approval" or something along those lines.

But that's a double-edged sword I think, as it presumably makes it more of a hassle for anyone to leave a comment. Twitter perhaps also has a part to play. I frequently advertise the presence of a new post there, with a link and so on, and this leads people reply to the tweet rather than comment on the blog. As a result, or perhaps as a contributory factor, I get very few comments. Why is that? Is it dull? Well yes, frequently. The decline in comments probably goes hand in hand with the gradual decline of me posting, as I detailed in that "Where is the joy post" last year. Admittedly I do very much go through fits and starts, but it does sometimes amaze me that a long post, perhaps even one stuffed full of photos, rarely attracts a single comment, especially when you know heaps of people have read it.

As well as providing an ability to censor comments, blogger also has a stats tool. I don't use it that frequently, however an interesting one is how many clicks a particular post gets. Now obviously not everyone who reads an entry is going to want to say something, why would they? But when you get 300 hits and no comments whatsoever, what's going on there? August last year is an excellent example - 969 views, 0 interactions. All bloggers like a bit of comment, a bit of response. This not only satisfies vanity, ego etc, but is also a genuine way to interact, which is the primary purpose of blogging - putting yourself out there and all that. And here's my biggest problem - rarely if ever did I reply to a comment I received. I hit "publish", sometimes days after the fact, and went and did something else. I cannot possible feel aggrieved at no repartee if I myself play no part in any dialogue.

So alongside my renewed sense of the need to write stuff on here, from now on all comments, well, most comments, will receive some kind of acknowledgement. Promise. I've also removed all the hassle elements - although I am still steering clear of the anon route. Whether this makes any difference will be interesting to see. Whether the trolls will come back is another question. As an analogy, whenever I put my bird-feeders up the squirrel is back within 24 hours. So if anyone is feeling squirrely, please can I ask that you go next door!

20 comments:

  1. Hi, liking your blogging on birds. For only 20 dollar top personal service guaranteed. Remove posterior chaffing with superior gel. Send bank details for no problem service. Yours sincerely, Reverend Sir Churchill, PO Box 69, Lagos. No refund.

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    1. Hah! Excellent! Definitely a second career calling.

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  2. On a more serious note...
    On NQS MkI and II I fairly quickly wound up moderating all comments too. I still got them, but maybe not as freely as otherwise, I don't know. At the moment I'm leaving it open and so far haven't had anything dodgy. Hopefully it'll stay that way.
    Personally I feel obliged to reply to comments (mostly) and am pretty sure this encourages readers to leave them. I hope so.


    I too am like the blog but am not able to helping the bottom.

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    1. I'm not really in favour of moderation, but I just saw it as my blog my rules, and how dare you come on here and be a schmuck. I have no recollection of the camel-breaking straw at all, but I also hope I don't there again. I'm also less vocal than formerly, and less of an active birder/twitcher, all of which I'm sure must have contributed to some of the unwanted attention.

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  3. When I was blogging, I used a stay counter, synchronised with the blogspot time stamp to track and catalogue comments. Like you I had the settings set so I had to approve comments. But having two systems tracking hits, page views and comments simultaneously allowed me to ID everything about who was trying to leave those nasty comments you mention. IP addresses, browser, the works.
    What was really interesting was how far some would go to try and get around the safeguards. One tried 3 different Gmail accounts...but stupidly, all from the same IP.

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    1. Gosh that sounds very complicated and likely beyond a numbskull like me. I just went down the DELETE button route and chalked it up to not being able to please all of the people all of the time. But good effort! Did you call then out on it?

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    2. It's actually very easy. Statcounter is very intuitive and takes no time to read through/take data from. I didn't call anyone out, pointless in birding where everyone's first response is "No. Wasn't me. I never said/did that". But I saved the data. It let's you see who exactly are the sort that go to such stage lengths.

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  4. Good evening Jono,
    I have never posted a comment, mainly because I didn't know how to do it. But I do look at your site regularly, mainly because I love the images. I think Vera sent my message to tag the birds - for those who are not bird aficionados, I am sometimes at a loss to know which bird is depicted. Because of your site I have become much more aware of the (abundant) bird life in the park where I walk the dogs (sorry I know your views about dog owners - I do always pick up after them and avoid birdwatchers, who tend to stay around the wetlands area anyhow). Also at our holiday place by the beach, where there are an amazing array of parrots, plovers, kookaburras etc. You should come and bring your camera. My warm regards to Zoe and the kids - Martha

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    1. I so want to come back to Australia, but my modus operandi at the moment seems to be rapid-fire trips, and while I'm daft enough to do weekends in Florida I've not yet contemplated a couple of days in Oz! Me and my camera have a date there at some point, that's for sure. Talking of pictures, I'm not sure I have posted a single one in 2016 so far, which is so not me - I have not even looked through a viewfinder yet. All that changes this weekend however, so check back next week!

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  5. As I get very few comments to most of my blogs, I'm always grateful when I do and welcome them.
    The blogs that pee me off are the ones that never respond to comments, and the ones that have those silly pictures that you have to click on before your comment is accepted.

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    1. Well that would have been mine up until recently! I can easily see that it would put people off. But sometimes you have to have it for good reason.

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  6. I confess that I am mainly a lurker on this blog, I haven't commented for years. Last year I found the text and tone a bit off form and haphazard, maybe others did too, hence the drop in comments. You've started 2016 in cracking form, though! Your photos remain superb - I love the one at the top of the blog at the moment. Looking forward to reading about your sightings and musings on life. Best, Matt

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    1. Cheers Matt, and I agree with you that it has not been great the last few years. Writer's block? Anyway, towards the very end of last year I've started feeling better about it and gradually am finding more rubbish to grace these pages. I now have a "cycling to work" bird list for instance.....

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  7. What is that good reason then Jonathan, I've never had one of those picture things and never had a problem.

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  8. Jono, I post comments on a forum you might have great fun on (Runners World - the section called clubhouse- anything but running). The rules are quite simple. Over time anyone who gets a bit OTT is sort of filtered out by the masses.
    As far as your blog is concerned, on more than one occasion I have dragged individuals across to view the bird images. The quality is only limited to one's own vision. An exhibition surely.

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    1. I might start running Ric - it would be yet more blog padding, and might reduce my padding!

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  9. I'm as guilty as anyone about not commenting more frequently on your blog. I do read it every couple of days or so as I love your wader photographs in particular. I will make a point of commenting more often as I would hate to see you get disillusioned with the blog thing and give up.

    Keep up the good work.

    Cheers

    Mike

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    1. Everyone loves a decent wader, they're a special group of birds. They're not Wheatears or Shrikes though are they? Anyway, thanks for contributing and hopefully see more of you!

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  10. And this is from Joe B, who is having some technological difficulties. Re the last sentence of his first para, I am guilty as charged!

    I think a lot of it is just people enjoy reading and looking at the pics and don't have the time or inclination to say anything, but they're there nonetheless - the stats can be quite reassuring, although of course it would be nice if more people stopped to leave a comment. It might be different with your blog, Jono, as you tend to post strongly-opinionated stuff and you might expect more of a reaction perhaps. I do also get the impression that sometimes the bloggers who complain about lack of comments don't exactly go out of the way to comment on other bloggers' posts themselves!


    A lot of it is to do with the subject at hand - wildlife blogs are often about presenting what you've seen, often in a local context, and people just read it and think "that's nice" before moving on to the next blog, probably by someone living in a more exciting place (in wildlife terms). My urban Whinchat sighting may not be worthy of comment for someone on the Norfolk coast and others may just want to see professional-level photos. If you're a serious photographer such as yourself, sometimes posts don't elicit much except "great photos" or similar, and there's little point posting these because a) the photographer knows this and b) 5 other people have said much the same thing already.

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