Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Leaving a comment ain't easy

Last week Jules was wondering why 90% of the people who comment on his blog have a blog of their own.

There are I'm sure a variety of reasons many of which were discussed by commenters.

One reason that never really came up in his discussion was just how difficult it is to leave a comment.

Of course it's not that hard for regular blog readers and commenters. But it sure ain't easy for newbies.

Consider this - Last week I sent a link to a blog post around the office.

One of my colleagues took umbrage with the post and wanted to leave a comment.

And yet they didn't.


Because they were faced with this bewildering array of options:

Now I'm no expert in usability but to the uninitiated that looks incredibly complex.

When leaving a comment you're told you can use some HTML tags. It then lists some examples.

Surely this is confusing to a first time commenter?

Next up comes the word verification. This is quite common on websites these days but that doesn't mean it's not off putting to first time commenters.

For some obscure reason there is an icon of someone in a wheel chair next to the entry field. Why?

Having found their way through that minefield a person who has never made a blog comment is now asked to choose an identity.

Not only that but they get to choose from some very confusing options:

Google/Blogger. No Google account? Sign up here. What the!?

Open ID followed by some teeny weeny icons that you may or may not be familiar with.

Then my personal favourite - Name/URL. How many people have a URL? Not many I'd say.

The easy option is to click anonymous. Which is probably why anonymous comments are so common.

After all that you then get to publish your comment. That's publish your comment not leave it. Again confusing to the inexperienced.

Of course once you get the hang of it becoming a part of the online social conversation is pretty easy.

But I'm sure you'd have to agree that it really doesn't seem that easy for someone doing it for the very first time.