Comments and Jumping Through Online Hoops
Jive Software’s Sam Lawrence is at it again. In his blog post Media execs are asleep at their own wheel he takes online magazine publishers to task for putting too many roadblocks in the way of readers’ gaining access to and engaging with their content. According to Sam,
Folks like CNET, ZDNet, and PCWorld have awesome talent cranking out great stuff, but no one can engage with them without filling out a stupid form.
Sam also says,
Bloggers are on top of the active conversations and participate in the dialogue without forcing you to jump through hoops before you can chime in.
This argument has been going on for as long as I’ve been blogging. It’s usually easier to post a message on a blog than on an online magazine article. The usual explanation is that the advertisers that make the online magazine article possible require more information about readers in order to justify their advertising dollars. The argument usually bounces back and forth between “advertisers are losing because too many people are refusing to register because it’s a hassle” and “those people who register are more engaged anyway and therefore more valuable to advertisers,” etc. etc. etc.
This is one of those arguments that is not going to go away. As I noted in my comment on Sam’s blog,
I don’t mind filling out forms or supplying information if I think I’ll be getting access to good content or high quality commercial messages, but I absolutely hate filling out a form and then having to wait while a poorly designed page and all its badges, counters, popups and other doodads load.
It’s probably just as unreasonable to say that online magazine articles are always better since publishers are advertiser supported as it is to say that bloggers are worse since they don’t get paid for what they write. Good content is good content and people will seek it out and, if the effort is reasonable, they will make the time and effort to gain access.
As I suggested recently in Is It Too Late to Reverse the Fragmentation of the Web? the demand for edited or quality-controlled material has not dried up. This is one of the reasons that “a-listers” are followed so closely due to their perceived quality or insight of their online utterances.
But please, if you do insist on placing ads on your site, do give me the option of providing you with only basic information, tell me explicitly what more I will get if I provide you with more details, and — most of all — if you do place ads don’t let them detract from the content they are linked to!