Wednesday, March 2, 2011

How to Improve your A-Z Challenge (and Blogging) Experience

As we gear up for the A to Z Challenge in April, I and the other co-hosts are posting tips. Today I am tackling comment boxes and word verification, and how to speed up the process and encourage more comments. Remember, these are just suggestions. No one throw crap at Captain Ninja Alex! However, Hot Tamales are always welcome…

There are a dozen different ways to do the comment box, but here’s where it becomes challenging. Some blogger backgrounds load and scroll slow. Some blogs load slow due to graphics. (Yes, I am aware mine is one of them!) But what really cripples this process is an embedded comment box, because the page needs to reload again. (And if there’s word verification, three times!)

The solution? If you like your background or don’t want to remove all those images, change the comment box. Try using a pop-up box like mine or a separate page like Stephen’s.

Next is the issue of word verification.

If at all possible, drop it.

The solution? Blogger's spam filter works great. (I almost never receive spam comments.) If you’re still concerned, you adjust the settings to not allow anonymous comments like Hannah or require blog owner approval like Yvonne. You can also require blog owner approval on older post comments.

There are only so many hours in the day to visit blogs, and those two issues can really slow down the process. During the A to Z Challenge, time will be important as we try to visit as many blogs as possible. Make it easy for people to leave comments!

Any questions? Thoughts? Hot Tamales you’d care to throw?

98 comments:

Liz Pezzuto said...

Two very good points. I had dropped word verification awhile back and set to email notification (so if spam did get through, I could quickly catch). And I had actually been meaning to change my comments to a pop-up, because I do like the feature, so you gave me the push to make the change! Thanks!

li said...

Good hints...thanks. (And your page loads in a split second, for me anyway.)

Margo Benson said...

Very good points - the Crusaders are going through similar things. Some of the word verifications are a hoot, though. I make a note of the weirder ones in case I need a new language in a future story!

Laura Eno said...

I don't use word verification but I've never thought much about the pop up box. Thanks for the suggestion!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Liz, glad I could help!

li, that's good to know!

Margo, that's a good use of the catchphrase words.

Laura you're welcome, although I've never had a problem loading your site.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Very informative Alex, thanks .

Yvonne.

Sue Roebuck said...

Thanks Alex, you're right about verification codes - they're a pain in the whatsit. I didn't know about the pop up box - I'll try it.

Matthew Rush said...

Excellent advice Alex, I completely agree. What I do is only turn moderation on for posts that are older than three days. Most spam bots try to comment on old posts anyway.

Renae said...

Great advice Alex. Thanks!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Thanks for these, Alex. Always a good idea to make things easier for commenters!

Milo James Fowler said...

Thanks for the advice; I've successfully changed the comments settings on my blog. Also, I've already got four of my A to Z posts scheduled, ready to go!

Bz said...

I've been meaning to change it for a while now, but this was a slight push in the right direction. I must say it does look neat :) Thanks for the suggestion!

DEZMOND said...

I've seen that word verification can be put immediately under the comment box which mean that you write in the letters in the same page you write the comment and you don't have to wait for the page to load again. That's the best solution if someone really need to have WW although I seriously doubt that anyone has that much spam!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Great advice. I'm going to drop the word verification and I like to pop up box too. Keep the ideas coming.

Sarah McCabe said...

I don't know. I think I'm far more likely to comment if the comment box is embedded and sitting there open and inviting right below the post. But I also often have cause to wonder if no one else in the world thinks in quite the same way I do. ;)

Emily White said...

Great advice! And I'm really looking forward to April! This is my first attempt at the A to Z Challenge, so it should be interesting.

Ciara said...

A timely post. I've been receiving more spam and almost added verification. Well, not before April. :) Thanks, Alex.

Summer Ross said...

great post Alex! Time will be of the essence when the A-Z comes.

Angela Felsted said...

Good post Alex. I agree with you about the word verification. It really does get in the way when you are visiting a lot of blogs.

baygirl32 said...

down with word verifications! I hate them

iZombie said...

great post and helpful tips... i maintain the "comments approved only" option cause i get like 6 to 10 spams a week. you are more respectful blog where i am a target cause of the nature or ideas of the my site.

Budd said...

great tips. I use them all.

Kristin said...

Thanks for the tips!!!

Karen Walker said...

Thanks, Alex. Your page loads right away for me, by the way. And I dropped word verification long ago - I'm nervous about the challenge, though. We'll see...
Karen

Mary Vaughn said...

Thank you, Alex. I've been visiting ahead to get a feel for things -- like word verification. Good points.

Julie Musil said...

*throws hot tamales*

Alex, I'm so glad you brought this up. I loathe the word verification boxes. That alone prevents me from checking blogs on my iPhone. To wait for that stuff to load and reload is frustrating. I, too, have no problems with spam.

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Ah, interesting post! You know, I've been thinking about trying to figure out how to ditch the word verification on my site lately too. Sometimes they are much more of a hassle for commenters than they're worth I think:) Looking forward to the A-Z challenge!

Olen said...

Alex, thanks for the suggestions. I'm not sure if mine is slow or not!

Bossy Betty said...

Good ideas here! That word verification bothers me.

N. R. Williams said...

Good advice. But I'm keeping my Hot Tamales, yum.
Nancy
N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium

mshatch said...

good tips, Alex. I never had word verification and I do find it annoying on other blogs - not that that stops me from commenting ;)

W.B. said...

Those are excellent tips, Alex.

I disabled word verification on my blog a short while ago. I find that the commenting process goes a lot faster, and that you receive more comments on your blog when you don't have to do word verification. It makes everything a lot easier.

~ W.B.

Arlee Bird said...

Go Alex! Great advice that I hope many will heed. I might try the pop up comment box. I used to have mine like Stephen's but then changed it because my step-father was having trouble finding the comments. Since he still doesn't seem to be able to find the comments I'll try switching it to see how it works.

Thanks for keeping the great tips coming!

Lee
Tossing It Out

Shari said...

Excellent suggestions. I've been trying to figure out what to do with mine to make it easier. Thanks!

Sangu said...

I used to have word verification on my comments until I realized how much longer it took me to comment on blogs that had it - so I cut it out for my own readers' sake!

Excellent tips here, Alex!

Nate Wilson said...

After that first paragraph, I was hoping you'd include some pictures of you physically tackling comment boxes and word verification... but then again, I'm weird.

Thanks for the tips, but I'll be keeping my embedded comment box because I'm stubborn. But feel free to stop by and leave any good recipes you got for hot tamales.

Candyland said...

Great advice. I've found the improved spam blocker for Blogger works just fine without word verification.

Old Kitty said...

Whatever you do, boys and gals, don't be a rebel and start from Z-A!

LOL!! Oh I had to sneak that one in cos I'm ill!!! :-)

BUT SERIOUSLY!! Good luck everyone participating!! Listen to Capn Alex! Take care
x

Andrew Green said...

I tried dropping word verification, and got slammed with porno messages....
Now, normally, I would appreciate that kind of thing, but since I check my comments from work rather often, it made me nervous to be anywhere near x-rated links.

Stephen Tremp said...

These are great points, Alex. Thanks. Word Verification is a time killer, especially when it has to load and you have to type a new word three times. Totally unnecessary. I prefer the pop up box when visiting other sites because if I see a commenter I want to visit I can click them and a new page opens up. No more using the back arrow which is also a time saver.

Gearing up for the A to Z Challenge and getting those posts written well in advance!

Jules said...

Go info Alex, page is fine (unlike mine). Those fill-in the form comments are time consuming as well.
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Holly Ruggiero said...

I agree. The only thing I will comment on is the embedded comment. Since, I read everything in GoogleReader the embedded form actually saves me a click.

Holly Ruggiero said...

'Er unless they have WV turned on. ;)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Alex .. thanks for the tips .. interesting how we've all got different ways of doing things ..

Your site loaded quickly ..

I must do some changes .. cheers Hilary

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Matthew, that's what I've found as well.

Milo, that's great! See, it's not so hard.

Dezz, should've mentioned that - thanks!

Sarah, it's whatever is easier. If there's no word verification, then that's cool.

Jeremy, I know a few that have to go with approval for that reason.

Karen, you can do it!

Julie, thanks for stating that - and throwing the Hot Tamales!!

Lindsay, give it a try and see what happens.

Nancy - Tamale hog!

W.B., it does indeed increase comments!

Thanks, Lee!

Sangu, that's usually what it takes, isn't it?

Nate, as long as there's no word verification. And I'll gladly tackle the Hot Tamales.

Kitty, I laughed out loud at your comment!

Andrew, try no anonymous comments - spam is usually anon.

Thanks, Stephen. I'm all about speed.

Holly you're speedy AND lazy - I like it.

And thanks everyone - I really thought my site was a slug when it came to loading.

Hannah Kincade said...

Hey! That's me!! :D

Yes, there is so many other ways to blog those spammers. I also have comments emailed to me right away so if some spammers sneak in, I jump in and delete them! hahahaha!

I'm already plotting my April! Can't wait!!

Donea Lee said...

Woo hoo! Already there with my pop-up comments box and NO word verification. :) Some great tips, Alex. Thanks!

Jeffrey Beesler said...

Word Verification does sap the wind out of my sails, that's for sure. Especially when it's a naughty word verification.

Morgan Mandel said...

Wish I could drop word verification, but then I'd get all those weird Oriental messages again like I used to. I won't be doing the A-Z thing, since I want to get my book done in the next few months. Good luck to everyone who'll be participating!

Morgan Mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

Holly Jahangiri said...

You could always bite the bullet and move to self-hosted WordPress...

Just kidding. :) I'll take hot tamales, but please don't throw flames my way (I like Blogspot, too).

Pat Tillett said...

1. use comment popup box
2. no captcha
3. approval before posting
4. no auto music
5. no "moving" backgrounds

'nuff said...


.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's you, Hannah! And that's a smart idea.

Donea, good for you!

Morgan, give it a try without - you'd be surprised what the spammer catches.

Holly, I hate moving...

lila Braga said...

fabulous topic today!
love your ideas!
xoxo

Bob Sanchez said...

Good tips, Alex. Thanks.

Dempsey Sanders said...

superb tips Alex, I too drop the word verifaction, and go with the pop up window, and when I comment it awlays saves me so much time if people do the same, its less hassel when leaving comments, so totaly agree.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Lila and Bob, thanks!

Dempsey, it's just better for everyone.

M Pax said...

Yup, keep it fast & simple.

Besides, now Blogger lets you delete any spam that leaks through. Which is very nice.

Jennie Bailey said...

Yuuuuuum, Hot Tamales. I think I dropped the word verification on my mine a loooong time ago. I'm pretty sure. I can be computer challenged, though, so I better check with some blogger buddies. I had a few people complain, which is why I made the change. They stopped complaining so I'm assuming it worked, but for the sake of the blog challenge, I'd better double check. Two very great tips, Alex!!

Clarissa Draper said...

Great ideas! I've been making my blog easier for my readers this week.

Lynda R Young said...

Great tips. I've locked out anonymous commenters because I was getting a lot of spam and no true commentors were anon anyway.

I'd throw a hot tamale if I knew what it was... then again, maybe not.

Suzanne said...

Those are all good points. I especially hate when you leave a comment, then it brings you back up to the top of the comments, and you don't realize you have to scroll down again to put in a word verification. I bet a lot of people don't realize they have to do that and their and then don't realize their comment never was really posted. I'm looking forward to the A to Z challenge -- I'm pre-writing and post-dating some so I don't get behind. I want to be able to pull this off.

Michael Di Gesu said...

I will take your suggestions and change mine right away.


Thank, Alex.

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

Great tips!! The word verification boxes drive me batty. I could visit so many more blogs if the verifications didn't slow me down.

Looking forward to A-Z!!!!

Amy Wood said...

Great tips Alex! PLEASE keep them coming. I can't believe we are so close to A-Z, I'm nervous about whether I'll be able to do so many posts :)

Martin T. Ingham said...

I hope a lot of people take to heart the tips that increase the load-speed of their blogs. As someone who is still working in the dark ages of dial-up, I find it difficult to visit certain blogs because of the burdensome load times.

I especially hate the word verification. Half the time, those stupid things are too blurry for a human eye to recognize. I think the Borg must have invented this security feature, since their cybernetic eye pieces are the only thing capable of deciphering the images on a regular basis.

Better is Possible said...

Great ideas. Thanks. Newer bloggers, like me truly appreciate the tips!

Better is Possible said...

Had to post to say I've made the changes. How cool! I like the pop up so much more and I've dropped the verification.
Thanks again.

The Words Crafter said...

Since I've switched to Safari, I never have any problems. If I do, it's related to my internet provider!

I don't know what kind of comment box I have....I'll have to see.

Great tips!

Jemi Fraser said...

I dropped word verification ages ago and had 1 or 2 spammy type comments early on, but absolutely nothing since then.

I've changed my comment style a few times, trying to accommodate friends with dial up or from different parts of the world. I've changed back to pop up window - we'll see how that works :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

MPax, yes it does!

Thanks, Jennie.

Lynda, that really works.

Suzanne, you will really enjoy it!

Thanks, Michael. Yeah, yours is sometimes a challenge...

Amy, you'll be fine! It's easy.

Martin, part of the asimulation process I guess!

Better, glad it helped!

Jemi, I like the pop-up best. Obviously!

Paul Joseph said...

You raise some good points, Alex. I'm making a note to take a look at my settings first chance I get. When I get frustrated because nothing ever goes smoothly for me, I'll be sure to let you know :)

Copyboy said...

I never receive spam. Ever!!! Now asian spam. Well that's a different story.

WritingNut said...

Great tips Alex! :)

Ella said...

Great tips; Here catch a hot potato, I mean tamales~ Now I want Mexican food....augh!

Karen Peterson said...

I get so frustrated with embedded comments and word verification. I figure the comments on my blog are my responsibility and it's up to me to make it as easy and inviting for readers as possible.

B. Miller said...

Nice tips! Keep em coming, Alex!

Donna Hole said...

I like pop-up comment windows. And the only spam I received was when I allowed annon commenters. One was enough to end that.

Oddly enough, I get less spam in my e-mail without it too.

Good tips guys. Thanks for sharing.

.......dhole

Ellie said...

Great advice, especially about the pop-up comment box. It's makes commenting so much esaier!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Paul, hope this time it does go smoothly!

Ella, thanks for the laugh!

Karen, that's a great attitude.

Donna, the no-anon comments really weeds out the spam.

Helen Ginger said...

Very good tips, Alex. The ones that drive me nuts are the ones where I click to leave a comment, then the comment box opens and jumps all over the page before settling.

I would never throw hot tamales at you. You ARE a hot tamale.

Hart Johnson said...

Ha! Okay. Just changed my comments to a pop-up box, just for you! I like being able to look back and forth, so I LIKE it all on the same page, but you have a point... I don't like the new page, as then I have to remember the whole blog and always forget if I have more than one point I mean to comment on. Pop-up box is a nice compromise, though. I took off the word verification ages ago and I don't have any problems either.

Jen Chandler said...

Here, have a Hot Tamale!

I'm off to check out how my comments are done. I honestly can't remember. I think I have word verification and though they come up with some funny "words", it is a pain in the butt to type it all in (and hope you got it right!)

Thanks for the tips!
Looking forward to the A-Z Challenge!

~Jen

Lynn said...

I'll hold on to my Hot Tamales! I haven't had limited spam since turning off my word verification. And yes, it is annoying when you have click three times!!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Helen, thanks - I have a new title!

Good for you, Hart.

Thanks for the Tamale, Jen!

Lynn, yes it is.

Talli Roland said...

Great points, Alex. I turned word verification on after a very bad spam attack, but I'm going to turn it off again now.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I agree—the easier to leave comments the better. There have been times when I thought my comment was posted and I’m moving along to the next blog and then I see the screen change and realize there’s another step just a second too late to go back and salvage it. My brilliant comment is then lost! )

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Talli, glad you're willing to give it another try.

Jane, I've done that!

Eliza said...

Thanks for the visit, and the hints. I was spammed for the 1st time yesterday but google picked it up and I didn't see it on my post.

Leovi said...

Well, I think my blog meets all requirements to be fast. I look forward to the challenge from A to Z, with abstract photos as I think I have it harder. Greetings.

Raquel Byrnes said...

I completely agree. Especially the anti-spam step on the comment box. I usually disable it for blogfests and use a pop out and have never had a problem.

Great advice, Alex. Looking forward to reading your entries!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Eliza, excellent!!

Leovi, I am sure you will have no problems with the challenge. And your blog is perfect.

Raquel, I've never had problems either.

Catherine Lavoie said...

Thanks for the tips! I've been thinking of changing to a pop-up comment box and now I think I'll do it.

Cheeseboy said...

Yeah, people really need to drop the word ver. garbage. They don't realize that it not that bad. I have never been spammed once.

J. D. Brown said...

*Trows a hot tamale at you* Thanks for the suggestions!

J. D. Brown said...

Throws* I can spell, I swear. I just can't type. Grr.

ali said...

Yuppers! Excellent points, Alex!

Kari Marie said...

Great ideas. I'll have to dig around on the comment thing and see if I can figure it out.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Catherine, it's a great idea.

Cheeseboy, I thought spam and cheese went well together!

JD, I beleive you can spell!