Highlands, Escocia
Creative Commons License photo credit: Nuria_PC

I touched on this thought very quickly in my article about Popular Science’s decision to turn off comments on their website, but I wanted to take a moment to expand on it a little bit.

What I want you to think about is everything that exists between having open comments on everything you create and having no comments at all anywhere. These are two extremes and most people who have a blog or similar space stick to them, but you can get creative and explore the middle ground between the extremes.

Of course, you have the ability to establish a comment policy and moderate to it, which is generally a great idea. But, in addition to this, here are a few strategies that may work for some, in no particular order:

  • Require registration for comments. Registration helps force people to put some skin in the game and it cuts down on casual, drive by comments.
  • Don’t treat all commenters the same. At first, everyone is new. You can pre-moderate any new comments. But once they prove themselves, you can allow their comments to post automatically. And, of course, great commenters might also be willing to help you moderate.
  • Don’t have comments on all articles. Only some, only the ones where you feel it is conducive or where you actually want comments.
  • Make commenting an invite only experience. Invite people you know that have value to add, allow people to request invites (ask them to explain why they should be invited) and give great commenters invites to pass out. To many, this will seem strange or counterproductive. But for some blogs, it could be beautiful. Consider what Branch is doing.
  • Sort comments into piles with different levels of visibility. Mainly, two piles. Great comments and everything else. Forbes does this with their “Called Out Comments.”

Don’t forget, for many, it isn’t simply about getting the highest possible number. It’s about the interaction we want, that meets the standard, or quality, we’re looking for. As you can see, there is a lot to think about in the area that exists between open comments and no comments at all.

What other ideas can you think of? Or have tried?