Recently, I found myself at Michael Moore’s website. I posted a comment that included a link. The link was stripped out. I’m used to that. It kind of explained why there were no comments.
Today, I was over at Corey Robin’s site. It has never had a problem with my adding a link to a comment. But today: the link was stripped out.
This got me to thinking. It is clear that I am using comments to market my site. In fact, Robin’s site has been very good. I got a lot of click throughs there. But it isn’t as though I am not adding to the discussion. Normally, I comment on the article and refer to something I’ve written in more depth on my site. As a reader, I like this for a couple of reasons. First, it introduces me to new websites. Second, I don’t like long comments; they disturb the browsing experience; if someone has something I want to know more about, I click through.
Let’s get one thing straight: this is not a spam fighting mechanism. The website still lists the commenter’s website (if he provides one). So why am I not happy with that? Providing user website links produces almost no click throughs. There is a simple reason for this: there is no reason to believe that the commenter has any more to say. In fact, many people just put up email addresses so the reader has to check to see if there is even a website link.
Can it be that website owners are annoyed by this behavior? I don’t see why. Or perhaps more accurately, I don’t see any compelling reason why. I think it must be a control issue. But if you really want control, why add comments at all? Doing so basically means you want people to provide you with free content and in return, you will offer them this: nothing.
The problem is that there are too many people who are more than willing to accept nothing. I’m amazed at people on Amazon who write book reviews that are every bit as good as those in the New York Times. What a great deal that is for Amazon! I’m not surprised that people do this stuff for free; I like that about humans. What I don’t like is other people getting a direct non-reader benefit from it. Strange times we live in. It is the internet equivalent to buying a Coors shirt and being a walking billboard.