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#1 cre8pc

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 12:32 PM

Okay. If you have the time and interest, here's something I never thought of trying, but my friend John Rhodes is having fun doing it :)

How to Pay for Blog Comments

and

How to Pay for Blog Comments: Part II

If you have posted a comment on WebWord recently, and you have a blog with commenting turned on, please be aware that I値l visiting your web site and posting comments. In fact, for every posting on WebWord, I値l trying to post three comments on your blog. This is my payment to you. It is my way of saying thank you. I can稚 wait until you come back to WebWord and post again.



#2 Guest_joedolson_*

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 01:59 PM

That's a neat idea! Personally, I always subscribe to the blogs of people who comment on my sites, and comment whenever I feel I have something worth saying. Seems like a big challenge to try and promise that 3 to 1 ratio - especially if he starts getting a lot of attention for it!

On the other hand, there are benefits to getting a lot of attention, aren't there... :)

Thanks for the heads up!

#3 webhostingrebates

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 02:00 PM

Interesting idea. Not sure what the benefit would be to something like this, other than to generate a little buzz and possibly increase traffic. I guess you would benefit from the backlinks on the comments you leave on the other sites, but then again you could get those by just leaving comments on other blogs.

It would be nice to see if this has helped John gain traffic from this little experiment.

#4 Ruud

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 04:05 PM

That's an idea. Here are some others.

At the forum here we sometimes have the same problem, odd as it may sound. At times the moderators wonder if certain threads would invite more responses if moderators were not to reply in them.

The idea there is that some posts, some statements, can seem very definitive. Or, alternatively, the status of the poster can be such that it becomes hard to disagree or point out an alternative view or solution. If you signed up yesterday to this forum, run a hobby site which does so-so but are convinced statement X is really not correct, would you still feel comfortable saying so when the person behind that statement is Ammon or Bill, virtual "gods" in the SEO/SEM world?

Look at your blog posts. Do they invite comments? Is there something to say "yes, but..." or "no, and..." to?

If you have no comments, or usually don't, what did you do to get them? You might do thing specifically to get ranked, linked, get better ads, better CTR: what did you do to get comments?

* additional resource: coComment. Tag and track your comment conversations but also helps you to find people who post similar comments or visit the same blogs you do. Can easily be used to "get in" on the comment track.

Edited by Ruud, 22 June 2006 - 04:09 PM.


#5 rynert

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 04:49 PM

Or, alternatively, the status of the poster can be such that it becomes hard to disagree or point out an alternative view or solution.


I don't agree :P

Seriously though, is this much different to paying for forum posts which was discussed here?

Is it not encouraging people to 'buy' those return posts by making a post?

#6 cre8pc

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 05:05 PM

Seriously though, is this much different to paying for forum posts which was discussed



I KNEW someone would have that question! I had it too.

Difference is one is for real money (if you can call 9 cents per post "real money"). It also is for the purpose of making it look like an active forum, when the owner doesn't have to do anything.


John's idea is a way of saying thanks, for no money exchange.

Still, the incentive is the same I thought. Generating interest and maybe a response. :P

#7 rynert

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 05:11 PM

Is the 'real money' argument a bit false though?

Bit like when people say you can list in their directory 'for free' but only to find out you have to reciprocate, which means that it is not actually 'free'.

Had John not announced he was going to make the reponses, and just gone away and made them, then that is different. Saying he will return 3 posts is inviting posts in return for posts, the fact that 'real money' is not involved seems a moot point.

I once tried to get some people together to help 'boost' any new forums we may set up for ourselves or clients. Only making relevant posts, but still 'artificial' in that they are doing it to get the ball rolling. We all agree to help each other and we all gain.

Is this a bad thing, or ok because no real money is moved around?

Edited by rynert, 22 June 2006 - 05:13 PM.


#8 cre8pc

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 06:26 PM

In my mind, the difference is in the authenticity. John Rhodes is pretty famous and I doubt very much he'd post junk comments, just for the sake of whatever he's after.

He has a reputation at stake. That's the difference, to me. It's why I wouldn't buy posts. The reputation of the forums means too much to me. (and we get enough crap for free anyway. heh.)

#9 Guest_joedolson_*

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 03:46 AM

I think, like most marketing decisions it depends.

In this case, John Rhodes is a prominent person in the field of usability, has been maintaining his blog for a long time, and because of that, the comments he places on somebody's blog are valuable. To me, the greatest value they could provide would be in having his valuable commentary on what I've written.

However, this wouldn't be the case for just anybody who did this - it is a marketing push, it will enliven conversations on his blog, and bring more notice, ultimately, to the issues that he cares about. I did comment on his blog; because I think his ideas are interesting. If he hadn't written well on an intriguing topic, I would never have commented.

Having authority can give a very different impression of your activities. It's much like the New York Times cloaking issue - the New York Times can cloak without hesitation because their content is too valuable for Google to pass up. They have the authority to make their resources valuable. In the same way, Rhodes can make an exchange of ideas in this very public way because he has the authority to be respected for the intellectual content of the idea.

If the same thing was done by a blogger with less of a reputation, it would likely carry a very different impact. I'd actually point here to a different post by Rhodes, Thoughts on False Memories. This post discusses how specific use of language can serve to radically change our impressions of an event. I think this also applies to the context surrounding an exchange such as this comment exchange. In the context of an intellectually rigorous and well-established usability blogger, it comes off as an intellectual exercise and attempt to create more vigorous conversation. In other hands, it could just as easily have come off as a sad attempt to trade a bit of comment lovin', more akin to a link exchange than to an exchange of ideas.

And, furthermore, this will be effected by the context of our own experiences. For myself, I had heard of John Rhodes, and the notice about the idea came from Kim. The context and my own experience were already positive, so I entered the article with a pre-existing positive impression of the people and ideas involved. If, on the other hand, somebody's first thoughts were making a connection between this and a concept like reciprocal linking, they would be much more likely to be pre-disposed against the idea.

So, I think that maybe pushed me up to $0.03.

:)

#10 Black_Knight

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 06:14 AM

There's a very obvious difference between this particular 'paying for posts' idea and the 'paying for forum posts' one that can't be overlooked. The difference is ownership.

John, the owner of the blog, is willing to 'pay' for posts. Nothing wrong with that. Indeed, many forums have in the past set up incentive programs that include ads, live links in footers, and even shares in adsense revenue. All good marketing provided the sums have been worked out and that you can keep up your end of the obvious contract.

On the other side, we have a company, about the 30th to come by these forums, offering to make posts for money. Not a great poster seen in any of those 30 companies. Hell, most of our link spammers offer better posts that we delete without any need for us to ask, never mind pay. :)

These companies all carry the inescapable air of a desperate scheme to get money for old rope. That posts have value in and of themselves, not in who makes them and for what motive - all bullshine.

Take a look at all the posts you have ever thought worthwhile. I'll bet that in every case the reason for you thinking those posts worthwhile was the genuine human element. The fact that someone genuine was offering genuine advice or the benefit of genuine experience.

Now imagine paying for a post that is not genuine, and is likely to be 'made up' just for the sake of pennies. Does that add anything to the value of the forum, or does it, as I firmly believe, actually reduce the value of the forum?

Snake oil of the lowest degree.

#11 rynert

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 07:54 AM

So, the concept of trading / paying for posts in itself is not a bad thing, it is paying for low quality posts that is bad?

So if a company could build a reputation of making quality posts, for a fee, then that would be fine?

Or is the whole concept of artificial posts just wrong?

And what is arificial - only there because they are paid for (or traded 3:1), sounds aritificial to me, but then what if they are quality, does that make them any less artificial?

#12 A.N.Onym

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 08:02 AM

Most likely, it is not so important whether the comments are paid or not, the comments quality matter.

That being said, it matters whether the comments were naturally posted by visitors or not. If the blog or forum doesn't have natural incoming traffic, it's doomed.

#13 Black_Knight

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 03:32 PM

Its not quite that simple, rynert.

I think it is great for John to offer it, but I fully expect that some of the most likely to take him up on it are probably very foolish, or possibly somewhat dubious in honesty. What value in a post or comment you had to buy?

The entire point surely is to write stuff that engages people to leave posts and comments. As a 'hey, look what I'm doing' type of linkbait, I think John's idea is great. I also think he may really struggle to be nice about the link-dropping comment-spammers who will naturally want their three return comments made.

But to buy a post or comment, is rather to admit that the site fails its one primary conversion metric isn't it? And that being so, shouldn't you work on improving the conversion of the site, rather than try to hide it with 'paid' activity?

I think you have to look at it as you would journalism. You may well buy interesting pieces from specific journalists whose work you are familiar with. But to offer "I'll write on anything, for a flat fee" from someone who had no repute as a well-read and respected writer... well, I think that is likely snake oil.

I think even a good writer like John is going to struggle to make people happy when he absolutely is honor-bound to make three return posts without knowing in advance what the subject matter of the other site may be.

John stated all too clearly:

If you have posted a comment on WebWord recently, and you have a blog with commenting turned on, please be aware that I値l visiting your web site and posting comments.

That's a promise there, and thus a contract of sorts.

It actually got worse with part 2:

So, we now have at least three non-financial payment models:
1. Scratch my back with postings, I値l scratch yours with postings.
2. Scratch my back with postings, I値l include you in my blogroll.
3. Scratch my back with postings, I値l link to your site.

So, basically he's selling links now, and likely soon to be penalised for it by Google at least. That part is not smart.

Moreover, think of who will be swayed by this. This is a means to target people who would not otherwise post. There is no proviso for quality in the implicit contract. Write "Nice blog John" anywhere on his blog and he owes you a link and an inclusion on his blogroll.

What it means is that John will never again know if any comment would have come because of his posts, or only because he bought them. He loses all measure of conversion and response. As stated, he also loses linking credibility and trust.

John pays the price himself, so I have no qualms about the ethics, only the sense of the move.

But a company selling posts is on the other side of the equation. They don't face the costs, they take the money and run to the bank. But any sucker who buys has lost out twice.

You see what the difference is now? John is a buyer, the one's I dislike are the sellers. If John wants to set up a method of buying snake oil, it harms nobody but himself.

#14 rynert

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Posted 25 June 2006 - 02:48 AM

You see what the difference is now? John is a buyer, the one's I dislike are the sellers. If John wants to set up a method of buying snake oil, it harms nobody but himself.

Ammon, I do take all of your points, but I still think there is very little difference between John and Company SnakeOil.

John is selling posts on peoples blogs, the price - a post on his blog.
Company SnakeOil is selling posts on peoples blogs, the price - $$$.

If anything you could argue that Company SnakeOil would do a better job than John. As you poing out, John can't possibly make quality posts on a wide range of topics that he may have no knowledge of, whereas Company SnakeOil may have many writers across a broad sprectum of subjects.

What I am curious to know, is do people think that it is just wrong to purchase / trade posts, in any situation - regarldess of the quality?

#15 Guest_joedolson_*

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Posted 25 June 2006 - 03:48 AM

John is selling posts on peoples blogs, the price - a post on his blog.
Company SnakeOil is selling posts on peoples blogs, the price - $$$.

If anything you could argue that Company SnakeOil would do a better job than John. As you poing out, John can't possibly make quality posts on a wide range of topics that he may have no knowledge of, whereas Company SnakeOil may have many writers across a broad sprectum of subjects.


I see your point about John selling posts. However, I disagree with your conclusions that Company SnakeOil would do a better job than John at providing comments. There are two reasons I disagree - first, John is not providing posts - he's providing comments. As I perceive it, the purpose of comments on a blog is to engender dialogue and build a conversation. It requires no specific knowledge to be able to sensibly discuss questions - a perfectly valid comment would be asking a question for clarification of something you didn't understand or drawing a comparison to another topic which you are more expert in. Providing original content in the form of a blog post would be much more challenging.

Second, John is a person - a specific person you have chosen to make an exchange of ideas with. Finding a unique perspective from one person is far more valuable than contracting with a company which may provide some faceless employee to make these comments. Although there are areas in which larger corporations can provide incredible benefit, this scenario is really about providing an individual point of view. John can do this in a way which a company simply cannot guarantee reliably.

Regardless of the ethics of 'buying' conversation, I definitely feel that making an arrangement with an individual has a much higher potential for quality than a company.

What I am curious to know, is do people think that it is just wrong to purchase / trade posts, in any situation - regarldess of the quality?


I would be entirely unwilling to lit. purchase posts. I feel that money exchanging hands makes the whole thing reek. On the other hand, the concept of "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" is a very old medium of exchange - mutual benefit pacts are not unethical.

I think that where John is scratching at questionable is the fact that he's made essentially an open invitation to people that he will provide comments in exchange for theirs. He has at least made somewhat of a caveat:

And here痴 yet another way to reward (good) blog postings.


But he hasn't extended this very absolutely. I think that's an important qualification - that only valuable responses should be rewarded. Without that qualification, you're pretty open to abuse.

Edited by joedolson, 25 June 2006 - 03:49 AM.


#16 bwelford

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Posted 25 June 2006 - 07:32 AM

Yes, well ..

I think between reasonable people it will almost be an unwritten principle that if you're communicating, then you communicate. :D

#17 Black_Knight

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Posted 25 June 2006 - 08:48 AM

If anything you could argue that Company SnakeOil would do a better job than John. As you point out, John can't possibly make quality posts on a wide range of topics that he may have no knowledge of, whereas Company SnakeOil may have many writers across a broad sprectum of subjects.

Actually, I'd think of John as the quality journalist I mentioned. To even know of the offer, you have to know of John's work and writing. You know what you are getting. It is John who has no idea what he's agreed to buy, but has written down the agreement anyway.

Also while Company SnakeOil may claim to have many writers qualified in many subjects, and in fact may even have a few writers, you have no idea who, how qualified, or whether the people who made 'example posts' are still working for the company at the time, and have no contract that guarantees that person will be the one to post.

#18 Brad

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Posted 25 June 2006 - 03:27 PM

Money changes everything. The value of a comment is in what is said, and the quality of the conversation. While there may be exceptions to the rule, I think comments posted by mercenaries would tend toward low quality noise and not true conversation or dialog intended to inspire or expand our comprehension of the universe.

This differs a bit from some paid forum posts where the forum owner may want to make things look active in the same way a movie director hires movie extras.

#19 webword

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Posted 25 June 2006 - 08:20 PM

Have I seen more traffic?
No, not really. There was a small bump up for a couple of days, but nothing amazing.

Have I seen more comments?
For a few of my postings yes, but not a major jump overall. Most readers of WebWord are sensible. They're not going to jump on this as an opportunity to squeeze time and energy out of me. Everyone's been great about it. (Thank you!)

Is this getting attention?
Yes, but not on a grand scale. That is, a few lurkers posted comments, which was great. Also, I've received several very nice emails about my offer and the topic. At the same time, although it was posted to Digg, for example, it hasn't exploded on the blogosphere. That would have been wild.

Are there other ways of compensating people?
Yes, but not in the financial sense. One good method I've used is sending email. Very simple. One other method is sending postal mail. There's absolutely nothing like getting a personal note in the mail in my opinion.

Am I trying to make money doing this?
No, not really. Like most folks, I would like more traffic and more money but my gesture is really about saying Thank You to people. The only reason I even wrote about it was so that others could understand it and then experiment with their own blogs. For what it is worth, I've done this randomly and silently for quite some time.

Is my reputation at stake?
Absolutely. But, to be blunt, I didn't think about how my actions might be perceived as being sneaky. It simply didn't cross my mind. It is a very good point, however.

Is this a marketing exercise or an intellectual exercise?
Both. Getting more (well written, well crafted) comments is always a goal. And, this is also an exercise to get people thinking about the value of comments and community. But, more than anything else, I just wanted other people to realize that there are ways of saying "Thank You!" to people who contribute. I'm trying to demonstrate how it works.

Am I worried about artificial postings?
Yes. But, I'm *always* worry about artificial postings. I hate comment spam. That's the last thing I want. Interestingly, I've not seen an increase in comment spam. That's the good news.

Will I keep this up?
Yes and No. Yes, I will continue to post comments on other blogs and forums as time permits. But, as some folks know, I have been doing that forever. It's the right thing to do but it is also the smart thing to do. There are many smart folks out there. Smarter than me. But, in terms of my recent offer, I can't continue to *guarantee* that I will be able to post three comments for every one comment on WebWord.com. My intention was to jump start the conversation. Seems like it worked. ;-)

Am I selling links? Am I selling content? Am I selling anything?
No, I am not selling links. I'm not selling content. I'll admit that I am selling a few things, such as my Usability Review of Digg.com, but that's not directly related. Again, I'm talking about the concept, showing how it is done, explaining what it means, but not much else. This isn't a permanent move.

Do I have any other comments?
You bet! I want to thank everyone here for posting such excellent comments and questions. There's some really original thinking here, which is exactly what I was hoping to see.

John S. Rhodes
WebWord.com
UX Reports (New!)

Edited by webword, 25 June 2006 - 08:23 PM.


#20 cre8pc

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 06:52 PM

John, that's an excellent post! It helps everyone to see what you were thinking, since we were all guessing :)

We appreciate your stopping by!

#21 Black_Knight

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 08:57 PM

Don't you owe us at least 3 more posts, John? :)

Seriously though, yes, you've always been one of those who likes to engage in conversation with your readers, and many comment-conversations across blogs are not a new thing for you. My own comments were much more upon the writing of it down as an implied contract, without perhaps the conditions and limitations that might be advised.

Have I seen more comments?
For a few of my postings yes, but not a major jump overall. Most readers of WebWord are sensible. They're not going to jump on this as an opportunity to squeeze time and energy out of me. Everyone's been great about it. (Thank you!)

If you'd like to see a bigger increase in commenting overall, I have a suggestion that I believe may work well for you. It is a tip from the world of eCommerce websites, and one with a long history of proven success.

The tip is to make the comments more of a feature. Make fresh posts to highlight old posts that have grown in stature by means of their comments. Highlight your specials. Show your own love for these and others will see it and learn how you value comments in real terms. It rewards comment-posters directly for their comments by drawing attention to those.

It isn't a quick fix. It takes time. But I do believe you will see a steadily increasing amount and quality of commenting when this is done over a few weeks and months. An excellent example of a blog that did just this to become more of a community site would be Threadwatch.

#22 webword

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Posted 27 June 2006 - 06:58 PM

"Make fresh posts to highlight old posts that have grown in stature by means of their comments. Highlight your specials. Show your own love for these and others will see it and learn how you value comments in real terms."



This is an excellent idea. I've done this a few times in the past and it has worked pretty well. Here's one:
How People Find WebWord When Searching

It didn't drive much traffic but it did provide transparency to WebWord readers. That is, it gives folks an idea about how WebWord actually works.

As a bit of trivia, here are some of the top pages this month (June 2006):

The Voyeur Web
Report: One Versus Two Spaces After a Period
Spanking Jakob Nielsen
A Business Case for Usability
Attack of the Back Button
JavaScript and Web Site Usability

Notice "voyeur" and "spanking" in those titles. Little did I know back then that those words would drive traffic to WebWord...

#23 Black_Knight

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 01:05 AM

Little did I know back then that those words would drive traffic to WebWord...


:rofl: :oopsadaisy:

It didn't drive much traffic but it did provide transparency to WebWord readers. That is, it gives folks an idea about how WebWord actually works.

Yes, exactly so. It doesn't increase traffic, but it should increase the conversion rate (percentage that comment) on whatever traffic you have at any given time. As you say, it provides transparency about the fact that you value the comments, and that they are an essential part of the interaction you are aiming to create.

To maximise the effect, it must be fairly frequently done. Frequently enough that casual visitors always see a fresh one sometime in recent past activity and that regular readers learn the frequency. Personally I'd probably think that a 'Weekly Round-up' of issues under discussion in comments might be a good way to create that frequency to underscore how important a part of it all you want comments to be.

Traffic is another matter, and comes down to marketing. The first step is in detailing your market. Who do you want to be reading your blog? That answer itself details what you'd need to have there to attract them. In turn, that probably makes you realise you don't want or are not able to provide what would attract some, and so helps you narrow your market a bit more realistically.

Once you have some demographic profile in mind of the target audience (the IT manager for a large firm is seeking different things in terms of focus than a home-based blogger) you start to realise that you know how these people would find resources (which sites they already visit, which searches they are likely to make) and you've found your marketing channels...

But I'm getting off topic here. Please do feel free to kick off a fresh thread in our Business and Marketing forum, or our Online Marketing and Promotion forum if you'd like to look more at ways to bring more traffic and especially of the right kind, John.



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