Friday, May 23, 2008

Frustrations of The Challenge.

Tēnā koutou katoa
Welcome to you all

Please don’t get me wrong - I’m not posting this by way of criticism of The 31 Day Comment Challenge and certainly not of the sponsors.

Far from it! After all, the contest was put up as a challenge and it would be a poor one if it didn’t have its frustrations. I have no problems with The Challenge per se.


More by way of catharsis than anything else I've listed my frustrations over things that irked me about attempting to participate in the Challenge and finding all sorts of unanticipated barriers and problems. I’m sure most participants will have a similar list.

I’m also aware that some of these problems could well be just me, and as a few people would have it: I am the problem! Possibly. The set-up on my PC could also be a contributor, though I must admit that, until this month, I found few problems that caused me that much bother.

Here’s my list:

Share (isn’t that what it’s all about?) Fields

I had some problems initially, and from time to time these problems still arise, only less frequently now. The main one was getting the Share field to appear below the comment panel, believe it or not.

I found there were a few hocus-pocus tricks I could do to force the mercurial thing to materialise such as putting in the spam checker data (if that was required) or simply clicking the area on the screen immediately below the panel.

I also found the time that this routine took was irksome (but, since I first published this post, Christophe has kindly commented with a cornucopea of advice on this feature and other points, as well as recommendations on antispam software - great support, Christophe!)

Some blog sites simply don’t display a Share field and sit there indignantly going nya nya na nya nya!

When I come across one of those sites for the first time, I can spend a lot of valuable comment writing time figuring this out. Until I realise, oh yes, here’s another one. I have a Black List!

BUT the most frustrating sites are those that politely show the Share field AFTER I’ve decided to submit my comment in disgust at not being able to find it. Ugh!

Server Timed Out

I get this message infrequently with blogs of a certain type. I was curious about this when it first occurred so decided to do a few experiments to throw some light about. I sent a few comments from my work PC. I haven’t yet got the message at work, nor have I had any problem getting the comment submitted, though it is a recurrent bother with those sites at home.

Site Unavailable

I use Google Reader – it’s great. From time to time I see a new post on a blog and attempt to open it in a new tab only to be told that it’s unavailable or the tab simply hangs and can remain there (while I go about doing other things . . . forever). This is usually with a new post that I’ve read all the text of in Reader and am desperately wanting to send a comment to.

Blog sites that moderate comments

Sites of this description come in varying degrees of politeness. I also have descriptions I use for those, in varying degrees of politeness. There are those that let you know beforehand. On submitting a comment, some sites respectfully tell you that your comment was successfully received and may even display it under a moderation message. That’s tolerable, though the feed through to coComment doesn’t tell me if and when it’s accepted (at least I’ve not found the signal).

Then there are the sites that just tell you to wait as the comment has to be moderated before it’s displayed. Hmm.

But the most annoying are the sites that simply don’t tell you anything. You click the Submit button and Lo! The comment disappears into cyberspace, perhaps never to return. Some even have the audacity to have the message No Comment Yet appear at the base of the post. And I think, “no friggin’ wonder!”

Ka kite anō
Spot ya


Anonymous said...

My guess is that the CoComment guys are going to respond to you here (quick, get them in moderation!).
A number of people have complained about CoComment, although it has worked great for me. There is a second drag as the CoComment box loads in but other than that, it has worked on 98 percent of the blogs that I have traveled to. One or two, for some reason, have not worked, but I have posted comments anyway (of course).

This moderation debate continues, I know, and I have not yet decided if I will remove moderating comments from my blog. It may be that I am a control freak, but I like having that final say on what gets approved and what doesn't (I never kill any comments, though, so it is fair to say, what is the point?) I hope there is a little sign alerting the commenter that your words are safe in moderation. But that is all in the domain of the blogging software, and not the blogger, right?

Take care

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

@Kevin - Moderation? Now there's a thought. No. CoComment is not so bad. It's the moderation that gets me :-)

I used to work in IT; it's ICT now, and fading. Data integrity was held up as one of the hallmarks of good communications for a whole raft of reasons - I won't digress... em... but ethical issues were among them.

I used to get off-side with my managers by proposing that loss of data was as much a data integrity issue as corruption of data. And of course, moderation can lead to complete loss of data, at least as far as the commenter is concerned.

Now there's a topic for debate... em... without digressing too much off the topic. Mmm?
Spot ya

Anonymous said...

Here we are ;-)

Share: If the comment text area is too small to display it, the coComment Share option come inside the drop down menu (down arrow on the right side of the coComment bar).

Timeout: do you get this from coComment, or from the blog ?

Site unavailable: so you mean you open a new site in a new tab and you get this meesage directly ? If this is the case, I'm afraid we cannot be blamed here as our extension starts to works only once the page site is fully loaded.

Moderation: I can only agree with you here: I also feel restrained when my comment is awaiting moderation. This totally kill the conversation.

Any screen shots you can share with us would be very helpful to investigate.

One comment: that would be nice if your comment text area would be bigger ;-)

Britt Watwood said...

Good points. I still have moderation on, but primarily because about a third of the comments I get fall in to the SPAM category - some Spider dredging up a small quote from my blog but attributing it to someone else. Don't know why that bothers me, but it does. Which means I have to be diligent to moderate couple of times a day so I do not upset you!!! :-)

Anonymous said...

Both Captcha (or word verification) and tools like Akismet usually work fine to avoid spams. And you can then be diligent a couple time a day to clean the spams that can go through ;-)

Sarah Stewart said...

Greetings from Dunedin!

I continue to be interested in the discussion about moderation. I do not moderate my posts but I have had a load of spam (first time ever) which has made me re-think the issue. After some deliberation, I have decided to stick with my no-moderation policy because I can always delete the spam.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to sidetrack here, but I am curious to know if CoComment folks (Christophe) are discovering anything interesting as part of the Comment Challenge.
Any trends or topics that are of interest to the commenting world?
I just thought I would ask.


Blogger In Middle-earth said...

@Christophe – Thanks for all the useful advice - great stuff you gave us here! It is truly wonderful to get support like this and it is much appreciated!

I found the ‘down arrow on the side of the coComment bar’ a week or so ago, thanks, though I think it’s excellent to highlight it here – others may not be aware of it. But I’m still a newbie. Once familiarity is reached with the features and characteristic of the software, things get easier to do. It's not the Share feature that I found boring so much as having to use it. That’s life :)

Site unavailable:
The ‘site unavailable’ is brought about when I open a new site in a new tab, like you say. And you are also right about it being nothing to do with coComment – I worked that out very recently when I realised that coComment would/could not be involved. The implication that it is something to do with coComment is simply not scientific. I think it is fair that I amend this post appropriately and cite and link to your comments with their good tips and pointers.

Moderation, comment text area etc:
Thanks for your commiserations on moderation. Also, I will see what screen shots I can gather, Christophe. How would you like me to convey them to you if I get any?

Now you said “that (it) would be nice if your comment text area would be bigger”. I’m not sure what you are asking here. Is it that I, as the blog owner, can do something about that? And if I could, what would the advantages be? Also, for me, it would be good to get a pointer on how to alter any attributes that can be adjusted.

One of the biggies about software that I have become aware of as teacher/tech/learner is that if the learner doesn’t know it’s there they will not go looking for it. It’s for this reason that 90% of software features are never used by users – they simply don’t know it’s there.

Thanks for the tips on the antispam software – I’ll check these out.

@Kevin – I too would be very interested in “trends or topics that are of interest to the commenting world”) – (Christophe?)

I would argue with you about the ‘sidetrack’ bit :) but I guess digression is really only a matter of opinion (perhaps we can work out a blog post on that? – a bit of collaboration - No?)

@Sarah – Tena koe! Hey, I didn’t know we had anyone else from NZ in the Challenge. Kia ora! Ae, he pai te whare noho o Dunedin. Cool city – been there only a few times, but it’s really neat.

Yes I got some spam too – dunno how it got through the spam filter. Like you, I just deleted it. Painless :)

Nice that you dropped in. I must drop in on your site soon.

@Britt – moderation that’s friendly doesn’t really bother me (I waxed not too eloquently about this in my post). It’s the moderation that is acted on several days after I sent in the comment that irks (doh!) and the others that never happen at all! I often wonder what’s happened to my comment - has it been dumped? Or has the blog owner not got round to approving it yet? I’ve never had a problem with your site.

Ka kite ano

Anonymous said...

You can send me your screen shots and comments to christophe _AT_

Unfortunately, with blogger, the only way to customize the commenting part is...... not to use blogger commenting...... :-(
I have never understood why they did not change this to something better..... The comment area where I'm entering my comment right now is definitely too small.....

Now, many blogger blogs are no longer using the internal commenting facility because of this (you can have a look on to see an alternate implementation using coComment).

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

@Christophe - Thanks for the email address - I have sent off a scrn_dmp to you. I will check out the link you gave me.

Ka kite