Jason Calacanis posted a couple of days ago on Weblogs Inc’s new Comment Spam Fix – The Star System – which allows bloggers to award commenters ‘stars’ for productive comments. They have the new system up and working at TV Squad and it seems to be being received pretty well.
I’ve been reflecting on this new system for a couple of days and watching to see how it works. Here are some initial thoughts:
- It won’t kill automated comment spam – this is a system that is not designed to stop the mass automated spam that many bloggers get. As Jason says in his post – its aimed more at individuals leaving ‘genuine’ comments that link to questionable sites or that are commenters having conversations with themselves in order to promote a product. Weblogs Inc already has a system in place to combat the mass automated spammers so that wasn’t the purpose of this system.
- It will encourage comments and blog stickiness – TV Squad is offering $100 for the highest rated commenter in May ($50 for second place). I’ll bet any money on the fact that they’ll have more comments this month than normal. It’s not just about the prize though – the incentive to get ‘stars’ is also about getting listed on the ‘top contributers’ list which is partly about status but also if you’ve got a website gets your site listed which will bring in some traffic and increase your page rank. Increase comments has a flow on effect to the rest of the site – it can help build community, will increase repeat readers to the site (increasing impressions and earnings) and increases the amount of content on each page which might help with their SEO.
- Could it increase spam? – comment spam is basically about getting as many of your links on as many other sites as possible to build page rank. Comments are an easy target for this. Whilst I look at what Weblogs Inc are doing and think ‘brilliant’ part of me is left wondering if they might have just given spammers even more incentive to leave spam comments. Is offering $100 and a link on every page on the blog like dangling a carrot in front of a rabbit? Whilst they will no doubt increase their genuine comments, I wonder if this might also increase the amount of comments that they are deleting every month (which sort of defeats the purpose of the system).
I think the system is great – it could be improved by giving other readers the ability to award stars (thus lightening the load of authors on the admin) – but overall I think its very innovative. I’m not completely convinced it will wipe out comment spam on their blogs, in fact it could increase the admin of comments – however the benefits will be that it makes their blogs more sticky – something most bloggers would love to do.
Update: pc4media has a review of Weblogs inc’s new comment system also.