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Subscribing To Comments… Not Me!

Posted by on May 19, 2011

I seem to be seeing two things occurring more often these days to try to get around spam; at least I assume it’s trying to get around spam. One is that more people are moderating their comments; the second is that more people are having you double opt-in to comments by sending you an email asking you to subscribe to comments.

Since I’ve talked often enough about why I don’t like comment moderation, I’ll move onto the second one, which I’ve mentioned here and there but I’m unsure if it’s something I’ve ever addressed on its own.

I hate the double opt-in system. I’m betting some of you are saying “it’s not double, since I’m only sending an email once.” That’s what double opt-in; remember the days when everyone that had a newsletter required you to confirm that it was actually you requesting it by sending you an email asking if it was you? Remember how, instead of consistently doing it, you just stopped subscribing to any newsletters because you didn’t want to be bothered, especially if there wasn’t any notification that you were going to have to do it?

I do. I had a newsletter, and I did the double opt-in thing for a couple of months many years ago after I got a rash of emails saying that they hadn’t subscribed to my newsletter, even though I had their email address. So I went to the double opt-in system, only to find that more than half the people who got it decided they didn’t want to play the game and never finished subscribing.

I really wasn’t all that surprised since I had already started doing that myself. However, I had put it on my newsletter page that I was going to do it, which make me think that I at least had given some kind of warning about it so people should have been expecting it.

Frankly, I see it as another way the internet gets cluttered with lots of digital garbage that never quite goes away because it’s somewhat unnecessary. There aren’t all that many people that are sneakily subscribing someone to someone else’s newsletter, although there are definitely a lot of people who will add you to theirs without your asking, just because they met you somewhere. The same goes for spam.

My blog does pretty well, and if I’m not all that bothered by the relatively low amount of spam I get because of the plugins I use, I can’t figure out why anyone else would be. Yeah, I know about the sneaky spam like the type I wrote about, but it’s like when you were in school and the teacher punished everyone in class because of that one kid that always acted stupid; remember how no one liked that?

I’m just saying that it’s not quite logical in today’s age to punish everyone for the sins of the few. At least I’m not doing it and you can bet I’m not playing either. There are always other ways folks, and they’re easier to deal with.

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I saw this trend start growing a couple of months ago. Plugins that generate pop-ins or content blockers that don’t let you comment until you join. I never comment on this blogs, however I see that many blog owner collect the emails and send newsletters without asking you. As soon as I get that kind of newsletter, I immediately mark as spam and if 5 people do the same, this newsletter will go to junk folders.

May 19th, 2011 | 10:50 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Carl, I just think people start either getting tired of the bit of spam they get or start getting scared of being taken advantage of. True, I may add to that consternation by writing about tricky spam from time to time but there are so many other ways of getting around it. As to the newsletters… well, I’ll often just unsubscribe after a time.

May 20th, 2011 | 12:10 AM

Hi Mitch

I usually bounce off those sites. If it is difficult to comment, why would I??!! Too much time wasting and maybe they are not fussed about replying to comments so make it hard for us to do so LOL

Patricia Perth Australia

May 20th, 2011 | 12:04 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Pat, you and I comment on a lot of blogs so it does kind of impede our progress when there are hoops to jump through every once in awhile. I’ve now taken to scrolling down to the bottom of a blog to see what kind of commenting system they have to see if I should waste my time or not, but that doesn’t work across the board as you know.

May 20th, 2011 | 12:13 AM

Sorry Mitch if I am wrong or I misunderstood, but isn’t it a legal requirement to ask for that kind of confirmation? I know that platforms like MailChimp do have an opt-in system like that, and I remember that there’s some legal footnote citing DMCA and stuff.

May 20th, 2011 | 5:15 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Gabriele, it’s not a requirement at all. The only requirement is that there has to be a way for someone to unsubscribe from any email you send them on a business behalf. Now, those autoresponder services do it because of how they operate, but for everyone else it’s not a rule at all.

May 20th, 2011 | 9:36 AM

When will people learn that if they want more comments they have to make it as easy as possible for people to leave a comment, otherwise we’re not going to bother?

May 20th, 2011 | 8:37 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Sire, I often think some people just get frustrated with spam without figuring out ways of combating it. From where I’m sitting, I get at least as many comments as a lot of other folks and I have very few spam comments that end up on the blog, mainly human spam these days.

May 20th, 2011 | 9:38 AM

lucky you are for getting small amount of spam comments. i have to face it every day… do you use any plug-ins to protect your blog from spamming?

May 20th, 2011 | 10:32 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

I use both Akismet & the GASP Anti-spybot plugin. The second one can be customized some to help eliminate or drastically reduce everything. I now only get human spam, which is easily taken care of, even if it is irritating to a degree.

May 20th, 2011 | 10:44 AM

I subscribe on a comment when the topic is interesting or when I throw a questions or seek answer.

May 21st, 2011 | 6:37 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Then you’re a better person than I am dlysen, because I just don’t bother.

May 21st, 2011 | 11:33 AM

There’s a WP plug called Comment Reply notification, that allows comments to only receive emails when someone replies directly to them. I’ll usually sign up to those, but never just subscribe to a whole comment chain.

May 22nd, 2011 | 11:31 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Steve, I’m not really worried about that part; I actually like receiving replies to comments after mine for awhile. I just hate having to subscribe when I feel I’ve already done it by leaving a comment there.

May 23rd, 2011 | 11:16 PM
Dean Saliba:

I’ve also seen an increase in the amount of blogs who insist you register an account before they let you comment. It only puts people off, I don’t want to register to leave a comment on a post and I’m sure I’m not alone there.

May 23rd, 2011 | 11:12 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Dean, you’re definitely not alone. However, I will say that as much as I hate it, I’m happy when news sites make people register. Some of the things people say on some news stories is just shameful.

May 23rd, 2011 | 11:34 PM
John Knights@Business Loans:

I agree on Dean. I mean why would you make it so hard for people to comment on posts by requiring them pre registration.

May 24th, 2011 | 1:34 PM blogs typically ask you to double confirm you want to receive followup comments. But if you’re logged into at that time, you are only asked when you check the box and never receive the confirmatory email.

But blame; I haven’t seen the scenario with other platforms.

May 24th, 2011 | 4:27 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Ari, I’ve seen it from someone else over the last week or so, but I didn’t take the time to see who it was; I’ll need to pay better attention to that next time around.

May 24th, 2011 | 6:29 PM

Hello there Mitch!

You know, I haven’t been victimized by this (yet). I’ve seen the check in boxes asking if you want to subscribe to the comment thread – but I’ve never selected it.

I do have a plugin on my site that automatically sends an email notifying that a comment was replied to. This only goes to the author of the comment. Do you find this to be spammy? I know this isn’t what you described here, but I like the plugin and I’m curious of your take on it. I know you tell it like it is…which I appreciate!

One thing I couldn’t believe is when I first signed up for a Livefyre account to comment on blogs that utilize that service, and I got an email for each and ever comment on the blog post. The first one had 170 comments. I couldn’t believe it Mitch. I quickly went into my LiveFyre account and disabled updates!

And as far as moderation, I just recently turned mine off. I had to have it up prior because of all the span I received But since adding a “confirm you are not spam” box, my span has decreased totally! So, just the other day I realized that I could turn off the “approve”.

I hope things are well for you. I’m doing well myself. Just got back last night form an 8 day vacation to Disney world. We had a blast!

Take care

May 29th, 2011 | 1:11 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Hi JK,

Actually, I don’t think it’s spam if someone has left a comment and selected the box saying they want to be notified of responses. That’s what I have, but once you subscribe to mine you’re going to get every other comment after yours as well. Some people hate that but I don’t because, at least for awhile, I like to see if people are of a similar mindset as mine, and every once in awhile I see someone has mentioned my name and then I have to go back to find out why. So, once someone has opted in it’s not spam.

Wow, a vacation; I haven’t had one of those for more than 10 years. lol

May 29th, 2011 | 10:25 AM
Calli @ Wedding Favors:

Hi Mitch,

I used to subscribe to comments because I want to be notified if someone REPLIES to my comment. However, I don’t only get an email if someone replies but rather, everytime someone comments on the same post. So now I only subscribe if I need answers to the topic.

June 5th, 2011 | 12:17 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

That’s one way to go, Calli. For awhile at least I like to see what other people are saying, as I’ve often found my name mentioned in someone else’s comment and like to have the opportunity to respond when possible.

June 5th, 2011 | 3:10 PM