EcommerceByes To Censor Reader Comments ... NOT REALLY
31 December 2011
Based solely on the teaser title of this piece, you may have felt the need to post a comment.
Keep that feeling in mind should you read the rest of this article.
- "We still left open the option to post without becoming verified, but we're strongly considering making it mandatory to be AB-Verified to use our services."
Spam is the primary reason EcommerceBytes (formerly AuctionBytes) is considering the move toward requiring posters to verify themselves.
As Mr. Steiner put it:
- "I am the person who has to clean out the 200 or so spam comments left overnight, anything that puts another obstacle in the way of a spammer is, in my estimation, a good thing."
He closed with, "We are interested in your perspective".
Our collective answer is No.
The Spam Solution
While we empathize with the Spam problem, one of our associates deals with about 50 spam and link emails daily, Spam is not justification for potentially throttling down reader comments.
As an extreme example of a login blog, view the comments on ChannelAdvisor CEO Scot Wingo's eBay Strategies Blog article "Holiday 2011 Late December Update - E-Commerce up >23%!!". The December 22nd article has zero comments. A similar article on EcommerceBytes would have more than zero comments.
With the computer industry contacts that EcommerceBytes has available, Spam control should never be an issue. Or an excuse.
The Improved Discussion Solution
Mr. Steiner stated:
- "I have also empirically observed that since we implemented AB-Verify, the level of discussion has improved. Users with a single ID tied to all of their comments often take a much more thoughtful approach to a discussion"
With respect, most here haven't seen much of a "much more thoughtful approach". There are definitely less posts on average per article. Giving the appearance of a more civil conversation.
- "originating in or based on observation or experience"
The flip side of an empirical observation (emphasis mine):
- "relying on experience or observation alone often without due regard for system and theory"
- "capable of being verified or disproved by observation or experiment"
A user verification system does Not guarantee "a more thoughful approach to a discussion" elsewhere on the Internet. One can find verified EcommerceBytes users, posting regularly on the Yahoo! eBay Message Board. The level of thoughful commentary there is sparse.
There are other sordid examples of user verified comment sites, with odious posts from (as I understand it) people with verified EcommerceBytes accounts.
Quality posts depend on the quality of site moderation, not user verfication.
David and Ina Steiner provide excellent site moderation. User verification has nothing to do with the post quality.
The Problem With Verification
What does being EcommerceBytes verified mean?
David Steiner said:
- "If you aren't familiar with what is required to become AB-Verified, we're asking for one thing: a valid email address."
Verification means that account has an email address. Everything else need not necessarily be factual.
You might ask, 'what about the IP address?', 'can't people be tracked through their IP address?'.
Don't count on that IP being useful, or an indicator that a real person is attached to it. As Mr. Steiner observed:
- "There are almost as many email services out there as there are proxy servers."
Any one, or any organization, can be anonymous. An anonymous IP is helpful to individuals protective of their privacy. But anonymity is critical to some businesses.
The BBC article "Fake forum comments are 'eroding' trust in the web" contained this blunt but understated passage:
- "Some firms have created tens of thousands of fake accounts to flood chat forums and skew debate."
The article "How big firms bash their rivals, in public and private" had this unkind passage:
- ""Sock puppetry" is what ensues when company stooges post multiple entries under assumed names, posing as members of the public, in order to boost the apparent popularity of a product."
It's a given that sock puppets will register. They don't get paid if they don't post. But does verification process keep out the "company stooges"? Who by "eroding trust" are a detriment to EcommerceBytes. Only Heaven and the Steiner's know.
However it is not a given that readership will register. If "it is invaluable to have a readership that is "plugged-in" (David Steiner), perhaps it is worth considering that most EcommerceBytes posters don't bother with login's.
At the beginning of this article, we asked you to remember how you felt about commenting.
You can do that here by writing below, and sending it. Period.
EcommenceBytes wants to implement a system where you:
- Register with EcommerceBytes.
- Wait for the approval email.
- Login whenever you wish to make a comment.
- Write the comment and send it.
If you're a regular poster, or sock puppet, registration is not a major pain.
But if you are 'just passing through', or the occasional reader, or spur of the moment type poster, that is new fresh readership, will you be waiting around a day or two to say something? Probably not.
Having watched and/or been a part of user verified sites since ARPANET and CompuServe, one social dynamic hasn't changed. Eventually two major posting groups form. Those who are passionate about a topic, and those paid to write comments.
Passion fades, but mercenaries are forever.
"No one here is exactly what he appears."
G'Kar, Babylon 5
References of interest:
- Fake forum comments are 'eroding' trust in the web, 24 November 2011
- How big firms bash their rivals, in public and private, 13 May 2011
- Will fake business blogs crash and burn?, 22 May 2008