Second Thoughts

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After my musings/semi-rant yesterday about whether or not to put comments – – or at least the ability to submit comments – – behind the premium paywall, I wanted to follow up with everyone about where my head is at on this issue.

To start, I want to say a couple of things, both of them positive, and both of them about the community of people we have here, affectionately known as Slopers.

First of all, I was quite impressed with all the terrific input and earnest opinions I received. Quite a few lurkers came out of the darkness, introduced themselves, and expressed their point of few. And plenty of older times shared their thoughts as well, both privately and publicly.

Second, it’s been a long time since I’ve really gone through the comments section thoroughly. It isn’t for lack of interest. It’s just that, during the day, I really need to have my mind calm and focused, and a combination of Bob Ross and a focus on project tasks is where I need to be. Thus, I hardly ever venture into the land of comments, so I’ve really lost sight as to the nature of the place.

Having re-introduced myself to what is there, I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, there is some tumult, but on the whole, the amount of high-quality information is impressive. More important, the contributors of the aforementioned high quality information are often non-paying members. It’s clear to me that if I threw the pay wall up, the quantity and quality, on the whole, would drop dramatically. It might even suffocate the community we’ve created here.

My concerns, however, remain, but I think I’ve got a more nuanced approach. Instead of simply putting up a brick wall, I have four specific ideas I want to share. Please comment here, or email me privately, with your reactions.

  1. Automatically Ignore the top five most ignored Slopers. What I mean by this is that everyone, both current users as well as new ones, would automatically not see the five most ignored Slopers. After all, this is good data. The community has already voted who they want to ignore. It seems to me this is a unbeatable proxy for what most other people don’t want to see either. Plus, it’s a dynamic list. I would provide a way to un-ignore these folks, just in case there are some people out there who really, really want to see every blessed comment.
  2. Offer a choice so that only paid member comments would be visible. This would be available to everyone, and it would essential make comments from premium members its own form of “premium content”. To my way of thinking, this is overkill, but I at least want people to have this choice. Unlike the first idea, it would not be automatic.
  3. The buttons beneath each comment are somewhat on the small side. I’m thinking perhaps of making the Ignore button especially prominent, so that its availability is much more clear to everyone. Or otherwise making the purpose of each of these buttons far more obvious.
  4. Lastly, before the end of October, I intend to send out an offer you can’t refuse to all those non-paying Slopers out there to get them to seriously consider joining, even at the Bronze level.

I’ve got to say, I like these ideas – – especially the first one – – far more than the blunt object approach. Please tell me what you think, and thank you again to those of you who chimed in earlier.