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I want more people to comment on Tamebay

By Dan Wilson August 4, 2014 - 1:50 am

It’s been about 15 years since I’ve been involved in online communities. Over the years they’ve called it many things. Web 2.0, social media, chat rooms…

And I am proud that on Tamebay we’ve always kept the rules lax and encouraged comment. We don’t call for registration or verification and when it’s going good we get such high quality contributions and queries that I know that approach works.

We saw it last week on a post about templates and the like.

I raised a question, made a few points and then we got loads of good ideas. This was classic Tamebay: a genuine exchange of ideas. It was a good day. And I fear a bit rare.

Recently what I’m not mad about is how some people behave on Tamebay in comments. We have a small cadre of male, dull, whinging, repetitive commenters who are neither conversational in their comments or indeed welcoming to differing points of views.

They are also never friendly to newcomers.

Indeed, I’d go further. This gang just rattle off some old complaints, don’t back their statements up with facts or examples and show very little politeness or grace at all.

So it’s time for a discussion. A real one.

Is it time on Tamebay to require more stringent registration in order to make a comment? Should we require email verification or a link to an ecommerce concern?

How do we get more women to join in the discussions? We have lots of female readers and hardly any comment from them. That’s a worry. I personally think the dullard male dominance is to blame there.

We could remove comments altogether? But I do think them useful. Or we could moderate every one and require a useful contribution in each comment. (That would be a dull job for Chris and I.)

We could give precedence to those commenters who have a track record. I am quite open minded.

For me, comments and discussion are totally what we do. The tips and advice provided are invaluable. I know I learn a lot from the good stuff. I’m just concerned the good stuff is being squeezed by the dull whingers. Do you agree?

We want more more people talking on Tamebay. Full. Stop. How do we do it?

Which is why I ask the question. And I’d like you to comment on how we should deal with comments. Don’t be shy. Be brave and tell us how we make the crowd the better part of Tamebay.

  • 3 years ago

    I don’t comment nearly as much here as I used to. And I really hate to say this but the main reason is Dan. I’m not sure what it is but the way you reply to people including myself on this blog has always rubbed me the wrong way. I know you think it is justified and maybe it actually is. It isn’t my blog so I can’t really say. And maybe I’m the only one that feels that way. But I would suggest if you are going to fix the problems with comments start with yourself first. Your articles are fine by the way and usually a good read.

    • tinker
      3 years ago

      yes its dans blog so maybe only dan should post ,then only his opinion and what he considered suitable would be available,
      he would do well to consider that lack of tamebay would effect us very little
      it would be a big miss to Chris and Dan ,
      what made tamebay in the past is that people could express reasonable opinion without the fear of suspension or censor

    • Alex
      3 years ago

      I have several thoughts on this:

      1) I agree with the comment above but IMHO (and no offence) Dan can be a bit hostile and I think he should …… (*SELF MODERATED COMMENT!!!*). Chris on the other hand is far more open and approachable and should be the only Moderator.

      2) I believer the great strength of TB is its openness but obviously I can not know what content is removed (aside from me personally being flagged and having had a few “fruity” comments removed/edited).

      3) I do not believe the way forward is to require registration or measures like other forums – over policing stifles comment and this is not what we want.

      4) As regards the “small cadre of male, dull, whinging, repetitive commenters” (surely that should have been moderated?). Regular readers will know who the are and simply accept them as the sad unhappy types who probably find issue with something every day (you know who you are). These people clearly have far to much time on their hands and could probably better spend that time actually selling something. In any case I expect most regular readers simply skip over their angry rants.

      5) Opinion is important but comments should positively contribute to the debate, not critise (again you know who you are).

      6) I think a voting system for individual comments would be a good idea (credit to Sam below) perhaps a 1 to 5 star system would be better than a “thumbs up or down” as this could then be averaged over time for all contributers. Aside from that I don’t see any need to change anything.

      Doubtless this comment will get “moderated”. :)

      P.S. YouTube is Troll central.

    • 3 years ago

      Ebuyerfb,

      Interesting views. I have just taken ten minutes to read over some of your comments of the past year or so. Let’s be frank. You love a grumble. At length. Anonymously.

      Your comments are universally superior in tone. Often nit picking and never nice. You have a habit of sneering at other commenters and readers that I don’t like.

      Crucially you don’t actually pass on anything useful for other readers.

      So if my comments put you off. Physician heal thyself.

      If you don’t like commenting here, it doesn’t break my heart. Other fora are available.

      Best

      Dw

  • Weeze
    3 years ago

    I’m female, I often comment!

    • 3 years ago

      You are one of very few, sadly. But we’re very pleased you do. :)

  • 3 years ago

    Its not a problem that is exclusive to Tamebay unfortunately and any good forum (or whatever you like to call it) usually ends up the same. It reminds me recently of what the eBay power seller forums used to be like when I left them in 2005 approx. That was a shame as like Tamebay there was some great info hidden away amongst the nonsense.

    Moderating or removing is one option but maybe try something like relocating certain posts first? EG I am sure there are stories you have posted about the big eBay gripes and perhaps repeated posts about the same issue just be shunted away there so that they don’t dominate the ‘home’ page?

    I am one of the silent ones who certainly finds the repeated moaning about the same issues very boring and makes me move on swiftly.

    Bryn

    • 3 years ago

      Bryn,

      I really like your phrase about how there was some great info hidden away amongst the nonsense. That’s very much how I feel.

      I’m not mad about moderation, don’t want to spend time on that really. But wondering how we get more great info, less nonsense and help that great info stand out.

      I know from the emails I’ve received today that Tamebay readers love the comments but don’t like the old Jonahs.

      Some friends of Tamebay have given some brilliant suggestions here and we’re gonna look at them. But really it’s a culture thing. I’m amused that some folk want to argue the toss with me about their right to continue posting claptrap.

      But really I want to hear from experienced traders like you more. Sharing ideas, more women posters, more questions, loads more ideas.

      Call me a dreamer but I think it’s possible! :)

      dw

    • 3 years ago

      Ha Dan, you are starting to sound like a politician! You can’t pick and choose which comments you get, and who from, without introducing stringent posting rules. And I don’t think you fancy Tamebay like that.

      EBay sellers are, in the main, interested in finding out things that make their lives easier and getting on with it, and, in the minority, moaning about things that don’t. They will be the main moaning minnies I bet, a carry over from the various eBay fora that seemed to encourage that attitude.

      Tamebay isn’t just about eBay these days though, so do you get the same negative influx from sellers on other platforms? In fact, on that point, is the name still a valid name?

  • Roger C Morgan
    3 years ago

    It’s true that some “replies” are just an off the cuff comment with no attempt being made to interact or add to the discussion BUT I regret that I feel your problem, and it’s a valid concern, is endemic throughout the Web . . . all that supposed “freedom” has gone to the heads of many individuals who aren’t too hot on language and social skills . . . and they bask in the supposed power that they think six or seven words on a screen give them.

    I use YouTube almost every other day, it’s a huge resource not just for entertainment but also guidance and help, now and then something moves me to desire to comment and I start reading those already there, inevitably the dross, the banal comments, the bigotry and usually just foul language put me off and I walk away. My experiences on YouTube give me NO desire to want to use Face Book, Twitter or whatever “app” is this weeks hit. Life is too short and my thoughts often return to just one . . . “when are these people going to get a REAL life?”.

    If you censor, edit or “mark-down” silly comments then you’ll have found another job to do and you’ll find it a sink-hole, you might also put off a contributor making a truly great contribution just because they may be worried it could be viewed as contentious.

    Funny thing is pretty well all the rubbish remarks on YouTube are from males . . . maybe it’s a fault with the male mind and the girls have no need to make the same mistakes.

    • 3 years ago

      Thanks Roger,

      Some useful ideas. I do appreciate what you say re comments in general. But I don’t think it has to be like that. Like I said, I want more comments and I am perhaps still idealistic enough to think that possible.

      Dan

  • Sam
    3 years ago

    How about some kind of “was this useful” / vote rating system. Giving visitors the chance to mark somebodies comment as useful highlighting it for others to read.

    Sometimes people don’t want to read every comment, and if other users can highlight the most useful/interesting ones it may encourage more to read those comments, potentially spurring them to also reply.

    This could also add points to that user/email they used when posting a comment so that for future posts they’re recognised for usually writing something useful, giving them a little more credit in what they’re saying.

    • 3 years ago

      Thats quite a good idea worth trying. Like Amazon do with their product reviews.

      Bryn

    • Simon M
      3 years ago

      Thirded – I like this idea. I don’t like the idea of heavy handed moderation (and I’ll stop short of using the word censorship, but lines do blur a little).

      I don’t personally find it a problem – I’m so used to seeing dross all over the internet that I gloss over it quickly to the next useful comment instead. I’ve observed from other blogs the most useful weapon against unhelpful and lazy remarks is to simply ignore and not reply – don’t feed the negativity. So if no-one replies to this comment I’m going to feel very paranoid!

      Simon M.
      40 something male.

    • 3 years ago

      Agree with both paragraphs

      Bryn

    • DBL
      3 years ago

      Excellent idea!

    • 3 years ago

      I think Sams idea is a top one – the community can filter the comments so that good relevant ones bubble up and negative unhelpful ones sink.

      I comment occasionally – dont really know why I dont more but will try to do so more in the future

    • 3 years ago

      very much like the Was this useful button. Maybe also a rating star system for both the comments and the blog post?

    • 3 years ago

      I find the comments invaluable, sometimes but not always, so I wouldn’t want to see them go.

      I often wish I could comment but feel constrained by time so I would cut some slack for the moaners when it highlights another reseller’s position (for or against) on given topic.

      Yes, I would love to see more positive contributions and less negativity, but I can always skip comments which add no value.

      Finally, I really like Sam’s suggestion – great if easy to implement with automation.

    • 3 years ago

      Sam,

      Good idea. We’ll have a think about exactly how it could be implemented and (crucially) how much it might cost.

      Thanks.

    • Roger C Morgan
      3 years ago

      Yes, most agreed. “Comment upon comment” must be from the users and not the providers if to keep the interest from Tamebay readers/followers and not fall into the trap of censorship. Something simple BUT either “rewarding or dismissing” might work.

      However, it can still be misused though I can’t see any such actions being co-ordinated . . .

      . . . unless, of course, as we discuss the Mighty Mystorones that control eBay/PayPal are secretly recruiting “ghost reviewers” to eradicate any and all comments against them!

    • Bjorn
      3 years ago

      I thought the same thing immediately upon reading this post.

      However I’d suggest the reddit style of:
      upvote if it adds to the conversation (not just useful, but adds value in any way)
      downvote if it’s irrelevant or detracts from the conversation

      Example: article about new eBay seller defects…
      Poster A: “This is actually good as it means customers can expect higher quality service” (upvote)
      Poster B: “This is bad, because it punishes seller metrics too harshly” (upvote)
      Poster B: “eBay strikes again!” (downvote, doesn’t contribute anything to discussion)

  • tinker
    3 years ago

    yes its called a community with different opinions if dan only wants what he agrees with , he should not invite comments at all

    • 3 years ago

      Tinker,

      I don’t think I have suggested anywhere that dissent is an issue or disagreement is a problem. My concerns lie with the timbre and tone and crucially the usefulness of the comment.

      I think to get rid of comments altogether would not be a good idea. But thanks for your suggestion.

      dw

    • 3 years ago

      Oh tinker, do shut up.

    • Kate
      3 years ago

      LOL!
      :-)

    • 3 years ago

      :D Kate, well, honestly….. it codifies why people can’t be bothered to comment doesn’t it?

  • DBL
    3 years ago

    Opinions and constructive criticism is one thing, constant whining and griping at everyone who comments or posts is unhelpful and does stop people posting.

    While I think it’s a good thing to remain anonymous should you choose, registration is usually the norm on other forums and I personally wouldn’t object to that.

    • 3 years ago

      DBL

      We’ve plenty of food for thought and I agree that onerous registration is not desirable.

      The most interesting thing about this thread is that we’re hearing from lots of TameBay friends old and new. And lots of women too.

      So maybe that in itself is a success. :)

      Dw

  • 3 years ago

    borrowing from shakespeare hisself:

    a ‘methinks thou doth protest too much’ sticker might discourage moanalots

  • Michele Maginty
    3 years ago

    Dan, Chris,

    I’m an avid reader of the site and relish the morning updates in my inbox to give me updates each morning on my way to the office. There are often times I read an article and want to comment, but when I scroll down, I see others have commented that very thought, idea, gripe or whatever it may be, so I don’t bother.

    I agree with the points about some folks making comments without backing things up and being a little argumentative. I don’t want to comment for them to start coming back at me; I have better things to do with my time that argue with an anon on a comment thread!

    Keep up the good work guys!

    • 3 years ago

      Michele,

      Great to hear from you and please do keep on reading and commenting.

      Thanks for your input.

      Dw

    • 3 years ago

      Dan, Chris,

      ditto to Michele Maginty comment – don’t comment as that point has just been made or caught for time. A thumbs up or down would help here, immediate one click.

      dittow again re: Keep up the good work guys!

  • Hi, I don’t comment on blogs because I simply find commenting on *anything* almost always a waste of time. Why? Because no matter what you say/suggest somebody comes along with a “you don’t want to do it like that, you wanna do it like this” mentality and basically stamps over what you said.

    People don’t really want to know what it is you’re saying, and disagreement is rife. For example I don’t agree with the promotion of a certain way of life. I have no issue with that way of life BUT I believe promotion of it is wrong because it’s something so intrinsically important to “being human” that it should be a “journey of self discovery”, but does anyone go “yeah I see what you mean”? No, they don’t, they just slag me off so I don’t bother any more.

    Whilst this isn’t specifically with regards to Tamebay I find myself posting on blogs in general less and less these days and I think these points are valid with regards to any blog.

    By the same token you never post on my blog :p

  • 3 years ago

    do you remember Biddy’s button? She had it on her website, it was similar to a like button, but it meant “I read what you say, I sympathise but I don’t know what to say.”

    And an Unlike button. Facebook is missing out with no unlike button.

    I often have a comment but don’t feel it will add anything to the conversation. A lot of the Tamebay posts I read are informational, so don’t necessarily need any comment, so one of the above would be useful in helping you to know that the post has been read and appreciated.

    btw. I almost never get comments on any of my blog posts. I really don’t fuss about it, it isn’t a forum, it is just a blog.

    • 3 years ago

      Excellent idea :)

    • 3 years ago

      Yup,

      Lynne. I recall that very well. I always liked it. Gonna think how we can use the spirit of that for Tamebay. Indeed, I’m always thinking about how we keep Tamebay true to Sue. She is never forgotten and Chris talk about that a lot.

      When we discuss new stuff we do try and apply the “true to Sue” test. Not sure we always get there. But we try.

      Dan

  • john
    3 years ago

    A like button would be handy… a thumbs down button would also be handy. forced registration I do not think is a good idea.

    I do not post on here all the time, however I do lurk and do read posts.
    If it gets too moderated, I will post/visit less. There is more whinging because there is more to whinge about. And 90% of the time the posters have a valid point.

    But times change its one of those things.

    • 3 years ago

      John,

      Thanks for the comments. To give a bit more context. I don’t mind whinging or complaint. We certainly don’t want to stifle debate.

      My beef is with the repetitive grumbles, the well rehearsed Jonahs, saying much the same and adding little. And often being quite hostile to those who disagree.

      We can add more value to TameBay for everyone if we have diverse and informatics comments. I’m just thinking out load as to how we get there.

      The great news is we’ve had a stack of good ideas. So plenty to consider.

      Massive moderation btw is unlikely because we don’t have the time or inclination. We moderate barely a handful of comments a week as it is.

      Best and thanks,

      Dw

  • jimbo
    3 years ago

    I think things are okay as they are. My perception of tamebay at this time is that has become a news blog rather than a help/community blog.

    • 3 years ago

      Jimbo,

      I’d like to think we can be both. :)

  • 3 years ago

    I don’t comment as much as I used too as I am part of the ‘solution provider’ party who are often demonised by moaners.

    I read though. Pretty much everyday and choose to tweet n comment if I feel the need to voice an opinion.

  • Laura Mathieson
    3 years ago

    Nothing original to add just to reinforce what’s been suggested – let’s have a thumbs up or down button so the best comments will be rewarded. This will have the bonus effect of showing permanently negative commentators that their views are not shared by the majority. This is more powerful than moderation imposed.
    Do t trawl through and remove moaning posts as a) that’s not free speech and b) it’s very time consuming and I appreciate the standard tamebay emails too much to want them diluted by admin!
    And thanks guys really enjoy the news and opinions :)

    • 3 years ago

      Laura,

      Thanks for taking the time. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

      We’ve got work to do to improve comments and we will get on it.

      All best wishes with your business.

      Dw

    • 3 years ago

      Laura has it in a nutshell!

  • 3 years ago

    This is my 2nd attempt as posting as my first effort was lost in transit so appologies if this time it’s a little more to the point.

    1. Research your audience who read your posts and leave their comments. What medium do they use? What are their experiences? What are their positives and negatives to using their medium of choice? As an example I read Tamebay’s posts via my RSS app on my iPad and never via Tamebay’s URL and browser. Any comments I leave anywhere I type via my notepad app then copy and paste them over. Why? The main reason is I don’t have to worry about my RSS app unexpectedly quitting and me losing most of my comment (see 2nd attempt above) also because I am dyslexic and very conscious about my spelling. I find the iPads native spell check to be heaps better than most apps spell check so that in turn gives me more confidence to comment. Last but not least (on Tamebay at least) the message/comment box font is so small I am unable to read what I’ve written unless I spend ages pinching the screen to enlarge and then pinching again to reduce.

    2. Research other high traffic sites to see their comment setups. Make notes of anything you like or dislike. Do they use a 3rd party to handle their comments or maybe a plugin or a clear font or threaded comments. Do they show x amount of comments per page or are their comments in ascending or descending order. To decided the best course of action you need to know what you like or dislike and what is available to you.

    3. One of my big no-no’s and a major turn off for commenting is having to scroll down through all the comments to find the leave a comment box! If it happens to be a particularly popular post I could be scrolling through hundreds of replies and will give up before I’ve even reach the box to comment in. Having the leave a comment box at the top or in a drop down section or even floating is so much preferred.

    I hope I’ve added to this debate and apologies as I didn’t mean to ramble on as much as I have.

    I look forward to the outcome.

    Kate

    • 3 years ago

      nice comment Kate, I totally agree with you about the comment box being at the top. It comes up nicely (on the web where I read TB in the morning whilst I should be doing my emails) when you hit reply, but for a new comment line, can take forever. So that shouldn’t be a difficult bit to implement.

  • Gemma
    3 years ago

    I’m female (although I have been accused of enjoying football, the odd dirty joke and being far too efficient with a spanner by my man, but I don’t turn into a pizza at midnight apparently, so obviously not the perfect woman…). I read daily and try to contribute if I have something that I feel would help someone else out, often from personal experience or mispent youth as a lawyer (not something I generally publicly admit to), rather than taking advantage of others’ generally useful advice or experience and not giving anything back.

    I have found, however, that I comment less and less these days, as whatever is said – not just by me – is either immediately rejected without though or argument, or, and I have one particular occasion in mind, accused of trolling when the OP clearly had no idea what they were talking about, refusing to refund postage charges when their listing “clearly stated that postage charges would not be refunded…” Not everyone likes what everyone else has to say, but everyone has their own view and the right to have it respected. There are enough politics on eBay with out having to worry about them here too. Sadly if people can’t respect that, then I now find myself wondering if it is better to say nothing at all – I left the playground far too long ago…

    • 3 years ago

      Gemma,

      Thanks for your really valuable insights. For me, you are a really valuable type of TameBay reader who we aren’t hearing from enough and I want you to keep on joining in. Lots of readers would be fit from from your experience and wisdom.

      We really value you as a reader and I think if we can raise the politeness in comments, we will get even more value from your experience too.

      You’re a busy person, running a business, you don’t need shit here. I appreciate that.

      Thanks again.

      Dw

  • Bunchy
    3 years ago

    I have commented in the past, however I don’t bother these days as sometimes people’s comments get lost in a sea of a group or couple of people basically talking to / arguing with eachother. Either that or comments are picked apart etc.
    Who wants either of those things and how can a blog owner stop a minority from putting of the majority?

    I have no idea. I have come to accept what this arena is and know it’s “read only”.

    Sorry guys.

    • 3 years ago

      Bunchy,

      You are exactly the type of loyal TameBay reader I want to hear more from and let me say you are always welcome here and have made dozens of really useful comments in the past.

      Thanks for joining in, useful comments and hoping you’ll do so again.

      Best

      Dw

  • janet
    3 years ago

    Hi everyone
    I have commented a few times on here & on occasion have asked for advice regarding Ebay issues (yes im female).
    In all honesty what puts me off is commenting more are the some of the regular “contributors” who in fairness appear only to want to argue or shoot down other peoples opinions and who appear to believe that the only opinion worth listening to is their own (i would add however that some on here do offer some invaluable advice which is what makes this site great).
    I do read the site on a regular basis but find i then leave once an interesting topic has turned into something of a war of words…I want to read helpful and useful comments not the overbearing words of keyboard warriors!

  • 3 years ago

    I enjoy reading TB everyday and value it as a news provider.

    However I would welcome more help, advice, solutions to problems and general discussion and a gentler and less cliquey response to posts as I am a bit intimidated by the tone of some posts.

  • 3 years ago

    I haven’t been as frequent a visitor lately, hence lack of comments from me. Partly because I only sell through my own site now, rather than ebay or Amazon.

    In the past, I have found it a bit irritating that certain contributors seem to trot out the same lines / hobby horses on every subject, whether relevant or not.

    I don’t know how feasible it would be to have an ‘ignore’ button, more usual in forum software. That might go a long way towards solving those particular issues…

  • Andy
    3 years ago

    I think the idea about readers being able to up-vote/down-vote comments was a really good one. If you look at a site such as reddit.com it works really well on there and the comments that get ‘disliked’ are ‘collapsed’ but you can still read them if you really want to, and the good ones stay at the top

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