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February 13, 2007

A Comment on Comments


Here is an interesting juxtaposition. First, I read “The Availability Heuristic in the Classroom: How Soliciting More Criticism Can Boost Your Course Ratings” by Craig R. Fox, UCLA Anderson School and Department of Psychology.

In this study, two groups of students filled out an evaluation of an MBA course. One group was asked for two ways to improve the course; the other was asked for ten ways to improve the course. The group that was asked to list ten ways showed a higher level of satisfaction with the course. My interpretation is that the more you enable people to provide feedback and comments, the higher they might evaluate your product or service—simply because you asked for feedback and comments.

Second, I came across this explanation of a blog’s policy for comments:

Since this is one of those perennial questions, let’s explore the convoluted mechanisms by which you can add your own insightful, typo-free comment to any [name deleted] post. Begin your education with the [name deleted] Comments FAQ. In a nutshell, most commenters are sent personal invites by [name deleted]. Said invites allow comment access throughout [name deleted], and throughout all [name deleted] sites in fact. However, you don’t have to possess an invitation to comment—auditions for new commenters are perpetually ongoing. More explanation of this mysterious alternate path, after the jump.

Commenter auditions are quite simple. Even if you don’t have comment access, you can submit a comment to any post. Just type your comment in the space provided, then enter a username and password (you’re advised to use an alias as your username), and hit the “Submit Comment” button. The system will note that you’re not an approved commenter, and you’ll be asked to verify your password (and enter an optional email address for password recovery). Assuming you comply, your comment will be saved, but will not be posted yet. Instead, it will be submitted for review to determine its worth. If it’s a fantastic comment, it will be approved; the comment will go live, and you’ll have full comment access in future to post without moderation. If your comment’s a waste of time, then it will be ignored.

Bear in mind that simpleminded comments—short declarations of agreement, insults, dumb jokes, irrelevant remarks, or other foolishness—will always be ignored. Say something interesting. Make a brilliant observation. Share a particularly juicy tip. Or amaze the crowd with your rapier wit. That’s the kind of thing we like. For a little context, explore other commenters’ history. Clicking on any commenter name in any post will take you to that commenter’s home page, where all the comments they’ve ever made are collected in one place.

So even if you haven’t “earned” an invite, feel free to take a crack at commenting. Someone is always reading.

It’s hard to believe that a policy like this is optimal for a blog, and it’s surprising that a blog with such good writers has such a policy. IMHO, companies should open up the channels of communication with its customers. If this study is right, doing this alone may put companies in a better light, and they will probably learn something from their customers too.


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» Could Solicity Criticism Actually Boost Your Rating? from The Bamboo Project Blog
Guy Kawasaki reports on a UCLA study he found, The Availability Heuristic in the Classroom: How Soliciting More Criticism Can Boost Your Course Rating. According to the study, two groups of students were asked to evaluate a course. The first [Read More]

» A Comment on Comments from Gubatron
Hi Guy Kawaasaki!!!,Trackback from wedoit4you.com on A Comment on Comments at http://www.wedoit4you.com/archive/2007/02/13 [Read More]

» Do You Care What I Think About Your Product? from College Marketing 4.0
Step 5, the final (as of now) step in the 'get college students primed to talk about your product' is ask for our opinion. We will happily give it to you. College kids love giving opinions, societies drive for political [Read More]

» A Comment on Comments from Marketing & Strategy Innovation Blog
By: Guy KawasakiHere is an interesting juxtaposition. First, I read The Availability Heuristic in the Classroom: How Soliciting More Criticism Can Boost Your Course Ratings by Craig R. Fox, UCLA Anderson School and Department of Psycholog... [Read More]

» A Comment on Comments from Marketing & Strategy Innovation Blog
By: Guy KawasakiHere is an interesting juxtaposition. First, I read The Availability Heuristic in the Classroom: How Soliciting More Criticism Can Boost Your Course Ratings by Craig R. Fox, UCLA Anderson School and Department of Psycholog... [Read More]


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It would seem like it is the easier way to deal with spammy/vulgar/abusive commenters.

Hmmm, my interpretation of the study would be slightly different.

Having spent their time trying to come up with 10 improvements to a course, they are more likely to realise that there isn't _that_ much to improve. Finding 10 concrete practical improvements is difficult, so I would think stuednts are more likely to sit back and say "Well it's actually pretty good in hindsight".

Whereas anyone can come up with 2 improvements, and walk off with the smug poorly thought out idea that "There are loads more improvements besides those two, therefore its a badly run course".

Thats my 2 cent anyways.

I enjoy your work Guy,


Nice articles, but don't you think not everyone have times to make a 'lengthy and good' comments on things they've read? It takes 10 seconds to write those - it's time problem (at least for me).

Sometimes people just, don't have any idea what to write most of the time!

@Alex: Truly agree with your comments above. Individualistic approach does nothing but harm your blog.

They do want comment but they dont want spam.Sometimes ppl just smap with comments like "good" wow or bla bla...

Liked the post pretty intresting stuff.I hope they keep saying it

Is this person mad? In everything that you do, it should be as easy as possible to receive feedback. This includes blogs, business websites and training sessions.

How many times do you have to scratch around a website to find somewhere that you can give the business some sort of feedback abou the site? Or you really want to make a comment on a blog, and either there is no facility at all to do so, or the process requires verification and a complex series of screens which is just too much effort for the average user.

You should value and crave the feedback - it will only help you to perform your own performance.

I run a lot of training sessions, and I do not run any session without providing the delegates the immediate ability to give me feedback - ie: fill out a feedback form at the course!

Allowing open comments in a blog is similar to having a customer be allowed to touch and feel a product before they buy. It helps develop a 2-way interaction in a way that the reader/customer feels personally connected and vested in the product at hand.

I used to do training presentations for a living so it was common for me to deliver the exact same presentation multiple times for different audiences. Everytime I would allow the audience to interrupt me and ask questions, they would rate me higher on the evaluation form than if I deferred questions until the end of a section or the end of the presentation.

By allowing consumers to invest their time and energy in sharing their thoughts and realizations, you increase the perceived value of your product.

If you watched one of Guy's video where he had a panel of young adults describe their use of technology, that's exactly what they talked about. One of the boys said that advertisement does not influence him to buy a product. However, being able to see it, touch it, feel it (whether it's thru a kiosk or because he saw his friends own it), then it would give him more of an incentive to buy the product.

It's something that relates to the psychology of attraction. There's a company called theApproach (www.theapproach.com) that talks extensively about that when it comes to applying that principle to dating.

Basically, their theory applied to marketing would go something like this:
1. Display the value of your product
2. Get people invested in finding/discovering your product
3. Reinforce that the product is good for them

I personally understand the need to moderate comments. I am of the mindset that it should occur after the post is made, though. If blogging is about conversation and discussion, all you do is restrict the conversation & discourage folks from participating in the community when you limit comments and/or overly moderate them.

Note: Don't most blogging platforms allow you to ban certain IP addresses? It would seem like it is the easier way to deal with spammy/vulgar/abusive commenters.

Kinda changes the belief in "No news is good news."


To say the students are more satisfied when asked for more comment is quite possibly erroneous. First, both took the same course. If the two samples are truly similar, their satisfaction should be nearly equal. One possibility for the higher satisfaction could be that those who were asked two questions could easily name two negatives about the class and focused on these negatives when giving a satisfaction level. Many of the respondents of the 10-suggestion review were likely unable to think of 10 improvements to the class. When unable to think of ten improvements, respondents likely began to think the class 'was not that bad' in retrospect.

However, if true, the 10-suggestion method may boost satisfaction psychologically - which is may be just as beneficial or better than rational/utility satisfaction.

I love this site!

So that worked; and we'll get the archives of the site republished. Note that when you leave a comment the preview will display your name as linked to your email address, but when it's published on the blog it won't display. Thanks for your patience!

Hi, all... I've been working with Guy to update his templates so that email addresses (that were previously obfuscated) don't display on comments. In fact, this comment is a test of that updated template...

"My interpretation is that the more you enable people to provide feedback and comments, the higher they might evaluate your product or service—simply because you asked for feedback and comments."

I think that's erroneous; more likely, most people have general feelings on issues that they can't really express and when forced to actually articulate them, discover they're not really that big of a deal.

"the more you enable people to provide feedback and comments, the higher they might evaluate your product or service"

Not sure that I agree with this. I think in this case it's simply because the group were asked a question that was framed in a positive manner... i.e. "ten ways to improve the course".

If on the other hand, the questions were "two things about the course you would change" or "ten things about the course you would change", then my bet is that the students who completed the most questions would on average feel more negatively about the course.

Superb blog by the way Guy.

David Bain

I strongly believe that blog is a public forum and bloggers should encourage comments and feedback from readers.

I believe,
"Good blogs receive Comments,
Better blogs receive Appreciations, And
Great blogs receive Criticism."
Source-In Praise of Criticism

Yours is a great blog!!

Hey, just wondering...how much money do you make out of this web site? You seem like you have allot of visitors...

PS: Great site!!

This whole panic about email addresses is just silly. Come on people, you can't hide an email address. It's like trying to hide your name. It is futile.

Any "trick" you try to use to hide it will be discovered. The harvesting people are working hard to get past all these things.

So, use a good spam filter. Dozens of good ones exist. With a good filter, 2-5 get by a day. Press "delete" and move on.

Customers are important. They're the single reason you exist. If you're blogging, then your "customers" are your audience. Why get defensive with them? Why make them jump thru hoops? Don't you want them to participate?

What's even worse than draconian comment policies are blogs that DON'T allow any comments.

If there's one single thing to be learned in this Web 2.0 madness, is that transparency rools the roost.

I am only guessing, but that kind of arrogant "rules for commenting" sounds like it came from ValleyWag. Those guys pass out passes for their comments like they were gold bars or something... However with my RSS reader, I never even read the comments left on that page.

However when someone posts a good post (like yours), I always click through to read the comments... and sometimes I even leave one myself.

But why do we comment anyway? I do in the hope that someone will click to my vlog and check it out... And click on the ads so I can get my .05 cents.

However this never works. Even on the most popular of blogs I have commented on, I rarely get anyone that visits from the comments I make. Hmmm, maybe my comments just suck or something..

That long set of requirements for commenting reminded me of the Author Guidelines a lot of publications used when I wrote articles for a living. Their primary purpose was to weed out amateurs who would spam editors by sending every magazine in Writer's Market their masterpiece about a cute kitty, regardless of the subject area of the publication. They would then follow up with increasingly irritated letters wondering when they were going to be published. So the traditions of idiotic spamming and stupid comments far precede the web.

Wow, that's quite possibly the most arrogant and condescending thing I've ever heard. I wonder if its one of those things where someone typed it up as a joke and then it got published, like in the movie Crazy People...

"Volvo - We're Boxy, but Good!"

Sounds like they don't actually want anyone to comment...

Ah! I've got it - it appears that if the commenter adds a url when posting their comment, typepad correctly changes the Posted By link to a redirect to that url, and *hides* the commenter's email address. (See my previous comment, which does not display my email address.)

Incidentally, Guy, I really enjoyed the last panel of the day at CommunityNext last Saturday - you made it very interesting! Markus, Drew et al and especially James Hong were great!

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