Registration now required for HowardOwens.com

I just got through saying that registration doesn’t cut down on participation on a newspaper.com. I’m pretty sure the same doesn’t hold true for a blog.

There is something fundamentally different about a blog audience and a newspaper.com audience — whether it is that the newspaper.com audience is less web savvy, or not as busy sucking up every morsel of information, or just more trusting of the local newspaper brand … I don’t know.

But it is highly likely my already pathetically low level of reader comments will decrease with registration, and it is unlikely that participation will ever again return to its current levels.

In part, maybe it’s because while adding registration to a newspaper.com helps solve a problem that both readers and editors recognize (getting rid of the idiots), such idiots aren’t really a problem on most blogs (especially ones mainly trafficked by same-industry professionals, such as this one).

Really, I’m not solving a problem for readers with registration. I’m solving my own problem, so why should you want to help? What’s the benefit for you?

Well, maybe, just maybe, without open comments, it will make howardowens.com a little less easy to hack.

I’m just damn tired of getting hacked, and can’t imagine when I’ll have time or energy to convert to Drupal, so I’m going to try the WordPress registration scheme (which is pretty simple, but does require an e-mail confirmation).

So, I’m really solving my problem, not yours, unless, of course, you find howardowens.com valuable enough that you would rather see it escape a few future hacks (with the subsequent downtime), too.

UPDATE: Pretty cool — six people registered within 30 minutes of this post going up.  Though, one of them might not have been a person, but a computer.  Since the default WP registration is very, very basic, I went out and found a plug in that contains CAPTCHA (though very simple CAPTCHA) and some additional registration fields.  It would be cool if I could link a person’s name on a comment to a profile page — that would add some value to registration, I think — but I haven’t been able to figure out how do do that yet.

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  • http://www.lectroid.net Marc

    Speaking of “set it and forget it” managing a blog is also not a set it and forget it venture either. You don’t install blog software and then say, “great, now lets get back to real blogging.”

    Blog software takes care and feeding as does the underlying server OS. I’d recommend that if you are not interested in day to day blog maintenance to move your blog to wordpress.com (or use one of the other services like blogspot etc).

  • http://www.howardowens.com/ Howard Owens

    There’s untrue implication in your post, Marc — that I don’t manage my blog.

  • rottenchester

    Did you think about using OpenID instead of or in addition to your own ho.com accounts? Everyone with a Blogger, Typekey or WordPress (I think) account also has an OpenID. Creating an id to log into each individual blog is such a nuisance — OpenID seems like a bit of a mid-ground. I believe WordPress has an OpenID plugin. MovableType ships with OpenID authentication built-in.

    It also seems like a smart play for newspaper sites to become OpenID providers. If your newspaper.com account can be used to log into a bunch of local blogs, that would increase the utility of having a newspaper.com account and provide an incentive to go through the registration process.

    BTW, adding a login will do nothing to stave off the next hack attack if it leverages a WP vulnerability (as the most recent one did). But I sympathize with your desire to do something.

  • http://www.howardowens.com/ Howard Owens

    I looked at OpenID, but I’m not sold on it.

    Some past hacks, from what I’ve read, have used comment form injections. That may all be fixed securitywise by WP, but I don’t trust WP (installed or on WP.com).

    This may only be a band aid, but I don’t have many band aids I can apply myself.

  • http://www.lectroid.net Marc

    WordPress does have an OpenID plugin and a nice Gravatar plugin as well. I think both would improve the user experience.

    I’m sorry, Howard, if I implied something that wasn’t true. It’s just been my experience that the majority of WP hacks are from admins running WP installations without updating them as vulnerabilities are found.

  • http://www.howardowens.com/ Howard Owens

    Marc, at the time of the last hack, I had what was then the latest version of WP installed.

  • http://www.joemichaud.com Joe Michaud

    OK, painless enough.

  • http://www.naa.org/digitaledge beth lawton

    Painless registration, and probably worthwhile. I hope it’s helpful. As someone who’s blog and wiki have been spammed (I’ve had to delete, delete, delete), I hope this really helps you out.

    Shameless plug: More tips on how to grow and manage online comments at http://www.naa.org/digitaledge/cookbook.

    Have a good week!

  • http://www.howardowens.com/2008/how-registration-is-going-leading-to-thoughts-on-the-value-of-registration/ How registration is going, leading to thoughts on the value

    [...] far, 18 people have registered to comment on howardowens.com.  For a fairly low traffic blog, I think that’s pretty [...]

  • http://cyndygreen.wordpress.com cyndy green

    Howard…
    This is kinda like having a friend lock the doors to their house when you’ve always had free access. I now have a key and can visit and talk again…and understand the reasons. Just another bump on the road. Glad to see you’re back.
    That was some discussion you and Lens had over on newsvideographer.com – looks like he was biting everyone that day.