Mike Elgan has written a post on Google+ that the vast majority of bloggers should abandon their standalone blogs and post exclusively on Google_ instead. His argument is centered around the idea that blog comments suck. Given that many people won’t (or don’t) manage spam and trolls, I can be inclined to agree, especially on larger sites. The problem, however, is thinking that placing your data in a silo is the way to fix it.
I don’t have a spam problem. I haven’t had a spam problem since not long after we opened our blogging doors. I’ve been using the horrendously outdated yet still entirely functional Spam Karma 2 plugin which has stopped over 113,000 spam comments on this blog alone. About once every few months, one will slip through and I’ll have to manually toss it into the garbage can. If you have a spam problem, it’s because you didn’t try to stop it. I don’t see that using any social media service as pseudo-moderation is going to be any better. Spambots go where the audience is, pure and simple, and even Google+ hasn’t been able to really stop it.
And what about the haters and trolls? It’s easy to again rely on Google’s pseudo-moderation, but there’s nothing preventing a determined pest from registering account after account after account to keep on pooping on your virtual lawn. I wouldn’t be surprised if the truly abysmal commenters on most news sites do just that. If you still insist that forcing someone to use a profile from a service to comment, why limit yourself to the big G? Numerous discussion platforms exist to force users to sign in with a social media account in order to leave a comment. Notice that I said a social media account, not a Google account. I see no reason why someone can’t use their Facebook, Twitter, or whatever account to leave a comment. Tying up the content in Google’s playground, even if it’s open, is shutting some users out of the conversation and will likely have deleterious effects on the community.
It all comes back to what I’ve said about owning your content, and I’d argue that extends to owning what users, good or bad, choose to contribute to it. If you want to delegate some of that management out, go ahead, but don’t kid yourself into thinking it’s some kind of silver bullet.