A law firm asked today about the possibility of requiring readers to register before being permitted to post a comment. Apparently a lawyer in the firm saw registration required for comments on a newspaper’s blog.

Bad idea. Here’s why.

  • Comment registration is not used on the vast majority of blogs. LexBlog has over 300 law blogs with over 800 lawyer authors. None have comment registration. Includes solo’s to the largest law firm in the country.
  • Readers will look at comment registration with great suspicion wondering why your law firm is asking for information before allowing comments.
  • Some newspapers require registration because their business departments are demanding demographic info (age, sex, and zip code) to supply to advertisers. Such a practice is viewed negatively as discussed in previous posts of mine here and here.
  • A well trafficked law blog will only generate 2 to 3 comments a month, something easily manageable for moderation by a designated party at your law firm. Comments are not a measure of success or failure for a law blog, interaction comes through being cited.
  • Requiring registration opens your law firm up for public ridicule on the Internet for doing something that is out of the ordinary, a little backwards, and even worse, as requiring registration because you wanted to collect demographic information. Martindale-Hubbell was held up to great ridicule for requiring registration on their blog. See the blog post of Steve Matthews, a leading legal Internet marketing expert and someone who is very reluctant to criticize third parties, calling Martindale’s blog cheezy for, among other reasons, requiring registration for commenting.
  • Taking such a position contrary to the standards of the blogosphere at large will reduce subscribers and the likelihood of your blog being cited, losing two significant advantages for publishing a blog.
  • Registration is not completely safe for preventing someone from misusing comments (something that rarely happens on a law blog) as someone can use alias names and register for free web based email services for confirming registration.

Law firms use LexBlog, for among other reasons, so as to avoid risks that may be associated with blogs. LexBlog’s advice, solutions, design, training, and support make blogging safe and productive for law firms. Using comment registration is strongly contrary to LexBlog’s advice and would in all likelihood hold your law firm up to possible ridicule, either openly or behind closed doors.

Be smart. One, allow comments. And two, do not require readers to register before commenting.