Getting visitors to read your rules, policies, etc.

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Read MeDo you have a set of rules for your website? Maybe a comment policy, or something you just assume visitors will easily find and read if they have concerns or uncertainties.

I don’t care how obvious you think it is, or how large you make it some people just won’t see the thing. You can make it blink, wave at them, maybe even scream out: Here I am! Please read me! I swear no matter what you do some people are in such a hurry they just don’t see it, or they just don’t bother for some reason.

So how do you get someone to actually see and read it? Honestly I have no idea. You can’t force people to read something. Even if you put a pop-up message or warning people tend to close the thing as fast as it pops up.

You can try huge text size to get your message across, but I swear people somehow know how to tune it out and skip over this too.

I have tried putting links in the top menu navigation on many sites in the past. They are plain as day, very obvious, and easy to find, and people still don’t seem to find them. At least I think they are fairly obvious.

DisclaimerI have been asked how do I do this or that? How do I do something? Why did this happened? Where do I find this? I can’t find this (something). Things like that. The funny thing is that all the answers to those questions are usually available on the site if one takes a minute to look around. It is also strange that someone won’t take the time to look for that information on the site, but they will take the time to send a message asking about it.

I am not complaining or anything, and sometimes the question or information is not available on the website. In which case I am more than happy to answer.

It is just when things are available and what would seem to be plain as day I don’t know why some people can’t seem to find it.

I don’t like making huge annoying text or images that are a little on the ugly side just to attract attention, and I am not so sure that they help that much anyway.

It could also just be spammers that don’t read anything, or maybe even using automated bots that just don’t read or care about anything for that matter.

When people have contacted me in the past I would write a detailed explanation back which was obviously time-consuming. I have been thinking that in the future if the information is available on the site that maybe I should just reply back with a link to the page that contains what they happen to be looking for. I don’t know if I have time to write a 5-10 minute explanation 10 times per day, especially when it does happen to be posted somewhere on the site. I can’t imagine a huge business getting hundreds of these questions all day long every day.

So how do you get visitors to read your rules, policies, or other important information?

About: Jeremy LeSarge - AKA: Ray (209 Posts)

I am the site owner and administrator of DialMe.com. I provide help and tips for Boonex Dolphin on the main part of this website where you will also find an assortment of other resources. Here, on the blog I write about a variety of topics surrounding WordPress, technology, social media/networking, SEO, and webmaster resources.




14 Comments

  1. Jon

    Reply

    Honestly, I don’t think you do. I don’t think you can really control how visitors behave on your site. You can definitely try to influence them or point them in the right direction, but reading rules is just something people don’t like to spend their time doing.

    When I got my first job ever at a hardware store, I noticed that above every single isle, they posted what items can be found down that particular isle. These signs were posted high enough in the air that anyone could read any sign from any point in the store. This did NOT, however, stop 80+% of customers from walking in and asking an employee where something is. It’s just the way.

    If you’re worried about getting too many emails with questions that could be answered via your website, I’d post links to those answers on your contact form as that’s where people are most likely to go when they have a question.

    Great article! It’s always a struggle.

    cheers!

    • Reply

      Thanks for stopping by Jon,

      That is kind of a funny story about the hardware store and people asking. I could see that happening at a lot of stores when I think about it.

      • Noel Addison

        Reply

        Not all visitors are stubborn and do not follow commenting rules and policies. There are also people who are concerned that they may get banned once they disobey the rules set by the blog owner.

        • Reply

          I think maybe people are just in a hurry these days. They just click…click…click, and sometimes don’t really pay that much attention to the smaller details.

  2. Darren

    Reply

    Make them click “I agree” after reading a page. That’s one way to enforce your rules. That said, for comments it would come off as pretty pushy.

    Just reserve the right to moderate as you deem fit and then do it. Link spammers won’t argue much.

    Darren

    • Reply

      The more I think about it the majority is probably related to spammers. The agree after reading is a thought for certain circumstances though too.

  3. Mary

    Reply

    Rules, like TOS, are in some people’s opinion completely useless. Not only that, but they’re most of the times too long to read. And when i visit a blog i definitely don’t do it for their TOS.
    I remember a script some websites have, that forced you to at least scroll to the bottom of the TOS page before allowing you to continue to the main content. That was a nice twist, tough just as easy to avoid if one really wants to.

    • Reply

      Hi Mary,

      Well that script is an idea too. I don’t think people usually read the tos on most sites. Even if they were spending money. Some hosting companies for instance have a refund policy that people are not aware of because they didn’t read them. They vary from one to another of course, but some of them won’t refund after a certain date, or only a portion or percentage. They go and read the tos and sure enough there they are, but they didn’t look them over well enough initially. What do you do though…we are all in such a hurry and the internet is so fast paced now.

  4. Hamish

    Reply

    I just found your blog and left a comment on one of your other posts. Then started looking around and found this post. So this is my second comment – and I freely admit that I haven’t read your comment policy.

    I do tend to assume that if I leave relevant comments, that I’ve read the post, that I’m not stuffing the comment full of spammy links to dubious sites, then, more often than not it will be approved. In the case of your blog, I note that CommentLuv is enabled (good call) so that also gives me a clue as to what is required.

    To be honest, I think that if you want people to read your comment policy (although I know that you are referencing more than just that in your post) the only way to do that would be to condense it such that it could be positioned immediately above the comment field. Even then, some would ignore it I suspect.

    Likewise, any other instructions or rules need to be located in the relevant area – in your face I suppose.

    Anyway, I am now off for a (belated) look through your comment policy!

    • Reply

      Thanks for stopping by Hamish,

      I used to put a link to the comment policy where they would enter the name, website, email, comment part. I wasn’t sure if anyone even noticed so I moved it to the very top navigation area. I am thinking maybe I should put it in both top navigation and near the comment area. I need to update it to be a little more specific when I get some free time. I get a lot of people using just keyword in the name field rather than name@keyword here on the blog. The other part of this site is another story altogether. I kind of doubt most people pay much attention to these things anyway. Thanks for your input.

  5. Reply

    I used to have a sticky bar on my blog that follows the readers whenever they scroll up and down. I’ve put comment policy link on that sticky bar and yet nobody bothered to read it coz the comments they’ve made were not following my comment policy. I’ve since removed the sticky bar coz I really think most people just don’t care about reading rules or policies.
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    • Reply

      I think you are right. Most people don’t care and don’t want to read anything that is very long. I guess maybe if you do have one keep it short and to the point.

  6. Emilia

    Reply

    Well, your comment policy is pretty visible! 🙂 I would make mine pretty short, I think, according to my experiences, people tend to dislike long texts. I migh use a colorful background for the link too. Not too fluorescent though, that would look a bit unprofessional, right? 🙂

  7. Reply

    I really don’t know. People really tend to ignore them so there’s no really a perfect formula about it. I encounter a site that link me to it’s comment policy first before I can continue to post my comment. So it’s kindda effective because I did read it. I also must say this one is effective too for I read your comment after reading your article. LOL. Nice post!

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