I was again reminded today that very small barriers can kill a conversation, or cause a contributor to stop contributing. I wanted to post a follow-up comment to David Chadwick’s exploratory testing blog posting. I was on a different computer than I originally used to post the first comments.

Unfortunately, the IBM developerworks site is unfamiliar enough that I don’t remember my password. I remember that it had a more restrictive password policy than other sites, so I was unable to apply my common password rules to their site. That made the site “unique” in a negative sense, something I had to remember outside my normal patterns of memorization.

The key point: I had a few minutes to contribute something to a conversation. I was not willing to spend more than a minute or two, including the time to login, post the comment, and verify the comment was posted. I abandoned the comment because:

  • Restrictive password rules were outside my typical rule set
  • Time was limited, I was unwilling to spend more time trying to login again
  • Prior experience with the site made me distrust its use of my time

The relationship between a contributor and the forum to which they are contributing seems to be very fragile, at least for me. The newer I am to a forum, the more fragile the relationship. The less value I perceive from the forum, the more fragile the relationship. Even seemingly insignificant hurdles may be enough to stop a contribution and disengage a contributor.