Here is an interesting juxtaposition. First, I read “The Availability Heuristic in the Classroom: How Soliciting More Criticism Can Boost Your Course Ratings” by Craig R. Fox, UCLA Anderson School and Department of Psychology.

In this study, two groups of students filled out an evaluation of an MBA course. One group was asked for two ways to improve the course; the other was asked for ten ways to improve the course. The group that was asked to list ten ways showed a higher level of satisfaction with the course. My interpretation is that the more you enable people to provide feedback and comments, the higher they might evaluate your product or service—simply because you asked for feedback and comments.

Second, I came across this explanation of a blog’s policy for comments:

Since this is one of those perennial questions, let’s explore the convoluted mechanisms by which you can add your own insightful, typo-free comment to any [name deleted] post. Begin your education with the [name deleted] Comments FAQ. In a nutshell, most commenters are sent personal invites by [name deleted]. Said invites allow comment access throughout [name deleted], and throughout all [name deleted] sites in fact. However, you don’t have to possess an invitation to comment—auditions for new commenters are perpetually ongoing. More explanation of this mysterious alternate path, after the jump.

Commenter auditions are quite simple. Even if you don’t have comment access, you can submit a comment to any post. Just type your comment in the space provided, then enter a username and password (you’re advised to use an alias as your username), and hit the “Submit Comment” button. The system will note that you’re not an approved commenter, and you’ll be asked to verify your password (and enter an optional email address for password recovery). Assuming you comply, your comment will be saved, but will not be posted yet. Instead, it will be submitted for review to determine its worth. If it’s a fantastic comment, it will be approved; the comment will go live, and you’ll have full comment access in future to post without moderation. If your comment’s a waste of time, then it will be ignored.

Bear in mind that simpleminded comments—short declarations of agreement, insults, dumb jokes, irrelevant remarks, or other foolishness—will always be ignored. Say something interesting. Make a brilliant observation. Share a particularly juicy tip. Or amaze the crowd with your rapier wit. That’s the kind of thing we like. For a little context, explore other commenters’ history. Clicking on any commenter name in any post will take you to that commenter’s home page, where all the comments they’ve ever made are collected in one place.

So even if you haven’t “earned” an invite, feel free to take a crack at commenting. Someone is always reading.

It’s hard to believe that a policy like this is optimal for a blog, and it’s surprising that a blog with such good writers has such a policy. IMHO, companies should open up the channels of communication with its customers. If this study is right, doing this alone may put companies in a better light, and they will probably learn something from their customers too.