Archive for April, 2007

Blog Comment Moderation

For the fast few weeks, I have been working with a client regarding their comment moderation practices. This has inspired me to find a variety of resources like those at Ask E.T. on the subject. Going through these resources a few things became clear.

  • Companies and organizations should have some sort of blog policy clearly posted to the blog. This provides a reference document to justify the removal or denial of any comments. A blog policy need not be complicated and should be expected to be subjective and for the ease of use for the moderator – not the commenter Push Button Paradise has a straight forward policy.
  • Bloggers must adhere to their own blogging policy. If you have stated why you will remove comments, then it is important that you follow your own rules. This becomes particularly interesting if you have a blog comment contest.
  • Comment moderation has become a sensitive issue very recently with the media exposure of the recent threatening comments received by Kathy Sierra. This is a clear justification for moderating comments on personal, organizational and group blogs.
  • Posting of comments is not a free right to be expected by readers. The very basis of blogging is to promote conversation between individuals. You should expect a blog to be like someone’s home – they can always throw you out if they do not like you. A good summary of the whole commenting position is is offered by Nielsen Hayden .
  • Blog comments are not protected by any free speech right and rational commenters have never assumed such protections. This is why you have a policy, to show what is permitted. Indi has a nice post and series of comments on this subjet.
  • If you do moderate comments, simply be prepared for the reaction and provide an outlet for it. The UAE community blog has an interesting thread on this point. Folks seem to agree moderation is expected. It is what you decided not to show that you must have a clear policy. Do not simply choose to eliminate comments of those who do not agree with you
  • Bloggers do not want to moderate comments. They usually feel they must to block out truly objectionable content that veer off of the subject matter or attacks (as opposed to debates) another individual’s opinions. The Atheist Experience has a good post on this choice.
  • Don’t mock the comments you eliminate or whose posts you moderate. This aggravates the commenter and others. Don’t let your commenters mock others either — unless that is your policy. Alas has an interesting thread on this line of thought.

So when it comes down to it, I believe this comes down to thinking of a blog as someone’s home, community or place of business. Some folks like debate and encourage it. Others do not want to hear anything but support for their views. This translates directly online. Commenters must respect the choices the blogger establishes. If you want to rant and rave then do it in your own home. Post something to your own blog and cite the original source. This is really what blogging is about in the first place.