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Comment Moderation – How Do You Do It?

Today I came across a post on one of the NYT blogs on how the blogger there, Marci Alboher, moderates comments on her blog – via Steve Rubel.

In the post Marci shares a few reasons why she doesn’t allow comments to go up:

1. It is too long (even though it might be well-written and make interesting points).

2. It is nasty, impolite or uses language that is unprintable in The New York Times.

3. It includes a a link that has a typo or is broken in some other way (again, even though it may be well-written and make interesting points).

4. It should have been sent as an e-mail since it is clearly addressed to me and does not appear to have been intended for other readers.

5. It is pandering to me (like visiting the blog to tell me that I’m brilliant and have my finger on the pulse of something) or blatantly self-promotional.

I’m fascinated by this list on a number of fronts.

  1. I think it’s great that Marci (and the NYT) has thought through which comments she’ll allow up on her blog. I suspect that many bloggers don’t have any kind of policy on comment moderation (formal or informal) and have not communicated to their readers what they accept or don’t accept. I think that such a policy would be helpful for both readers and bloggers.
  2. My personal opinion on comment policies is that what the blogger (or the blog owner) says goes. We all have different opinions, values and approaches but in the same way that I decide what I want to happen inside my home I decide that boundaries of behavior on my blog. While a few of the things that Marci said do make me raise my eyebrows (moderating comments based upon length even if they are well written and interesting for example) it’s her (and the NYT) prerogative to set the boundaries where she sets them.
  3. Having said that – I find it interesting to see where bloggers do draw the line. Perhaps it’s partly to do with writing a blog for the NYT who would have strong guidelines on such matters – but I get the feeling that Marci moderates comments a lot more tightly and in areas that most bloggers wouldn’t even consider moderating comments on. Most bloggers do have concerns of self promotion (particularly when it borders on spam) and many would edit based upon unacceptable language or personal attack but the idea of moderating based upon length or comments with typos in links goes to a place that I’ve not seen many bloggers go.

I don’t really want to create a discussion based around debating whether Marci’s approach is ‘right or wrong’ (I think it’s really up to her to make those decisions for her blog) but I would love to hear readers opinions and experiences is setting boundaries in their own blog’s comment sections.

  • Do you have a comments policy on your blog (written or unwritten)?
  • When do you moderate comments? What triggers you to moderate certain comments?

PS: My answers to these questions are in my comment policy. It’s a little dated (written in 2005) but it still largely fits with my approach.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Eric Hegwer says:

    I turned comments OFF.

  2. Laura says:

    My comment policy (which was inspired by a blogger friend) is that I don’t include in my posts what I don’t want in comments.

    * Bad language or offensive material
    * Offensive or non-related advertising.
    * Get Rich quick schemes, pyramid marketing schemes, or any other money scams

    It’s a personal decision that has worked for me. It keeps me on my toes as sometimes advertisers have some crazy advertisements slip in.

  3. Ryan Kubrick says:

    The easier it is to comment, the more people will feel at ease on your site which means they’ll likely fee some sort of vestment and return. What’s the worst thing that can happen? It you’re on top of things, you’ll delete the “click here” comments and the offensive comments.

  4. I moderate my comments by reading them first through email. But I really have no restrictions except for the common ones such as spam and use of foul language.

    I do not mind commentators who leave simple comment like “nice post” but obviously just promoting their blogs, as long as they are live links and related of my blog topic.

    I believe that comments play a big role in a blog in a manner that the blog looks bigger when comments are in big numbers.

    After all, we are not obliged to reply on each comment.

  5. green blog says:

    Nowadays turning on the comment moderation is absolutely a must. It’s not that we don’t give the freedom to visitors to voice their opinion but most of the time, the privilege is often misused. Sometimes they treat it as a platform to argue due to differing opinion while others even include an inappropriate link hoping to get away with it.

  6. Lin Burress says:

    I have a comment policy page on my blog, and I do moderate and delete as spam the “comments” (I use the term loosely) that are nothing but self-promotion, including things like:

    *signature links, just don’t do it
    *are completely off-topic
    *add or contribute nothing to the conversation
    *say things like “great advice…[insert blog link]
    *foul language or attacking me or others
    *”keyword” names instead of using “John Doe @ [insert blog name]

    I don’t mind lengthy comments, as long as they contribute something to the conversation and don’t just ramble.

  7. Jodith says:

    I don’t have a written comment policy (although maybe I should). So far, the only comments I’ve moderated out are obvious spam or comments not written in English (which are probably spam, but who knows since I don’t read the language).

    My unwritten comment policy differ depending on the blog involved (I have three). On my professional blog (the one linked here), I would moderate out bad language. But it’s not the kind of blog to really attract it.

    On another blog, which is religious in nature, I make it a policy to moderate out anything which is negative to the religion, simply because the blog has a very narrow focus and it’s not appropriate on the blog. And, of course, bad language. I do sometimes have to moderate my ads, as I get some anti-religious ads at times which seriously disturb my readers.

    On my personal blog, though, I only moderate out obvious spam and serious trolls. And it’s got to be a pretty serious troll for me to moderate them. I don’t mind discussion, even vociferous discussion. As long as personal attacks are kept out, then I leave it along. Not that I get enough comments to worry about, but that’s my general policy.

  8. Interesting article, but since my blog isn’t famous enough yet.. i don’t really face that problem.. comment moderation on + wp-spamfree works for me

  9. Davina says:

    I’ve only moderated one comment. It was a normal comment, but the link was from a porn site and I don’t want to be connected with that on my blog.

  10. Adam Singer says:

    Wow – she wont allow a comment because it is “too long”

    CLEARLY she doesn’t understand the blogosphere nor wants active participation on her blog.

    I’d never read something that edited out something because it was “too long”.

  11. Roschelle says:

    I really don’t have a comment policy persay. I love getting feed back from readers with in support of what I’ve posted, opposed to my views or indifferent (well I guess that goes without saying because if you’re indifferent, you probably won’t leave a comment anyway). I think moderation is something that might become a necessary evil over a period ot time. If you notice your comments are quite long, extremely offensive or just panhandling, you might need to rethink the decision not to moderate. I haven’t run into that problem yet. Hope I don’t. Thanks for a great post!

  12. If the comment is constructive, makes a good point, and isn’t offensive, I almost always allow it. However, if it’s as long as my article and has the intention of derailing me by being aggressive or ignorant it gets deleted.

    The truth is, I don’t have to allow any comments at all. Harsh I know, but some people get on my site and feel the need to elbow me where it hurts. They have this crazy idea that I’m going to allow it because it’s blog.

    It’s safe to say you’re better off not posting rude comments on anyone’s blog. We love to hear other people’s opinions but hassling the writer won’t get you anywhere. Say what you want but if it’s misguided it will be deleted.

    Just my thoughts.

  13. Rodney Olsen says:

    It can be a little confusing when you visit a blog that is fairly relaxed in nature to find that their comment policy is written like a legal document.

    That’s why I took a very relaxed style in writing my comment policy. http://rodneyolsen.net/comment-policy

    I wanted to ensure that people knew there were some things I wouldn’t permit but on the whole I’m keen for people to comment. I want comments so I refuse to scare commenters away with scary sounding policies.

  14. gardino says:

    I only delete spam. For dirty and bad word comment, I only edit the word and keep the comment stay on my blog.

  15. Hi Darren,

    I don’t have a written policy. I don’t allow profanity, or spam, but other than that, most comments are fine.

    My comment section is where all the action is. Those who comment are very respectful of my wishes.

  16. My comment moderation policy is simple, but not posted on my blog. Perhaps I will re-think that.

    My unpublished policy is anything will be published except:

    -Affiliate spam or spam-spam
    -Personal attacks (on me or another reader)
    -Obvious insanity

    I have people in discussions via comments on my blog – and that’s fine as long as it doesn’t get ugly. Relevant links are appreciated and even suggestions for follow-up posts.

  17. michele says:

    Marci’s choices do seem to limit the vibrancy of the conversations to her posts. I read a number of NYT blogs regularly and have frequently found the comments to be more enlightening than the original post. This isn’t a criticism of the post because the point of the blog is to get a rounded community debate/discussion going. This makes reading blogs exciting, and relevant.

    Given the number of people either out of work or concerned with lossing their jobs it seems bazarre that she has posts with only 4 comments a week after publication. Personally I don’t think she does herself as a blogger or the larger issue of the job hunt any favor by constricting the comments as she does.

  18. amirulcyber says:

    If i get comment and it is might be well-written and interesting points
    off course i will approved it.there is no reason to consider it as spam.

  19. I love comments, and since my blog is a Do-Follow for comments my only criteria is that it is not SPAM. Most of my commenters leave great comments and participate well and I reward them with the do-follow and link luv!

  20. Alex says:

    I like to allow comments that are right in the middle, not too long or too short. The comments that are too short are usually from other bloggers that just want to promote their site. I don’t mind promotion but it becomes spam when you don’t even read what I post.

    I let the long ones in as long as they are entertaining in some way or add value. Sometimes the long ones are “great article, now here’s my story”. It similar to someone listening to you only waiting for their turn to speak.

    I don’t allow the rude comments or the ones who are trying to pick a fight with me. I don’t argue with people let alone on my blog-it’s too draining in general.

  21. Winston says:

    Ive been getting quite involved in comment moderation having just published a comment moderation plugin for a CMS system. My own personal policy, for now, would be simply to accept everything that isnt “abusive” or spam.

  22. ET Barton says:

    Unfortunately, one of the websites I write for does not allow you to pre-approve comments. I wrote one pretty controversial article, and now I have two commenters who feel they have the right to leave as many nasty comments as they like. In general, it has been my practice to delete any comments that did not add to the feeling of the article, but instead bashed it/me or promoted themselves too much, but these two commenters keep coming back and leaving nastier and nastier comments just because I deleted them. At this point, I have given up completely. I just respond as politely as possible to their attacks and try not to let it bother me.

  23. Krissy says:

    My policy (which is not stated but is still enforced by me):

    1. No spam. It is clear when somebody has come to your blog entry just to sell a product, etc, and has most likely not even read it. I esp. hate when they are going to mention sexual things or Viagra. I have a G rated blog, and delete these immediately. Actually, I delete all spam.

    2. No cursing. At lease no excessive cursing.

    Krissy :)

  24. Mikeachim says:

    I moderate, mainly to give spam the boot. That includes the “What a great article. Anyway, I’ve written something about {unconnected topic]” sort.

    Otherwise, anything goes. Profanities stay as long as they’re in context and being used to make a point.

    But long comments – absolutely encouraged. If someone wants to write an essay or get up on their soapbox, they’re free to. For me that’s the meat on the bones of blogging. That’s the side of blogging that I think traditional journalism is a little leery about: sustained arguments that really deeply engage with the material. (Mind you, there’s an argument for keeping comments short to keep everyone succinct).

    Having said all this, I’m in the safe position of having a personal blog for fun. I’ve plans to have a professional portfolio site that should allow comments, and I’ll no doubt moderate that more strictly….

    One thing I won’t do anymore is let comments go through unmoderated. It’d feel like wandering out the front door with my pants round my ankles.

  25. Meg says:

    I try to encourage comments, I’m always afraid I’ll hear the crickets after a post! but I do take down ones that are one-liners with a link to an unrelated site (usually Akismet catches a comment like “nice article” with a link to a product) and comments that are nasty to other commenters.

  26. Protoscopic says:

    I am actually trying to answer this question for myself. If you have a poster who posts something “semi-relevant.” Something that’s more than “Good Post,” but not much more, and then links to their blog. Is it worth leaving that post? I mean I’m all for self-promotion but a little more content in your post would be nice. At the same time I don’t want to be the comment police and tell people their comments need to be of a certain quality to get posted. Generally I’m just filtering for spam, I’m just not sure where spam starts…

  27. Chris says:

    I won’t think of not moderating comments. It’s not so much the spam–plug-ins do a good job of controlling it–it’s the non-spam comments. Our local paper, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, allows comments to stories. I’m frequently appalled by the mean, heartless remarks to stories. There are comments like making fun of people killed in accidents or worse. I’ve also read just plain stupid and again mean comments to recipes on Epicurious.com. I moderate not so much for spam as the mean comment that serves no place on anyone’s blog.

  28. Satollo says:

    Actually I moderate ALL comments, by two means. The first is to protect my self from legal action. In my blog there is a post where companies can insert they offers. It happened that two companies starts to “talking bad” of each other until ones sent me a legal note. Obviously I deleted the all comments of the two.

    The second is to protect my audience. In a post reviewing a game for teenegers (widely commentrs by teenegers), I noted some strange comments asking to get in contact via msn messegner – always from the same email address – that was different from the messenger one and that didn’t seem a “young” email address.

    So my policy is to have a look to all the comments, even if it’s tedious. Specially now when I allow to send a pictur with the comment…

    (as always, sorry for my poor english)

  29. free wii says:

    I just don’t understand why google would need to do that. really, is there any point? I have read elsewhere that it still passes PR juice around? Anybody have an answer?

  30. Nice ideas. Lets just hope that 2009 shapes up better than 2008 did. But I’m none too hopeful