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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.