One of the most frequent questions from beginning bloggers is how to moderate comments.
They’re afraid to allow comments “that criticize me or my company.” They don’t know whether to edit comments with a heavy hand, or not at all. Or whether to allow links to other people’s blogs and websites. And they’re not quite sure how to stop the glut of spam comments.
Here are seven tips that will help you moderate comments at your blog. Notice I said “moderate.” That means the comment does not show up unless you approve it. All reputable blog platforms give you the power to moderate, and you should use it.
- Allow comments that criticize you and your company, as much as it hurts. This makes for a more interesting and engaging blog, and it gives you the chance to respond to the person who commented.
- Delete comments that simply say “great post.” Often, the commenter simply wants a backlink to a website or blog.
- Decide how you’re going to deal with four-letter words and other obscenities. This blog, and my own blog at PublicityHound.net, are for business audiences. I remove obscenities and other material I determine offensive, but this is seldom a problem.
- Do you allow people leaving comments to include links? Some bloggers don’t, but I do because it’s helpful to readers who are sometimes looking for other sources of information. If a link is obivous spam, I remove it.
- If you wish, you can limit the length of comments. I don’t because if somebody is willing to take the time to offer in-depth commentary, I consider that a compliment. It shows they care.
- Beware of commenters who personally attack others. You can be held liable for any material that appears at your blog, including anything libelous. The definition of libel is “reckless disregard for the truth.” If in doubt, leave it out.
- Consider a comments policy for your blog that spells out what you will and won’t allow. You can read about comments policies here and here.
As for all that spam, blog platforms often have plug-ins that move most spam comments into a spam folder, where you can delete it. This is a WordPress blog, and we use the excellent Akismet plug-in that removes almost all spam.
What ground rules do you follow when moderating comments? If you don’t allow comments at blog, why not?