Gini Dietrich

Moderating Blog Comments

By: Gini Dietrich | October 27, 2010 | 
147

As you know, my top 10 blog posts I read on vacation on Monday included Shel Holtz’s blog about moderating comments. Then, as we were recording InsidePR yesterday, we discussed the issue again. You can read Shel’s post here and listen to the discussion with Joe Thornley here. Sneak peak: Joe and I disagree about moderating blog comments.

I included Shel’s post because I think it’s an interesting viewpoint and because I don’t like reading only those things that support my thinking. I respect the heck out of his decision to moderate his comments. We all have different strategies for our blogs. His clearly is not the same as ours…plus he thinks if someone says something negative about someone else on his blog, he’s liable.

I vehemently disagree!

He says he found a comment that said, “Name redacted is a thief and imposter take no note of him. He is a fly by night character that moves on as he owes money.”

Come on. First of all, if that got through the spam filter (which is unlikely it would), who is to say you can’t go back and unapprove it later? Have guidelines on your blog that state you will delete comments that appear libelous to you. And delete it.

He goes on to say that he gets a lot of spam that isn’t caught. Again, I call baloney. There are great spam filters in the best commenting systems such as Livefyre (which we use and LOVE), Disqus, and Intense Debate. We don’t moderate our comments and I think I’ve had to delete maybe two spam comments that got through the filter in the past six months.

He continues his argument that his readers would rather wait hours to see their comment appear than to slog through several spam comments. I maintain just using a better commenting system because, as one of his readers, I don’t go back to see if my comment was approved. Ever. He’s lost me until he writes another post.

Here is the thing. Blogging, as Kevin Dugan stated in a comment here yesterday, is 80 IQ points. Which means the rest of the smarts come from you. And if I moderate your comments, that defeats the purpose of community, of reacting off of one another, of creating debate, of opening our minds, and of making all of us smarter.

Blogs that moderate comments always give me the impression that they’re unprofessional – kind of like having an AOL email address for business today. And, if my comment is moderated, I won’t come back later to a) see if it was approved and b) engage in the conversation again. Sure, I won’t stop reading your blog for that reason, but you won’t have my engagement.

If you want a blog that builds community and creates a 150 IQ, find a commenting system that filters the spam for you and let the people talk.

The floor is yours – let’s elevate this post to genius level. Moderating comments or no?

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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147 Comments on "Moderating Blog Comments"

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johnheaney
5 years 7 months ago

I’m with you, Gini. There is no legal precedent assigning liability to a blogger for libelous comments submitted by a third party. It makes much more sense to post comments immediately and moderate them throughout the day to delete any that are profane or otherwise inappropriate. Otherwise you’re engaging in conversation prevention, not engagement.

anndunawayteh
anndunawayteh
5 years 7 months ago

Great post and very timely! I just installed Livefyre on my blog and love it so far. I didn’t have a good spam filter and so did the whole approval thing which is tedious and I think did cut down on the comments I was getting. Glad to not have to do that anymore!

hackmanj
5 years 7 months ago
Excellent post Gini, I am in your camp. I have some clients who feel a strong need to moderate comments, and in some cases I think it is wise such as a government agency. It’s a matter of choice of course and it’s good to have the options.Regarding this: “he thinks if someone says something negative about someone else on his blog, he’s liable.” I am not a lawyer but the way I understand it you are more likely to be liable if you make an effort to moderate than if you do not. Maybe someone with a legal background… Read more »
JulieWalraven
5 years 7 months ago
I am totally with you, Gini, I used to moderate but I watch my e-mails all the time (too much perhaps) and approved them very quickly at the time. Now I changed my settings. 2 or more links will switch to moderated status but everyone else goes straight through. I would rather delete the obvious spam than go the other route and make people wait. The conversation is not complete if you have a big gap in the middle. My blog tends to attract polite comments. Now I see comments in my local newspaper that I think are mean and… Read more »
wabbitoid
5 years 7 months ago

I agree with you 100% on all points. Akismet has protected me from 7335 spam comments, versus the 3465 real ones that are up at Barataria, my main home blog. I’ve only had to delete a few over the 3 years I’ve been at it. I see no reason at all to moderate. Intelligent blogs rarely have comment sections that degenerate into flame wars, so if you are a respectful and thoughtful writer it should all work out nicely!

wabbitoid
5 years 7 months ago

@JulieWalraven My theory on newspapers is that they have worked very hard over the years to develop their image as an absolute authority – and so people want to rip them down from their pedestal. So I think that newspaper comments are a different animal altogether and reflect the legacy media / social media divide more than anything. I have a longer theory about general rudeness on the ‘net being a by product of people interacting through machines, making it a cousin to “road rage”, but that’s a longer story. 🙂

janereigytasuda
4 years 6 months ago

@wabbitoid@JulieWalraven

> http://jareta.name ( show off site )

> http://blog.jareta.name ( my, mini diary )

> http://name.jareta.name (HY, join @forum n.j.n *recomended hhaa..) Please support this web, Like & leave ur comment ^^V

Need ur help 4 developt ^_^ Thxx b4 friend!

barryrsilver
5 years 7 months ago

Gini,
You are right, moderation is counter productive to creating an open forum in which to exchange ideas. Your blog portfolio and regular audience also self-moderate (no profane tirades). As a new blogger I moderate because my portfolio can bring inappropriate comments, plus my inner control freak still has a say in the matter. As for spam, I hope to one day merit receiving it.

MimiMeredith
MimiMeredith
5 years 7 months ago
I do moderate comments because my spam filter is almost non existent and for every delightful community-based exchange, there is someone selling drugs or replica handbags. This is because I started out on GoDaddy. Note to anyone. Don’t do that. I’m currently in the process of moving the blog, and improving the commenting feature is one of my top priorities for the sake of buiding community. I haven’t gotten big enough to attract school yard fights on my comment page–nor can I imagine that happening on a blog that focuses on growing goodness. Regardless, I am so eager to step… Read more »
nataliewardel
nataliewardel
5 years 7 months ago

I’m in your camp. For larger blogs that get so many comments, the discussion becomes as important as the post.

I get really annoyed when small blogs moderate comments, or when they have a captcha thing. I know for my small blog, the amount of spam that isn’t caught by a filter is totally manageable.

DannyBrown
5 years 7 months ago

Unless there’s a specific reason for moderation (let’s say legal, as that’s the most frequent reason for moderation), then fair enough. Otherwise, no, I don’t believe in moderation.

Like you say, if someone gets through and leaves something nasty, delete. If they repeat, warn. If they still repeat, three strikes and out – block their IP and they lose commenting rights.

I put up a blog comment policy, just as guidelines:

http://dannybrown.me/about-this-blog/comment-policy/

But I haven’t really had to do much, to be honest. Shel’s points are a bit wacky, as you point out so well. But, to each their own.

RandomShelly
5 years 7 months ago

I agree with you – no moderation unless something becomes an issue (or has legal implications)…

if you cherry pick your comments or delete the stuff that doesn’t ‘fit’ with you or your post.. you might as well a) not even blog or b) don’t allow comments since what you had to say was so profound nobody could add to it anyway… 😉

Sushi
5 years 7 months ago

I don’t moderate comments. The entries are my area to talk; therefore, the comments should be the readers’ space to talk. Unless the comments start getting filled with spam, libel, or threats, I let the commenters discuss whatever they please.

DannyBrown
5 years 7 months ago

@sushi Love this quote right here:

“The entries are my area to talk; therefore, the comments should be the readers’ space to talk.”

That’s gold.

jonbuscall
5 years 7 months ago

Hmm. I wonder if this has anything to do with Shel using ExpressionEngine. I used to use it and always found the comment system a pain.

That aside, I think it’s absolutely okay to moderate comments. I block spammers (of course) and anyone who attempts to leave a “friendly” comment that is a slightly more sophisticated form of spam.

DannyBrown
5 years 7 months ago

@JonBuscall I think that’s more filtering as opposed to moderation, Jon?

I’m like you, I’ll block and ban spammers and other donkeys, but I’ll let every other comment through automatically. I think this adds to the immediate conversation (as highlighted by the notification I got about a new comment, and replying to you almost instantly).

Moderating comments so they only appear after blogger approval would kill this interaction stone dead. Or at least just leave a way watered down version of it. 😉

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 7 months ago

@dannybrown @JonBuscall I’m curious too, Jon. Is it more filtering instead of moderating? You don’t moderate your comments. I know because I comment there and it always shows up immediately.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 7 months ago

@dannybrown @sushi Hence elevating blog posts from 80 IQ points to 150. We aren’t smart by ourselves. And Danny, that also points to your weakness post from earlier this week.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 7 months ago

@RandomShelly Dang. I wish I’d moderated you out. BTW! I found my bracelet!!!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 7 months ago

@dannybrown Have you ever seen a legal situation that it makes sense to moderate? In financial services and healthcare it’s required. But other than that?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 7 months ago

@nataliewardel Or more important!

janereigytasuda
4 years 6 months ago

@ginidietrich@nataliewardel

> http://jareta.name ( show off site )

> http://blog.jareta.name ( my, mini diary )

> http://name.jareta.name (HY, join @forum n.j.n *recomended hhaa..) Please support this web, Like & leave ur comment ^^V

Need ur help 4 developt ^_^ Thxx b4 friend!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 7 months ago

@MimiMeredith You make me laugh out loud. Literally! You should check out Livefyre when you get your blog moved. I am in love. Like want to marry the system, in love.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 7 months ago

@barryrsilver So when will you stop moderating?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 7 months ago

@wabbitoid And, even if there are flame wars, I feel like that’s part of the responsibility of opening up your community. If you only attracted people who agreed with you, no one learns anything.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 7 months ago

@wabbitoid @JulieWalraven I agree with moderation on newspaper sites mostly because you can’t avoid the slanderous and anonymity there.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 7 months ago

@hackmanj It would be interesting to get the take of a lawyer on this. I’ll see what I can do.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 7 months ago

@anndunawayteh Love, love, love Livefyre! Do you love it??

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 7 months ago

@johnheaney I wonder if there ever will be legal precendent on assigning liabiliy to the blogger? Oh…and thanks for finding the typo for me!

jonbuscall
5 years 7 months ago

@GiniDietrich @dannybrown @JonBuscall It’s definitely filtering from my part. What I like about Discus is you can reply, delete and approve with email. Makes it easy to manage comments.

That said, I love how Livefyre works on this site. Just couldn’t get it to work on mine ;(

DannyBrown
5 years 7 months ago

@JonBuscall @GiniDietrich You should speak to @jkretch and @jennalanger about @Livefyre on your site mate – I bet they’d be happy to help. 🙂

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 7 months ago

@JonBuscall No! Really? Hey @jmatthicks! Help Jon!

DannyBrown
5 years 7 months ago

@GiniDietrich I’m thinking political blogs as one example. There will always be some indutsries I guess are just ripe for moderation due to idiots with an agenda. But for the most part, I just see moderation as blogger roadkill.

wabbitoid
5 years 7 months ago

@GiniDietrich Ya know, I never really thought that out before. Yes, now that you mention it, if a flame war did break out on my blog I’d leave it (and try to referee, ‘natch). It’s good to have thunk this out before it happened, too. Thanks!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 7 months ago

@wabbitoid Yeah – it’s not fun when it happens the first (or second or third) time. You grow a pretty thick skin and let people have their say.

DannyBrown
5 years 7 months ago
@wabbitoid @GiniDietrich I once wrote a post that probably saw me become one of the most hated people with a certain Tumblr community, as the comments bear out: http://dannybrown.me/2009/04/13/does-twitter-monitor-its-brand-fake-twittercom-suggests-no/ But the funny thing with flame wars is that they can often have good in them, too. While I was getting crapped on in the comments, I was still aware of how a community came together to “protect” one of their own. I wrote about that here: http://dannybrown.me/2009/04/16/community-spirit-and-blog-comments-redux/ Yeah, flame wars can be a pain in the ass, but if it shows that people are passionate as well, then sometimes it… Read more »
janereigytasuda
4 years 6 months ago

@DannyBrown@wabbitoid@ginidietrich

> http://jareta.name ( show off site )

> http://blog.jareta.name ( my, mini diary )

> http://name.jareta.name (HY, join @forum n.j.n *recomended hhaa..) Please support this web, Like & leave ur comment ^^V

Need ur help 4 developt ^_^ Thxx b4 friend!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 7 months ago

@dannybrown I’m taking @JulieWalraven advice and moderating you out for TWO links!

jennalanger
5 years 7 months ago

@hackmanj That’s a great point. Look at P2P sites, or even Twitter. If you attempt to moderate then you are in control and more responsible for what shows up on the page. But if you are just providing the platform or place to share ideas, it is not your responsibility to moderate what people say. Having a disclaimer is never a bad idea either.

anndunawayteh
anndunawayteh
5 years 7 months ago

@GiniDietrich I only installed it yesterday but so far it is great!

janereigytasuda
4 years 6 months ago

@anndunawayteh@ginidietrich

> http://jareta.name ( show off site )

> http://blog.jareta.name ( my, mini diary )

> http://name.jareta.name (HY, join @forum n.j.n *recomended hhaa..) Please support this web, Like & leave ur comment ^^V

Need ur help 4 developt ^_^ Thxx b4 friend!

jennalanger
5 years 7 months ago

@JulieWalraven Are you seeing these comments from your local newspaper in print or online? If they are on print, that’s interesting because the newspaper is selecting those to be published. They are moderating, but maybe they want more controversy so they’ll post comments that disagree with the original post.

jennalanger
5 years 7 months ago

@GiniDietrich @MimiMeredith Let me know when you make the switch Mimi, we’d love for you to join the Livefyre community!

jennalanger
5 years 7 months ago

@GiniDietrich @JonBuscall Hey Jon, we want you on Livefyre! There was some bad data in your comment database and we’re working on fixing that (oh, the irony). We’ll get you on Livefyre as soon as it’s ready. Reply/moderate by e-mail is on our feature list, coming soon!

johnheaney
5 years 7 months ago

@GiniDietrich I have no doubt that there is an enterprising attorney somewhere calculating how to make the blog owner liable for comments submitted by anonymous posters. After all, who’s more likely to have readily identifiable and deep pockets? Follow the money.

janereigytasuda
4 years 6 months ago

@johnheaney@ginidietrich

> http://jareta.name ( show off site )

> http://blog.jareta.name ( my, mini diary )

> http://name.jareta.name (HY, join @forum n.j.n *recomended hhaa..) Please support this web, Like & leave ur comment ^^V

Need ur help 4 developt ^_^ Thxx b4 friend!

jennalanger
5 years 7 months ago
Let’s take a look at something here. In 7 hours, this post has received 40 comments (now 41). All of them are insightful, informative, and nothing close to spam. I’m sure this is mostly because SpinSucks has such a great community around it. But I can say that I saw comments streaming in live, and that inspired me to respond right away (and another comment just came in as I typed). This is the key point right here – “I don’t go back to see if my comment was approved. Ever. He’s lost me until he writes another post.” Conversations… Read more »
Barbara
Barbara
5 years 7 months ago

I don’t moderate comments but wish I could find a filter to eliminate spam. And I mean the ‘I’m going to leave a comment simply to have a link back to my site’ spam. Rampant in the food blogging community. Granted; recipes don’t often illicit mind blowing conversation but I wish that what I call First Responders would quit using my blog and others to build page rank.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 7 months ago

@JennaLanger This is exactly why I love Livefyre so much…you guys have figured out to make us keep coming back for more! I love, love, love it!!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 7 months ago

@Barbara Have you tried what @JulieWalraven does with moderating comments that have links in them? That might help?

hackmanj
5 years 7 months ago

@JennaLanger Love the idea about a disclaimer, I wonder how much protection that would provide.

janereigytasuda
4 years 6 months ago

@hackmanj@jennalanger

> http://jareta.name ( show off site )

> http://blog.jareta.name ( my, mini diary )

> http://name.jareta.name (HY, join @forum n.j.n *recomended hhaa..) Please support this web, Like & leave ur comment ^^V

Need ur help 4 developt ^_^ Thxx b4 friend!

MimiMeredith
MimiMeredith
5 years 7 months ago

@JennaLanger @GiniDietrich Thanks! We’re in process! We are determining the best blog host now. I know…most people do this prior to blogging for two years. I’m a rebel!

MimiMeredith
MimiMeredith
5 years 7 months ago

@JennaLanger @GiniDietrich I should have made it clear…I am absolutely using Levefyre. Jenna–I can’t wait to be part of the community. I am just trying to do things in a more appropriate sequence this time around!

janereigytasuda
4 years 6 months ago

@MimiMeredith@jennalanger@ginidietrich

> http://jareta.name ( show off site )

> http://blog.jareta.name ( my, mini diary )

> http://name.jareta.name (HY, join @forum n.j.n *recomended hhaa..) Please support this web, Like & leave ur comment ^^V

Need ur help 4 developt ^_^ Thxx b4 friend!

Barbara
Barbara
5 years 7 months ago
@GiniDietrich @JulieWalraven They’re not putting links per se in the comment; just leaving stupid, vacuous comments knowing their web url is linked to their ID in the comment. I’ve noticed a decline in the value of my site to do that since I started listed comments with the last one posted first on the page…they’re missing half of their free advertising if they lose the chance to have someone see them first and click on their site! I’m going to take a look at Julie’s site though…because I do also get those commenters who link to a recipe on their… Read more »
Mhandy1
Mhandy1
5 years 7 months ago

You are 100% right… If we ever become a nation that sues bloggers for comments left on their sites we are living in a scary time. I hate waiting to see comments.. 100% with you, unless you are moderating from a brand protection angle moderation shouldn’t be a consideration… I get protect sites that kids go on it makes sense but otherwise let people talk!

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