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Gini Dietrich

Moderating Blog Comments

By: Gini Dietrich | October 27, 2010 | 
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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.

106 comments
GlennTwiddle
GlennTwiddle

wow, might have to look into this 'livefyre' thing. NICE !!!

 

Glenn

www.GlennTwiddle.com.au

 

noman
noman

Hi,

Yeah in this blog you have decided very good topic to post for. The comments that are moderated always are very annoying for the majority of commenters. As I am going to add a blog page to my site - that is <a href="http://www.reproschicker.ch">filmbelichtung</a> so I'll not modify the comment system there to moderate the incoming comments as it also decreases the number of visitors and your audiences.

Thanks!.

rogerhamilton30
rogerhamilton30

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rogerhamilton30
rogerhamilton30

<a href="http://www.rogerjameshamilton.com/">Roger Hamilton</a>

I have defended in this post , we learn to be creative and a new type of capitalism (capitalism, creative). Some people agree with me and the writers and entrepreneurs who spoke and presented with some of his work. However, many of those who say they agree, in fact change the course of things?do. Learning the depths of Social Entrepreneurship has made me realize many things in my own life. I have been taking the wrong approach towards life which took me towards the path I never wanted to take in the first place. Beginning with the crystal clear clarity about my goals and taking every one I know into consideration is the next step I intend to take very seriously.

Elisha Batuncang
Elisha Batuncang

Hey Gini, this would be my first time commenting here. This is one very interesting topic to discuss because most of my friends were moderating their blog's comment and I think it's really annoying. I couldn't say much because I know they're worried about negative comments as well as SPAM to flood their blog.

Moderation of blog comments = perfectionism

susansilver
susansilver

Since this is a debate about the usefulness of Livefyre I thought it might be an apt place for a test of the platform. I'm really curious about the debate surrounding blog commenting. All have strong points and weak points. I like Livefyre right now because if nothing else it recognizes Linked In as a power player in the online world, espcially as place where conversations are taking place.

The ability to mention people in comments who haven't commented is a plus in my opinion. It integrates the platform into your other online activities. The system in general reminds me of @namesake which is an awesome social network.

I guess what I really wanted to see is how Livefyre responds to online media. If people can post vids in comments. I was looking at intense dabate and Sesmic has a plug in that has this feature. I woud love to see a comment system that picks up video responses from youtbe. Like pingbacks and trackbacks. So if you have a vid that goes with your post you could show the responses from the youtube community on your blog.

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

I usually subscribe to comments, replies so I know when my comment is published but like you Gini, I rarely go back to a post to see if my comment was posted after it was held. That said, I don't think I notice when other comments have been held, not sure I see a break in the conversation when I read others comments, though I do like the instant feedback of seeing my comments appear live. Hmmm...

I might test this for a while, throw the doors open and see what happens. I haven't used comment systems like Disqus or Livefyre (yet) as I don't want to zap existing comments. My blog doesn't receive a TON of spam, thanks to the various plugins.. so I'll try not holding comments in queue. Let you know how it goes.

shelholtz
shelholtz

Gosh, Gini, I'm sorry you think my comment spam issue is "baloney" (although I certainly appreciate your using the alternative to BS). From where I sit, calling baloney on me suggests you think I'm lying. I assure you, I'm not. I use Akismet (the same tool used by hundreds of thousands of others); it performs exactly the same on my Expression Engine blog as it would on WordPress or any other platform. According to Wikipedia, it is said to have caught 18.1 billion spam comments and pings as of September 2010. However, it doesn't stop people paid by companies to physically leave a comment, enter the CAPTCHA words, and use techniques specifically designed to defeat comment spam filters. Other bloggers agree -- BL Ochman left a comment to my post indicating she's getting more and more such comment spam. If you're not getting it, bully for you! Maybe the spammers haven't discovered your blog yet. Whatever the reason, I'll be happy to send you screen shots of the collection I find most waiting for me most mornings, in the event that you still think I'm full of baloney. Or maybe I'd be more credible if I changed out of my jeans. ;-)

Ari Herzog
Ari Herzog

As I just commented over on Danny Brown's blog, I am seeing Livefyre more and more -- and I am hating it more and more. The user interface is just ugly. And that's the tip. I need to compose my thoughts into a blog post. That may come out next week.

Marijean
Marijean

Ken, I honestly don't even consider a blog without the comment feature enabled a BLOG. It's just so counter to the culture of social media.
I also agree with you regarding fake names -- I would not remove it but will be tempted to openly mock them for being a chicken.

KenMueller
KenMueller

I agree. In most cases, on a business related blog, I see no need for moderating. I use Akismet and I can think of only one instance out of thousands where a spam comment has gotten through. It works wonders.

I don't get a ton of comments on my blog, though I wish I did. And I've even got comments from people who disagree with me. I have no problem with that.
Other things that bother me include people who blog and turn OFF the comment feature. We have a local blogger (troll) who uses his blog to blast every one and every thing local. And yet he won't allow comments (but will comment on other people's blogs).

Also, I had a comment today from someone using a fake name. I don't like anonymous or pseudonymous comments. If you want to comment, use your real name. Don't hide behind another name. I left this particular comment up so I could address it, but at times I'm tempted to remove them, and let them know why I removed them.

In the end...don't moderate. Keep the conversation going and flowing!

Marijean
Marijean

I have not moderated for years -- sure I use SPAM filters but I don't realy consider that moderation -- everything is published without delay, which I believe is important to the momentum of the blog comment conversation. You know how frustrating it is when there's a satellite feed on TV and that short delay between what the interviewee hears and their response? Moderating is that times ten to the momentum of a conversation. Livefyre is a fantastic tool to change the way we interact with comments and I'm eager to see greater adoption of it.

mirbiz
mirbiz

I totally get and even kinda agree with what you are saying, but I personally have no problem with moderating comments so long as you are not filtering or editing the comments.

Gini, you are filtering out SPAM by requiring users to comment via livefyre. I think a lot of people, including myself, moderate because of SPAM.

In addition, while there's nothing wrong with promoting your own article in a comment, your comment should add to or at least be somewhat relevant to the post. A comment that is completely irrelevant.to the post that is just there to post a link to their blog should be deleted.

A lot of it has to do with the popularity of your blog too. If you are getting a lot of comments, you can get away with a spammy comment being on your blog. However, if you are getting few comments, it looks really bad if all the comments are spam.

Ricardo Bueno
Ricardo Bueno

I say "No" to moderating comments. Comments shouldn't sit in a que for hours waiting to be published. In most cases, they take a day or more to get published and frankly that's kind of annoying. If I come back a day later and it still hasn't been approved, I'm sorry but I'm inclined to not want to return and participate again.

If it's spam your concerned about, then activate Akismet and/or get a better commenting system like Disqus or Intense Debate. Both allow you to moderate comments from your mobile device (something I do all the time).

Mhandy1
Mhandy1

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!

Barbara
Barbara

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.

jennalanger
jennalanger moderator

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 take back and forth participation. Leaving a comment then never returning won't create community and won't encourage more, better comments. You could almost say it encourages spam, because they don't plan on coming back. They just want the link bait. I'd rather go through and delete spam than approve all the good comments. I'm glad you feel the same way.

jonbuscall
jonbuscall

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.

Sushi
Sushi

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.

RandomShelly
RandomShelly

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... ;)

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

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.

nataliewardel
nataliewardel

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.

MimiMeredith
MimiMeredith

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 back and watch conversations flow. And in that environment, should any bullies raise their heads, I'll be glad to remind them of the basics of civil interaction. It will be a great teaching opportunity.
Ah, but I digress, as I'm not yet Gini Dietrich and my longest comment thread on any post has been 19 comments long. I can't wait for the day when I have comments tripping over one another as great conversations build into a swell of community. I don't think any of that can occur in a moderated forum. But for now, let's not judge moderators too harshly as, I too, am one of them.

barryrsilver
barryrsilver

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.

wabbitoid
wabbitoid

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!

JulieWalraven
JulieWalraven

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 lean toward slander and those are posted. I wonder if newspapers attract different kinds of people who comment. I don't expect people to agree with me but I want them to use civility in their conversation. If I had large numbers of comments like my newspaper, I might lean toward moderating and then you are faced with the dilemma of if you delete, is that right or fair?

You always make me think!

hackmanj
hackmanj

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 can better explain that. It might help Shel protect his liability.

anndunawayteh
anndunawayteh

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!

johnheaney
johnheaney

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.

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