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Comments on Blogs: Different Schools of Thoughts

May 31st, 2011
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When it comes to blog comments, there are basically two schools of thought: open unmoderated comments, on the one hand, to moderated commenting, on the other. I recently experienced, once again, the down side of unmoderated comments. I was engaged in an ongoing conversation on a blog site about a post put up by a pastor. We were having a vigorous back and forth, but finally it kind of devolved into a convoluted mess due to the fact that the blog site where the post is featured allows anyone to post and say anything on any given topic. That’s one approach to dealing with comments on a blog site.

Unfortunately, I’ve never seen it work well, particularly in a linear comment format. It is far too easy to see any good conversation derailed into inane chatter about a host of issues that have nothing to do with the original blog post. And, in this case, this is precisely what happened, in addition to the comment count ballooning to nearly 500 comments, which bogged the entire site’s performance. I’d estimate that 70% of the comments on the post had very little, or nothing, to contribute to the point of the blog post to begin with. And, as is usually the case, with unmoderated comments, what ends up happening is that the same half-dozen people dominate all the conversation. In the case of this particular blog site, there is one person who feels what can only be described as a compulsion to chatter on incessantly about anything that happens to pop into her head. This is why I believe for productive conversations to take place on blog sites, or forums, there needs to be a good, solid comment policy in place to which people are held accountable.

The people who want to dominate conversation on your blog site won’t like it. The people who want to post little nasty-grams won’t like it. It’s always amusing to me that people who whine about their comments not being approved, assume that I have some kind of draconian policy by which I delete comments left and right. Truth be told, I would estimate that 98% of all comments submitted to my blog site get approved and posted. My blog comment policy has served me well, and I’ll share it here again for those who are into blogging. You might find it helpful. I have this posted under the “about this blog” link at the top of the site.

I don’t mean to sound harsh, but please understand that you have no “right” to make a comment on my blog. I welcome them. I appreciate them, and I thank you for them, but every once in a while along comes a particularly crabby person who demands that I post their comment. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. If you have a comment to share, feel free to post it. I do moderate comments and reserve the right to reject and/or edit comments, entirely at my discretion. I think of comments as letters to the editor of a newspaper: those that are signed, short, to the point, and make a positive and/or interesting contribution to the post’s topic are much more likely to be be approved. I highly discourage anonymous comments. If you have something to say, be willing to identify yourself and be held accountable for your remarks. If you are looking for a place to engage in extended debate, also known as “comment wars,” this blog won’t be your cup of tea, or coffee. I don’t apologize for the fact that I use comments on this blog to facilitate the purpose of the blog. Finally, if you don’t like my comment policy, I invite you to start your own blog and rant, rave, argue and otherwise pontificate to your heart’s content, just like I do here. That’s what’s fun about blogging!


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Categories: Blogging
  1. scott schaller
    May 31st, 2011 at 22:57 | #1

    sounds like you get into a lot of arguments with people and cut them off.

    • June 1st, 2011 at 06:17 | #2

      Moderated comments allow more civil and purposeful discussions. As I said in the post, when you treat comments submitted like letters to the editor of a paper, you can avoid the silliness that most blogs experience when they do not moderate comments. Of course, there are those who try to pick fights, but it just doesn’t work. But, nice try Scott. : )

  2. June 1st, 2011 at 02:41 | #3

    I agree entirely with your post, and really like your comment policy.

    I really dislike censorship and operated a policy of umoderated comments on my hlog for a couple of years. In the end, I was overrun with a handful of aggressive commenters that were antagonistic to Christianity – even though a few claimed to be Christians.

    These commenters effectively dominated every thread and literally chased off the Christian commenters.

    I couldn’t live with this and started to moderate. I simply couldn’t believe how offended some of these commenters were, when I censored some of their aggressive anti-Christian polemics and ad-hom attacks.

    They swiftly cussed me and left the site.

    I’ll admit that traffic is down and comments more sparse, but I am very slowly gathering together a new community of lovely Christian thinkers.

    I realised it was my duty to create a safe environment for Christians, to be free to express their opinions without being insulted. I also realised that I had a duty to protect the Gospel itself.

    There are plentiful platforms for antagonists to vent their spleen about Christians and Christianity. My blog will not be one of them, and I no longer care about the accusation of censorship, nor the resulting dip in traffic.

    • June 1st, 2011 at 06:14 | #4

      Stuart, yup. The concept of “traffic” to a blog site is an interesting one. If traffic is generated by the frequency of comments made, my experience has been that unless a blog site is in the “big time” with tens of thousands of visits per day, the traffic generated by comments is entirely artificial, since most comment “wars” really only involve a relative small handful of people. And if a blog site, or web site’s, traffic is being artificially pumped up as a result of comment wars, that’s really no indication of how much real traffic a site is receiving. The only meaningful stat for blog traffic is unique visitors and how much time is being spent on a site.

  3. June 1st, 2011 at 13:09 | #5

    Moderating comments is a pretty good idea, and I do it on my blog.

    I know of another blogger who did not moderate comments. After she made a post opposing the idea of homosexual “marriage”, one person posted over one hundred comments – many of them making vulgar sexual references to her young children.

    • June 1st, 2011 at 13:51 | #6

      Well, now honestly, that’s just pure foolishness and laziness on her part.

  4. June 1st, 2011 at 18:39 | #7

    I speak as someone who has been edited by your comment policy in the past. I am grateful for your management of the comments on your blog. I am sure that it is one of the keys to its success.

    In my own case, your proper use of the “delete” key has protected my own blog image from the various stupid, off-the-cuff comments that I have made. I am always relieved when I finally come to my senses and find that I never made it to the comment list.

    Thanks for editing, moderating, and protecting me. :)

    • June 1st, 2011 at 18:43 | #8

      Mike, and may I say, you are one of my most consistently thoughtful commenter, or is that commentators. You know what I mean. You have also privately chastized me in a helpful, brotherly way. I’ve not always heeded that advice, but I should have.

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