Did you catch yesterday’s post on how to “Free Your Comments!” without becoming overwhelmed with spam? If not, now’s a great time to go read it, then come back here to read about step 3 and creating your own blog comment policy.
Why Create a Blog Comment Policy
As you start to get more comments on your blog (and more spam) you’ll find yourself in those situations where you’re trying to decide whether to approve, edit, or a delete a comment. By creating and posting a clear comment policy you’ll make it easy to moderate your comments (or delegate moderating them to an assistant) and spend less time trying to decide what to do.
For example, say you get a great comment but it includes profanity and your blog readership includes a more conservative audience. Will you approve the comment as is, edit it or trash it? What about next time? Will you take the same steps for every comment?
Or how about when someone posts an opposing view point or challenges your post? Will you approve their comment?
One of the more annoying situations I’ve run across is when spammers just attempting to get more links back to their site with specific anchor text post something nice that I want to approve but I don’t want to encourage the behavior.
A good comment policy makes it easy to handle all of the above situations quickly and with the same rules every time (so you don’t get any of that “but you approved that person’s comment and not mine!”).
How to Create a Blog Comment Policy
Here are some suggestions of situations you may want to include in your blog comment policy:
Moderation, Editing & Spam
- Do you moderate all, some, or none of your comments, trackbacks and pingbacks?
- Are there any circumstances in which you may edit a comment (like a glaring spelling or grammatical error)?
- Will you report comment spam (for example, by clicking “spam” if you’re using Akismet)?
- Will you block a commenter or their IP if they repeatedly post spammy comments or attack you or other commenters?
Language & Behavior
- Do you allow profanity or flaming (attacking you or another commenter)?
- Do you allow comments in languages other than English?
- Are links to other sites okay in a comment? If so, is there a limit or any rules about links in comments?
- Is it okay for posters to include their “signature” at the end of their comment? Any limits to the length?
- Sometimes people will try to get better links to their site by putting their keywords in the name box instead of their name. Will you approve that?
Real Names & Email Address
- Will you approve comments without a name?
- Will you edit comments that include a name in the comment body but not in the name box?
- Is there a subscribe to comments option for people to choose?
- Will you ever use the email addresses for anything other than to send follow up blog comments if requested when a comment was left? (Please don’t automatically add people to your ezine!)
- Will you use a blog comment elsewhere on your site? For example, if you get great feedback, do you reserve the right to republish that blog comment on a “testimonials” page or use it in other ways?
Real Life Comment Policy Examples
Here are some examples of great comment policy pages you may find helpful – but remember, write your own and don’t “borrow” (*cough*that’s stealing*cough*) a policy from another site. (Note: unless you have explicit permission – some people may allow it, but never assume!)
- http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/faq/ (it’s hiding near the bottom of the page)
Action Step: Add a Comment Policy to Your Blog
Still feeling unsure? It’s YOUR blog. It’s okay, and necessary, for you to set boundaries and draw lines so that it stays a place you can express yourself and help your community. You’re allowed to delete a comment if you choose to. And you’re allowed to make the rules.