James Mayes

Blog: Should I moderate my blog comments?

In Blogging, Community, Personal Development, Social Media on January 24, 2011 at 12:10 pm

I’m often asked by clients about Social Media moderation – should you, can you, how does it look, what are the risk of not moderating, etc.  I don’t want to look at it from a client perspective today, but from a personal perspective.

I wrote recently on whether one should thank for retweets.  One of the comments in the ensuing debate suggested that even if one didn’t acknowledge every retweet, it would be wise to thank those from new followers/readers, so as to give foundation to the relationship.  I agree with this wholeheartedly – and this is where the blog moderation topic comes in.

When I started this blog, I considered moderation at some length. Did I want to catch every comment for review first – or was I prepared to open myself up to ridicule if I wrote something unutterably daft?  I eventually reasoned myself down to the following position:

Credit: http://bitstrips.com/

  1. This is my blog and if I write something daft, I should take the punishment
  2. I want to learn from my blog and comments from others are the key external input
  3. I absolutely do not want to overlook a comment from a new reader
  4. If someone has commented more than once, chances are I know them reasonably well

I therefore have moderation turned off for everyone except first-time posters. Any first-time contributor generally gets their comment published as soon as I spot it, but this mechanism ensures I don’t miss new contributors.

As always, all views are appreciated – what do you do?

>>BELATED EDIT!

So this one’s been live a few hours now and had some good debate already – and I really mean it when I say thanks to all those who’ve contributed. I’ve started to question my thinking and you all made that happen.  The reason for the edit though – I think I may have been unclear in the original post.  My ONLY intent in using the moderation is to ensure I spot new posters – that’s it!  Now, as you were – please continue!  😉

>>FINAL EDIT

Really enjoyed some discussion on this one today, both in the comments and elsewhere.  As a result, I’ve removed all moderation and will work harder to ensure I catch all new posters. The only reason something will be held back now is if WordPress thinks it’s spam.  Thanks to all who contributed!

  1. I comment on other’s blogs more than I write my own blogs, and always want to see my reply displayed on the site as soon as I post it. By it’s very nature, the delay in moderation slows this process right down. That said, I don’t know this until I’ve hit the Submit button.
    My understanding of the law is that unmoderated libels are fine, so long as you remove them when alerted to them, whereas you are partly responsible for the moderated content you allow to be published on your site. The BBC forums, and many others have gone through many phases of having it on and off for these reasons.
    Practicality is also a factor. It’s just not possible to vet a comment made in the middle of the night, while you are asleep.

    On balance, I prefer unmoderated, and leave in all comments unless they could get you in trouble.

    • I just commented on someone else’s and got hit with “awaiting moderation”…. you’re right, I didn’t know till I’d submitted, and it was irritating! Thanks also for the legal POV.

  2. I honestly think that social media is precisely that – ‘social’. As someone who reads a few blogs, I find it frustrating to read and engage with the article, formulate some thoughts around it, take the time to comment and then be met with a ‘your comment is awaiting approval’ message. As someone who is engaging with your blog, be it in agreement / support or arguing differently, I feel it only right to be allowed to comment.

    The entire concept of social media revolves around its ‘social’, open credentials. Moderated blog comments are paramount to old, Web 1.0 ‘one-way’ communications channels – rather than inviting open discussion and debate, the blog owner is in fact dictating what is and isn’t permissible. This is akin to email communications, where companies can send out one-way communications and ensure that theirs is the only voice heard.

    Transparency is crucial – even a negative comment can be turned into a positive outcome if the blog owner engages rationally and starts a discussion with the person who is commenting.

    My humble opinion? A moderated blog is NOT ‘social’ media.

  3. And how ironic – my comment is ‘awaiting moderation’!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Just learnt myself about the frustrating part, have to agree. Dammit, two comments and already I’m re-evaluating. Still, that’s learning! One thing I would say in my defence is that moderation has been used as an alert tool, not for censorship. I’ve never once delayed, altered or withheld a comment.

  4. Moderating responses is fine . . . as long as you don’t take days before the comment goes up.

  5. I also had an experience professionally which I believe is highly relevant to this post. On the Stopgap Group blog, a disgruntled candidate wrote a comment on an article voicing their upset at what they perceived to be an inadequate service on our part.

    Rather than deleting this comment, we used it openly to say hello and ask why they felt that they had had a bad experience. We looked up the chap on our database (he was a candidate of ours) and the CEO picked up the phone to have a chat with him, since we pride ourselves on our excellent candidate care.

    It transpired that he wasn’t really having a bad experience, but that he was going through a difficult time and experiencing a lot of frustrations with recruitment and job hunting. Following the conversation with our CEO, he went away as a huge advocate and followed this up on our company blog. The trail was visible – from initial gripe to glowing candidate testimonial.

    A great comment is great.

    A negative comment allows a business to SHOW that it’s great.

    Visibility is a GOOD thing!

  6. My blog is unmoderated. It’s not my job to tell folk what to write. Thus far not had to remove any comments 🙂

  7. I commented on a blog once and when, 24 hours later, my comment wasn’t visible I emailed them asking if they’d received my input and whether perhaps they felt it not worthy of publication, to which they replied that they hadn’t got round to it as they had day jobs!

    Whilst I accept the reasoning, I don’t see the point of writing a blog and moderating it if you’re then not going to revisit it for a couple of days.

  8. Oooh – sorry James… that was my blog!! haha.

    Great topic though, and clearly a great discussion point. I have chosen to moderate – because the volume of spam I get is ridiculous. I clear out 10 spam messages per day from my moderation folder – and clearly that is way more than the comments I receive.

    However, I felt really bad delaying 4 comments approval for c90 minutes whilst I was out at a meeting.

    Sadly, I think I will have to stick with moderation because of the spam volume – but I think there are some genuine points as to why you generally should keep things open.

    • Hi Steve – thanks for touching on the spam issue. I either don’t get much, or Akismet is great at catching it. Either way, I reckon there’s maybe 1 spam comment a week that actually makes it into my line of sight – so no justification for me applying moderation there then!

  9. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Greg Dreyfus and Steve Ward, James Mayes. James Mayes said: Blog: Should I moderate my blog comments? http://jmay.es/gqo3DG […]

  10. Thanks for letting me know about this blog James. I started moderating my comments about 4 months ago after a whole lot of spam comments appeared .. (mostly to do with finding Russian wives! or blatent advertising of services) .. I do allow every comment whether they agree with me or not .. but I feel I do need to keep some control over it.

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