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There’s an ongoing discussion among bloggers concerning comments. Every so often, the dialogue intensifies before going to the back burner again, only to be revived periodically. In the process, volumes have been written about why the vast majority of readers do not leave comments on blogs and how to encourage them to do so. Many bloggers have sponsored contests in pursuit of comments. On the flip side, a fair number have disabled the comment function altogether, preferring to simply let their writing speak for itself and foregoing interaction with their readers.

Much of the debate has focused on the question of whether or not comments should be moderated, i.e., require the blog owner’s approval before appearing on the site. I have never moderated comments on my own blog, largely because I encourage my readers to be honest and forthright in a respectful fashion. If a reader disagrees with my viewpoint, I want them to express their opinion. I guess that I have been lucky so far — no reader has ever abused my open approach by leaving inappropriate comments on my site.

So I really never gave the topic a lot of thought. Until this past week, that is.

Twice in the past week, I have had the experience of being censored by bloggers who opt to “moderate” comments on their blogs.

I wish I could tell you that I said something outrageous, outlandish or even slightly controversial. I did not even attempt to provoke the blog owner into vigorous debate.

In both instances, my remark was extremely benign: On one site, I merely stated that I disagreed with the author’s statements, but did not elaborate. On the other blog, I respectfully suggested that the author’s conclusions about cause and effect in a particular situation might be reevaluated in light of one factor he failed to take into consideration. In neither instance did I insult, belittle or attack the author. But the result was the same: My comments never showed up on their sites. They apparently chose to eliminate my contribution to the discussions. Checking back several times over the course of several days, I noted that comments on both sites are exclusively compromised of endorsements of the author’s ideas and conclusions.

This experience has caused me to reconsider the issue, beginning with the purpose of comments. Obviously, the goal is interactivity. If an author is not interested in getting feedback from his/her readers, a static site is a perfectly acceptable solution.

But once an author determines that he/she wants to “open the floor,” so to speak, is there an implied obligation to monitor one’s site in a fair, balanced and egalitarian fashion? Is there an obligation to allow reasoned and civil discourse that includes the assertion of a viewpoint at odds with the site author’s?

Or is it the province of the site owner to moderate comments in any manner he/she deems appropriate, even to the point of banning any comment from a reader who espouses a viewpoint that differs from his/her own?

It seems to me that it is incumbent upon bloggers who desire to be perceived as responsible and fair to post a comment policy in the event that he/she elects to moderate comments, setting forth the precise standards by which comments will be assessed. Even that is not a fool-proof system, however. In the latter instance I have cited here, the author devotes a whole page to an explanation of the “comment policy,” even proclaiming that “disagreeing with me is positively encouraged.” Obviously, the second part of the equation is simple but elusive for some: If you establish a policy, live up to it in order to assure that, as a blogger, you establish and maintain credibility.

To those of you who maintain blogs, I pose this question: Do you have a comment policy? Is it displayed on your site? Do you moderate comments? If so, why? If not, why not?


  1. MyStarbucks

    I do not moderate my comments. I used too but I thought maybe it kept people from making comments because their comments would not appear right away. I read them all and if something is totally inappropriate then I delete it but that is really more for swearing and spam. I think folks should welcome comments even if it disagrees with the authors view. That’s what stirs up the conversation and makes a blog fun.

  2. I started off with unmoderated comments but had to change that when I was flamed. I have now switched it off again and I am holding my breath waiting for bad things to happen again. I am certainly not afraid of people expressing an opinion but will draw the line at abuse.

    Loz’s last blog post..Fickleness

  3. Hair Loss Solution

    I like this blog because it gives you the freedom of speech. I am happy that you allow your readers to give you a feed back and also listen to their suggestion for changes required if any.
    I totally believe that if a reader has spent time reading your post and thinks something about what he has read and wants to share his thoughts then he should be given an opportunity to express his thoughts by way of comments.
    If you close your doors for advice to make you and your blog better then I guess you cannot survive in the market for long.
    Positive feed back makes you understand that you are going in the right direction. And
    Negative criticism helps you make the improvements to go in the right direction.

  4. It’s always great to get comments from your blog readers. Apparently because you realize that some people actually read through them.

  5. Ms Catcalls

    I dont have a policy . I wouldnt have thought of it ! I didnt moderate my comments in the past then my daughter , who is only thirteen left an amusing comment but it was written as she speaks with her pals ( she’s 13) full of swearwords and profanities ( misspelt too !! ) . I discussed with her and she agreed it was better that they came off .. she had not really thought they would be seen by the world . After that I started moderating but you have made me think . Ive always published all comments anyway .

  6. I don’t moderate my comments but I used to because of the tremendous amount of spam comments I was getting. Even with Akismet, there are some that still get through. Recently, there was a super long one that was filled with vulgar language. I didn’t even know it was there until someone pointed it out for me.

    kailani’s last blog post..To See Or Not To See

  7. You highlighted a nice point. It’s sad that people hardly get comments. It’s been 5 blogs since I last received a comment, lol. If someone is waiting for a comment on his blog, that means he is expecting his readers, more often than not, to praise. But it stirs up a healthy discussion for couple of days. Moderating comments will only make matters worse. First question, that a commenter would think is, why should I put my e-mail, password, unless and until the blog is not impressive ? Having an anonymous option in comments is always good, yes spammers do strike. Unless they haven’t struck you, you can leave them unmoderated.If someone is posting a comment, he/ she would quickly refresh the page to see if his comment appeared or not, as in they made a point and it is visible to everyone. If it doesn’t once, he would think twice of posting a comment on any blog or website. I got an error as I did not enter my e-mail id while I was posting this. Being a blogger, I myself don’t like filling all my details including my birthday and blood group in the comments section.

    Rock’s last blog post..Force India, eh..

  8. I don’t moderate my comments, but I do state in my disclaimer that I may delete comments. Now that I think about it, I may clarify my policy even further.

    I get a fair number of comments and there is often some lively discussion. Very rarely do I delete comments, but I have received some comment spam and strange babbling hate speech, which I deleted. Other than that, it’s pretty much fair game.

    I think it’s really up to the blog owner what they want to do. If I see that my comments aren’t put up or that the blog host only answers certain commenters, I just don’t go back and assume I’m not welcome.

    Anali’s last blog post..Big Bad Bread – The Roundup

  9. I don’t moderate my comments, but I did delete one that was obvious spam and encouraged other commentors to click on a link. However, there is a blog I read that someone has left unnecessarily rude comments on the last 2 times she has posted. Comments that were more mean spirited than actually addressing what the post was about in a genuine way. If that started happening to me – I might start moderating.
    As far as bloggers having any kind of obligation once they open up their blogs for comments – to share all comments good or bad – well I guess I feel like people should be able to do with their blog what they want to do. If they want to cut out the comments they don’t like – well – so be it. Their readership will suffer for it when people start to realize they are being shut out at the author’s whim.
    I like the give and take, but I am generally not controversial at all either.
    Interesting subject. I have written a post or 2 (still sitting in draft) about why I comment sometimes and why I don’t, but never from the standpoint of what I will allow others to do on my blog. Hmmm.
    Lotta things making me go hmmmm lately. 🙂

    BetteJo’s last blog post..Finally

  10. I don’t have a written comment policy, but I do delete comments which are abusive or otherwise innapropriate – because I have a couple of commerical blogs covering celebrities, amongst other things, I get a fair amount of those, unfortunately. I also delete spam comments, and complain to the site owner if I can find contact information for them.

    I’ve sometimes considered having a written comment policy on my sites, but I don’t really think it would be particularly effective: spammers don’t bother to read comment policies (or any of the site, really), and trolls/abusive commentors don’t care about them.

  11. my site automatically moderates my comments even though i don’t want it to. i tried to turn it off, but the closest i could get was that comments will show up immediately if they come from a person who has commented at least 2x before…so, first time commenters are moderated. this really bothers me, because i think it’s a big step for readers to make that first comment, and i want it to be a positve experience, you know? i don’t want them to feel judged.

    i have people disagree with me occassionally, but so far everyone has done so in an acceptable fashion. i think my readers know that i’m really sensitive, and they try to take that into consideration when they disagree with me. and i love them for it!
    i love them even more for disagreeing…i would hate to use my blog as a simple tool for getting myself consistently patted on the back or whatever.

    once, two years ago, an ‘anonymous’ person left a really mean and ranty comment that was overly hateful: in it, my mother and myself we called some really hateful and inappropriate names.

    i deleted it, and then i felt bad, even though the comment was disgusting and offered only hate with no relevance to anything discussed in the post.

    so, i guess that’s my answer. down with moderation! of course, we can’t make everyone agree: some people just want to feel validated all the time. but, i have to admit, when i come across blogs like that, i really wonder about the integrity of what i’m reading.

    thanks for bringing this up (again). i think i’m actually going to put a comment ‘policy’ on my site, so that people will know that they are encouraged to say whatever they want.

    supertiff’s last blog post..october 23, again.

  12. I don’t moderate comments, though I have deleted two: one was spam and the other was from someone I know in real life who revealed personal details about where I live.

    I find it annoying when I write a comment and then see that it has to await the blog owner’s approval. I very seldom go back to check, so I don’t know how many, if any, of my comments have been disallowed.

  13. Hair Loss Solution

    Same here, even I hate to go back and check whether the comment has got approved or not. I hate blogs where they take ages to approve 1 comment. I mean who has the time to wait……

  14. Pingback: Hotabb.Com » Life in the Blogosphere: Comment Moderation or Censorship?

  15. I moderate posts that contain links in order to prevent comment spam. I also have a few words that can cause a post to end up in the moderate queue. But, as long as it isn’t spam I’ll post it.

    I did have someone censor a comment when I disagreed with them. In response, I expanded my comment into a blog post that ended up getting a lot of traffic. 😈

    Frank C’s last blog post..5 Questions Double Whammy Meme Tag

  16. Got this site from BloggingZoom… the topic is interesting so I decided to comment.

    In my site, the comment will automatically appear if the reader has a previously approved comment. I have few loyal readers and they enjoy the luxury of commenting without the censorship, since I already know that they wouldn’t post any mean remarks about me or the site itself.

    Regarding spam, Akismet does a pretty good job filtering them.

    Saedel’s last blog post..Dear BlogRush, Have You Forsaken Me?

  17. I would love to have unmoderated comments- but I get more spam than anything else some of which is obscene -and I dont want to be banned from Adsense! Everything that is not spam I allow though

    lissie’s last blog post..A new type of Social Networking – Blogging Zoom

  18. I have neither the time nor the desire to moderate comments. If the comment is so awful that I feel a need to moderate it (personal attacks, and things along those lines) I’ll probably just delete it and ban the offending party, but beyond that I’m not going to shove my words down peoples throats.

    A Blog about Nothing’s last blog post..A penny saved

  19. I do moderate my comments, simply to stop the spam that doesn’t get caught by Akismet. If someone disagrees with anything I post, that’s fine. Comments like that will get approved.

    I draw the line at abusive posts, and I’ll asterisk out expletives if I come across them, but that’s about it.

    I don’t have a written comment policy, though, I may do one up in the future.

    Rod’s last blog post..Would you blog differently if you had a Million Dollars?

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