Here in Massachusetts, we moderate comments on all of our Commonwealth Conversations blogs. While our comment policies obviously lean heavily on the side of First Amendment rights, they’re in place to protect our employees, bloggers, readers, and commenters.
When moderating comments, I think it’s natural to want to scan the comments for obvious violations (i.e., swears, threats, off-topic references to Lady Gaga’s latest outfit), and click “publish” on the rest. After all, we don’t want to hold up the comments from being seen by other readers and people in our organization who are watching the blogs for feedback.
However, we’ve found that moderating comments requires a bit more attention for a couple of reasons we didn’t anticipate at first.
While our blogs don’t currently allow users to hyperlink within the body of comments for security reasons (something we’re weighing internally as I write this), we do allow for commenters to post a URL that gets hyperlinked to their name.
Of course, that brings along spammers who try to use it to drive traffic back to their site. I’m not sure if they haven’t gotten the message that it doesn’t help SEO anymore or they think people will click on their name because links draw attention, but they sometimes go to sites that aren’t…ahem…”appropriate”.
In cases like these, we usually delete the URL but still post the comment, provided it doesn’t otherwise violate our comment policy. As with all unpublished information, we record the deletion for public records purposes.
Too Much Information and Misguided Inquiries
Sometimes, we find people comment on our blogs because they maybe don’t know where else to turn or haven’t received help through more traditional channels. For example:
In these cases, we first try to contact the commenter by email (if they provided an address), refer them to someone who can help them, and confirm whether or not they really want their comment posted for all to see. If we can’t track the person down, we’ll post the comment, but always try to reply either within the comment or in a follow-up.
What about you?
How do you do it? Do you allow hyperlinks in comments? Do you moderate or just publish everything? Do you have clear comment policies and guidance for your bloggers and has it been helpful?