The ability to comment on a piece of work separates a dynamic blog from a static website. Comments also put the “social” in “social media,” an umbrella that blogs often fall under. But does monitoring trolls and spam make comments more trouble than they’re worth?
Some, like Popular Science, have settled their own internal debate by shutting off blog comments, citing trolls and spam:
It wasn’t a decision we made lightly. As the news arm of a 141-year-old science and technology magazine, we are as committed to fostering lively, intellectual debate as we are to spreading the word of science far and wide. The problem is when trolls and spambots overwhelm the former, diminishing our ability to do the latter.
Long time blogger, Mitch Joel, suggests that sites like Popular Science and The Huffington Post (which he said should follow suit) can turn off their comments and not miss a beat since the sharing of and conversation around blog posts are already happening on the social graph:
Loved something that you read here? Why not tweet your comment? Post it to Facebook? Expand upon it in Medium? Write a follow-up on LinkedIn? Or whatever? Once this is done, you simply add the source link (or the blog post that got you all excited to comment on and share) and what appears after a blog post is a hybrid of curated comments and discourse from across the Web.
Turning off comments is a legitimate debate for large news and political blogs where trolls and haters love to congregate, and managing spam and responding to comments can become burdensome. (Have you ever read the comments on YouTube videos? Don’t.) But for personal and business blogs, comments are essential to establishing a voice and building community on your site where you have control and can help lead discussions and nurture relationships.
Instead of shutting down the conversation, consider crafting a comment policy.
A comment policy sets the rules for leaving comments on your blog and provides a guide for your internal content team to handle trolls, spam and link bait. A policy can be long and complicated or short and to the point, like the following from Content Marketing Institute:
- Harassing comments: While conversation and the sharing of different ideas is encouraged, all comments need to be respectful towards our contributors and those leaving comments.
- Anonymous comments: We only accept comments from people who identify themselves.
- Promotional comments: If a comment is solely promotional in nature, we will remove it from the site.
There’s no denying that in recent years, much of the conversation around articles and blog posts have shifted to Twitter and Facebook, but blog comments still matter and are prized by most personal and business bloggers. So, keep the conversation going, but set a few ground rules by crafting a comment policy to ensure honest and respectful discourse.
How do you manage comments on your blog? Have a favorite comment policy you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you in the comments, which, by the way, are still open.