How to Create a Blog Comment Policy

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?

Linking Policies

  • 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!)

Republishing

  • 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!)

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.

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5 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this! I’ve seen comment policies on other blogs, but never really took the time to look at them and decide for myself how to handle it. With a relatively new blog, I’m so happy with receiving ANY comments that unless they are obviously spam I typically approve them.

    I’ll have to work on creating a policy now! And, with permission, it’s usually alright to “model” another policy. But always ask first – some policies are created specially for that site and the owner won’t be able to share them. However, several of my mentors encourage “modeling” (i.e.: tweaking someone else’s policy), so it never hurts to ask!

    Thanks Michelle!

    ~R

    Ready to start a Membership Site? Using WordPress?
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  2. Excellent point. :) I didn’t think to include that, but as you mention some do allow that, especially for their clients, and others legally can’t (there are some policies on my sites I’ve licensed from a lawyer that can’t be copied even if I were willing to share).

    I found as I started getting more comments that were spammy I was spending too much time trying to decide whether to approve or not, so having a policy helps – it’s just “what’s the policy?” and take action now. It also makes it easier to outsource handling comments to your virtual assistant when they know exactly what to do.

  3. This is a real eye opener for me! I never thought about posting a policy, although I do moderate my site and delete spam identified by Akismet. Thanks for this useful post–love the practical nature of your information.

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer
    http://www.thereflectivewriter.com
    Judy Stone-Goldman recently posted… Defying Procrastination- When Thought Becomes ActionMy Profile

  4. currently I’m busy in making comment policy for my new blog. if there is no comment policy may be more comments coming but not what I expected
    thanks for the explanation, very helpful
    Rina recently posted… How To Create Emails Activation Form With PHP ScriptMy Profile

  5. Positive post! I really never took care of site policies once I didn’t own a website for me. But since i own it so I was in search to have My comment policy. The reason is very same as you mentioned above “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.”
    Thanks Alot.

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