Why blog comment moderation is a good thing

A question I am frequently asked by frustrated new bloggers is how to attract more visitors to their blog.  Some believe that allowing anonymous commenting will result in more comments. Maybe so but how but how many will be authentic?

Before I address authenticity allow me to state that on WordPress.com blogs setting up  anonymous commenting is possible.  But if you are serious about not posting spam the minimum requirement is a username and an email address.

“Getting comments on your articles is a sure sign that you are going in the right direction, since it indicates that you have made an impression on your readers. While it is always great to see positive feedback on your work, even criticism is far better than not getting a single remark. ” — Daniel Sharkov

Why moderate comments?

We all love receiving comments and when we first begin to blog we may not be inclined to moderate comments at all until we receive a wake-up call — spam!  Did you know that over 80% of all comments, trackbacks and pingbacks received on the WordPress.com site daily are spam?  Well, most beginner bloggers don’t know that. There are three other important things they do not know (1) posting spam comments reflects negatively on a blog’s brand and (2) deters other legitimate commenters from submitting comments, and (3) posting libel can result in a legal suit.

There are three interesting set of legal issues for bloggers:

  1. Republisher Liability
  2. Originator Liability
  3. Protection against subpoenas

Unfortunately, many bloggers think that their blogs fall under the protection of the Ninth Circuit Court’s ruling. This isn’t so. If a blogger posts libelous content that is original, it is still libel. — Libel Revisited

Comment moderation set-up

WordPress blogs have the feature of being able to set the blog either to either moderate every comment as I do, or to approve a reader’s first comment and thereafter  every comment received from that reader will be posted without approval. That’s done on the Discussion page where commenting defaults are set.

“Remember: the comments section of your blog can be a very powerful marketing tool, adding an air of legitimacy (and popularity) to your posts. On the other hand, a poorly managed comments section can drive possible frequent readers away.” — 5 Tips for Modding your Blog Comments  

In his post titled 5 Types of Blog Moderators  Joshua Titsworth presents some types of Moderators: Link Nazi, Response Snob, Flip-Flopper, Comment Hoarder, and Chatter Box.  Then he asks:  “So what do you think? What types of moderators have you seen? And for the moderators out there, which of the above traits do you think you possess? “

Discussion

  1. Do you moderate your blog comments?
  2. Do you have a Commenting policy posted on your blog?

Related posts found in this blog:
F-Bomb Free Blogging
WordPress.com Comments and Discussion Settings
Anonymous commenting on a WordPress.com blog
Crazymaking Blogger Comment Settings
Blogging: Comment Baiting
Encouraging blog readers to comment
A Comment Policy for your Blog
Crafting Quality Blog Comments

54 thoughts on “Why blog comment moderation is a good thing

  1. Hi I do moderate comments on my blog,and do have commenting policy and I check who writes,seen that I allow only certain people kn my niche,its nearly private

  2. I mostly get ‘likes’ (if I get likes) but comments are mostly from regulars, so I guess I don’t need to moderate. But being paranoid, I that having a filter in place isn’t a bad thing.

    ps. I hope you don’t mind, is that picture you? I find it sort of fascinating in a Veronica Lake way.

  3. I have been moderating blog comments without really knowing it. :-) I did not know there was a choice, as it seemed to have been set up without my having done anything. It’s good to know I’m doing the right thing, even if I did not know I was doing it.

    Thanks for looking out for all of us.

  4. Thanks again for a great post. I let Akismet do the work and generally just clear all spam. Possiby I’m throwing out the baby with the bath water but reading a few comments marked as spam makes it clear that Akismet does a very good job.

  5. I do moderate comments – to me this is an essential process that each family friendly site should make use of. Its worth mentioning that moderating user generated content is often a requirement of PR companies or media partners

    1. Hello skykid,
      It’s been a long time since we connected. It’s good to hear from you and thanks so much for raising those very important points.

  6. i don’t moderate my comments (too lazy), though it’s probably a good idea. I’ve only gotten one or two spam comments so far, and no insulting or offensive ones. My aphorisms don’t seem to hit too many sore spots in people.

    1. Hi Marty,
      Your aphorims are thoughtful and inspiring and they attract quality comments. Thanks for commenting here and I hope you have a great weekend.

    1. Hey Mark,
      I just changed my comments from full moderation to first time moderation and will see how that develops before I commit. Brand protection and reputation management are important aspects of blogging. The quality of the comments approved reflect the quality of the blog itself.

      Best wishes for a great weekend. I’m so tired I want to sleep through it. :)

  7. On my site, the first comment is held for moderation.

    Every site develops an evolving culture which is usually reflected in comments. I suppose one could artificially create or imagine a culture but the blogger leads by example with content. If you write with a potty mouth, you’ll get potty mouth comments (if you have a potty mouth blog, that’s awesome, no judgment implied since we have respective audiences). Your audience responds to what you’ve written by mirroring how you’ve written it.

    I have a comment policy but it’s not posted. Comments that attack other visitors are not approved (extremely rare). Dissent is encouraged but not personal attacks. In the past I approved comments attacking me thinking my policy should be more liberal as a counterpoint to the pulpit but regular visitors disliked this. Their opinion was that if I allowed attacks (not dissent, I mean gratuitously unkind and personal) against me, then new visitors would think I would permit them to be similarly dissected. Visitors were also annoyed that fractious comments derailed vigorous and often productive dissenting discussion with off topic and unproductive discourse. After 6 years tho, unproductive commenting is a rarity. New commenters are more likely to be intimidated (which I lament) to post for the first time (my blog is the flagship of its genre).

    Another policy I have evolved over time as a direct response to behaviors my visitors intuitively used. My site is professional B2B. I discovered that of the people I wanted to attract, nearly all used their real names (or real first name or initials). I also noticed that the audience I didn’t want to attract (wannabe rock stars) used faked up or silly cutsey usernames (diva this or that). I also noticed that visitors who used silly made up names were deprecated and not taken seriously by other visitors. So now, while I don’t have an official policy, I discourage new commenters from using dopey usernames if only in the interests of their own credibility (and my site generally).

    1. @Kathleen,
      Your point about mirroring is so true and your second paragraph resonates with the wisdom gained from experience. We can go completely off track if we are not mindful and are attempted to appease the combative few who want to take a run at us. If that happens new visitors may indeed be put-off by reading derailed unproductive discussions.

      Your policy, albeit unwritten, sounds very sensible to me. Thanks so much for being patient waiting for my rely. It was a really busy and heavy week for me.

      Best wishes

  8. I, too, moderate first-time commenters. Once a commenter has been approved, their future comments are published automatically. However, I do keep an eye on every comment (I try to answer all of them anyway), and would not hesitate to amend or delete any comment that I consider to be spam, libelous or inappropriate.
    I did not know about the liability issues you’ve mentioned, so thanks for that. Although I do think hard about the content being published on my blog, one can never be too careful, right?

    1. @didwright
      I trust His Mahesty is well. I don’t edit anything other than typos unless a blogger rewuests me too and that has only happened twice. In both cases the edits did not in any way change the meaning. They clarified by adding another sentence the commenters wanted included. I don’t post profanity or any nastiness – period. If it’s on topic fine but no personal attacks get posts on my blogs. Your blog’s brand is important and being mindful of ihow comments affect it is respect for your readers too.

  9. Your wonderful and well-written advice always leads me further and further into your other posts, tempting me to leave comments here, there and everywhere!

    I need to get to work on moderation and policy.

    Thanks, as always!

  10. I have several different blogs –2 of them support a business/organization. I first have the commenter moderated for 1-2 times, then allow. It works ok.

    But I still moderate even though we don’t get a ton of commenters. We get people looking/viewing. I think it’s because our audience are partially professionals, govt who work in the areas that we write. So they simply refrain from commenting to protect their professional identity…which is fine because I do that myself in my own area of work. On direct work-related topics, I do not spend much time commenting. I read. Otherwise if I’m going to spend so much energy commenting on topics related to my profession, then I should be writing for professional journals and newsletters in my field. (which I’ve done occasional articles in past).

    But I wish some people would not be so shy on cycling, sustainable living, travel, art and food. I know our regular readers have some experience at least in 1-2 areas that we cover. :)

    1. Hi Jean,
      I’m a reader who is very poor at commenting. I enjoy so many blog but I become tongue-tied when I am faced with a comment box. Your blogs are terrific. Your writing and photography and the way your weave you articles together is so masterful and artsitic. What can I say aside from — wow! great post? I’m challenged when it comes to commenting because I’m not a spontaeous converstaionalist. t takes me time to digest what I read and I tend to silently tuck it away for later examination. Weird – I know – introverts are weird, right?

    1. Hi Sandra,
      The amount of spam is breath-taking. I was amazed by the over 80% figure. I read this comment when I approved it and I have been wavering about choosing the same setting. I decided to change and see how it goes.

  11. Hi, Timethief

    I like moderating comments better. For now, I allow comments if someone has had an approved comment before. Akismet is really good about catching spam comments for me. Sometimes I don’t get a chance to manage my blog as much as I’d like (such as during the summer). So, I’m really considering removing the first timer approval option. I’m a little back and forth with this.

    After reading your post, however, I’m veering towards managing my comments. Just wish there was more time.

    Allyson

    1. Hi Allysan,
      Our business is very busy during the summer and I’m always short of time. As an experiemnt for the next little while I decided to change my comment settings to “Comment author must have a previously approved comment”, and I changed my email notifications so I’m only notified of first time commenters. I think this will cut down my email load and maybe I’ll have more time to reply to comments and blog in. :) If it doesn’t work out well then I may change the settings back again. It’s great that we have choices we can make.

  12. Yes, I moderate the comments received on almost daily basis. I make it a point to respond to every comment. I have found the Comments section very useful in the sense I am able to select the topic for my next post whenever I hit the Writers’ Block! Of course spam is taken care of by Akismet. I had hardly any trouble with that. Sometimes I do get ‘pingbacks’ but I do not ‘approve’ them as it just clutters the Comments section unnecessarily. Thanks for providing info on the legal issues that are involved in dealing with the Comments!

    1. Greetings,
      I also respond to all comments but lately I have been running behind as our business is very busy during this season, and I am also doing contract work. I apologize for not replying immediately.

      Your tip about finding inspiration for upcoming posts in comments to break through writers’ block is one I have blogged on myself. It’s a good one. I’m selective about which pingbacks I post. I try to look at them from the readers’ perspective.I ask myself f there is value for the readers in this or not? I included the legal issues information because there are many new bloggers who may not be informed about them and I’m glad you approve.

      I hope you have a wonderful upcoming week and thank your for your visit and comment too.

  13. I’m pretty lucky in that I haven’t received much spam so far. Due to that, I allow comments to be published without approval first. I do however, look at my comments daily and eliminate spam. If spam becomes too much a hassle, I might change my policy but, for now, it works for me.

    1. Hello Janene,
      I’m glad to hear your blog isn’t recieving much spam. I enjoy your sense of humor so much and like the way you weave it into your posts.

  14. Wow, and to think I thought it was just about creative writing . . .

    In the three weeks since I launched my site, I feel as though I’ve been to Blogging 101 (the summer school “better keep up” semester), no less!

    Re: Time Thief: You are an invaluable resource for truly helpful information. Thank you.

    Re: Comment Moderation: I’ve been moderating each one. So far it is NOT a problem, since I’m so new and haven’t hit my first 1000 comments yet:-)

    Re: Spam: I’ve been naive and blessed so far . . . but this discussion is very helpful and I’ll keep my eyes out.

    Thanks to all of you who have helped a newbie, and you didn’t even know it. I am beginning to feel at home in this BIG blogosphere.

    Cindy

    1. Your writing is beautiful. I read your Snapshot Daddy post and I loved visiting your blog. Thanks for the kind words and blog on Cindy. :)

      1. Thank you for YOUR kind words – it really does make my heart skip a beat when someone says they like my writing! (I’m sure I’m not alone in that:-) You’re welcome to visit my site anytime . . . new posts are on the way! PS Time Thief is a bit of a misnomer. You do NOT waste our time, that’s for sure . . . thank you!

        1. Hi Cindy,
          Wow! I just changed my comment settings. This is the first time I have experienced a first time approved commenter posting without approval. What made it even better was the kind words you said.

          If you read my personal blog http://thistimethisspace.com you will discover why I took this username years ago. I have twice faced death and lived. I had no idea the name would take on any different connotation but it did in other quarters.

  15. Akismet does do a great job of catching nearly all spam. I allow unfiltered comments; readers can post anonymously, and do not even have to include an email address (though because the comment form asks for one, most fill out that line, though not for publication).

    My blog is a hyperlocal community site (www.danwoog06880.com, if you’re interested). Some posts generate 80 to 120 comments — and they’re often NOT on controversial issues. A few users go off on tangents — for example, an innocuous post on a local school event will lead to a raucous discussion on American education in general, then on to teacher tenure, Obama’s politics, and god knows what else.

    The freewheeling nature of comments turns some people off. (One woman said she was unsubscribing to my blog because of the comments; I pointed out she had to click “comments” to read them, so she could easily avoid them.)

    But it also draws many people in. There are tons of lurkers (I know, because they’ve told me.)

    I also know that my site is seen as much livelier and “cooler” than another local news site (not a WordPress blog), which requires strict registration for comments (and even then sometimes deletes them).

    To my surprise, I’ve become almost libertarian in my commenting policy. In one instance, someone blasted me in my comments for allowing anonymous comments — in an anonymous comment himself (or herself). I replied, saying, “This is why I allow anonymous comments — so that anyone can say whatever they want, with complete freedom of expression.”

    In over two years of blogging (and I have never missed a day), I have removed only 5 or 6 posts (I receive notification of every comment). They were either grossly offensive (homophobic, racist or similar), or potentially libelous.

    This policy doesn’t work for everyone. But it seems to work for me.

    1. My blogs get spam every day that Akidmet catches but it’s not the majority of the comments I receive.

      I have no objection at all to adding different buttons so more people can log-in and leave legitimate comments. There are some glitchy things that need to be worked out though. The ghost comments issue is annoying. On black background blogs like Modularity Lite one can no longer see the outline of the comment box at all. Ther’s also a problem with the Tarski theme comment box set up too (it’s in the sidebar and not under the posts). Staff fixed a problem with the comment boxes on the Traction theme and they are still working out the issues.

      Good to see you. :)

  16. Hi, timethief! I appreciated this perspective on comment moderation.

    Although I do get a TON of spam on my WordPress.com blog, I have never had a spam comment make it past Akismet. I do check fairly regularly, and so far, it also doesn’t appear that Akismet has made any false positives. And fortunately, although I have my settings at the minimal requirement, I have not had to delete any spammy comments from individuals. I’d say that at least 80 percent of the comments I receive, though, are from people with whom I have already had contact elsewhere (it’s the nature of my blog, which is narrow-niche-oriented — though that seems to be changing, given the number of visitors who now come to me through search engines rather than direct links on other sites).

    If the site begins to grow, though, I will definitely consider upping the setting so that someone has to have one approved comment before they can comment w/o moderation.

    BTW, I’m switching my subscription to your blog from email to rss — but still following you! :) Thanks for all your great content! (Argh! I click “Post Comment,” and nothing happens — just have to grin & click multiple times, I guess — and yes, I’ve cleared my cache, etc.)

    1. @MMADfan
      Thanks for the visit and your comment. There are so many different kinds of blogs. Some in narrow niches like your own and some that span niches and Akismet sure is a good gatekeeper. I’ve occasionally had a false positive over the span of 5 years.

      I haven’t had the cmoonet clicking problem here. However, after I posted my answer to Val above I clicked the comment box to answer Ray and there was a ghost copy of the comment I had already posted that I made to Val. :S

  17. Excellent and insightful post. I agree about the 80% of comments are spam. I am lucky to do some intense investigation before approving comments with my new blog because I do want to attract more commentators. Great advice, thanks!

    1. Hello there,
      I got that figure from the Aksimet site when the live zeitgeist was running. It reflects the reality that most of what’s circulating out there is spam. Best wishes with your new blog.

  18. Hi TT, I’ve gone through a few comment moderation methods. Initially, I moderated all comments. Later, I moved to the first comment requires approval option. Last year, I began to allow comments to be posted without moderation. I receive a notification on my phone for each comment that is posted, so I can moderate after-the-fact if need be. I’ve only needed to remove one inappropriate comment during this time. Spam isn’t a problem as Akismet does a great job of capturing it. I want to make it as easy as possible for visitors to comment. I do not have a high traffic site, but my visitor count has been increasing gradually. Fortunately, there has been no like increase in unwanted comments. Ray

  19. Useful post. :)

    Yes, I moderate comments and I have done from the start. Originally I was blogging on LiveJournal and all my posts were friends-locked (in other words, filtered) and having decided to have a public blog here on WordPress, I felt the need for a safety net which is what moderation provides me with. I don’t moderate because of spam, though I’ve had some spam comments appear of course, that have slipped through Akismet, rather I moderate because I don’t like surprises and need to know that, for instance, anyone who knows me from my offline life doesn’t suddenly get it into their heads to post over-personal stuff in my blog.

    I’ve come into some of the categories in the ‘5 types of blog moderators’ but as time goes on, I am changing!

    Have I got a comment policy? Er… sort of. Let’s say… it’s evolving too! ;)

    1. Hi Val,
      What a week it’s been … sigh I hear you when it comes to preventing well intended folks we know offline from surprising us with an autoposted personal comment – no way! I think I fall into the toughest category of comment Mmoderator there is but I could be delusional. ;)

      I’m still laughing your post and the comments on the Facebook and Twitter log in buttons in comment boxes. You have such great sense of humor. :D

      1. Thanks TiTi… Wish my sense of humour would give me some energy! I’m glad you liked my post on the buttons. Sorry I’ve only just seen your reply to my comment… pc problems…

  20. If you are a dedicated blogger moderating comments is good. If you are like me, who only blogs occasionally, then no, comments can stay in limbo forever and no one will ever see them ;-)

    1. Ahh … you made me smile and feel sad all at the same time. I hope everyone here visits your blog and leaves you a comment. Thanks for leaving me one. :)

  21. I moderate first-time commenters – partly to catch spam, but mostly so I can immediately respond to a comment immediately if necessary. I’ve never not approved a comment that wasn’t spam, even if the commenter was very critical.

    Question about pingbacks – do most people approve them so they show up in the comments?

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