Does Your Blog Need a Comments Policy?

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For many bloggers, moderating comments is a tricky issue. Most bloggers prefer to foster an environment where everyone has a voice and people can freely speak their minds without being punished for having alternative points of view. But the simple truth is you just can’t let every comment through. Some comments are simply too negative and offensive, and other comments are useless spam that adds nothing to the conversation.

Adding a comments policy to your blog helps you clearly define what type of content you will allow on your blog, what you won’t allow, and what readers can do to take part in the conversation. By clearly setting the rules, you encourage readers to avoid leaving comments you’d normally delete, and you give them something in print to refer back to if they wonder why their comment didn’t make it through moderation.

In short, a comments policy ensures everyone is playing by the same rules. More importantly, it helps you keep your blog in line with your branding goals. So for example, if you’re running a company blog for a family-oriented business, having a comment policy that encourages readers to keep their comments clean and free of profanity allows you to create a blog that appeals to the family audience you’re targeting.

How to Create a Comments Policy

Now that you understand some of the reasons your blog should consider adding a comments policy, let’s talk about how you can easily create a policy for your blog. Here are some of my tips:

  • Keep it simple—Your comments policy shouldn’t read like some complex legal document. It should be clear, short, and easy for anyone to quickly understand.
  • Provide reasoning behind your rules—For example, if your comments policy says that using foul language is not allowed, explain that you’re trying to create an environment where all readers feel welcomed.
  • Don’t come across like a dictator—Yes, it’s your blog, and you can set any rules you want. But never forget that the most successful blogs are built around communities. If you come across sounding like a jerk on a power trip, readers won’t stick around or waste their time commenting.

A few things your comments policy can include:

  • What type of tone and language you’ll allow
  • Special rules for first-time commenters
  • Maximum length of comments allowed
  • Linking/self-promotion rules in comments
  • Penalty for breaking the rules (e.g. comment is denied, reader is blocked, comments are edited, etc.)

Does your blog have a comments policy? Are you for or against them?

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