Should You Moderate Your Comments?

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This morning, my monthly copy of Entrepreneur magazine arrived in the mail. I gave it a quick initial browse, and something caught my eye. It was an article by Guy Kawasaki entitled “Website marketing turnoffs.” Since website marketing is a big part of my business, I decided to give it a quick read. Most of the tips were very basic, but one in particular stood out to me.

Guy Kawasaki says that “moderating comments is an oxymoron.” He believes you should let anyone comment, no matter what it is they have to say. This got me thinking: should we moderate our comments?

Let me first give my opinion on the matter. I don’t fully agree with Guy’s statement. I don’t think there is anything wrong with moderating your comments. And, obviously, we aren’t talking about spam here. What I’m talking about is deleting comments that add nothing to the conversation, whether they are positive or negative.

For instance, let’s say someone leaves a comment saying “F*** you. Your blog sucks.” What does that add to the conversation? It doesn’t add anything. Now, I know someone will say, “Let the comment through. You can’t ignore anyone who criticizes you.”But that’s not what this is about. I have no problem allowing negative comments if they are written in a thought out manner. Hell, I’ve had more than my fair share of readers who completely disagree with me and think I’m a total idiot. That’s fine. The key is they actually take the time to explain why they think I’m an idiot and why they disagree with me. And based on that, we can actually have a healthy debate with each other.

The same thing goes for the flipside of the coin. On blogs where I’m allowed to moderate comments, I almost never allow comments through that just say “Good post” or “I agree.” Again, it adds nothing to the conversation. And at the end of the day, that’s what a great blog is—a conversation. There is nothing more key to a blog’s success than an active comments section where ideas are freely exchanged.

To me, moderating comments is necessary, but at the same time, it’s a very thin line between moderation and censorship. The key is to find a happy balance that allows readers to truly feel their opinions are respected without allowing the conversation to be devalued by keyboard gangstas just trying to start trouble.

So, this all leads to the big question: should you moderate comments? What do you think? Share your thoughts in the replies.

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