I recently encountered a situation where a reader submitted a comment to a guest blog post that amounted to, in my opinion, a character assassination of the author. Since it added no educational value to the content of the post, I opted to reject publishing it.
But, it did get me thinking about the principles that should guide decisions an whether to accept or reject a comment.
The Blog Herald – This blog uses spam filtering and then reviews all comments after posting to delete those that violate their principles. I like the simplicity of their statement.
“We do not delete or censor comments unless they have content that:
- Is abusive
- Is off-topic
- Contains ad-hominem attacks
- Promotes hate of any kind
- Uses excessively foul language
- Is blatantly spam”
I readily admit I had to look up the definition of ad-hominem, but wasn’t surprised it means personal attack.
American Cancer Society – The ACS has a little more extensive set of rules, but is also easy to understand.
“A comment will be deleted if it contains:
- Hate speech
- Defamation to a person or people
- Name calling and/or personal attacks
- Marketing copy that promotes services or products
- Comments that include links to URLs or email addresses
- Comments that infringe on copyrights
- Spam comments, such as the same comment posted repeatedly on a profile
- Other comments the ACS team deems inappropriate”
EPA Greenversations – This blog has a short, but comprehensive list of exclusion criteria.
“We reserve the discretion not to post comments that:
- Contain obscene. Indecent, or profane language;
- Contain threats or defamatory comments;
- Contain hate speech directed at race, color. Sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ethnicity, age, religion, or disability; or
- Promote or endorse services or products. (Note that non-commercial links that are relevant to the topic or another comment are acceptable.)”
The above is just a sampling of links you get when Googling “blog response etiquette”. There are also links that provide valuable advice on how to think through a policy to manage blog responses. I was very impressed with the quality of information and ease of finding it.
My Proposed Policy
The Strengthening Brand America Project is a community of practice dedicated to catalyzing the transfer of branding knowledge from the private to public sector. Much of this knowledge is experience based, so my goal is to have minimal constraints on comments. The driving principle is that the comment should contribute to the educational value of the discussion. I also don’t want to discourage links to supplemental references to deepen the reader’s understanding of a subject; in fact I’d like to encourage it. In addition, I think it is an appropriate quid pro quo if somebody wants to share a link to their company or blog in exchange for the gift of their knowledge. With that in mind, here is what I am thinking makes sense as a policy for the Strengthening Brand America Project.
A comment will be disallowed or deleted if …
- It is judged to add minimal to no educational value.
- Is abusive in any way including personal attacks.
- Promotes hate of any kind.
- Uses excessively foul language.
- Is found to contain meaningful inaccuracies.
- Is judged to be fear based versus fact based.
- Is judged to be spam.
Note, links to secondary resources that deepen the reader’s understanding of the subject under discussion or to a URL that provides more information about the credentials of the author (e.g. company website, blog, profile page) are encouraged.
What Are Your Reactions or Builds?
I would love to hear your perspective about the proposed policy and any experience you would be willing to share regarding management of comments. What are the kinds of circumstances you find common? How do you handle a situation when you reject a comment and that person doesn’t take no for an answer?
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