The case for open comments

I'm not very hep on comment moderation. I think it's a line for bloggers that cannot handle criticism - why is the blogosphere so full of thin-skinned people? - but the usual line trotted out that it's to stop comment SPAM.

Well, since I use Blogger and Typepad, that seems like a cop-out. You can set it so you get comments sent to you when posted - and then delete the comments if you believe or feel that they are SPAM.

Today, BL Ochman posted about the potential for bad PR for American Airlines. I read the article about American the other day in the WSJ - contest winner declines tickets - and smiled. I didn't think it was going to be a huge issue, because the guidelines were pretty explicit in the contest rules. It's an unfortunate event, but the IRS is the IRS.

I wanted to post a comment. I had a valid point that it's not bad PR, but crappy rules. But, apprently I'm no longer allowed to comment on BL's blog ... click the photo for her nice little statement.

Oh, this was my comment:
Is it a PR problem, or the inability to read and understand the fine print, and the lack of knowledge of tax laws?

American Airlines has to declare the tickets at full value. Do they ever sell the tickets at full value? Probably 1 percent of the time - but per tax laws, that's what they have to do.

I feel bad for the guy - well, actually, I think it's pretty funny. But, is this really deserved bad press for American Airlines? Even if they gave him vouchers, they and he have to technically declare the value to the IRS.
I guess this means that I no longer will be reading BL's blog (unless someone IM's me something for a laugh ... which is usually what happens). Which is fine, since I noticed that she doesn't post things so she can usually have the last word.

Why did this come about? Likely because I posted a comment on this post, asking why she felt she had to attack Constantin Basturea. I like Constantin. I've met Constantin. And, no offence to Constantin but attacking him is like kicking a puppy. The man has done nothing but good for PR and the blogosphere: New PR Wiki, Global PR Blog Week, Blogdigger Headlines, plus much more.

So, why moderate comments? Steve Rubel just went to the same policy (although no explanation), which would make me think that if he moderates, he would respond more to comments, but alas that is not happening either.

To me, comment moderation is good for corporate blogs. In a corporate blog, you do have people that are trying to attack the company on unfair grounds. I have posted comments on the GM Fastlane blog - something usually along the lines of move out of Detroit, to save the company - but those get moderated. And, at the IABC Conference, GM noted that their agency does help moderate comments.

But, individual blogs? Blogs written by people in an industry that pounds its chest about open communications and how blogs are equalizing the world, and how these are great venues for a two-way dialogue? Well, that two-way dialogue ends when comments are moderated. Then it's just lip service.

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  1. Hmmmm...I understand your argument against comment moderation, but in the defense of my own comment moderation and maybe some like me, I routinely get about 20 comments a day regarding texas hold’em poker or Viagra (I know this is one of Robert’s biggest pet peeves), neither of which is particularly pertinent to my blog posts.

    When I used the option to receive email notices of blog comments, an over-abundant amount of blog-related comment-approval spam was filling up my already limited email inbox space. I couldn’t simply open the flood gates to a free-for-all approval to comments; readers of my blog might get their hopes up for an insightful comment (ok, so I'm hopeful of hopeful readers), yet instead receive a Chinese Proverb from our friends at texas hold’em.

    I will concede, however, that in this particular case of BL Ochman, comment moderation is used as a cowardly defense mechanism against differing opinions. If a blog is not a “two-way dialogue,” as you describe it, it is simply a well-dressed LiveJournal.


  2. You called B. L. clueless, rude and idiotic? Jeremy, the overuse of adjectives is the first sign of lazy writing.

    B. L.'s business model is about getting sticky eyeballs onto ads for her "reports" -- it's not about "conversation" or any of that Cluetrain nonsense. The sooner you understand that, the sooner you will delete her from your feed reader and get on with life.

    (Odd, though, that she made you the goose and claimed gandership for herself).

  3. If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck...

  4. It's a duck, exactly. Take Allan's advice, unsubscribe and move on!

  5. Well, this has turned into an intelligent dialog.

    Comment moderation can be a slippery slope. As you delete hateful or venomous posts, you can reach the point where you begin to kill of incendiary dialog just because you, the blogger, disagree with it. If someone responds with a dumb comment, other readers or you will call them on it, or it will be recognized for what it is: dumb and idiotic.

    Every blogger that I read has posted something I would personally consider to be asinine at some point. Sometimes I comment, sometimes I don't. But I'm glad to see my comment appear even when it mocks the writer a little bit. These aren't letters to the editor -- they are Internet jibes.

    Here's to open dialog, no matter how ridiculous it gets.

  6. Actually, I spend my days looking for ideas to promote and share, though sometimes I will poke fun at something silly. I think truncated feeds, for example, and Blogging for Benjamins are silly trends.

    Oh, and over-reliance on three adjectives when one would do fine.

  7. This is an interesting back and forth.

    As Erica noted, I do not like spam. My blog does moderate comments, but I let everything but spam through.

    The key here is letting everything through and responding to it. In my blog, the number of responses by me almost matches the number of commments. That is the dialogue.

    To some/many, it seems, the dialogue is either (a) I post, you comment - that's it, or (b) I post, you can try to comment, but I will decide if you are worthy.

    Spam is horrible. Today, I received 118 spam comments on one blog and several on another. Since most spam comes to old posts, I turn comments off after 14 days on all posts.

    However, I also have a comment form (by email) which allows all to comment that way and then they can have their comments posted to the original article.

    Blogging software has a way to go. Blogging practices do, too.

  8. You know, I'm just chiming in late, and nearly off-topic, but the notion that the term 'permalink' is in any way user-friendly is foolhardy.

    'Permalink' has meaning to a remarkably small part of the Web-using population. I agree with Constantin that linking from the page title and "read full entry" (I prefer "read more") is a far more intuitive and user-friendly strategy.

    Ideally, if one decides that it's important to absolutely clarify what the link is going to, the text should read "Permanent link to this entry".

  9. I usually have comments and trackbacks open but Texas Holdem and viagra and a couple of pharmaceuticals are hitting me bad this last month. Even after removing the comments and trackpacks from my directory I've got 18,000 page not founds by them so far this month already on my links blog and about 2,000 on Pig Work.

    The server guy was having a heart attack even on moderation - lot of emails.

    What's the cure? I'll have open comments when someone fixes this issue. I don't have time to delete 18,000 spams manually...

  10. Permanent link appears to be a Typepad/Movable Type term.

    Wordpress? Nope. Blogger? Nope. Mindsay? Nope. Xanga? Nope. LiveJournal? Nope.

    So, that's just one blogging company, and it's not even a standard across their different platforms.

  11. But its not a Typepad "problem". Typepad users on the "Pro" plan (the ones allowed to tweak their html/css) can change the word "Permalink" to any word or phrase they choose.

    That said, I think one would have to be a bit thick not to suss out what Permalink means: the DIY market alone is filled with products like Perma-Seal, PermaWax, Perma-Bond, PermaCoat, PermaFilla...

  12. Hi. Really interesting blog. I'm still reading it.

    BTW, you are right. Bye.


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