On blog comments

Mark Cuban asks an interesting question:

So the question is, is it worth it to allow unmoderated comments ? Or is babysitting comments just part of the job of bloggers ? Or are comments just a waste of time under all circumstances ?

Here is how I see it.

Your blog is like your house.  In your house, you have some rules.  You don’t have them written anywhere, but everybody follows them.  Like, do you take off the shoes when you come in or if you are allowed to smoke inside.  How loud can you speak and can you bring kids or animals with you.  You know your rules.

People, who are coming in for the first time, they don’t.  There are some etiquette rules, generic for everyone, that will almost always keep you on the safe side.  Like, don’t swear until somebody does it first.  Or ask for the permission to smoke.  Stuff like that. When people come to your house for the first time, they keep it on the safe side.  They observe how you and others behave.  They ask if they need something.

This  is pretty much how comments on the blog are.  When people come to the blog, they would usually read others comments before posting their own.  They start with simple, straightforward ones.  They grow slowly.  If they do something that you don’t like, you let them know.  It’s OK.  Most good people won’t need more than one correction.  They can understand and feel the atmosphere of the blog and of the discussions.

Of course, the more popular the blog gets, the more morons will come.  Inconsiderate idiots who will feel an obligation to annoy and offend the heck out of everybody else, they will post insulting comments to a few entries in the archives.  They will come back for more…

Give them a warning.  Once.  If you are in a good mood – twice.  If it’s not your day, you can skip the warning altogether.  Then just ban the troll. Filter them out. They aren’t worth your time. They aren’t worth the time of your blog’s visitors.  The sooner you’ll get rid of them, the better.  Don’t be afraid to hurt their feelings – they don’t have any anyway.

I like the way WordPress handles comments.  It gets rid of SPAM automatically.  It sends me comments from unknown users for moderation.  If I allow a comment from someone, all further comments will be automatically approved, unless I ban the user.  If I will ever be overwhelmed with moderation of comments (not likely), I always have an option to go for “only registered users are allowed to comment”…

As to the Mark’s question of the value of comments – yes, I see plenty of value in comments.  Comments is not the main reason for me blogging, but it’s a pretty important one.

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