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On Moderating Comments…

The "to comment or not to allow comment" dialog is happening again… (I’d hardly call it a raging debate). The word moderating strikes me as clouding the issue of managing dialog. For any dialog to be effective it has to be moderated in some form. But when dialog is made exclusive by limiting who gets to participate it strikes me that this then changes the blog into a traditional media site, moderated message board or web page by making the reader a spectator rather than a participant.

There seems to be to kinds of behavior when it comes to comments:

Fully Enlightened: Blogs are all about dialog and participation – spam is a small price to pay. Blogging requires a time commitment. Get over it. I get about 30+ spam messages a day which take me all of about 30 seconds to clean out. That’s less than I spend on junk mail. So, let the comments flow. Good, bad, ugly… I’ll take them. This is a talking post.

I also don’t have any problem with a company or individual pulling down
comments that are off topic, that are abusive, or that represent the views of trolls and
agitators. It’s your blog. But if you want dialog – and especially if
you want to stimulate dialog – you are going to need to put up with
some heat. There is a line that gets crossed at some point though. As soon as that heat goes way off topic or is clearly just
soap-boxing, you have the right to clean it out. After all, dialog is
dialog.

But restricting up front who gets to post comments and who doesn’t is a worse sin than not allowing them at all. It introduces a layer of complexity that results in exclusivity and superficiality.

It also ignores a very simple notion – the Blogosphere is wonderfully self correcting.

The Lock-Down: This person doesn’t allow comments. They are either too scared or lazy to moderate the conversation. Their view is that this is my web site from which I transmit my views using blog technology as a convenient publishing mechanism. Screw dialog or participation, this is about transmission.

IMHO you can now add to this category those that want to restrict the conversation in the name of convenience. (I refuse to allow the frame "moderate" to be applied to this issue). Sorry if this is a little tough but it just isn’t in the spirit of what blogging is all about. Web sites get to be exclusive. Blogs need to be inclusive.

I don’t mind logging on to post comments – even though it’s a pain. But if that then requires some kind of authorization by the site owner then I’ll never do it again – and it’s unlikely I’ll visit that site ever again.

I recognize that there is a flaw with the the current generation of Blog technology. It allows spam in far too easily. I don’t have a solution to the spam problem other than packet filtering
at a host level by the major blog engines. This isn’t hard to do, but
it does require an investment. Also, controlling comments is still too hard – I’d love it if I could manage comments from my phone. Saying that, I’m very happy with how TypePad works.

Let the comments flow….

2 Responses

  1. By Gary Potter on July 8th, 2005 at 10:59 am

    There is no point in blogging if you don’t allow comments. Blogs are about conversations and 1 way conversations just aren’t interesting.

    Disclosure – I don’t get a lot of comments anyway and only once got spammed. No biggie – besides, I like hearing what people think about what I write.

    btw – can’t remember who refered me to your blog but I’m a subscriber.

    Cheers

  2. By Jeremy Pepper on July 8th, 2005 at 11:23 am

    It’s all about the Socratic method of dialogue, but maybe I’m just a dreamer.

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