I’ve been reading a very interesting discussion over on the IntenseDebate blog with regards to the question, Who Owns Your Comments? IntenseDebate is one of three major third party commenting systems available. The other two are Disqus and CoComment.
Before I dive into the WordPress aspect of this question, you need to know that IntenseDebate is asking this question because they are a third party commenting system. Therefor, they act as a link between the blog and the commenting system which is outside of the in-house solution provided by publishing platforms such as WordPress. Because of this fact, IntenseDebate needs to figure out how comment editing between the two will work out for the best.
However, the question IntenseDebate raised can be addressed to the realm of blogging in general. When you browse around WordPress.com or self-hosted WordPress powered blogs and leave a comment, who really owns that comment? You or the blogger? Or should there be shared ownership between the two?
A number of interesting points were made in the comments of the ID post. For instance, some users didn’t care who owned their comments just as long as they couldn’t be changed by the blog author. Others believe that because of the way U.S. copyright law works, commenter’s retain the ownership and copyright of their comments. While still others believe that a Creative Commons commenting license is in order for Blog owners to display on their site.
Where do I fall on this issue? Bloggers have had the ability to edit comments for quite some time now. I believe that editing a comment to misconstrue the original comment is morally wrong. In fact, I believe the entire issue of what bloggers do with comments after they have been posted comes down to morality. In my own experience, I have only edited a few comments due to misspelling or the posting of personal information such as phone numbers or email addresses.
I don’t believe a commenting bill of rights needs to be created in which all blogs should follow. However, I do think that each blogger should create and make publicly accessible a commenting policy. This policy should clearly explain what you as the blog author will do with comments posted on your site, who retains ownership of those comments and explain circumstances which would require you to edit an end user’s comment.
That’s what I think. Let me know what you think in the COMMENTS!