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Do You Use a Comment Policy?

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April 30th, 2012
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Blogging

Comments are an important part of blogs. They help readers relate to articles by asking questions and building discussion and are even credited with creating some of the strongest online communities today. But, how do you keep everything clean and on topic? Do your users know what to expect? I’m not just talking about common sense and anti-spam practices, I’m talking about a policy or a code of conduct. Do you have one?

We have a comment policy here, and it’s as follows:

Comments will be accepted if they meet the following conditions:

  • The comment is not spam.
  • The comment is not left solely to drive traffic elsewhere. (Yes, this is spam.)
  • The comment is not widely off topic.
  • The comment is not obscene or profane.
  • The commenter has left a real name or proper screen name. (“Cheap Lawn Chairs” and “Joe @ MyCellPhoneTips.blah” are not real names).

We do use a broad list of moderation keywords, but if your comment is held for moderation and abides by our comment policy, it will be accepted shortly.

By submitting a comment here you agree to the above comment policy and grant this site a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution.

You might notice that we’ve added a handy link to it above our comment form by just editing the theme’s comments template. It’s just about as easy as typing the desired text above the form fields. If you’d rather not get your hands dirty in the template, and you have a WordPress blog, try Comment License.

So, do you have a comment policy? If so, we’d love to hear what it is! If you don’t, what guidelines do you use to manage comments on your blog?

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Comments

  1. Julie Strietelmeier (2 comments.) says:

    Great idea to have a comment policy. Hope you don’t mind, but I completely stole your idea and added it to my own site with minimal re-wording…

  2. The Angry Technician (2 comments.) says:

    Mine is quite simple: along with the Creative Commons and first-time moderation notice, I explain that “I also reserve the right to delete comments that are boring, stupid, obnoxious, or appear to be written by a crazy person.”

    Luckily I don’t have to apply said policy to myself, or I’d have a decidedly empty blog.

  3. Julie Strietelmeier (2 comments.) says:

    Ha! I love that stipulation. Mind if I steal that too?

    • The Angry Technician (2 comments.) says:

      Julie, feel free to borrow mine. The ‘crazy person’ stipulation alone has been used to justify dozens of submissions.

  4. Audrey (1 comments.) says:

    Absolutely! I put up my website for MY enjoyment and, hopefully, the use and benefit of a few family researchers. I have neither the time nor patience to deal with other people’s nonsense. My comment policy was posted right from the beginning and I keep a tight rein on moderation of comments.

  5. James (1 comments.) says:

    I do not have one that is published. I do have a posted “link policy” that I think is rather entertaining (http://jerseysandhockeylove.com/blog/link-policy/). I should make one, though. I like the policy you posted. I wish more people had a comment policy, and then used it for moderation as well.

  6. Ipstenu (31 comments.) says:

    I always have both a comment policy (between 3 sentences and, alas, a lengthy page), and a terms of use. The latter is just a massive CYA for people who get snippy when I tell them “My site, my rules, I’m not your freakin’ mom.”

  7. Richard says:

    I have one, but I don’t know that it has ever been really necessary on my site. I’ve certainly never had to delete a comment because it did not meet the comments policy. Either that or it is very effective. Mine is too long though and I think paring it down to something like the above would be better.

  8. gestroud says:

    LOL! Looks like Angelo didn’t read the policy.

    • James (184 comments.) says:

      Weird, I marked his as spam almost an hour before you posted. Did you see his comment posted here on the blog?

  9. Jim (1 comments.) says:

    I have 3 blogs and have to monitor comments regularly. Having a policy like this makes the decisions easy and clear. I’m going to be posting it so others know it too.

  10. Melody (1 comments.) says:

    I love this! Thank you! I am setting up my policy now…

  11. Andrew (1 comments.) says:

    I’ve combined all my policies into a single page. The comments policy in particular is a combination of a few different places, and so far I haven’t required it.

    Feel free to steal if it you like.

  12. Don Gilbert (2 comments.) says:

    I use a comment policy similar to yours, although I’ve added one more layer. I’ve found that 90% of spammers do not have a gravatar. If a user wants to leave a comment on my blog, but doesn’t have a gravatar, they have to get one before they are allowed to comment. I enforce this via a custom plugin I created that checks the MD5 hash of their gravatar against the MD5 of the default gravatar. If they are the same, then they don’t have one, and can’t comment. Might seem a little harsh – but it has virtually ELIMINATED spam from my site.

  13. Dan Rucker (1 comments.) says:

    Hello,

    Great article. I hadn’t even thought about a comment policy for my little blog. I think by plagiarizing parts of your policy and some ideas from jerseyandhockeylove, it’ll be a cool and entertaining idea.

    Thanks! Have a good day.
    Dan

  14. Kim Derp (1 comments.) says:

    Believe me I never considered to have the comment policy as such, I thought it would be just natural for people to have the comment policies in mind, but I appreciate the way you categorically explained its importance in details.

  15. Jamie Northrup (7 comments.) says:

    I don’t have one posted on my blog, but I basically use the same criteria as you mentioned to determine if I approve a comment or not.

  16. Greg (1 comments.) says:

    Comment SPAM drives me crazy. Your “Comment Policy” is an excellent idea!! Would it be ok to use your comment policy method on my site? Out of curiosity.. Since implementing your method, have you found that spam comments have been reduced, and if so by what precentage, approximately?

    • James (184 comments.) says:

      I think I have seen a very slight reduction in human spam, but it’s still too early to tell.

      You’re welcome to use it, but keep in mind that it’s not designed to stop comment spam, it’s just a way of warning potential commenters about what is not allowed before their comments are deleted.

  17. Eric Bourdon (1 comments.) says:

    Your policy is mostly based on common sense anyway, which is “the most fairly distributed thing in the world”. On our little Lille-art blog we just prefered to close the comments if you’re not a registered user, this discourages spammers and people who don’t have something real to say. However I prefer posts like yours, where people can comment very easily. The big problem is not really the rules (everybody will agree on your rules), but the time and how many people can check the comments and apply the rules…

  18. Ashley Madison says:

    Hi James,

    I’m planning to make one for my blog. What policies do you consider as widely acceptable for all kinds of blog?

    • James (184 comments.) says:

      I think you have your answer right in this post, since the policies I consider widely acceptable are what I built our comment policy on of course. :)

  19. Jay (1 comments.) says:

    I don’t have an official policy per se. Honestly, I evaluate each comment on an individual basis. So long as the poster seems to actually contribute something, it’s usually fine by me.

  20. katz (1 comments.) says:

    James you have come up with the best idea possible to stop spammers. Since people want to increase their page ranks they think they can just paste their website links on other people blogs without even contributing anything to the blog.

    I used to own a blog and some people used their website links as names and the comments were totally irrelevant of off topic. Like you stated, comments are the most important part of the blog and guests can turn into regular readers of a blog. They even help people know more about the topic through discussions.

    Yes people can post links to their sites on blogs, but they have to give something in return too. You can’t just take without giving back and using comment policies is the best method to stop that.

    You have given me an idea to come up with my own comment policy.

    Thanks a lot James

    Katz

  21. Farabi (1 comments.) says:

    I have a own blog but i didn’t use comments option. I want to use this but as i know, maintenance of comments is not so easy, Now understand about comments policy. hope this will help me. Thanks for the nice post.

  22. Mark Hunt (3 comments.) says:

    Hi James,

    I must admit that writing a “Comment Policy” is an awesome idea. I do use the Akismet plugin to moderate spam but I guess that writing, in big letters, what I do expect from my readers will reduce the spam that does go through.

    Thanks again,
    Mark

  23. Rich (25 comments.) says:

    On my personal blog, I don’t have an official ‘comment policy’ per say, but I have a note above the comment box with general guidelines – obviously no spam, no obscene comments, only relevant comments are appreciated, etc. As long as a comment adds to the discussion, I think it’s ok.

  24. Alessandro (1 comments.) says:

    Comments are my headache in the last months because I have some blogs and the most viewed are the most affected by a lot of spam. I installed a captcha plugin that has minimised the problem but not solved completely. Now i have downloaded 1.2 version of Comment License and will try, but i know that implementing a licence policy will not help me in this issue of spam.



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