Blogging 113: Comments Policies for Blogs

In Charlene Li’s presentation yesterday, she showed the JNJ BTW blog, and its comments policy, which reads in part:

All comments will be reviewed before posting. Since this blog is about Johnson & Johnson, comments that don’t directly relate to the Company or to topics covered on this blog won’t be posted. That said, some comments may be forwarded to other people within the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies for follow-up as appropriate.

We generally won’t post comments about products that are sold by the Johnson & Johnson operating companies. Product questions should directed to the companies that sell them. A list of the products sold by our operating companies is available on the Johnson & Johnson website.

If you’re starting a corporate blog, I think this is a good example of a “plain english” explanation for comment moderation, and also highlighting that some of the issues that may be raised that would be more appropriately handled 1-1 with the customer will be done that way, instead of on the public blog.

The Marriott on the Move Blog also has some good language in its Terms of Use:

The primary rule when commenting is to be relevant and respectful in your postings. Just as we would not allow someone to stand in one of our hotel lobbies shouting profanities or engaging in other disruptive behavior that upsets guests, we will not allow that same type of action here. While Marriott assumes no duty to pre-screen or regularly review posted content, the blog will be moderated by an Editor and an Editorial Board who will have the right to refuse to post or remove any posting that they believe violates these Terms of Use.

These are good examples of ways you can set expectations for your blog, so that if you want to moderate comments and be able to deal with an individual issues off-line, it doesn’t interfere with the overall conversation.

What do you think of the JNJ and Marriott comment policy examples? If you have other examples to share, please add them in the comments below.

Speaking of comments, I may publish a Terms of Use or a Comments Policy for SMUG as a separate page, too, but for starters here is the policy I follow:

  1. I LOVE comments. If what you have to say relates to the topic of the post, I’m delighted to have you join the conversation. That’s why I don’t use a Captcha, because I don’t want to make it harder for real people to comment.
  2. I use the Akismet anti-spam service, which is part of and has spared me 42,792 comments so far. It’s really good, and I don’t even check the Akismet queue any more. In medical lingo, it’s both highly sensitive and highly specific. It catches most spam, and it rarely falsely labels a legitimate comment. So if your comment gets caught by Akismet, it’s not going to be posted. I won’t even see it. But if you’re a real person instead of a spambot, that’s not going to be a problem.
  3. Negative comments are fine. I don’t even really mind personal attacks. In fact, I published a highly negative comment from a reader here, and it caused me to do this follow-up post. If you use profanity, however, I will delete the expletives and do the cartoon representation (such as &#@!) to maintain a family-friendly atmosphere.
  4. I don’t moderate comments in advance, but I might take them down or mark them as spam if they fall into Category 5 or Category 6 below.
  5. If you’re just selling something and not adding value to the conversation, I may not mark your comment as spam, but I will take it down. So, for example, if I’m reviewing the Flip video camera and you are the manufacturer of a competitor, I would welcome you to comment, talk about your camera’s capabilities and feature differences, and include a link for more information. But if you’re running an on-line store for various video cameras and just post a link to your site, with no other value added, I will remove the comment.
  6. If you’re selling Viagra or its alleged herbal equivalents, and if somehow your comment and link makes it past Akismet, I will mark it as spam to ensure that you will be caught the next time you comment on an Akismet-protected blog.

Since SMUG is an on-line university dedicated to the exchange of ideas, our comments policy is more open than is appropriate for a big brand or a corporate blog. If you have thoughts on this draft policy and its appropriateness for a personal blog, or ideas on something I might be missing, I’d be glad to hear those in the comments, too.

Author: Lee Aase

Husband of one, father of six, grandfather of 15. Chancellor Emeritus, SMUG. Emeritus staff of Mayo Clinic. Founder of HELPcare and Administrator for HELPcare Clinic.

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