If you’re running a small business blog, you probably treasure comments from readers. Comments on your blog are like the Internet version of gold stars. They mean your blog is effective, engaging and able to generate interest and discussion. Comments say, “You’re doing a good job… keep it up!” But many bloggers are so hardwired to the positive aspects of comments—any comments—that they don’t see the need for a comment policy.
Why should you have a comment policy in place? Isn’t it “restricting” your readers from having the freedom to comment any way they want, or making them jump through more of the unnecessary hoops (like Captchas and banning anonymous comments) that discourage them from commenting in the first place?
Well, yes and no.
A blog comment policy may discourage some people from commenting. But the good news is, in most cases, these aren’t the people you want to comment on your posts anyway.
What a Comment Policy Can Do For Your Readers
Spam comments, irrelevant links, advertising and offensive comments aren’t just annoying for you. They can also be off-putting to readers. One of the main purposes of a blog is to foster a sense of community. And long comment trails full of spam, promo and rude statements are like walls full of graffiti, spoiling the neighborhood.
With a blog comment policy in place, your readers are assured that they can comment and discuss in a constructive, civil environment. This acts as encouragement for those with something valuable to say, rather than Web crawlers who are just looking for more places to link to their affiliate programs.
A comment policy also says something about your business. It lets readers know that a real person is monitoring your blog and comment sections. So if they ask a question or offer a compliment, they’re likely to receive a response.
What a Comment Policy Should NOT Do
While you can and should prohibit vulgar language, rude or antagonistic comments, personal attacks and derogatory remarks from your blog comments, you should not place a general ban on disagreements or contradictory views.
Blog owners who delete criticism and rational arguments from the comments section are typically viewed as thin-skinned at best, and may be perceived as unwilling to listen. News that you’re deleting negative comments is also likely to spread and harm your brand.
The idea behind a blog is to connect with and listen to your customers and visitors, even if you don’t necessarily like what they have to say. Negative comments also give you the opportunity to offer a solution and win back dissatisfied customers.
How to Write a Comment Policy for Your Small Business
Comment policies vary as widely as the blogs they appear on. They can range from simple statements to more complex lists of restrictions and consequences (such as deleting comments or, in extreme cases, banning users).
Your comment policy should take into account your target reader and what they’ll expect to see (and not see) on your small business blog, and the type of environment you want to create on your blog.
These examples can help you create a blog comment policy.
Short blog comment policy example:
Here at (Your Blog), we welcome your comments—supportive, critical or otherwise. We do not censor or delete comments unless they contain the following: Off-topic statements or links, abusive content, vulgarity, personal attacks or spam. Those who violate this policy will be blocked from commenting.
Long blog comment policy example:
We welcome and encourage comments on (Your Blog). However, in some instances comments are subject to be edited or deleted. This includes:
- Comments that are determined to be spam or questionable spam.
- Links within comments that lead to irrelevant content or affiliate websites. Links that are relevant to the post will be permitted.
- Comments using profanity or vulgar language.
- Comments including derogatory language, or language/concepts that could be deemed offensive.
- Statements that attack another person individually.
Please follow our comment policy rules, and help us to keep this blog a safe and constructive place for discussion. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments submitted to this blog at any time without notice. This comment policy is subject to change at any time.
A comment policy can increase your blog readership and encourage more people to join in the discussion. Do you have a comment policy in place?
comment Concept Photo via Shutterstock
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A comment policy is great for preventing spam but you’re right in saying that it should not filter conflicting views. If you don’t want to deal with conflicting point-of-views then you should not have opened commenting in the first place.
Agreed, Aira! A blog should be a forum for differing views and opinions, even if they conflict with yours (or your readers’).
Great tips – I don’t have a comment policy in place for my blog, but I will add one. One question: How to deal with comment trolls?
Thanks, Ivan! Glad you found it helpful. Here’s a helpful article on dealing with trolls, posted on the WordPress blog:
Thanks for sharing the link. It’s very useful!
And the most important is… those comments with keywords as the name of the author.. It’s damn irritating. It’s one of my todo.. to filter out all comments with keywords as the names…
I can understand that, Mahesh! Thanks for reading.
For one thing, it frees up your site from any issues that your advertisers may take when people click on their ads plus it takes you a bit off the hook when it comes to emails being used in the comment sections.
Great tip, Mike! A comment policy is a very practical addition to any blog. Thanks for reading and sharing.
I agree a comment policy is important so you can set rules and guidelines on which types of comments are acceptable and which are not.
I personally allow most comments through on my site but the comments that are abusive to other commenters are stopped in their tracks.
That’s a wise policy, Saqib. Best of luck to you!
I definitely agree a comment policy is so important to keep spammers away. I used to get hundreds spam comments everyday until I implemented a policy and now I can spend time responding to my commentators rather than deleting all the spam.
Glad to hear it, Sani! Thanks for reading.
I completely agree that every blog must have Comment Policy so that it becomes easier for the blogger to restrict or edit the comments. Sometimes, I come across certain comments which are not essentially spam but have certain portion, either unnecessary or irrelevant. Sometimes curse words are also used. A proper comment policy helps to edit those unwanted parts of a comment.
Yep, all true! A comment policy helps free up bloggers to focus on the legitimate responses. Thanks, Derick!
Thanks for the advice, Megan. While it is recommended for our blogs to open sentiments for a broader discussion about the subject, there are unwanted and irrelevant entities that might bring harm for others and for you. Spam is usually generated by bots, so comment policies can be futile in that sense. Try using Captchas to avoid abuse of privileges.
My pleasure, Belinda! I agree that captchas can be a big help. Best of luck to you!
You have discussed a very important issue related to the blogging as readers are the most prominent part of any blog so we must encourage our reader to provide their different view on the post and for dealing with irrelevant comment and personal attack, we must have administrator moderation criteria for the comment so that we can ensure that whether the comment is relevant to the content of the post or not, but we should not avoid those comment which doesn’t agree with our thought because their might be some better thought or way of expression in some readers mind and we should encourage them and for dealing with spam captcha is the best option.
Thanks for advice!!!!!!!!
Thanks for sharing this post. It is very good. I really like this.
Saweel ur Raheem
Thanks Megam, i wasn’t aware of this before 🙂
Thanks for sharing this information..
This is a really good idea. Thanks Megan. When I started getting spammy comments on my blog I switched to moderating comments and I simply deleted anything that was spam. But like you said its helpful to clarify it and may even make some of the spammers think twice. I hope you will give us an updated in a month or two to see how much difference the policy made to the amount of undesirable comments you receiveded.
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A blog comment policy is useful for bloggers since they set boundaries on what readers can and can’t say or do in the comment section of your blog.