Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Comment Policy Question

I have tried to keep an open forum on Complexity Simplified, to not discourage the free-flow of discussion, and for the most part I have not had any problem with allowing comments even from anonymous users. There has been a small amount of spam, mostly from those selling things that may or may not be legal, but nothing too overwhelming, so I have allowed anonymous users to keep on posting comments.

Unfortunately, though, I have noticed an increasing number of comments from anonymous users who I would like to engage in conversation, but who do not identify themselves. It seems that if you have a very specific point to make about my blog post, especially one that is based on a misperception or incorrect assumptions, you should identify yourself instead of lobbing unsubstantiated charges and statements from behind a wall of anonymity. After all, I sign my posts with my name, so why shouldn't those who comment have to do so as well?

So, to encourage people to sign their names, or at least their user handles, when they comment on my posts, I've now changed the settings to allow comments only from registered users. Okay, you're right: "encourage" is not the right word here. What I am doing is now "requiring" people to sign their names--and making this change has raised a lot of questions in my mind about what a blog's comment policy should be.

My question for more experienced bloggers: how do you handle comments on your blog? Do you moderate each comment? Do you allow free and open commenting? Or do you choose a middle ground, and, if so, how have you chosen that midpoint?

In this age of free-flowing information, when people anywhere in the world can post anything they want, including leaked classified information as was recently done by
WikiLeaks, the comment policy of my little blog may seem a minor issue. But, of course, it's important to me, so I'm curious about how other bloggers handle this. Please add your advice below! And, yes, you have to be a registered user now to do so...sorry about that, but see above for my reasoning.


  1. Sorry for those who might have received this post twice in their reader! Having a bit of a problem with the blog...all good now. I hope. :)

  2. I have a lot of blogs, and I allow any and all comments, except for spam. My reasons are summed up pretty clearly in the sidebar of one of my blogs (http://jannalouise.thehoskincentre.com/blogs/asd/):

    "I delete spam. I don't delete abusive comments, as I believe the nature of such comments says a lot more about the people who write them than about me. I try to respond to comments when it is necessary; I don't always think it's necessary. If you disagree, feel free to let me know you'd like a reply. It may be that I just haven't gotten around to it yet."

    I do, of course, prefer that people not post anonymously, but I also understand that some points of view are more sensitive than others, and people may wish to preserve their privacy.

  3. I finally added comment moderation after being SPAMMED by BOTS. I've posted comments by anonymous readers and can't recall ever deleting an offensive comment. I'm sure I've received 'em!

  4. I moderate all comments. I prefer not to approve anything that strikes me as pointlessly hostile, but I give much more leeway to non-anonymous commenters. My own blog is done pseudonymously, so my criterion isn't for people to give their "real" names. But a pseudonymous commenter should provide a link to a blog of their own or some other web presence that gives an idea of where they are coming from.

  5. Raima, I added comment moderation when I started my blog. It has helped me keep things in order.

  6. I pretty much disregard & delete any anonymous communications I get from anywhere in my life. Anonymity fosters behavior that is not always supportive of community. Requiring registration seems emminently reasonable. Your blog is like your living room, IMHO. You want to be inviting & hospitable, but you get to decide who comes in & how they behave while there.
    Baya Clare

  7. I've had an entirely open door policy and have only deleted comments if they were spam. If someone has a strong reaction against something I write but don't want to identify themselves for whatever reason I have no problem with that. What I will do instead is respond to the commenter in the way I would want people to respond to me. I will also say when a comment is inappropriate (if someone has insulted another commenter personally rather than just disagree with their point). But otherwise I've mostly let everything stand.

  8. Thanks, everybody, for your advice. I think I'll try the "registered user" approach for now and see how it works for awhile.