A client called me yesterday, asking me about an email they had received. In the email, a furious commenter was complaining that they had left a comment on the client’s blog, and the comment was not approved by me, even though “It contained no profanity!”
The comment did not contain profanity – that much is true. But it was extremely negative, attacking one of the blog’s guest writers, basically calling them a charlatan. There was no way I was going to approve this type of comment, I explained to my client. Moreover, the client has no obligation whatsoever to approve all comments unless they contain profanity!
Anyone who owns a blog, whether a personal blog or a business blog, has the right to make their own rules when it comes to the type of reader communication they will accept on that blog. This includes the right to shut comments off entirely, as I see more and more bloggers doing these days; to heavily moderate comments; to allow all comments to appear on the blog; and anything in between.
It’s probably a good idea to have a “Comment Policy” somewhere on your blog, but even if you don’t have one, you are under no obligation to allow all comments to go through. In this specific case, I advised the client to allow me to draft a short, polite response that says something like, “While we appreciate that you took the time to leave a comment, it is very important to us to maintain a positive atmosphere on our blog. Since your comment was deemed negative by our editor, whose judgment in these matters we completely trust, we couldn’t allow your comment through.”
Apart from maintaining a positive atmosphere on your blog, a good reason to to allow negative comments is that they often steal the show from the main article, and not in a good way. We all know those sites that do not moderate comments. The comments on their articles become so obnoxious, it’s a form of entertainment to read them, and you end up reading the comments, fascinated by how low people can go when promised anonymity, instead of focusing on the article.
You don’t want this to happen to your blog, right? So feel free to moderate comments, and never feel as if you “owe” people something. After all, if they really want to voice their opinion freely, they can do it on their own blog, or in numerous social media channels.