Comments are part of what makes a blog such a great form of media. For readers, it gives them a chance to leave their feedback and reactions to content, and join in discussions with other people, as well as giving them a way to try and engage the writer or site owner if they are interested. For bloggers, it allows a blog post to become a conversation rather than a one way communication, and can also give the rewarding sense that people are reading your content and finding it worth talking about.
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Of course, without some moderation, your users can freely write whatever they want and it will appear on your site. This can mean you get more comments, but can also be problematic if you want to uphold certain standards. If you want to check the things people post or edit them before they make it onto your site, you can configure your comments to need moderation by yourself or other members of your team. But how strict should you be?
What Suits Your Brand?
For some brands, it can make sense to only publish the very best comments – the ones with an intelligent point to make, great spelling and grammar, and no profanity. For others, a more ‘free for all’ feel is better, where people can be controversial, even if they are saying negative things about the brand or content, and ‘colorful language’ or ‘text speak’ is allowed. The former presents a level of quality and shows you have high standards, and can also prevent flame wars between readers from taking over from real discussions. The latter is more egalitarian and shows you have nothing to hide (you can consider not moderating at all if you want to go really freeform, but then you risk spammy or irrelevant comments appearing – though a good spam blocking add in will help).
There is no right or wrong with this, but you should fashion a policy that suits your brand identity and be consistent with it, rather than letting some things through sometimes but not others on a whim.
Let Readers Know Your Standards
If you do have strict policies, make this clear for people to see before they try and comment, however. Users will be annoyed if they go to the trouble of writing a long comment you don’t approve because of language choices they could have made differently if you’d only told them.
As well as reading and moderating your comments, you’ll get more out of things if you reply to them. If you do allow negative or critical comments, this is especially important as it shows your brand is quick to solve complaints or explain why things have been done in a certain way. Even bland comments that simply thank you for the information are worth a reply as they help you show engagement with readers, so reply as much as you can!
When thinking about comment moderation, come up with a coherent policy that suits your brand, communicate it, and apply it consistently, and don’t forget to join in the discussion at every opportunity. You can also moderate faster using the shortcuts you can find on this helpful WordPress cheat sheet, making the task a lot simpler.