How to manage user comments
May 12, 2008
Social sites use comments as a means of interactivity
and for building communities. But providing blog comments require their
administration, handling comment spam and marketing abuses as well as the liability
for what people post as comments in terms of correctness, manners of behavior
and etc. Moreover, as the blog traffic grows the amount of time and energy spent
on dealing with comments also sizably increases.
Therefore, you will certainly need to set rules which will
facilitate your efforts to manage user comments and won’t let you get overwhelmed
with user-generated content.
Amy Gahran, a conversational media consultant and content
strategist for Poynter's group weblog E-Media Tidbits, provides some useful strategies
how to handle blog comments:
Configure moderation –The first three comments of each user
require approval and after that it is considered that this user deserves trust
and all the subsequent comments get automatically approved.
Comment policy – The explicit and comprehensibly written
policy should determine what kind of behavior is acceptable and what will be the
consequences for violating the rules. Gahran recommends a strict progression in
penalties: starting with return to moderation, moving through temporary
suspension from the site/forum and ending with permanent expulsion from the
Work behind the scene – Sometimes the user’s bad behavior is
provoked by cultural differences or misunderstanding. In this case, it would be better to personally
contact with the user trying to find the way to clarify the circumstances.
Routine engagement – You need to have a dedicated person to
monitor user-generated content and constantly interact with readers. Gahran
determines this person as a teacher who guides the community.
Emergency moderation – It is not impossible conflict
situations to emerge. This will require immediate reaction and “across-the-board
moderation until things cool down”.
In addition to Gahran’s recommended points I would attach a
couple of complementary pieces of advice.
Try to avoid anonymity but if it is an option, then anonymous
comments necessarily require approval before being published.
Don’t forget to put "report abuse" buttons on the
comments which will allow readers to supervise what is happening in comments. This
greatly reduces the need for ongoing moderation of the comments.
In conclusion, well-balanced policy is the best way to keep
good manners and create a constructive community of readers and commentors. Too
harsh policy and moderation approval of every single comment will distract the
conversation and will cause an undesirable reader experience. There is no doubt that complying with
the recommended practices will enable your readers to interact in a pleasant
and friendly environment.
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