A good comment policy will never really need too much use. It will clearly explain to your commenters what you will and will not allow on your site, and they (in theory, we can’t promise anything!) will respect that and leave lots of comments that build on your blog posts discussions (or just say something nice, of course). Obviously, a comment policy is up to you whether you think you need to implement it, and what it contains should be specific to your blog, but here are a few suggestions of things you might want to include…
- How you moderate your comments Are all comments moderated and require your approval before showing up on the blog? Do you moderate them after they’ve been posted? In WordPress, you can set it so commenters have to have a certain number of comments go through moderation before their comments automatically post.
- How do you deal with spam (and ham)? First up: Ham is a comment (or whatever) that has been identifed by an automatic detector as spam, but it is a real comment. If you have an automated system in place, it’s a good idea to check through the comments on a regular basis to make sure there are no false positives (and that goes for your emails too – the amount of times we’ve heard “sorry, I didn’t see it in my spam!” is crazy!) Dealing with spam is a necessary chore in blogging. Most of the time, you can leave it up to your automated detector things, but if you take any additional precautions (banning IP’s that have previously spammed, etc), it’s worth mentioning here.
- Do you have any specific rules (or guidelines – rules sounds so formal!) for leaving comments? We’ve seen some bloggers who specify that you must leave your real name instead of just your blogging psydonym – this is something you might want to put here as well. If you would prefer that commenters didn’t swear, mention this here! You might also want to mention what you will do if a commenter left a potentially libelous comment as well – would you email them to explain why you removed a comment?
- Do you allow links to be left in comments? There is an annoying trend in commenting where someone will leave something quite generic (love the dress!) then leave five links to their blog, twitter, facebook, etc which end up being twice the size of the original comment. How would you deal with those? We know some bloggers who would just delete the entire comment, and others who will edit out the links to just leave the actual comment. You could also mention here what you would do if a commenter left a link that was their affiliate link to something – most bloggers don’t allow this (for good reason too! It’s kinda rude to try to make money from someone elses blog!)
- Privacy information
Once you’ve got your policy written up, put a link to it in the footer of your page or perhaps above the comment section so your readers can check it out before they leave a comment. Your comment policu could be on the same page as your disclosure and any disclaimers you might want to have to make it easier for readers to find. What do you think – are comment policies necessary on the average blog? (We’ve just published ours which you can find here!)