ProBlogger Comments Policy

Posted By Darren Rowse 3rd of November 2005 ProBlogger Site News 0 Comments

I’d like to take a few minutes just to talk about leaving comments on ProBlogger as the past week or so I’ve had a number of interactions with readers that have left me wondering if we’re all on the same page.

I’m beginning to see that there is a real spectrum of ways in which blog readers view and use the comments sections of blogs.

These range from ignoring them completely through to abusing them completely by automatically posting thousands of self serving and irrelevant comments with links to often pretty crude sites.

Along the spectrum between ignoring comments and spam are many many different approaches to comments by readers. Each blogger has their own standards of what is and isn’t acceptable on their blog – some allow virtually any comment – others have language standards, others don’t allow signature links etc.

I’m totally fine with the variety of approaches to comments – however I want to communicate to readers of this blog where I stand:


1. I love comments on this blog – they are as important as anything I write myself. They add to the knowledge and community that we have here. If you want to comment then you’re more than welcome – whether you feel you are a beginner or an expert – feel free to have you say.

2. I delete spam – I have spam filters in place which automatically catch the majority of automated spam comments. I don’t put up with it and if any slip through the filters I delete it immediately.

3. Relevant links in comments are actively encouraged – if you’re leaving a comment on my blogs and want to point to a link on your own or someone else’s site that is relevant to the topic then please feel free to do so. This adds to the conversation and improves the blog.

4. Irrelevant links are not encouraged – if you leave a comment with a link in it that has no relevance to the post you’re commenting on it could be be deleted. This is a trend that I see happening increasingly on this blog. If you really want to annoy me then the way to do it is to do this on multiple posts. If you engage in this practice I would encourage you to think about the impact that such an approach has upon your reputation. Build your blog’s profile through genuine interactions and participation in the community here by all means – but spammy linking in comments could do more damage to your reputation than it is worth.

5. I allow signatures in comments – we had a debate over this a few months ago. My gut reaction to signatures in comments is that I don’t really see the need for them and see them as verging on the spammy end of comments. However after seeing the debate that came out of expressing this opinion I decided not to delete comments with signatures as long as the comments were relevant and added something to the conversation. ie if you write a comment that says ‘nice’ or ‘good post’ or ‘great blog’ or ‘try viagra’ and then leave a signature on your comment then it could well be deleted.

I don’t want to be a grump and come down on readers of this blog – but I also don’t want to be taken for a ride and have my blog (which I put hours of work into each day) used in ways that don’t add value to it or the community around it. There is a fine line in moderating comments – and I want to be transparent as to my stance. I wish I didn’t have to have a comments policy – but unfortunately it’s come to this.

My advice to those commenting on blogs (not just mine) is that in a sense you’re visiting someone else’s home when you leave a comment. Comments have the ability to build up our tear down your reputation. They are a permanent record of who you are and what you stand for – so take care – be gracious – make sure they add value (not only to the blog you’re visiting but also to your own online profile).

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. I wanted to be the first to comment. I like comments that adds something relevant to the discussion in any way to what the post is about. But mostly I am just over happy when somebody bothers to leave a comment.

  2. Darren, you can’t catch them all – but measures in place are a good way to hold them back. It’s a real epidemic these days – the blog comment spamming that is. I get probably 100 alone on my personal and small blogs combined. That’s insane! But hey what can you do but create software to stop them. ;)

  3. You might as well also mention that all the user submitted links, including the website link under the name are rel=nofollow. They don’t do the posters any good in the search engines.

    I personally don’t like the overuse of rel=”nofollow” when it comes to users that add value to a site. It seems to me that it is an anti-community attitude. The good users deserve the link.

    What I am working on is writing plugins for my sites that use rel=”nofollow” for links provided by anonymous posters and relatively new posters that log in. If they have been around for a while and become trusted, then they get to post their links without that restriction.

    Of course, that is an advantage to being a programmer, I can write the modules to get the behaviour that I want from the software.

  4. I also wrote up a formal comments policy for my blog at one point. Looking back I can see that step was a pre-cursor to disabling comments altogether a few months later. It took some getting used to, but I really like having a comment-free blog. People can still add to the discussion via trackbacks, and I get all the feedback I can handle via email. But I no longer have to moderate anything, which saves me a lot of time. It also frees up more of my energy for writing. Hosting public comments can be more draining than you realize until you switch it off and unplug from it for a while. It’s like being a Borg drone that gets disconnected from the collective.

    I was delighted to learn that once I turned comments off, the blogosphere didn’t suddenly excommunicate me. It was blogging as usual, but I’ve been finding it much more peaceful and enjoyable and less “noisy.”

    An unexpected side effect I noticed is that when I turned comments off, my Adsense revenue went up (due to a permanently higher CTR). I’d have thought it would have gone down if anything, due to fewer page views from the lack of discussion. But perhaps when there’s no comment box, people are more likely to click an ad instead of typing a comment, especially there’s an ad where the comment box used to be. Something to think about….

  5. Interesting about the CTR change. I guess those who read/reply to comments tend to be regulars, who tend not to click on ads, etc.

    I’ve not had much luck with trackbacks – Blogger recently added them, but I’ve yet to get them to work.

  6. I deal with a lot of politics on my blog and encourage open exchanges provided they are in context and they are civil. I have found that idiots will always hang themselves if given enough rope and that “comment’ button is usually enough rope. Most of my commentors don’t bother leaving a link back to their websites, which leads me to believe there are far more armchair commentors than their are networking bloggers looking to build up their brands online.

    I use the PowerBlogs platform and it comes equipped with a very simple trackback and comment moderation tool which allows me to ban IP addresses as well as domain names and even individual posters should someone become a squeaky wheel which needs to be replaced.

    The bottom line is that if you’re going to have a high traffic website, you need tools to deal with the kooks and blogger ain’t going to cut it.

  7. Comment spam I have no problem with – a plugin deals with all 100% effecitvly. Trackback spam is becoming a real pain in the arse. I can get 20 an hour some days – I really dont want to turn the function off but am seriously considering it. I could never turn comments off though, like the commentator above, it is this interaction that sets blogs above a ‘normal’ website.

  8. I was really interested in this post – as I posted something very similar on my own blog just days ago.

    I basically said that I like comments, but please keep them genuine and relevent. That seemed to be an open invitation for even more spammers. I’m getting multiple users posting the same comment with the same links. Not sure what’s up with that, but it’s beginning to be really annoying.

    I’d also like to add that not only does it make the commentor look bad (and I sure hope nobody ever clicks on their links) but in my opinion it makes my blog look bad in a way as well. I might be the only one who feels that way. It’s almost like my blog isn’t good enough for half-decent comments.

  9. Great post. try viagra

    Sorry. I couldn’t resist (the link points back to the Pro Blogger homepage, btw, no need to delete it)

  10. Shame on you jesse :)

    I had a similar urge but managed to resist it :)

  11. I realized afterwards I should have posted something useless and made that the sig…oh well. Hopefully I have not brought on the wrath of the almighty Darren

  12. FWIW this was my original comments policy that I posted July. Perhaps you’ll get some helpful ideas from it (I turned off comments a couple months later):
    http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2005/07/keep-comments-on-topic/

    I also love the interactive nature of blogs compared to other web sites, but that interactivity isn’t free for the blog owner. Ultimately I found it was too “expensive” to continue in terms of the time & energy investment. This cost is a function of traffic, so comments won’t seem burdensome until traffic reaches a certain level (my blog currently gets about 1,000,000 page views per month). Most visitors never viewed the comments anyway, and only a tiny percentage of visitors ever posted one (less than 1%).

    I’ve seen far better results by redirecting the time I would have spent managing comments into other projects. I think this will benefit my visitors far more than the comments ever did.

    Another positive side effect of turning off comments was that I found I write more freely and easily now, since I’m less concerned about what types of comments my posts will induce. I don’t have to second-guess my wording or walk on eggshells out of a need to pre-address the comments I know I’d expect to see. I feel that my blog/site is a much better reflection of the real me instead of the social me that my visitors made of me.

  13. I think that as with all things, common sense should prevail.

    Unfortunately the web removes the need for people to be kind/polite/sensible and we end up with people doing things that in normal everyday life would never happen. You don’t see (that many) people writing ‘visit my great site’ on the front of your house, or on the side of your car, yet they are happy to deface a website by littering it with useless and pointless comments that add nothing of value, but which do devalue the property.

    A site such as this, which is built on reputation and quality content needs to keep on top of the posting quality – it also needs to ensure it doesn’t alienate those who contribute with to the site with very good value comments – there are a number of regulars who’s comments I look out for, because they always tend to have something to say that is worth reading.

    It would be wonderful if some form of automatic quality assurance could be put in place, vetting each post before it is posted.

    There have been times in the past when I have almost hit the submit button on this and other blogs but then changed my mind; the reason – the post added nothing of value. If you have nothing to say, say nothing!

  14. I think it’s a shame that people are being forced to moderate or “turn-off” comments. The whole idea of blogging is to provide a forum for exchanging ideas between different parties and having no comments removes this facitlity. A lot of blogs seem to have recently stopped comments not because of what genuine readers have left on the site, but the rubbish that the spammers have left. Unfortunately there is not a lot people can do to get over this according to the research I did for a recent entry on my site, let’s hope they can come up with something stronger than the rel=”no follow” soon.

  15. I definitely agree with only posting comments that actually add something of value.

    I am coming across more and more comments of the ‘Great Post’ variety every day and I really wonder why they bother.

    It is also nice to see that quite a few of you are complaining about all the comments that you are getting.

    Obviously, the spam must be incredibly annoying, but it does show that people are actually reading your blogs and interacting.

    I recently started my blog, but haven’t had a huge amount of time to add content over the last month or so, because my brother was critically ill in hospital.

    Maybe that is why, nobody is leaving comments.

    Unfortunately, I know for a fact that quite a few of my readers are clients of mine who don’t seem to browse much, or understand the concept of RSS or leaving comments.

    So, that doesn’t help.

    I think that I am actually going to have to write an article encouraging them to leave comments and showing them how to do it.

    I have more time on my hands now, so I will be writing more articles that are more relevant to my niche, so that may also help.

    I have only had two comments left so far, which is really disappointing.

    The first was from Yaro of Entrepreneur’s Journey, when I linked to one of his posts.

    The second, was an affiliate link that added nothing of value, so I deleted it immediately.

    I have read Darren’s articles about getting your readers to leave comments, and have tried to write articles that should result in interaction, but to no avail.

    I even wrote about using images with adsense a couple of weeks before Darren did, but got no comments whatsoever.

    So, in some ways, count yourself lucky guys.

    There is nothing worse than spending a lot of time designing your blog and not being able to interact with anyone.

    Mind you, when it comes to commenting, one thing has always puzzled me.

    Darren often mentions that a person has written a post about something on their blog, but when I go and read the post, I find that nobody has left any comments on the blog in question.

    They all seem to leave comments here, which I don’t think is very fair.

    Where exactly should you be leaving comments?

    On the actual author’s blog, or the blog of the person that brings your attention to it?

  16. You could also consider adding a “comment by registration only” feature which would allow you to screen your commentors. For blogs that seek serious exchanges, this might be an option. Of course, if you’re like Darren and have hundreds of commentors, your full-time job could become “comment application screener” so this option is probably better for the 1,000-hits a day traffic range blogs.

    Incidentally, I made sure that my blog hosting platform had the option toAllow commentors to register themsleves
    Turn on “registered commentors only” in the future if I so desired

  17. I agree that it isn’t so much the comments themselves that are a problem — it’s the low-quality comments, including spam, off-topic drivel, really bad English that no one can understand, juvenile remarks, insults, argument bait, etc.

    If the blog owner has to review every comment to decide what is a quality comment worth approving and what isn’t, it creates a high cognitive load. A subjective decision must be made for every comment. The blog owner’s brainpower may be better used elsewhere.

    Since my blog addresses personal development, which is a serious topic that draws a lot of flak from those who dislike the whole idea of self-improvement, low quality comments were a big issue. Some people just can’t muster the maturity necessary to intelligently add to the discussion. The intelligent comments were great and added tremendously to the quality of the blog. If someone can figure out how to have those without the junk, now that’s a filter I’d love to have. But right now I can’t see a way of doing this without having a human being do it, and it isn’t quite worth the effort for that.

    I feel OK about using trackbacks as the means of commenting. It means that other people can debate and discuss my topics through their own blogs. This creates accountability, although it certainly reduces the volume of discussion.

  18. I don’t have a lot of spam commenting. I do get a fair amount of comments; usually one or two a day, but very little spam.

    Part of that is software traps, of course, but another reason is that I don’t use a CMS system: my comment software is hand written and thus is invisible to automated spammers.

    That doesn’t stop the occasional hand crafter.

    I don’t like trackback and won’t use it. I’ve had several people request that I add it, but I just do not like it. Cantakerous and grumpy, ayup, that’s me.

    I don’t think I would ever shut off comments. As Darren says, they are too important. I limit (with software) the size of comments, the frequency, the ratio of links to text and have some other checks I don’t want to mention, and if spamming increased I’d just work harder to reject more automatically.

  19. Well, just trying to get my blog up and running and I appreciate sites like this. Being a professional web developer has given me an advantage to starting my own blog. I am still new to the whole blogging community though and am trying to learn how to “monetize” my blog. I will be posting some information on my journey to starting web business and also am looking for what you guys have done to bring in revenue on your blog and website in general.

    Looking forward to blogging my way to the beach,
    Kent

  20. Craig says: 11/04/2005 at 2:07 am

    Three quarters of this post are in comments thus far. Thats a lot of free content.

    When I look at comments, I like to decide what I’m using my blog for. Is it an advertisment and do you want to maximise click-though or are you trying to build your own brand and become an authority on a topic like Darren has, and build upon that? Like Darren and Andy(6 figure), and Darren, Duncan, and Jeremy(b5) are… would closing comments and ads let you and your visitors focus best on the business at hand?

  21. My comments component is essential to my blog, because of its purpose. And although I don’t receive anywhere close to the amount of hits you gys receive, it does take from my day when I have to go in and delete comments. I review many books and book related products, so sometimes a newbiew writer or a desperate publicist tries to slip a novel chapter in my comments section. I set up a discussion board for that purpose, but I continue to get them in comments. Since I’m still using blogger until I get my own site up, I’ll deal with it a little longer. But I am concerned once my site is up and it includes my usedbookstore and review sections, how bad it will get.

    Question: when your blog’s comment section is vital to your marketability, what can you do about spammers and abusers?

  22. Blogger Finally Has Comment Moderation

    It finally has come to pass, Blogger.com has finally got comment moderation. Personally I think it is about time for them to do this. It is really annoying to get comment spam, or to get “flamed” on your own blog. Darren Rowse from problogger.net …

  23. One of the more useful ‘operational’ articles and extremely useful table of comments yet.

    Whatever the individual blog owner’s desire regarding comments, the only thing I would definitely suggest is a clearly posted policy _up_front_.

    Example: I’ve posted several comments to other posts here on Problogger.net that (now that the policy was made visible) may have been too much in the ‘good post’ area, and did have a sig … with my home website in the sig. Since they didn’t appear, I assume they were deleted automatically. No problem with that, but the only thing I can see at this point that was ‘wrong’ was the inclusion of my web site in the sig was regarded as gratuitous. The why not say so, up front? Saves everyone time … apparently my concept of a sig being a name and website differs from others … communication of expectations is the most important part of implementing policy. Definitely no sig here *smile*

  24. Well, to be honest, I just put my site in where it says website because there’s a box for it :P Why don’t you take out that box and disable html code in comments? If I knew how to do that with Typepad, I’d probably go that route.

  25. Darren,

    This is the first time I have ever added a comment to your blog and I did read your policy before leaving it. I have been writing blogs for a few months now. It’s only been recently that I have noticed the comments that people leave. I was so excited when I first noticed that my blog was being read, only then to realize that people were just adding non-sense and then their links. As you mentioned, often times very crude as well. It was really disappointing. It was then that I too wrote a post on it.

    I think you have a great blog, and I refer to it often. I plan to start to leave more comments, I hope maybe some of them will be useful, I pretty much a novice at blogging. I will certainly respect your policy.

  26. Save me from my ignorance here: How do I send a trackback? I’ve seen other’s have done so, but I can’t figure out how they did it.

  27. you have strict policy which is good to stop spamming
    i really appritiate it.

  28. Love the site. I like how you update it frequently also.

  29. A New Commenting Policy

    In order to provide more control over our dreaded spam commenters and to improve the level of discourse on this site, we’ve instituted a registered user system using TypeKey as our authentification system. If you have a TypeKey account, registering…

  30. Two things I wish for comments at Problogger:

    One, I wish I could ask to be email notified of comments without necessarily having to have made a comment in that post myself, or could go back to sign up when I forget to check that box.

    Two, I wish that your front page would either show the date and time of the most recent comment or that there was an alternate page that expanded all comments or that part of the last comment was in ballon text so that just mousing over that would remind me whether or not I had read it, or that posts were linked with Next – Previous links so I don’t need to bother with the home page at all once I read the first post OR :-) that it worked like other comment systems that let me expand or collapse them at will.

    I LIKE to read the comments. A lot of interesting people add useful content to the already useful posts that Darren makes. The present system makes it very hard to read the comments – back and forth all the time.

    Why don’t you take a survey of your readers as to how they feel about comments as presently implemented? It might be interesting..

  31. Just came across your site(s) referenced on the Digital Point Forums. I had just posted a question about comments and what to do on my new blog (just getting started, and had my first off-topic comment). Thanks for this post, it clarifies things a bit for me, and I will probably end up taking a similar stance.
    BTW – Love the blogs.

  32. Hi Darren!

    You definetely do an awsome job with your blog. I can only dream about the one you have :-)

    I have some sites with Word Press blogs on landscaping ideas and natural skin care which have a good PR and bring me additional traffic.

    But recently I came across an MSN strategy by Rob Benwell here http://www.bloggingtothebank.com

    He say that in MSN his free blogger.com blog with 20 back links had outranked an optimized site
    with around a 1000 quality one way links.

    So, I setup a couple of free blogs on: stop smoking help and home schooling. I quickly got into the MSN but so far can’t get through.

    Does anybody aim to only at first MSN only?

    Thanks
    Laura

  33. hi Laura

    I guess those blogs on your own domain will always do better. Yes, that’s true you can win the competition in MSN with free blogs if you have some decent links but hardly believe this will happen in Yahoo not to say about Google.

    Mike

  34. ras

  35. je iufdfudfd

  36. Good you made us all aware..Thanks.

  37. Like always, another wonderful post! I can’t imagine trying to control the number of comments you get – letting the good guys in while keeping the spammers out.

    My blog doesn’t receive a lot of comments yet. I’m encouraging readers to leave comments, but I don’t have the high traffic numbers. Blogger appears to have a good comment management system that requres a verification code and I must personally approve (or deny) all comments. Certainly this task will become more and more cumbersome as I get more comments. But I’m not going to worry about that for now.

    Keep up the good work!!!

  38. The HTML markup for defining.

  39. The imagi wheel.

  40. May I humbly suggest Darren, the provision of Preview and Subscription features in this blog’s comments? It always helps that people will see how their comment will look like, as it will appear on-site.

    And comment subscriptions have also helped me stay updated with how the discussion of a post has progressed, without having to go through the relative inconvenience of regularly checking it with my browser. That’s why I’m currently in a somewhat engaging discussion of who’ll die in season 2 of Prison Break, on the Prison Break blog.

    Anything that simplifies the lives of your readers is always greatly appreciated. Hopefully, given that this post has attracted its share of utterly useless comments, my pleadings will be able to reach you. :)

  41. Hi, nice site, very beautifull!

  42. Hello.. im starting a blog, so i would like to ask you how can I add a box where you can send emails to me with their comments as the one im using right now.. i try to find the link but i couldnt.. maybe you can help me…

    Regards

  43. my regard to you man :)

  44. Eshwar says: 09/07/2006 at 11:41 pm

    Your blog has been so facinating, not only to the niche as it sounds but to the entire blogosphere as whole, Your way to describe things that please several ears though while at devising policies which is rather an intriguing one. Nice to see a better policy communicated in way that put oneself really to think about the policy as a whole lot. My Best wishes to you :)

  45. […] 5. Set Boundaries – I noticed that shortly after I set the rules for my comments section (with a comments policy) that my comment numbers jumped up a little. I’m not sure if it was just a coincidence or whether readers responded to knowing what was and wasn’t acceptable. It’s just a theory but I think a well managed and moderated comments section that is free of spam and that deals with well with people stepping out of line is an attractive thing to readers. I personally don’t mind people expressing different opinions to one another in comments but when I sense things are getting a little out of hand and too personal I often step in to attempt to bring some order to the situation (I rarely delete non spam comments). I find that people have responded to this and that comment threads generally stay constructive as a result. […]

  46. […] ProBlogger Comment Policy. Share and Enjoy:These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. […]

  47. I am absolutely astonished that there are people who turn comments off.

    I just converted my site from static web pages to the interactive blog form. Now when I come across a site that allows no commenting, I skip it. If I want a one way flow, I can turn on the television or watch a movie.

    Turning off comments is a Really Bad Idea. Peaceful? Dead people are peaceful too.

    I have a strict comment policy: You can say anything you want.

    So can I.

  48. Comments are what keep blogs/sites going. If there is no community then there is no site in my opinion. Thanks for keeping your comment section going, you guys have been such a big help!