Open source teaching: comment policies

25 Feb

It’s my theme of the week: that answers are out there, even if not in the lecturer’s head. I’ve had two questions on blog comment policies that I’m not well equipped to answer, so I’ll discuss them here.

Q. What is comment moderation?

A. The anonymity of the web brings out the best – and worst – in people. There’s lots of encouragement and free advice available, but some people just can’t resist a fight. As Kami Huyse has put it, her blog is her own private space, so conversations there should be conducted on her terms. Some blog owners don’t allow automatic publication of comments; blog moderation works like the letters page to a newspaper. It’s the reader’s page, but the letters editor gets to decide who appears there, and whether their contribution is edited. Comment moderation is the process of reviewing comments and deciding whether to publish them. It builds in a delay and so reduces the immediacy of most blog conversations.

Q. Should I respond to comments on my blog?

A. I’ve long held that I have my say on my blog; the comments give other people a chance to jump in. Other, better bloggers believe that it’s only polite to welcome people to their blogs and join in the discussion on equal terms. Here’s a typical blog post from the prolific Neville Hobson: of the eight comments, he’s contributed two. It’s like being a good party host, popping up to chat, to fill people’s glasses and to make introductions.

Another senior PR blogger chooses to send personal emails to those commenting on his blog. This avoids the appearance of vanity and is very flattering to those receiving the ‘hand written’ message. But like all these options, it’s time consuming. Note how successful people manage to find time…

One approach is to state your blogging policy up front. Here’s the Terms of Use statement from Neville Hobson’s blog. It anticipates all of the points raised here in a professional manner.

4 Responses to “Open source teaching: comment policies”

  1. Swetha 25/02/2008 at 11:34 pm #

    I completely agree that comment moderation is necessary at times. As you have said, anonymity can often encourage people to be very rude…. I also think that bloggers should reply to some of the comments on their posts. I was actually wondering if I could do that on my blog, so thanx for helping! blogging as a social media should involve extensive discussion on topics, with the blogger being able to respond to comments form readers.

  2. Richard Bailey 26/02/2008 at 8:13 am #

    Thank you Swetha, for participating in this experiment in ‘open source learning’.
    (Just to show that I read comments too.)

  3. PoHuang 27/02/2008 at 10:03 pm #

    In my opinion, reponse to comment is more like WEB 2.0. People can leave some arguement and you can reply other thought. This become a two-way communication rather than you say something then people say so.

  4. Julie, writer 03/03/2008 at 3:00 pm #

    Based on experience. there are more blogs out there that allow comments (even those against them) to pass their moderation test. I think most of the bloggers just enable comment moderation in order to avoid really rude and sometimes lewd and irrelevant comments to ruin the flow of conversation.

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