Catching up on my morning reading, I bumped into Thursday’s smart piece Paying Attention to What People Are Posting On Your Blog and it sparked a realization of my own: one of the best gifts I give the readers of my blog is to be aggressive with the delete button on comments.
My rule of thumb is simple: If it’s not contributing to the conversation, it shouldn’t be included on the page.
This has a lot of interesting ramifications because, among other things, it highlights how blog software isn’t really designed for true management of the comment stream. Want to know what I mean? Try to move a comment from one blog entry to another. Yeah, not so easy, short of cut/paste dancing.
More importantly, though, as anyone who has participated in a conversation about religion, politics or sports already knows, conversations are fragile and need to be nurtured to blossom into an interesting and — occasionally! — enlightening discussion. Get someone slipping in wisecracks or distracted by their personal bugaboo and the conversation quickly degrades into banal jibes and an uncomfortable agreement to “agree to disagree” and more on.
The same plays out on your blog, of course, and while I do believe that it’s important to encourage and honor differing perspectives and opinions, I also believe that the path to a great blog discussion is to prune the comments and eliminate those that don’t contribute to the level of discourse you seek.
I know first hand from my AskDaveTaylor tech blog: with over a thousand commentaries each month, it’s inevitable that I get the spammers that slip through Akismet (easy to delete), the people who criticize other posters on the site (I have zero tolerance, they’re all axed immediately) and the people who simply don’t respect any opinion other than their own. It’s the last group that can be tricky to manage, but I believe strongly that my blog is my world, I’m the managing editor, and it’s my responsibility to the readers that I keep the discussion at a mature, adult and beneficial level.
Switch to my parenting blog — Go Fatherhood — and it’s even more tricky, because while people might argue about how to get a Nintendo 3DS on a wifi network, it’s a sure bet that they’re going to disagree about how to discipline a teen for being disrespectful, how to advise a tween about honor and friendship or how to best get a baby to stop waking up in the middle of the night, crying for a drink.
So that’s how I handle it, being rather heavy-handed with my virtual editorial pen. How do you manage and maintain the discourse on your site?