Blog Comment Policy: Why You Need One

10 Blog Comment Policy Tips

Bloggers tend to be hard-wired to look for feedback and encouragement in their comment sections. In their rush to get feedback and build a healthy comment section, bloggers often overlook the need to create blog comment guidelines.

A blog comment policy is useful for bloggers since it sets boundaries on what readers can and can’t say or do in the comment section of your blog. While comments may be a sign of interest and activity in your blog community, you don’t want to the average reader to be put off by bad behavior.

10 Points to include in your blog comment guidelines

To get your blog comment policy on track, here are ten tips. On your blog, you can use one or more depending on your audience and your niche.

  1. No spam. Who wants spam anywhere, except possibly in a sandwich? Use spam filters and let your readers know that spam will be deleted.
  2. No foul language. Think PG-13 is generally the approach used by most blogs. Do you really want readers throwing around the f-bomb or other offensive language on your blog?
  3. No derogatory or inflammatory comments. Don’t allow your comment section to be used to pick on or hurt any individual. Require that commenters be civil to others and do not indulge in personal attacks. Everyone must play nice with others readers if they want to be published. As your mother taught you, if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything. If you need to vent go elsewhere (preferably to a gym where you can blow off steam constructively.)
  4. No bots or anonymous comments. The goal is to ensure that real flesh and blood human beings are participating. Further, the commenter must be willing to be associated with their own comments.
  5. No off-topic rants. Comments must stay on topic. If you have something to say on the topic, we want to hear your views in a short, concise format. This isn’t the venue for the lengthy sharing of worldviews and passions.
  6. No blog posts parading as comments. If you have a lot to say, maybe you should consider writing a guest blog post or starting your own blog. The objective of the comment section is to have a discussion, not to publish lectures!
  7. No inbedded links to another website. The comment section doesn’t exist to help other blogs and websites build their link love. The only exception should be links to information that supports the conversation. Make sure that you define this!
  8. No anchor text or keywords in commenter’s name. This is an SEO trick picked up from Andy Beal’s Marketing Pilgrim blog. Comments are for participating in the conversation, not boosting your blog or web rankings.
  9. No sales pitch. Your comment shouldn’t be a thinly veiled promotion.
  10. No affiliates. The comment section isn’t a place to  leave links back to your affiliate program.

7 Other important blog comment guidelines to consider

In addition to the ten points outlined above, here are seven other blog comment elements to consider and integrated into your policy.

  1. Encourage commenting and conversation on your blog. Let your readers know that you’re interested in their feedback. Go one step further and incorporate a call-to-action in your blog posts.
  2. Determine comment ownership. State clearly on your blog, who owns the comments on your site. It’s your choice—do you own them or do commenters own them?
  3. State that your blog isn’t responsible for comments, legally or otherwise. It’s important to let readers know that you’re not accountable for comments.
  4. Outline your editorial rights. While you should encourage and welcome reader comments, let readers know that you retain the right to accept or edit comment content.
  5. Explain how you’ll handle comments that violate your rules. Among your options are editing them, deleting the comment, blocking the commenter or notifying the commenter. It’s your call; you should just be clear about your actions.
  6. Don’t reject comments just because they express opposing views. You need to have a thick skin. You can choose how you respond, but you shouldn’t just delete different perspectives.
  7. Don’t write fake comments to make it look like someone’s home. This is just poor form. If you want support for your blog, ask your social media tribe to stop by.

What matters most about having a blog comment policy is that it provides guidelines for what you can do and what your readers can do in public conversation. Remember that you are viewed as the sponsor of this conversation, so you want it to reflect positively on both you and your guests.

Do you have any other suggestions that you’d add to this list? If so please include them in the comment section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Big tip of my hat to the members of #BlogChat for inspiring this post. Please join us on Sunday evenings at 9.00pm NY time.

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Photo credit:  Eflon via Flickr

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