My Perspective On Running A Comment Section On Your Blog
Right Wing News has more than 3700 registered members and it’s not the least bit unusual for posts here to crack 100+ comments. So, I’ve had more than a little bit of experience running a comments section for my readers. With that in mind, here are some tips I have for bloggers running their own comments sections…
— Should you have a comment section on your blog? Well, other than in a few isolated cases, I’m not sure that comment sections really add all that much to a blog’s popularity. However, I do think the immediate feedback enables you to better anticipate how people will respond to what you write. To me, that’s the primary advantage of having a comment section.
— Remember that on your own page, YOU have complete control of the comments section. You are the judge, the jury, and the executioner. You write the rules, you decide who’s breaking them, and then you decide on the sentence. People don’t have any rights in your comments section other than those you give them. So don’t buy into any arguments that you can’t do X,Y, or Z in your own comments section because of “people’s right to be heard”, the “First Amendment”, etc, etc. If people don’t like how you’re running your comments sections, they’re free to go somewhere else or create their own web page somewhere where they have control of how things are run.
— Now that you understand that you have complete control, you’ve got to decide what you want to do with it. Do you want to allow people to post in the comments who vehemently disagree with you? Personally, that’s the way I go, but that doesn’t mean you have to do so as well. If you want to get rid of people who don’t tow your own ideological line, I don’t see a problem with that. If it’s your blog, it’s your call.
— These days, I wouldn’t even bother to have a comments section without user names and passwords. Not only does registering discourage people who just happen to be passing through and are tempted to leave an obnoxious comment, but for the most part, it keeps comment spammers from posting their garbage all over your page.
— A lot of people may disagree with me on this one, but I don’t often post in my comments section. Why spend your time composing a post for the comments section that is going to be read by the relatively small percentage of your readers who go there, when you could be writing something for your main page that everyone will get to read?
— Back when I used to run a humor page called Brass Knuckles Webzine, I didn’t allow cursing on the forums. However, I found that editing out the curse words from even a semi-busy forum, was a lot of work. That’s why, for the most part, I don’t ban cursing in my own comments section today. Too much work.
— Thread-jackers — people who post off-topic articles in the comments section — detract from the conversation by breaking up the people commenting into three groups: those who are talking about the subject of the post, those who are opining on whatever the thread-jacker posted on, and those who are chastising the thread jacker for posting their irrelevant material. I ban thread-jacking. You should too.
— Every so often I’ll get “conservatives” who call for “death to Muslims”, rant about “[email protected]”, or use racial slurs in my comments section. I’m sure left-wing websites have liberal loonies chiming in on their pages as well, albeit about different topics. People like that? They gotta go. Not only because they tend to attract more like-minded jerks who’ll make your comment section a less enjoyable place to post, but because they can draw negative attention to your page. Disagreement is fine, but the crackpots need to hit the digital bricks and find another place to chat.
— When you do run across a troll, thread-jacker, nut job, or other type of creep you decide to ban, take my advice: Ban ’em, ignore ’em, and forget about them. Don’t post about it on your blog, don’t respond to their email, and don’t give them a second chance.
I say that because after having seen “trolls” on internet message boards, I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of them are socially maladjusted losers who get off on getting attention for being obnoxious. Making fun of them, criticizing them, and complaining about them only encourages them to try to find a way around being banned just so they can continue to get under your skin. I can remember one kid on a gaming forum who literally spent several hours a day FOR WEEKS making duplicate accounts just so she could be irritating on a gaming forum that banned her. Why spend your time dealing with losers like that unnecessarily?
Hope this helps the bloggers out there who have comment sections or who are considering adding them.