To me, blog comments are what make a blog come alive.
Years ago I went religiously to meetings of my local publishing group (BAIPA.org). Arriving early, I would sit and record all the questions that were being asked in the hourlong question and answer section that started each meeting, and which was populated mostly by newer members.
It was an invaluable source of information on where in the publishing process people were getting stuck: what was hard to understand.
I no longer have to do that, of course, because now all the questions come to me in the form of blog comments.
Here’s what I wrote about the interaction that happens between the blogger and the blog readers through the comments a few years ago:
“This interaction, of course, is what makes blogging so distinctive as a written form. It’s difficult to think of a similar form of communication, where conversations take place over an extended period of time, and readers get the benefit of all the previous comments in learning about a topic.”
There are a lot of blogs that have turned off their comments, or relocated them to a social media platform, but I find interactions in the comments to be one of the most rewarding parts of running a blog.
As my blog has grown over the years, like all bloggers, I’ve dealt with lots of kinds of problems, too.
Although virtually all commenters here are either looking for advice or relating thoughtful opinions and experiences, occasionally someone will attack me or one of the other authors here, or try to demean other commenters.
I won’t stand for that.
One good way to encourage responsible discussion on your blog is to have a clear Comment Policy. Think about the kinds of interactions you want, and let people know. Put it on a special Comment Policy Page and let your readers know about it.
I just updated the Comment Policy for this blog. Here it is:
The Book Designer Comment Policy
Welcome to The Book Designer.
We’re glad you’re here, and look forward to hear what you have to say about creating, producing, and marketing books—the topics we write about every day.
Since 2009, we’ve supplied authoritative, practical, and expert advice and opinion on making, marketing, and selling books, especially for independent authors.
Throughout that time we’ve encouraged and fostered comments, the essence of interactive blogging. On The Book Designer, the voice of the readers—you—is a vital part of the discussion and education that goes on here.
If you’d like to comment—and I hope you do—please take a moment to familiarize yourself with our guidelines.
Blog Comment Guidelines
—The Book Designer editorial team reserves the right to edit or delete comments as we see fit, without explanation. Certain comments may not be posted or may be deleted after they are posted.
—Comments are encouraged that expand on an article’s premise and add something of value
—All opinions are welcome as long as they are expressed with respect and without personal attacks on other commenters, the author, or the staff of The Book Designer
—Any comments considered abusive or disrespectful, in the opinion of the editors, may be edited or deleted
—Please link to your own site by filling in the “Website” field when leaving a comment, not by adding promotional links within the comment itself
—Comments linked to sites deemed, in the sole discretion of the editors, to be inappropriate, will be deleted
—For any comment, we reserve the right to edit, delete, move, or mark it as spam. We also reserve the right to block any IP address that violates our comment policy from commenting, subscribing, or accessing The Book Designer.
—You are encouraged to use your real first name and email address in the comment form
—Although comments are not moderated, those with links usually need to be manually approved. Obvious attempts to promote your business, of whatever kind, are not allowed
—By posting a comment, you agree that your contribution is your own and that you take responsibility for it. You agree to hold The Book Designer, all article authors, and all other commenters harmless
—If we receive notice that a comment violates someone’s copyrighted information, the comment will be deleted and the commenter may be blocked from posting comments in the future.
—If, for any reason, you would like us to delete a comment you’ve left here just let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll delete it
—Please leave comments that carry the conversation forward, or that ask a question relevant to the topic of the article
—Please don’t leave comments where you’ve put your book title in the “Name” field instead of your name or that demonstrate you didn’t read the article
—Ordinarily, We do not delete or censor comments, unless they contain off-topic rants; threats to us or other visitors; defamation in any form; racism of any kind; obscenities; they violate others’ copyrights or trademarks; or they are considered belligerent by the editors
If you have any questions on the comment policy, please let us know at email@example.com
That’s our comment policy. Do you have one on your blog? Let me know in the comments.
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Editor’s Note: Feel free to copy our comment policy to use on your own site. Here’s where it’s posted on this blog: The Book Designer Comment Policy