Author Blogging: Your Blog’s Comment Policy

by | Mar 7, 2016

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 [email protected] 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 protected]


That’s our comment policy. Do you have one on your blog? Let me know in the comments.

See Also

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

Photo: bigstockphoto.com

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20 Comments

  1. David Jhonson

    Worldwide Tweets is your news, entertainment, music fashion website. We provide you with the latest breaking news and videos straight from the entertainment industry. Visit funny books online for more details.

    Reply
  2. Animeultima - Cranefest

    I recognize your expertise in this. I must say we have an online word on this. I am surprised so many advertising comments got posted

    Reply
  3. Ellie Singh

    I approve a comment policy is imperative so we can set guidelines and rules on which forms of comments are suitable and which are not. I personally approve most comments through on my site but the comments that are offensive to other commenters are still in their paths.

    Reply
  4. L. M. Lacee

    I like the idea of the comment policy but not sure how it will stop people saying what they want. I agree if people can’t say something nice then they should say nothing at all. If there is a problem I don’t mind it being stated as long as a good practical solution is also offered up.

    Would we have to put the comment policy at the heading of every post?

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Hi L.M.

      You don’t have to put the whole thing in every post, just provide a link somewhere on your site so you can always direct people to the link if they have questions. Mine is in the footer on every page on the blog.

      Reply
  5. fixcodeerror

    Hello Joel Friedlander,
    Hope you are doing well.

    One of the main purposes of encouraging comments on a blog is to promote a sense of community.

    If your comments section is filled with rude remarks and promotional content, the community flounders. When you are publishing a comment policy and enforce it, you provide a better experience for the people you want to comment on your blog. Even though a comment policy may discourage a few people from posting, they are probably not the people you want to post anyway.
    You’ll need to personalize your blog comment policy to fit your blog. While you can prohibit hate speech, you shouldn’t ban all disagreement with your blog. The point is to connect with your blog visitors and honest on-topic negative comments give you an opportunity to respond to a criticism.

    A sample blog comment policy is a good place to start when you are writing a comment policy for your blog. Read the sample blog comment policy below thoroughly and make any changes necessary to fit your goals for your blog.

    Reply
  6. Daniel Wilson

    I’ve done that too on occasion on other blogs. I link directly to the page, so they don’t have to look for it.I like your information and I will go to share your article.

    Reply
  7. Harinder Paul

    Well, I am not sure about your view on commenting. What i know is today commenting got so bad that every commentator use it get backlinks to their blog. And thats why i gonna use disqus to make it more personal.

    Reply
  8. Chang Otillia

    I think that interaction in comments on blogs with your audience is the most important thing in promoting your site or blog, so everyone shouldn`t throw it away, thats my opinion. Thanks for this informative post!

    Reply
  9. Alex

    I’m not sure I know what you mean exactly but if you’re asking where I get my advice, then it comes from my own personal experiences. Everything that I commentabout, I have personally experienced.

    Reply
  10. Doug Bentley

    I do have a Comment Guideline policy on my website. When I included it on every post and page I thought it would have some effect. The problem I have, on this and other websites I operate is that, whenever I publish a post, and send that post to standard social media sites and Reddit, I get back an avalanche of utter nonsense comments from robotic spammers which clog up my Akismet plugin. For every sensible and relevant comment I receive I get about 30 nonsense spams. Using my comment spam filter I still have to read through a lot of nonsense, and figure out which comments are ‘real.’ This chore is the most discouraging part of blogging for me.

    Reply
  11. Caroline Gerardo

    I don’t post a commenting policy. Recently a writer attacked me personally in a comment. I didn’t delete it. I answered online that his comment was off the topic, he does not know me and apologized for whatever I wrote that buzzed his rage. Not certain it was the best practice to handle the negativity. Is it better to delete and say nothing?

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Caroline, depending on the individual, it may be worth a try. But having dealt with these folks for over 6 years, I have a slightly different view, one I explained in this article: 7 Traps Waiting for Successful Bloggers, (Part 1), scroll down to “3. Trolls” and you’ll see what I mean.

      Reply
  12. Marquita Herald

    I believe it’s just good business sense to have a comments policy, but mine is pretty much geared toward my fellow bloggers tempted to self-promote (which is rare, but still happens) since my spam filters do a great job of keeping that element away. As far as turning comments off, I must admit I think about it from time to time but every week someone comments on how interesting the discussion thread is so as long as the participation is there I’ll keep it going.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Perhaps it’s because self-publishing authors are so keen on marketing, but I get comments all the time with links to book sales pages even if the book has nothing to do with the conversation. I see this as different from the marketers constantly trying to spam the comments section, but they still need to be dealt with.

      Reply
  13. Karen

    I practice pretty much an “open door” comment policy–I don’t feel it’s necessary to create a bunch of rules for folks to follow, and lots of rules tend to inhibit discussion, I feel. I’ve never had a problem with any commenter, other than the occasional beating-a-dead-horse stubborn persistent ones. Those tend to peter out on their own, eventually.

    I’ve been on websites where comments were constantly being removed because they violated some rule– or some arbitrary interpretation of “the rules”– so I just gave up trying to participate there. It’s that website’s loss, AFAIC.

    The only comments I’ve ever removed were spam.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Karen, I’ve seen those sites also. Probably due to the volume of traffic here, we seem to attract more of everything, good and bad, and the fact is that I’ve never had an “official” comment policy before, just dealing with off-topic or abusive commenters as they arise. But I do think there’s a value in specifying the kind of communication that works the best for readers, and it’s something I’ve been meaning to do for some time.

      Reply
  14. Diane Lynn McGyver

    In many ways, the policy is simple common courteous. Unfortunately that seems to be missing too often online these days. I’ve left many Facebook groups and rolled my eyes at blog comments when bad or attack comments are posted.

    Either I attract the ‘right crowd’ or I don’t have the high traffic volume that other blogs have, but I have never had an issue. And I don’t have a policy. It goes without saying that spam comments with links don’t even make it to the website. I don’t feel obligated to tell these people they’re not welcomed.

    I do allow links in comments if the links take visitors to a good resource on the topic being discussed. I’ve done that too on occasion on other blogs. I link directly to the page, so they don’t have to look for it. But it’s rare, only happening maybe five times a year. I’m not out to promote myself or sell books; I’m hoping the information I post will help other writers.

    I too like blogs to interact with readers. I’ve seen the blogs that have turned off the comment section, and I often wonder why. It’s like they want to be heard, but they don’t want to listen. To each their own, I guess.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Diane, I’m glad you haven’t run into many “trolls” on your blog, and your approach seems to be based on common sense, thanks for your input.

      Reply
  15. Carl D'Agostino

    Like like it when commenters play off the punch line of my cartoons. They add their wit to the post and often their comment is as funny or funnier than the theme of my cartoon.

    Reply

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