Time Wasting Blog Comments, Comments Policies, and Comment Etiquette

Filed as Features on August 16, 2007 10:23 am

In Terms of Use and Universal Comment Link Philosophy, guest blogger, John Pozadzides, laments the need for a comments policy on your blog:

…for the last several days my blog was being absolutely accosted by what seemed to be terrible, evil comment spammers, and the Marine in me was ready to go on the warpath. All of these comments started showing up (like 100 per day) with commercial URLs in place of the Author link, and we were deleting them left and right.

…Then some of the new visitors who had been commenting profusely started questioning why all of their posts were being deleted both in the blog’s comments and via the contact form.

At first I just couldn’t believe I needed to explain why they were being moderated. But it turns out that these visitors were completely unaware that they were violating basic blog etiquette. So I instated (and then clarified) some Terms of Use on the blog and lo and behold much of the problem seems to have gone away.

This got me thinking – why don’t all blogs have Terms of Use posted on them? I mean, are we expecting commenters to just know by osmosis what they should and should not be doing?

Educating Your Readers On How To Comment

There are some things that you would think wouldn’t need explanation, like how to leave appropriate comments on blogs. They are not complicated. They are just common sense things to do.

Yet, people violate the most basic blog comment etiquette like:

  • Don’t use keywords in your comment form name – use your name, blog title, or a pseudonym that resembles a name you want to be known as.
  • Don’t stuff your comment signature (which is unnecessary – use the form) with links and qualifications on what kind of an expert you think you are. Let your comment speak for your expertise.
  • Don’t leave time waster comment nonsense like “Cool”, “I like your article”, “You make a good point”, “I need this”, and “This is great.”
  • Don’t leave long link addresses that screw up web page designs. Put them in an HTML anchor tag with descriptive text that tells the reader where the link is going and what it is about.
  • Don’t attack the blogger nor other commenters. Attack the content if you have to attack, not the person.

Still, people don’t seems to get it and blog comments often look like your room when you were a teenager.

Comments need to speak for themselves, but they also speak loudly for your blog.

As long as people keep doing dumb things in comments, bloggers will keep wasting time cleaning up and deleting unnecessary and time wasting comments.

Some are so thrilled to get a comment, they don’t care what it looks like and are willing to waste their time fixing them, or just leaving the comments as they stand. Other bloggers think that there needs to be a Plugin-fix to prevent idiot comments.

Blog comment policies help, as do instructions within the comment form area on how to comment. tells commenters to “Play nice” – simple, and a gentle, to-the-point reminder.

I say educate your readers on how to comment on your blog, and you will get better comments and happier readers.

Happier readers?

Blog readers are tired of the dumb and time waster stuff in comments. I’m not talking about comment spam, but truly time wasting comments by commenters who don’t think, or are abusing comments intentionally or unintentionally.

Many won’t comment after a dumb comment, or judge the blogger by the way they keep their comments clean – or not. Others will point out the dumb comment and ask that it be removed, adding more clutter to the comment queue.

Bloggers can’t read minds. A commenter leaves one to ten comments in a day. A typical blogger has to deal with ten to one hundred comments a day, cleaning out the crap from the jewels. They are making decisions fast and furious, and often harshly.

They know the better the content of the comments, the more integrity your blog seems to have.

How do you educate your readers on how to comment?

  • Have a Comment Policy: Create a strong and clear comments policy describing what is acceptable or not on your blog comments. Promote it by blogging about it, and feature a link to it from your comments form. Use it as a pointer for those who complain or question.
  • Blog About How to Comment: Education begins with presentation of the issues and how to solve them, so why not educate your readers by blogging about commenting on your blog. Do it every few months to remind them, if necessary.
  • Set an Example: How you comment on your blog and on other blogs sets an example to everyone on how to comment. Comment as you would like comments on your blog.
  • Ask Your Readers How They Want Comments to Appear on Your Blog: Sometimes the educational process is best when the students give the answers rather than being told. Ask your readers to tell you what they think are the best comments and how they want comments to appear on your blog. You might be surprised to learn that they are tougher on comments than you are.

Do you have a comment policy? Are you tired of time wasting comments? Do you think a comment policy will improve things?

What do you think about educating your readers on how to comment on your blog?

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  1. By Jeremy Steele posted on August 16, 2007 at 10:43 am
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    This is something I’ve written about several times before, I even wrote up a little post looking at what comment policies should cover.

    Reply

  2. By Webomatica posted on August 16, 2007 at 12:54 pm
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    Tricky. Many new bloggers are in the position where any comment is welcome.

    But then yeah, as a blog gets more popular there is a point where the maintinence of comments becomes more time consuming than it can be worth. And responding to each comment personally likewise doesn’t scale too well.

    That said I definitely think a comment policy is essential, because you can clearly stating what kinds of comments you’ll delete or what you consider spam, thereby cutting down the workload.

    If things get really out of control the only thing I could imagine is moving to a login and at the most drastic, disabling comments altogether.

    Reply

  3. By pelf posted on August 16, 2007 at 8:45 pm
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    Because I don’t have a lot of comments on a per post basis, I edit those “bad comment” manually. If somebody leaves a keyword-name, I edit it. If somebody leaves his blog URL in the comment box, I remove it (or place it in the box where the URL should be typed in the first place), if somebody says “This is great”, I trash it.

    But of course, popular bloggers can’t afford the time to do all these, that’s why EDUCATION is important :)

    Reply

  4. By Sheila posted on August 19, 2007 at 7:44 pm
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    I just found your site by searching for blog comment etiquette. I’ve been thinking of establishing a comment policy.

    I’ve got a frequent commenter that is not getting the message that I don’t want his/her spammish comments that try to hijack my posts. I’ve been trying to figure out a polite way to tell them to stop it. So, you post is certainly an encouragement to establish a comment policy.

    Reply

  5. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on August 20, 2007 at 12:17 am
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    Always glad to help, and thank you.

    If someone is really out of control, you can block them. That’s drastic measures, so make sure your comment policy is in place before you take such action. Still, some people don’t “get it” and so take the steps you need to take in order to protect you and your blog.

    Remember, it’s your blog. You control it, including the comments.

    Reply

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  8. By Wean posted on September 27, 2007 at 12:24 pm
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    Is it a real problem?

    Reply

  9. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on September 27, 2007 at 2:40 pm
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    I’m not sure I understand what you are asking. Yes, it’s a real problem. Do you have this problem? Not sure. Do many bloggers have this problem? Daily.

    Reply

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  15. By boom shaca laca posted on September 30, 2009 at 8:21 pm
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    wow i had to read this thing for a school assignment on blogging ~.~ cuz were reading a book and we have to blog about it mad homo right?

    Reply

  16. The Myndset » Commenting on comments – a policy is bornJanuary 21, 2010 at 8:38 am

    Your words are your own, so be nice and helpful if you can. If this is the first time you're posting a comment, it might go into moderation. Don't worry, it's not lost, so there's no need to repost it! We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it please.

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