Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Blog Comments: Which Ones to Trash; Which Ones to Treasure

If you have a blog, you know that one of the tough decisions you have to make on a daily basis is which blog comments to keep (treasure!) and which ones to delete (trash!). Some comments are obviously spam and can be deleted without hesitation. But many blog comments I receive on this blog especially fall into a grey area. So how should you handle your blog comments?

The First Layer of Defense
First off, you should definitely have some sort of anti-spam mechanism installed on your blog. Askimet is a good anti-spam plug-in for WordPress blogs. You can also require folks to "log in" to comment on your blog posts. (This is the system I use.) This will help you get rid of 90% of the spam that you'll encounter.

Handwritten Spam
On the other hand, you'll get a fair amount of self-promotional messages that are actually handwritten. These won't get caught by your spam filter. The easiest way to recognize these is that it will be a general comment, followed by a link.

For example, here is a recent comment I received on a recent post, "Buying a Domain Name for Your Career Services Business."

If you see a message with a link in the body text that really doesn't add any value to your site, delete it.

Subtle Self-Promotions
You'll often get messages with the backlink embedded in the person's name and website. Whether or not you keep these comments depends mostly on the content of their comments.

If they're reading your posts and adding value to your site, then of course you should keep their comments. But if they're just commenting on your site generically to get a backlink to their site, then use your discretion.

A lot of comments fall into this grey area. They might not add a lot of value, but they are clearly not automated spammers. Some bloggers err on the side of deleting, while others err on the side of approving. It's up to you; there's no clear answer in this grey zone.

Here's an example of one of these comments:

The main reason why you'll get a lot of spam comments is to increase traffic to the commenter's website. This is a perfect example of one of these comments. It's important to remember that a lot of your commenters are going to be posting comments because they want a backlink to their site. That's not a bad thing.

It's only when they're detracting value from your site that you need to worry about it. Don't blame people for wanting to promote their websites.

Don't Delete Disagreeing Comments
Deleting dissenting comments is a big mistake. People who take the time to read everything you wrote and then share a dissenting opinion should be rewarded rather than silenced.

Someone might disagree with something you post this time, but could be a big fan of something you write next week. If you delete their comment, you'll lose them forever. Furthermore, the people who take the time to write a dissenting opinion are probably people who really care about your topic — Which means they are buyers and networkers.

In short, approve comments that add value, insights, or opinions to your blog. Delete comments that detract value, are self-promotional or are from people who clearly didn't read your post.

I would love to hear from YOU on this topic. Comment below!

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