I don’t like moderating comment criticism on blogs. Granted, moderation is good for some large organizations or companies that need to be especially careful with what’s posted on their site, but for independent publishers, I like the added democracy of an open comment system. And for the most part, blog readers have come to appreciate that comments do not express the views of the posting site or its author.
Moderation, either before-the-fact or after-the-fact gives the independent publisher the power to masque criticism, ideas, thoughts, new views, differing opinions, open-mindedness, vulgarity, and hate speech. I’m not sure I want that power, though I do use it in the case of the last two. I have let a little hate speech slide but don’t really like to. I prefer after-the-fact moderation (once a comment is already posted) because it’s easier for me to let comments “stick” if they aren’t too racy. The extreme one’s (through rare on Smooth Harold) get thrown out once I spot them in my email inbox.
I must admit that one of the beauties of blogging is that every individual decides on their own rules in how they blog and the level of participation from their audience. If a publisher wants to moderate comments, he/she can. Some popular blogs don’t even allow comments. I suspect a large portion of those sites get very good traffic and are trying to avoid comment spam.
For a blog to truly be successful, you really need to put yourself out there in every sense of the phrase. When I’m wrong, my commenters put me in my place. If an outlier commenter has something to say, amazingly, if not every time, the comment community will take care of itself by isolating the outlying comment, which reinforces the original post authors views and opinions. Communities actually work so trust in them. Let them express their thoughts on your blog, even if they differ from what you say. The more you do, the more respect your blog will garner.
(Cue anonymous comment criticism and see how Blake reacts.)