Blake Snow

content advisor, recognized journalist, bodacious writer-for-hire

As seen on CNN, NBC, ABC, Fox, Wired, Yahoo!, BusinessWeek, Wall Street Journal
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Should I delete soft sell comments?

I nuke hard sell comments as soon as they are published to Smooth Harold (read: “Nice blog! Check out this really cool snake oil!”). I also reserve the right to delete profane or otherwise mindless provocative comments while Akismet takes care of the spam.

But what do I do with soft sell comments? The comments that are relevant and might add value to some readers even if a salesman is behind them.

For example, take this comment published to Smooth Harold last fall by a verified Nike employee in response to my shoe designer post: “You guys should checkout the shoes that came out from Nike with Ipod applications. Nike and Apple coming together is a perfect combination and if this can motivate a healthier lifestyle than more power to them.”

I let it slide because it was technically on topic. In hindsight, however, I’m thinking I should have deleted it (and still may).

Another commenter who claims to be a consumer though suspiciously reads like an employee in my post calling for the kibosh on water bottles: “I’M DONE !!! we just got a watermatic system in our office, we purify our own water and theres no need to have bottles ever again!!! i did like seeing Jerry our delivery guy but sorry pal, we’re moving on! check em out i highly recommend them www.watermaticcoolers.com.”

The language, unnatural typos and lower caps, and generic story all sound forced, but Smooth Harold readers might appreciate the recommendation while on the subject of water bottle alternatives. This one, while reeking of a soft sell, seems like grey area.

Lastly, a little damage control from a Dell employee after it was revealed that HP had been kicking Dell’s trash at retail: “Hi there, Blake. An interesting post for sure. However, thought you might like some additional food for thought to broaden your perspective. Obviously the brand of PC I prefer and never have any trouble with has been a Dell. But on your post you seem to overlook other factors related to Dell and the business…”

I have no doubts about publishing this one. “RichardatDell” wasn’t directly selling, only offering some public relations in a very respectful well. In any case, I’ve never decided how to handle said comments in an effort to be fair and democratic.

So how do you deal with soft sell blog comments? And which of the above three examples would you terminate, if any?