If you’ve got a blog for your company, good for you! You probably already know all about the valuable feedback you can get through the comments, as well as the interesting conversations you can spark among readers. Everything’s great, until:
1. Your blog becomes a breeding ground for fake commenters.
2. Someone posts a straight-out mean, nasty comment.
I know these problems all too well. Here at my email marketing company, VerticalResponse, we’ve maintained a blog about small business marketing for over six years, and in the past few years traffic has exploded thanks to word-of-mouth and awards it’s won. As a result, we’re getting a lot more comments – positive, negative and just plain fake. I love the positive ones, of course, but what about the negative or fake ones?
To Moderate or Not to Moderate?
At VerticalResponse, we moderate all comments on our marketing blog before they go up. Some people don’t think we should do that because it’s less “transparent,” but we moderate because we get hit with a lot of people and bots who post irrelevant comments just to get a backlink to their sites for SEO purposes. This certainly isn’t what our blog is about and it lessens our credibility.
Otherwise, as long as the comment is constructive – whether it’s positive or negative – we post it. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, given that it’s relevant to the topic they’re commenting on and isn’t inflammatory. We try to answer every question that’s posted, even if it’s negative. It shows that we’re listening and that we’ll always be professional, no matter what direction the conversation is heading.
If your blog hasn’t yet been hit with nasty or fake comments, you might not need to moderate. Just keep a close eye on the types of comments that are coming in.
If you start getting fake comments like “Great article!” from “Fast Weight Loss” or “You make a good point and I look forward to reading more!” from “Cheap Insurance,” it’s time to put your moderation hats on.
There are a few ways to accomplish this. You can do what we do and quarantine all comments so that only the approved ones are published. Or, you can go in and manually weed them out after they’ve been posted, if you have the time. (But, if you’re not on top of it, you won’t know how many of your readers have already seen them before you’ve hit delete.) There also are plug-ins for certain blog publishing platforms, such as Akismet for Wordpress, that are pretty good at automatically identifying and filtering out fake comments before they’re posted – but there’s always the chance that some might get through.
But what about the people who feel they have the right to post mean, attacking comments? Who has the time to post these? To top it all off, when people post these comments, chances are the email addresses they give aren’t valid, which means they’re hiding behind fake addresses.
Here’s an example of a mean comment we recently received that clearly didn’t add anything to the conversation or topic (grammar mistakes included):
How is it that just anybody can write a article and get as popular as this? Its not like youve said anything incredibly impressive –more like youve painted a pretty picture over an issue that you know nothing about!
Just so you know, I did happen to know the topic of this particular post quite well. And usually people who submit mean comments don’t really have a grasp on proper grammar or spelling, either.
What’s my recommendation for a comment like this? If you’ve got moderation turned on, don’t publish it and instead try to email the sender to see if you can get some clarification on what he/she is talking about. I respond to every mean comment that is submitted to our marketing blog. Most of the time the email bounces back, so I know it’s just someone who wants to be negative for his/her own purposes.
What do you do when you get hit with a nasty or fishy comment on your blog?
Janine Popick is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse, a provider of email marketing, social media, online survey, event marketing and direct mail marketing solutions.