Have you ever deleted a comment?

I’ve deleted comments, yes I have, but not for the reasons you may be thinking. Some spam made it thru the Aksimet spam filter. So they just had to go!

The one question to consider here is about freedom of speech. Deleting comments is very subjective and the decision to delete comments should have to do with the vision you hold for your site or blog.

Off course you could also delete comments because you don’t like them. But if this is the case then don’t invite comments.

Depending on the nature of the blog, people will be very honest and rant and rave about something – usually politics, the price of petrol and bank charges. Any comment needs to add value to the discussion being had, even if difficult things are being said.

There’s a South African news site with a section for readers to post their own articles or opinion pieces. This invariably leads to lively debate because of the diverse readership this site has, which represents a microcosm of the culture that South Africa is.

Recently, a reader wrote a controversial piece that had both black and white people up in arms. It elicited dozens of comments and 90% of them disagreed with him. Some comments were insightful and thoughtfully presented. The others were just plain rude – phrases of between 3 and 5 words that added absolutely NO value other than just create more annoyance and backlash.

This type of piece is just what the news site wanted because the story was shared on social media and drove traffic to the site (incidentally it is the biggest news site in South Africa).

There are 2 instances when deleting a comment is justified:

  1. When the words libelous, and
  2. When it is spam.

The best way to not have to delete comments is to hold them in moderation but this doesn’t encourage discussion.

The comment section is to engage with your readers and create a community. As site owner you don’t have control over what your readers comment about, but you do have control over the type of community you build.

As mentioned in my first post of this month’s NaBloPoMo, comments are like flowers happily received. It is entirely up to you if you throw the flowers in the trash or put them in a vase occupying centre stage on your mantlepiece.