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Blogging Etiquette - The Blog Comment Policy - Do You Need One?

What-will-you-censor?Blogs are meant to be a two-way street.  We are blogging for an audience.  Engaging that audience to participate is a huge part of the the motivation and an element that can define a blog’s success.

So where do you draw the line?

What do you consider acceptable behavior by the audience, on your real estate blog?

For a lot of real estate bloggers, their blog is an extension of their business.  This means that their reputation, credibility, personality, works, message and even their career are potentially on the line with every article published.

What are you doing to protect the above?

The following are a number of items that range from mildly unacceptable to extremely offensive when it comes to the behavior of those leaving comments on your site.  Setting a proper comment policy for your real estate blog can be used as a deterrent and for piece of mind when choosing to edit or delete offensive comments left on your business blog. 

Keep in mind that some bloggers are simply not offended by some of the following, and this is just a list that ranges from mildly annoying to clearly unacceptable. 

1. Drivel
You don’t see it much in the comments on business blogs… it being such an immature act and all, but comments like “First” or other such one-word comments are just dumb.

2. Off Topic
Some people feel that because they have a keyboard and an internet connection they now have right to discuss whatever they want, wherever they want.

3. Hijacking
When the article takes on a life of its own in the comments, because of a heated, mostly off-topic, discussion between (or among) commentors.  Basically, the article loses control of the intended message because the commentors have taken to using it as a platform for their own discussion.

Acceptable-behavior-in-the-comments4. Mr. Anonymous
Fake name, fake email addresses, fake web addresses… the sign of a coward.  A hit and run.  Vermin in the blog world.

5. HTML
Does a comment need styling?  Aren’t the words enough?

6. Links
Some links add to the message; support of an idea, proof, resource and reference.  Some links are just noise; shameless backlinks, irrelevant articles, weak SEO attempts.

7. Cheap SEO Attempts
Comment left by “San Diego Real Estate”.  I’m pretty sure that the text field says “Name”.  Not, “What words would you like Google to associate with the backlink you get for posting a comment on my site?”

8. White Noise Compliments
“Great post.”  “I agree.”  “Thanks.”
*Yawn*  If you are going to take the time to figure out that CAPTCHA, least you could do is add to the discussion.

9. Personal Advertisements in a Good Comment
It’s a shame when a n00b makes a solid point followed up with their contact information.  The reason I think that novices are responsible is that the exact same contact info is supplied when ‘registering’ for the comment.  Just seems foolish to post it in the comment.

10. Spam
You’d be surprised how many people leave spam in their comments.  Why?  Because they don’t recognize that it is genuine spam.  The spam force has got mad skillz.  They can generate a complimentary comment based around the topic of the article.  It’s ingenious.  The tip off: The name URL supplied is for Viagra.

11. Contentious Speech
Some people just like to pick a fight.

12. Dissidents
Not everyone agrees with you.  Are you willing to let them take the stage?

13. Ad-Hominem Attacks
Red Herring at its worst: attacking the person versus attacking the argument.

14. Profanity.
Is your blog G, PG13, PG, or R?

15. Flame Wars
A bitter, public dispute.  Think blog hijacking with rage.

16. Obscenities
Stupid.

17. Hate Speech
Unacceptable.

18. Plagiarism and Copyright Violation
Stupid and Unacceptable

19. Impersonation
Stupid, Unacceptable and Cowardly.

Others?  Please share.

So, if any of the above offends you, and happens on your blogsite, what’s your plan of action?

1. Nothing?
2. Edit it?
3. Warn and edit?
4. Warn and delete?
5. Delete without warning?
6. Ban without warning?
7. Public shaming?

I’ve done all 7.  All without a comment policy in place. 
My policy has always been: It’s my blog, I’ll react as I feel appropriate.
However, after researching for this article, I feel that it may be of service to let our audience understand what I consider acceptable when it comes to participating here.  It just may make someone think twice before acting inappropriately here or elsewhere.

Below are a few different Comment Policy examples from the blogosphere.

Marketing Pilgrim
BloodhoundBlog
ProBlogger
eMomsAtHome
DoshDosh
AndyBeard
Inman News Blog

Related Must Reads
The Secret To Successful Comments

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Comments

I like the fact of identifying the rules so that everyone is on the same page. Many people are still new to the BLOGOSPHERE so they are unsure of the etiquette. I think often people put links in thinking they are helping and some people don't like to have their link juice diluted with those links. Definitely helpful to have a policy. :)

Jim,

Thanks for the article. It made me think back to some of my first posts on blogs, before I really knew how they worked, and was guilty of some of your lessons. Like most on here, I agree that having a written policy isn't really necesarry. The main idea I would follow is try to keep it fair. If you ban one person for language, and just warn another, it could effect your reputation within the community you've created.

Thanks again.

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