Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Comments Moderation - Are You Being Too Restrictive?

There is a great discussion over at Facebook as to how you as a blogger set the ability for readers to leave comments. Part of the discussion revolves around being too restrictive in terms of who can comment and how they can comment.

I want to review what the commenting options are at Blogger (and hopefully by colleague Denise Olson at Moultrie Creek will weigh in since she is the Wordpress Diva) and how I have tweaked my settings to make the commenting experience a good one for both me as blog manager and reader as blog commenter.

1. In Blogger, go to the Dashboard, and select the Settings tab. Then select Comments. The Comments screen will appear:

2. Comments:  decide whether to Show or Hide comments using the radio buttons.

3. Who Can Comment?: this is where you really decide how restrictive you want to be.

I've selected Anyone for all my blogs since farther on down in this screen I opt to review and moderate all comments before they are posted.

The other options are too restrictive in my opinion and force readers to already have certain types of credentials or IDs etc.  They aren't in keeping with how I care to run my blogs.

4.  Comment Form Placement:  choose whether to use Full Page or Pop-up window.  I've gotten away from pop-up windows since they can be blocked by some web browsers.

5.  Comments Defaults for Posts:  select from New Posts Have Comments or New Posts Do Not Have Comments.  Remember, if you've allowed comments selecting to not have comments only affects new posts, not existing posts nor will it delete existing comments.

6.  Backlinks:  select to Show or Hide backlinks which basically tell users who else has linked to this post.  Your selection does not remove backlinks - they can always be displayed with this setting if you so choose.  I've opted not to display them because I prefer a more streamlined, cleaner look to my comments and I'm not really sure what value backlinks have to my readers.

7.  Comments Timestamp Format:  select the date/time format to be used next to the comment.  I have opted for the standard format used in the United States.

8.  Comment Form Message:  you have a chance to place a message, with HTML formatting, in your comment form.  You might want to have a welcome message, or state that all comments are moderated, etc.

9.  Comment moderation:  this is the most important selection area on this screen, in my opinion.  I have my setting at Always.  This allows me to review comments before they are published.  Unlike Wordpress which has a comment spam mechanism, you must either take a chance and let all comments get instantly posted or review all comments before they are posted.

Like most new bloggers, I figured, "why do I want to be hassled by comment moderation" so I selected Never.  Never say never.  I found some awful and downright offensive comments and I was embarassed that my readers may have seen them.

In the Email address field I've entered my email address as a means of notifying me when comments are submitted.  That way I don't have to keep Blogger open in my web browser all day.

10.  Show word verification for comments?:  this mechanism is called a CAPTCHA which stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.  I've selected Yes since it greatly reduces the number of automated spam comments received.

11.  Show profile images on comments?:  if commenters have profile photos those images will display next to their comments.

12.  Comment Notification Email:  this option confused me at first, and I found that I was receiving too much email when I entered my email address in this field.  Since I moderate comments, I already receive an email when someone makes a comment, so why would I want to receive yet another email once I moderate the comment and it is posted?  The only way this works is if you have a blog with multiple authors and you need to notify up to 10 people when new comments are posted.


Carol said...

Thanks for writing about this more thoroughly than I did in my note on Facebook. I wasn't trying to do anything more than enable us all to communicate more successfully.

Thomas MacEntee said...

And you are doing the right thing IMHO Carol. Many of us that run blogs never see things from the reader experience side and it is often difficult to get that feedback.


Brett Payne said...

Good idea Thomas. I'd be interested to know how you manage to get embedded hyperlinks to display in the comments, Carol.

Regards and best wishes, Brett

FamilyTwigs (Sheri Bush) said...

Thanks to you and Carol. I didn't even think about that. Got it set now and hopefully will have more comments!
I surf with sound off! Scares me to death when sound suddenly fills an empty, quiet room! :o)