Managing Comments on your own Blog
- Moderate comments so they have to be approved by you before appearing on your blog. This way you’ll be in control and can filter out those comments that don’t add value to your blog and won’t be interesting for people reading it.
- Use the spam filter. Unfortunately spam is inevitable but the spam filter will cut most of it. Letting spam appear on your blog devalues it and annoys readers looking for genuine comments.
- Don’t make it difficult by using capatchas or demanding people log in. Yes, you want comments from real people, but real people don’t like trying to figure out badly printed words, answering questions or logging in just to leave a comment. If a reader finds it difficult to leave a comment, it will deter them from linking to your post too since part of the reason for linking to your post was to show off their comment.
- Consider a comments policy. This needn’t be more complicated than “Please be courteous and refrain from derogatory or discriminatory language,” and shows that you’re unlikely to tolerate trolls so your comments space is likely to be safer than an unmoderated free-for-all.
- Do thank people for commenting. It shows that you’ve seen the comment. It’s not necessary to do this for every comment but try to leave thanks for first time commenters and people who’ve given an engaging, helpful comment – it helps encourage the type of comment you want.
- Do respond to questions if people post questions in their comments. But keep your answers brief and/or link to a more relevant site, such as your about page or publisher’s website, where appropriate. If a question wants a lengthy response, consider turning your response into another blog post instead.
- Don’t delete comments that disagree with you if they stick to facts, engage directly with your post and show an understanding of what constructive criticism means. By all means delete comments that are abusive, contain bad language or personal insults.
- Allocate time for responding to blog comments and stick to it. Your blog readers will love that you take time to respond to comments, but your primary job is to write your next poem or story or novel. Blogging is secondary so don’t let it eat into time available for your primary job. See my post on why social media shouldn’t be a time suck for writers.
Making comments on others’ blogs
- Before commenting, ensure your comment is useful and responds to the original blog post. Keep your comment polite, brief and to the point. Before you press ‘post’ ask yourself if you would allow this comment on your blog.
- Don’t use a comment to randomly link to your site, only post a link if relevant/useful and provide a brief explanation of why the link is useful.
- Don’t just post a comment and leave. Others may respond to your comment and if you don’t respond to a query or follow up on other’s point, readers will be less inclined to visit your blog or respond to your comments in future.
- Don’t let a comment turn into a blog post. If the discussion’s that interesting, write your own blog post and link back to the original discussion.
Dealing with Trolls
Trolls are not commenters who happen to disagree with you. Trolls are not commenters offering constructive criticism. Trolls are not commenters who are simply having a bad day and missed the point of your article. Trolls are not a commenter who is playing devil’s advocate.
Trolls are attention-seeking bullies who lack the imagination to find something to do other than waste their time trying to blow you down with hot, foul-smelling air (and that’s the polite definition). It’s easy to say “Don’t feed the trolls” but hard to action.
- Delete any comments in your moderation queue that don’t comply with your comments policy (i.e. any comment that contains personal attacks, discriminatory or derogatory language). You’re not obliged to post a comment just because someone took the trouble to type one. By only allowing comments that comply with your comment policy, you are demonstrating what comments you will accept. If you allow a troll’s comment, you’re suggesting trolling is acceptable.
- Trolls are not your target audience. Your readers and potential book buyers are. Your blog is for them, not the trolls, so keep your blog targeted at your readers. Don’t let a troll derail your blog.
- Use the ‘report abuse’ option on social media sites as well as blocking followers/people in social groups/pages. Popular sites like twitter and Facebook have anti-bullying/ harrassment policies but their actioning of them hasn’t always been consistent or efficient.
- If you’re being trolled in a social forum, report the troll to the moderators.
- Find supporters either online or in real life. They can help by supporting your reports of abuse and reporting bullying behaviour to moderators as well as offering moral support.
- Threats of sexual violence and/or death are illegal so reporting such threats to the police is an option.
- Take some time away from social media to focus on your own writing. Trolls often move on to the next target if they’re not getting attention from you.
Remember it’s not personal: they’re not targeting you, whom they don’t care about, but seeking attention from anyone who will supply it. Like dealing with a narcissist, set a boundary and refuse to cross it.
The first post in this series was Poets and Blogging
The second post in this series was Poets and Blogging: Search Engine Optimisation
The third post in this series was Poets and Blogging: Promoting your Blog
The Social Media and Writers panel event will be at Leicester Writers’ Club on Thursday 19 May 2016 at Phoenix Arts from 7pm. Tickets for non-Club members are £5 on the door.