Managing blog comments and feedback

While a business blog provide many benefits and opportunities for businesses, there are also limitations and risks.

A key feature of successful blogging is the ability to generate online conversations where readers and customers are able to leave comments on your post, and to respond to other comments.

While genuine feedback may not always be positive, there is also the possibility of inappropriate behaviour, which can include:

  • personal attacks on another commenter (sometimes known as flaming)
  • automatic or targeted comments that are not genuine and seek to promote unrelated, fraudulent or malicious websites or services (known as spam)
  • commenters who deliberately seek to create controversy or hijack conversations by making antagonistic statements (often called trolls)
  • racist, sexist, violent comments or threats.

Such behaviour can create negative reactions among genuine readers and potential customers and requires prompt action to protect your business profile and reputation.

Setting policies for acceptable behaviour

Managing online conversations, comments and interaction starts with establishing clear policies for moderating content, including clear definitions of what is acceptable behaviour and what is not acceptable.

Links to these policies and definitions should be highlighted on the blog page and /or comments section, and form the basis of actions to manage any inappropriate online behaviour.

Using a moderator

A moderator is a person who monitors and manages online exchanges, and is the first line of response if inappropriate behaviour occurs in an online conversation.

In a small business the moderator is often the blog writer, but larger businesses may have specific people responsible for this task.

Managing comments

You should only exercise your right to moderate comments in cases of clearly inappropriate behaviour, as defined by your moderation policy, or behaviour that breaks the law. When you receive genuine feedback or comments about your business or your blog posts you should respond appropriately - for example, by apologising for an issue and advising how you are going to prevent it from happening again.

Blog programs offer a variety of ways to manage comments, with each having advantages and drawbacks.

  • Reviewing and approving each comment. Blog sites can notify you of each new comment and require you to approve for publication. This is effective but can be time-consuming if you receive a lot of comments.
  • Asking people to register. This makes it more likely that genuine people will comment, and helps to eliminate spam, but may deter spontaneous comment.
  • Use a 'CAPTCHA' tool, which requires people to type in a code word to access the comments page. This makes it more likely that genuine people will comment, and helps to eliminate spam.

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