The Difference Between Moderating Your Space And Censorship

Something that many businesses seem to struggle with is whether or not to moderate comments on their websites, blogs or social media pages and spaces. There are some people who believe that no matter what a person says, businesses should leave the comment there because it’s honest, whether or not the company agrees with it. On the other side, there are companies who believe they deserve the right to control the message, even if that means killing what someone else says so that only positive things show up on their site.

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My take is that there’s no one specific answer to this, but there are circumstances that drive everything. With certain policies in place, whether everyone else knows it or not, companies and individuals can navigate the minefield that someone is going to call censorship.

First, always remember that if you’re paying for it that you get to decide the decorum in your space. If you want to allow bad language, it’s your prerogative. If you want to allow insults and spam messages and sales messages and the like, go for it.

However, most people don’t want that stuff in their space because, if it’s for business, you want to be represented in a positive light, and unless you’re selling bikes to drill sergeants, you might want to keep conversations civil and clean because you never really know who’s reading and how they’ll react. Anything that can drive business away like that is a bad thing.

Second, if you put a product out or provide services or you’re giving an opinion about something, you need to remember that everyone isn’t going to agree with you and that you can’t please everyone, no matter what you do. As long as the conversation is civil, if people disagree with you or don’t like your product for some reason, you should allow those things to stay in your space. These are opportunities in more ways than one.

It gives you a chance to hear what your potential customers want and what they might not like. It also gives you the opportunity to address your potential customer where others can see the type of person or business you are.

If you get your message correct, no matter what the issue is, other potential customers could be impressed enough to either try the product or service themselves or at least give you a chance because they see that your company takes the issues of its customers seriously.

Figuring out the difference between common courtesy and honest critiques can be challenging at times, and you might have a tendency to overreact; after all, no one likes criticism against what they do. If what you do is for the betterment of the community, do it. I think it’s always best to post your commenting policies so that if you do end up having to delete something, that person and everyone else can’t gripe because you followed a policy they didn’t. And if they do complain, it’s on them; the customer may always be the customer, but the customer isn’t always right, despite what some might say.

6 thoughts on “The Difference Between Moderating Your Space And Censorship”

  1. Wow. You are right Mitch. That is a tough one. Fortunately I have only had to deal with it once so far though I know the day will come.
    A few months ago I wrote an article about lobsters. Among other things I said they taste delicious. A vegitarian wrote in and disagreed. She was indeed civil and offered a really sound opinion. We chatted a bit and her comments are still there on the lobster article.
    Like many things, it all comes down to respect and treating each other right.

    1. That would have been an interesting discussion Troy, although if someone is a vegan commenting on a meat product… it’s kind of disingenuous the way I see it. I’m glad the discussion was civil though. Businesses need to be ready to set a different standard though, as the stakes are much higher.

  2. Hey Mitch,

    I agree, this is a tough one but as you know I do have commenting rules for this reason. If I don’t allow someone’s then all I do is point them to that page and it’s right there in plain English. Of course I’ve never put in there bad language but that’s just a given I would think.

    I’ve never had anyone be out of line or nasty but I have had a commenter that came across extremely rude and disrespectful. I just didn’t approve it. I don’t mind if someone disagrees with me and I think the conversation should take place but if they are disrespectful or rude to me then that’s just not going to cut it. We can all discuss things in a nice manner so if it’s my blog then I have a right to do with it what I may.


    1. Great stuff Adrienne and right as always. It’s our space, our reputation, and for some our money. I don’t mind disagreements either as long as we’re on point and civil.

      As for those lousy comments though… lol

  3. A customer is always right.

    I further define a customer as someone who pays for the product or services of a business in a manner that enables the business to make a profit and thrive. Anyone who doesn’t fit the above definition is not a customer. Right or wrong, who cares.

    1. I like how you worded that so I couldn’t disagree with you. lol I will add, however, that someone who comes in and immediately starts telling you off for one thing or another isn’t a true customer… especially in these days where too many people are going into businesses and not wearing a mask.

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