Why You Need A Comment Policy

You know, ever since I added the GASP Anti-Spambot plugin a few weeks ago, the amount of spam this blog was getting dropped a lot. However, it hasn’t killed spam entirely. What seems to be coming now is a lot of one line messages that read like spam, and thus I treat them like spam. I figure that some of it are people who are thinking that they can just write any ol’ thing and I’ll let it pass; nope. However, I’m thinking some of it is automated to some degree; I just don’t know how they’re doing it.

I said I treated one line messages like spam; that’s from people who haven’t shown that they’re legitimate commenters on the blog yet. I have that in my comment policy, which is not only at the very top of this blog but listed right above the comment box on every single post. People who comment on blogs a lot and are going to write authentic comments definitely don’t have to worry about it, but for the others, I have no idea if they’re ever really coming back, so I don’t feel the same kind of loyalty to them.

I think it’s important to have a comment policy so people who come to your blog know what you expect. For instance, I really only have a couple of things in my comment policy. The first is that I need a legitimate name to call you. If you write a post and your name is a keyword phrase, but it’s not a bad comment, I reduce it all to the initials on the post. It looks ridiculous, but so be it. And I’ll refer to you either by those initials or by the first name in the email address if one is there. I stated the reason a long time ago in my post against fake commenter names. I don’t mind nicknames because it’s still something you may be known as.

The second is of course the one-line rule. I think that’s fair. After all, leaving a comment that says “nice post; I learned a lot” and nothing else could apply to almost anything. It doesn’t further the discussion and, well, just looks spammy, which it probably is. The big boys, who don’t moderate their comments, can play with that one; since I give dofollow links, I’ll handle it another way.

Anyway, if you expect certain things from people, you should let them know up front so there’s no surprise if you do something with their comment later on. Now that I think about it, I need to modify mine just a little bit more.

34 thoughts on “Why You Need A Comment Policy”

  1. You actually reminded me of something I have to do since a long time, just never wrapped my head around it. I totally agree with you on one-line comments from unknown people, they are just there to build back-links 99% of the times.
    I have both Akismet and GASP on my blog as well and I do notice some comment go through GASP but ending up in Akismet spam queue.
    Even if I thought I’d disable Akismet sooner or later, I think I’ll leave both on for the moment.

    1. Gabriele, I’m keeping both, and to this point it seems to be the smartest thing to do.

    1. Actually Barb, I’m not so sure everyone does know that. I know that 3 years ago when I first started commenting on blogs I left a lot of one line comments, and very short ones, thinking that was a good deal. I didn’t do it long, but I did it.

  2. Nice post, I learned a lot!

    Haha, I think you are on to something having a comment policy. Is that a common thing to have on blogs? I have never seen one before, and to be honest, I never really read through yours until today. I’m sure it helps you out a lot when you have a lot of comments to sift through. Hopefully one day I will have a need to write one of my own!

    1. Oh yeah, Keith. It was recommended years ago by Problogger, and once you start getting lots of comments it makes sense to do to protect yourself. That way, if you feel the need to delete a comment & someone notices, you have a comment policy to fall back on.

  3. I’ve seen comment policies on some blogs. I don’t pay much attention to them because I read what’s written and comment appropriately. I just dump whatever I think is spam unless it amuses me, then I leave it. I do have one girl that posts with a link to a poker site. If her comments weren’t so good, I would have thought it was spam from the link alone. Have you ever dumped a comment and had someone get upset about it?

    1. I actually did, a couple of times Jessica. One in particular had nothing to do with the post and I deleted it, and the person came back to ask why so I told them. That was before I had the policy.

  4. Comment policy is a must for serious bloggers, especially when give do-follow link from highly reputable blog. I doubt that many people read the comment policy, but it is good to have. Regarding how spammers are doing it, you’d better don’t try to dig in this, at the end of the day they are not doing any good to anybody including themselves.

    1. Carl, I agree, a comment policy is definitely important once you really get going with your blog.

  5. I may have seen your comment policy tab, Mitch, but I honestly never read it until now. Maybe it was because I genuinely liked the content you were putting forward and I always made sure that I made relevant comments. I was a one or two liner guy myself when I started commenting. But that quickly changed when I saw a post describing comments that can be considered as spam. But, I guess I never left one-liners here. The topics here are so good, you just get to really write good comments as well.

    – Wes –

    1. Wes, you’ve always left good comments here, so no problems from you. And it’s amazing how many people have missed that comment policy thing right on top of the comment box, but that’s why I mention it from time to time.

  6. I like to receive quality comments and I normally leave what I feel comments that are relevant to a post and with meaningful or helpful content. But sometimes–especially if I am reciprocating a visit to my blog–if a post doesn’t really inspire much from me I will leave a very short comment like you’ve described. I’m there; I feel like I should at least say hello or something.
    And like today, I received a bunch of “happy Valentine’s day”s –I’ll just leave a blanket response to those and because of the content of my post I know there wasn’t much else for them to say.

    I don’t really know what these spam blockers are that you and your commenters are talking about, but I haven’t had too much problem with the spammers anyway and just delete the ones that are obvious.

    Tossing It Out and the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2011

    1. Hi Lee, and welcome. The spam blockers are plugins those of us with self hosted WordPress blogs use to keep spam to a minimum, or away altogether. That way, we don’t have to deal with it at all for the most part. But those very short, one line comments are often sent via software rather than someone actually coming to your blog, just to drop a link and move on. Many people don’t monitor their comments, so spam can take over and really make things messy.

  7. I remember when I first started out and didn’t have Akismet I would get so backed up with spam. Akismet and now GASP that I added at your suggestions keep the strange stuff away. I`m sure most of it is electronically generated some how.

    But I noticed a couple of people mentioned dofollow and there is nofollow, and I have some of that set up on my blog but is there some place I can find a simple explanation cause right now I nofollow.


    1. Hey Nick, all you have to do is click on the highlighted “dofollow” in this article and you’ll have the information you need. I guess I need to remind folks every once in awhile that if it’s a different color, it’s a link to something. lol

  8. Honestly, sometimes, I don’t ready comment policy. Why? its a common sense to me. I mean, if I want my comment to stick and accepted, then it should make sense, if not and if it will reflect as a spammy comment, then I won’t be writing any comment at all.

    But then again, its really good to enforce a good comment policy.

    1. Ron, the comment policy isn’t really for people who come here and leave comments, believe it or not. It’s mainly for me, so if someone questions why I’ve taken an action I can point to the policy as backup. I figure most people aren’t reading it, and what’s funny are the people whose names I change that never notice, which proves to me that they’re leaving fly-by-night comments and could care less.

      1. Wow that is a great way to use that comment policy page. I mean, even if people don’t pay attention to that policy, at least you have something to show them when they question your comment enforcement right?

      2. Exactly Ron. It’s the same reason we see so many commercials with disclaimers that seem ridiculous, yet turns out they need them because there’s always some idiot who wants to try it out for himself.

      3. Okay Rummuser, you win for the guy who’s gone back further than anyone else. lol This guy is amazing, for sure. But I find that I just can’t listen to jazz for too long.

  9. These comments that are just filled with jumbled phrases and are nearly incoherent, are they being generated by a software program that randomly pulls words out of the original post? It always seems that someone has gone to a lot of trouble to produce something that, in the end, comes off as nonsense. How effective can these comments possibly be?

    1. Charles, that’s really all they are. What they’re actually hoping is that people who don’t respond to comments on their blogs also don’t read them, and thus they’ll stay on those blogs and they’ll have created backlinks to their own site, which is something Google ranks sites on. Just another lousy attempt to game the system, and unfortunately it actually works quite well for them overall.

    1. I think Dennis is talking about spam that advertises fake prada,gucci etc shoes. I’ve seen lots of those on blogs.

      Well, Mitch, I think no matter how hard you try to avoid something there will always be a black sheep that has to go against the current.

      I usually don’t read the comment policy unless it’s expressively required near the comment form, because I don’t want to waste my time writing a comment just to disappear in ether.

      1. Alex, I don’t have to read comment policies because I don’t do anything that would warrant my comment being deleted. And as I said to Ron, the comment policy really is more for me than the person leaving the comment.

    2. You know, I don’t think I’ve had any shoe stuff, but I haven’t really paid that much attention so I’m not all that sure. That’s kind of a shame. lol

  10. Mitch,
    This is one area where my husband is so good at spotting fake responders. He can look at an IP address and give me a crash 4-1-1 on where its coming from if I’m suspicious. My rule of thumb is, if your response says nothing more than “I really like what you have to say” or “I’m glad I found your blog” or offers a comment that has absolutely nothing to fo with the post, them I consider it SPAM.

    I tend to have the same people commenting over and over and I’m just fine with that.

    1. Bev, that’s the community thing that brings comfort because you get familiar with so many people and then those odd comments stand out even more. I’ve never thought about the IP address; how funny is that?

  11. There is a newbie born ever minute, so to speak, and it’s only fair that we point them in the direction of the comment policy. Whether they choose to read it is on their own head.

    1. That’s my thought, Sire. And if the comment goes missing & they care to know why, it’s there for them to see.

  12. Dennis, mine is longer than it used to be, that’s for sure. You never know what else will come up that you now have to address, right?

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