I’ve always taken a hands-off approach to moderating comments, feeling that it was a form of censorship to restrict discussion even on my own blog. It’s worked pretty well; I feel like prior to yesterday, I’ve deleted less than three comments in the three years I’ve maintained this blog.
But yesterday’s post, I’m Telling :: Employer-Tattling and The Decline of Agency, brought in some of the nastiest of trolls, and I had to re-evaluate that policy. The post also got so many comments I was going crazy trying to weigh my anti-censorship views against comments that bordered on hate speech.
I even asked Twitter for advice:
Twitter, I need advice about when it's appropriate to moderate blog comments. Becoming uncomfortable with my hands-off policy, sadly.— '(jason lewis) (@canweriotnow) June 10, 2014
I got a number of suggestions:
I don’t think I want to disable comments completely. But as @lastwheel suggests, there are plenty of other places for people to converse. In fact, the Hacker News thread for the post mentioned above had some pretty great (as well as pretty terrible, but hey, it’s HN) replies. Plenty of blogs I read even post links to HN and Reddit threads in lieu of on-site comments.
So here’s what I’m going to do, as an experiment. Comments will remain open for 24-48 hours on the post. After that, I’m closing the thread, and you can take it to Hacker News, Reddit, or wherever else the post ends up. Ths way there’s ample time for discussion, but I don’t have to worry about spending my life moderating comments. Hell, I rarely have time for blogging in the first place lately.
If you have any other suggestions… Look, comments!