Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
October 6, 2008 8:26 PM

Delete This

Would you mind if this Blog post was deleted? Would you mind if your comments were deleted? Would you mind if your comments were never published?

New world. New publishing. New rules.

Rules.

"Rules were meant to be broken."

"It's way too early for there to be any 'rules.'"

"There are certain rules that should never be broken."

You've probably heard one or all of those lines when it comes to Blogging. There are those that feel that there are some very clear rules when it comes to Blogging.

These include:

- Never delete a post.
- Never delete a comment.
- Always post a comment from a reader.
- Respond to every comment.
- Always link appropriately.

Then there are those Bloggers who think differently. The overall sentiment is: "my house, my rules... if you don't like them, I'm going to take my ball and go home." They work by their own set of rules.

These include:

- Not enabling comments.
- Never responding in the comment section (but letting everybody else comment at will).
- Deleting comments that they don't agree with.
- Closing comments if things don't go their way.
- Not linking out to sources or inspiration.

Some days it makes sense to follow the rules. Some days, having your own set of rules is equally acceptable.

How would you feel if a Blog post was deleted? How would you feel if your comment was deleted? How would you feel if your comment was never posted in the first place?

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Daryl Tay
    Mitch Joel

    I'm fine if people don't enable comments (I think they're just missing out on the best part). But if they do enable them and then delete negative ones, that's a no-no. Happened awhile to someone else and there was a big hoo-hah over it, but generally, I feel it reflects on their inability to handle negative comments.

    Reply
  • Posted by pete mosley
    Mitch Joel

    The internet is a wonderfully broken entity - as it should be.

    If any of the above occur - it is a sure sign those who think they are in control simply don't get it.

    Of course folks want control. This just isn't the place for it.

    Any rational human being can see through marketing hype and brochure speak.

    If you censor and control - it is the same as saying "solutions" twenty times on your splash page.

    Reply
  • Posted by Gavin Heaton
    Mitch Joel

    I only delete spam. Everything else I keep ... even the argumentative comments. I have not had any racist or unacceptable commentary so far ... but if I did, I would delete that too.

    Reply
  • Posted by Corby Fine
    Mitch Joel

    Comments can be deleted if they meet certain criteria including:

    1. Not being relevant
    2. Selling something (virtual soliciting)
    3. Profanity or other inappropriate language
    4. Other...

    Set your own rules and follow them. Just be up front so others know what they are before posting.

    Reply
  • Posted by Kirk Skodis
    Mitch Joel

    I say it's at the author's discretion. The great thing about blogs is that you can use the publishing platform for many different uses. A conversational forum of discussion. A public journal. A short-subject press release.

    I think too many rules goes against the whole populist point of taking control of our own publishing channel.

    If Godin doesn't want to accept comments because it works best for his personal flow, more power to him.

    Who are any of us to say his version isn't a "real" blog.

    And yeah, if you don't like what someone says in the comments - delete it. If transparency is job #1, you won't. And if you do, your audience will know and you'll be held accountable. Simple as that. And that's ok too.

    Live and Let Blog!

    Reply
  • Posted by Nicky Jameson
    Mitch Joel

    If it's my blog then I decide what the "rules" are. If people don't like them, then they don't have to stay. I respect the right of others to do the same on their blog. On my personal blog I also have a disclaimer (and I'll soon put one on my business blog) It makes clear what I will allow and what I won't (f/ex proprietary stuff, offensive stuff and personal attacks... and under which circumstances I will delete comments. In the main, I allow 99.9% of comments on that blog, but I've deleted some when trolls come along and make themselves a nuisance. I simply won't have it and it's not fair on others who want a discussion not a fight. On other blogs I've had a comment deleted more than once when someone disagreed with my POV... I simply blogged my actual comment on my own blog... it was hilarious because I got so many hits and comments that the blog owner decided to put back the "offending" comments :). Incidentally the blog owner deleted lots of others too...and they came and blogged on my blog that, yep, their comments had been deleted. Personally I wouldn't have put back the comments if it were me... but hey their blog, their rules.

    I don't respond to every comment, unless I add something of value, but I do respond to most.

    Reply
  • Posted by Rick Weiss
    Mitch Joel

    I don't post comments if they don't add value to the conversation. That might mean they're not relevant, or they have some ulterior motive (spam, shameless promotion). I've only ever had two posts that I've deleted.

    One was an excellent example of really bad blog promotion.

    The other was a good friend of mine joking around.

    Reply
  • Posted by Linda Bustos
    Mitch Joel

    I think there are valid reasons for pulling a post down - hey, especially in online marketing / SEO for example. Recent news says DMOZ is not considered by Google anymore, and it has long been neglected by its founders. Personally if I had a post from 4 years ago singing the virtues of DMOZ, I'd unpublish it - no reason to confuse readers with old, deprecated information.

    As for comments, there are certainly times when comments SHOULD be deleted. I've had to delete several comments on a post I made about Eddie Bauer's redesign that seemed fishy. I couldn't say they were outright spam, but every so often, even months after the post, someone would beef about Eddie Bauer's customer service this or that. Our blog is not a consumer opinion site, the comments sounded planted and inflammatory. I admit I will delete comments that just sound like sour grapes if they are completely irrelevant to the conversation or our audience.

    I could tell you funny stories about a commenter on another post that got ugly and involved personal attacks on me via email and on another forum :)

    The company that I had posted about (favorably) said that was a competitor that failed in the business and has now made it his mission to slam them everywhere online.

    Sometimes you gotta fight the trolls!

    And a blog is a website, if a blogger wants to pull a post or delete a comment, more power to them. As long as it's not stifling people simply because they don't agree with them.

    Regarding commenting back to every comment - sometimes this just isn't practical. I comment back when there was a question or opinion asked for, or I have something to add back into the conversation. Otherwise, why clutter up the comments with polyfiller just to satisfy a "blogging rule?"

    Reply
  • My blog is like my living room. In my house, you play by my rules or I invite you out. Do whatever you like in common forums, but if you came to my physical house and starting urinating on the furniture, you'd find that exit remarkably fast.

    Reply
  • Posted by Eden Spodek
    Mitch Joel

    I've never considered deleting a post. I do my best to acknowledge comments. I welcome all comments whether or not they advance the conversation (although I'd prefer if they did), with one exception. I delete comment spam and think of it as a public service.

    Reply
  • Posted by Andy Strote
    Mitch Joel

    Hey, it's the wild west in the blogging world. Do what you want. Change as necessary. I'm with Chris. My house, my rules, no whining or whinging.

    Reply
  • Posted by Leigh
    Mitch Joel

    I'm a horrible blogger. I always mean to respond to comments, but rarely do. And, worse, I deleted a comment. Only one (non spam one). But, it was dooz. A late night, super personal, overwrought rant. I was drinking a morning coffee and just got inspired by my own power. Replaced the entire treatise on why I suck with two words: great post.

    Reply
  • If you approve the comment, why would you delete it. Especially if it is negative. Responding is better.

    Reply
  • Posted by Derrick Kwa
    Mitch Joel

    I dont' think there are general rules. Every blog is different, for different purposes, etc. I think the most important thing is to set your own rules, make them clear, and be consistent in them.

    Reply
  • Posted by Katybeth
    Mitch Joel

    I got up the nerve to post a comment with an unpopular political view on what some might call a mommy blog. I read the post, the comments before mine, and worked hard to be fair in my comments. It was deleted. At first t being new to this game, I wondered what I had done wrong and my feeling were a little hurt--then I realized that at least my comment had been read by one person.

    Reply
  • Posted by Brent Morris
    Mitch Joel

    Personally I prefer comments to be turned on, but I know that site owners reserve the right to control the tone of the conversation they want to have on their sites.

    As for deleting blog posts, I'm not a huge fan of it, but admittedly I'm sort of a stickler for a properly formed web.

    Reply
  • Posted by Dominique
    Mitch Joel

    I use to keep any comments on my blog, because i think that's the spirit of blogging and, as long as I encourage my readers to comments, i don't see myself deleting comments I don't like, unless they are racists of course.

    Reply
  • Posted by japie swanepoel
    Mitch Joel

    I post all comments to my 2 blogs. I've never deleted a post or comment. I do of course also delete spam as mentioned above.
    I also recognise content from other sites/ blogs and link to those when I carry their content.
    I will reply to a comment when a reply is required / justified.

    Reply
  • Posted by app
    Mitch Joel

    On one of my blogs, I have dofollow. I don't moderate comments. I engage in reciprocal commenting. and as long as it isn't spam or anything illegal (comment or link), I don't delete.

    I don't even care if it wanders off topic, as conversations often can and evolve into something completely different than what they were when they started out in the beginning, with my blog post.

    As far as trolls, I usually handle them quite well and they leave with the wish that I would do them the favor and delete their original comment for them, which I never do.

    Would I be upset with my comments being deleted on another blog? You bet I would be angry. I often put more time into my comments I leave elsewhere, than I do on my own blog posts, and often what I leave could stand as a blog post on its own.

    I am very proud of my comments and I show them off, driving traffic to the sites I comment on. I do my best to add value to a page by providing you with good free content to enhance your site and you'd be a fool to delete them and if you do, you'll never get another comment from me.

    As far as deleting posts, I have removed a few in the past but I had good reasons (luckily they didn't have any comments on them). Never make posts on your personal blog when you are hot hopping angry or seriously depressed. You'll regret it later. I have matured a lot in my blogging since then, and don't usually hit the submit button right away on a post. It sits in draft for a few hours, at least, unless I am sure it's perfectly safe to publish.

    I try to link out as much as possible, when it applies to what I am writing, because my readers deserve it and it enhances the quality of my posts and can give them more to discuss through comments.

    I have one post that the number of outbound links would have been insane to include in the post itself (40+), and I have linked to a related collection of links on Delicious, tagged with the name of the post, instead. This also allows me to continue to build the related collection, long after the post is published and write a part 2 or 3, if it makes sense to do so, which I will be doing very soon. (Blog Action Day 2008 - Oct 15 - Topic: Poverty)

    Reply
  • What about Bloggers who have "rules" and then change them at will?

    I've seen Bloggers go from never deleting a post to changing jobs and then deleting posts that they feel may affect their new employer's perception of them.

    I've also seen Bloggers delete comments well after they have been posted simply because they changed their own minds over time and now disagree with something someone commented on.

    I agree that every Blogger has their own set of rules, but is cool that those "rules" change all the time and on their whims?

    Reply
  • Again, my house, my rules. The rules in your house for your child's friends when your child is 5 are different than the rules when your child is 25.

    Reply
  • Posted by Rommil Santiago
    Mitch Joel

    This is very timely. We at Concordia are still debating this very question. We aren't sure what the guidelines should be. Currently I'm leaning towards:

    - Delete spammers and trollers
    - Delete hate
    - Delete salesman

    We aren't sure about:

    - Going off topic (I think that's fine - we want to build a community, not police it)

    Otherwise - I say post whatever you want. At Concordia University, we want to promote a good experience (as well as an underfunded system can) at the university - and hopefully create a rich student experience.

    So if they want to break off into tangents - all the betters. Let's promote conversation.

    Plus, less monitoring = less work we have to do ;)

    Reply
  • Posted by Susan Murphy
    Mitch Joel

    It's my blog and I'll do what I want to. Personally I monitor my comments, because for me it is manageable to do that (moderate traffic, moderate amount of commenting). For busy blogs like this, it's not as feasible. I don't delete comments that disagree with my point of view (in fact those are my favourite comments!) but I will delete anything that constitutes spam, hatred, racism, or that uses too much blatant profanity (my Mom reads my blog, okay?)

    In the end, I will run my blog the way I want to. If you don't like how I do things, there's plenty of other fish in the sea.

    Reply
  • Posted by Joe Boughner
    Mitch Joel

    I think a few other commenters have hit on my key issue with this question.

    At its core, a blog is a publishing platform. There is no such thing as a standard blog when it comes to content or rules related to things like comments.

    If you moderate comments in any way, you must be perfectly clear with your readers about why and how. If you only allow 'intelligent' comments (as determined by you), say so up front and give some idea of what criteria you use.

    By default, I assume any blog that allows comments works on the no spam and nothing illegal principle. If there's any deviation from that, I'd want to know.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    #1. Do what you want.

    #2. Deal with the consequences.

    There are no hard and fast rules, and in my opinion there never should be. Isn't that the point of all this? That YOU control your own little slice of the web? And that others are free to react any way they want - on THEIR own slice of the web?

    Reply
  • Posted by Kathryn Lagden
    Mitch Joel

    Interesting discussion. I'm OK with a blogger deleting posts/comments, even if it is months/years later. Times change, our thinking changes, and I think it's OK to edit our online content to reflect our current thinking. I'm not looking to blogs to be a linear representation of someone's ideas. I expect anyone to form an opinion based on anything I've written publicly. And it's up to me to manage my online presence. I expect that 9 times out of 10 I'd opt for posting an update that explains the new thinking rather than just deleting a post. But I'm not averse to just hitting the delete key.

    I might be annoyed by someone deleting a comment I've left but if it happens regularly I just won't comment there anymore. Same goes for someone who keeps changing the rules, or has set the rules and then changes them. If it's their online space it's up to them - regardless if it's on a whim or a well thought out strategy. Of course if it happens often enough I doubt many people will participate.

    Reply
  • Posted by Fabio Platero
    Mitch Joel

    Se for um comentário de ofensa pessoal, não há motivo algum para postá-lo. Até porque a mensagem não gerou valor algum para ninguém, muito menos para o blogueiro. Eu, por exemplo, estou comentando em outra língua. Será que é motivo suficiente para não aceitar?

    Reply
  • Posted by Michael Allison
    Mitch Joel

    Rules are fluid, but if a blogger has a policy laid out, they should stick to it.

    We also have to remember that many blogs are not professional and don't need to be held to professional standards. As with any hobby, you're doing it for fun and there's room for experimentation.

    I think balance is key if one is to lay out a comment and deletion policy.

    Reply
  • Posted by Rayn@
    Mitch Joel

    Useful reading. For me here the principle "Do not do unto others what you don't want done to you" - applies fully.

    Reply
  • Posted by bamboo torches
    Mitch Joel

    christmas will take bamboo torches to you home

    Reply
  • I say "my blog, my rules" but I try to remember what my mommy taught me and to share with the other kiddies! Seriously though, I think bloggers have every right to do whatever they want to with their blogs. No one is being forced to play by a certain set of rules. I delete stuff all the time, I'll go back and read an old post and think, "wow, that was lame" and it'll be down within seconds. It's all part of the growth process I think.

    Reply
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