Comments come in a variety of ways. Some comments are quality – they are filled with questions, facts/opinions, suggestions and a lot of other information. Then, there are other kinds of comments. Comments that aren’t so good. Those other comments really have no value to them and don’t offer any openings for conversations in your comments. They could most likely be considered as just barely spam too.
These comments I’m talking about with lesser value will end up on every blog, and there’s not much to do about it. I have heard about people who delete those comments, or never approve them. One thing that I don’t hear a lot of is people creating a page with rules on what you can and can’t do in comments.
I always thought it was an interesting idea – to make rules for your comments. It’s pretty much like how every forum has a rules/TOS page that says what people will and will not be able to post on the site, except it’s for a blog.
I think having a comment guidelines page can be either a great thing or a terrible thing for your blog. I have personally never made rules for my blog posts, but I have gave it some thought and have came up with some ideas on how you should make your rules (if you choose to) and what you should know when making them.
A comment of lesser quality
So before I get into the article, I should be more specific when I say “comments with less value/quality”. Here are a few comments I see as “lesser quality comments”.
- Thanks, nice post: Encouraging, and I’m glad you liked it. But that doesn’t leave much for a discussion.
- Thanks for sharing!: I always thought this was a weird one. I think the word “sharing” should be used when you comment on the post off of the blog (like on a forum).
- A lot of great information, thanks: That’s nice, but I bet that most people who say this couldn’t pick out a single piece of “good information” from an article.
So one-liner kind of comments are what I am talking about when I bring up poor quality comments.
Good to know: DoFollow blog = More comment spam
I’m not talking about the spam Akismet has to clean up, I’m talking about those comments of lesser value I mentioned in the first paragraph of the article. Bloggers get more of those “crappy” comments then they do quality comments. But when you decide to make your blog DoFollow, you will probably notice that you get more comments on your blog – of lesser quality.
So, with that being said it should be pointed out that the bloggers who have removed the NoFollow tag and made their blog DoFollow will usually be more likely to want to come up with rules for commenting. NoFollow blogs get less comment spam because they still have that dreaded NoFollow tag on, and the link to the person’s website isn’t valued by Google the same way it would if it were on a DoFollow blog.
It’s all about the wording
Rules are meant to create a line of things you can do and can’t do. When it comes to writing such rules, you have to be careful with your wording.
Things to watch out for while writing your rules
- Don’t sound too harsh and negative. Point out the negative things that you want to prevent, but also embrace the good things that relate to the negative (there’s always a positive side to something negative).
- Don’t set restrictions on everything. Don’t put a restriction/limit on every little thing that annoys you about what goes into comments. For example, unapproving comments with poor grammar/spelling isn’t something that you should include in your rules because not everyone has great grammar/spelling abilities.
- Keep it short and sweet. You will be lucky if anyone even reads your rules page in the first place, so you have to make sure you don’t overwhelm the ones who do actually read with too much information.
- Information is displayed in a good looking matter. Hold off writing large paragraphs. Break it up, and follow the same posting principles for a regular blog post.
Other useful pieces of advice
Some general tips for your comment rules.
1. Don’t craft your comments: Keep your rules light and simple.
Going back to the writing section, you have to take it easy with your rules. Pull out the biggest problem in your comments section and address them.
2. Only make rules when you get a lot of comments
You really shouldn’t have any rules on your blog if your blog is brand new anyways. But seriously, don’t freak out and overdo it with comment rules when you first start out. Chances are, you aren’t going to get many comments on your blog anyhow. Don’t scare off your potential first commentators.
3. Making your rules page visible
You can’t just expect people to know that you have a comment rules page, you have to show them the link to it. I would suggest you add a link right in the comment form somewhere. Make sure the link is easily noticeable, and PLEASE make sure to make the page open in a new window when they click the link. Sometimes when you click a link and go to it in the same window, whatever you filled out in a form will appear as blank. It will really prevent a lot of people from commenting, so make sure to add
target="_blank", or some kind of code that will make this link open in a new window.
Question: Do you have rules for commenting?
Does your blog have a comment rules page? Is your blog even at the stage where you think it’s necessary because you keep getting those “crappy” comments? If it is, have you ever considered putting some rules into effect?