Should The URL Dictate Publishing Comments?

So far, there has been quite the discussion taking place on a recent post here on Performancing (Pros And Cons Of The URL Field) with many excellent points being made. However, a comment written by Ami Ohayon made me stop for a moment to think. In her comment, she states that:

I don’t think the URL necessarily renders a comment inappropriate. Surely the judgment is about the quality of the comment, regardless of the link.

If the comment is spammy, spam it. If not, it’s adding to the conversation regardless of where it came from, no?

I tend to disagree. Regardless of how relevant the comment is in relation to the post, if I feel that the URL provided by the individual is a questionable site (possibly spam) I am going to spam it. Perhaps I have been brainwashed, but if I receive a comment that is relevant to my post and the URL links back to a website which is strictly for a product or a service, I automatically send it to Akismet as spam. The difference between obvious spam and this form of spam is that the message was written by a human to the point in which the comment would be published. Now, if the URL links back to a personal blog or if I can somehow identify the site as being owned by the person who left the comment (and the site does not look like a marketing ploy) I’ll publish the comment.

The way I see it, I have the ability to control what is and is not published on my blog. Do I choose relevancy over quality? I’m not only doing things this way for my benefit, but for those who frequent my blog and participate in my community. I don’t want them clicking on user URLs which are nothing more than marketing gimmicks.

At any rate, that is how I feel about this particular subject but it is now time for you to sound off in the comments.

15 thoughts on “Should The URL Dictate Publishing Comments?

  1. Hey Ami, thanks for coming back. I’ve actually been deleting them rather than spamming them. But, one of my favorite plugins now has De-Link capabilities built in which is something I’ll end up using more of instead of deleting/spamming.

  2. Sorry not to have followed this up sooner; time has been short because of the Jewish holidays at this time of year.

    Thanks for your thoughtful response to my comment, and I do understand where you’re coming from. But I agree with the comment from Foomandoonian … it seems arbitrary to simply deem a comment spam because the URL is a commercial site. To take that argument to an absurd limit … would you spam a comment from Steve Jobs because his URL is the Apple site?

    On a related topic; if you don’t want to publish a comment, why not delete it rather than spam it? Of course, if it’s the most egregious type of comment that we all hate, fine … but if it’s a legit comment, or even in a grey area, it’s a little self-righteous to appoint yourself judge, jury, and executioner isn’t it? On a couple of occasions I’ve been unjustly tossed into the Akismet black hole, and it’s a pain in the butt to get yourself removed.

  3. I hadn’t signed in before writing my comment and am not sure this won’t be twice. Sorry.
    I don’t log in to WordPress after losing my blog because of an unspecified violation of TOS : which loses comment ability at some locales.We’re quits.
    Killing a URL isn’t something that I do on a permanent basis; perhaps because I know what it’s like. Usually I just check Web of Trust – which still gives occasional downgradings that I am suspicious about.
    With the nonsense going on online today, I don’t think very many sites are ‘safe’ on an ongoing basis ; nor are today’s problem commenters necessarily tomorrow’s. Frankly, I have had experiences which lead me to think a certain number of ratings problems are either pranks or censorship.

  4. I both understand and am disturbed by this approach.

    In my case, most of the obvious sp@m also is usually presented in such a way that it’s clearly off topic. You probably get a more savvy crowd of sp@mmers.

    Nevertheless, unless a link goes to a site that violates my relevant terms of service, if it’s on-topic and doesn’t violate any other content standard that I’m rolling with, it stays up.

    On a related note, one of my best blogging buddies is somebody who I initially accused of being a covert marketer for a group about which I was writing.

    I was so wrong. Now that I know this guy, I know he’s got more integrity than almost anybody else I deal with.

    His backlinks weren’t a problem but his comments, mixed with others, displayed like a covert marketer based on what I’d seen and successfully exposed to that date.

    But you do what you think is right, my man. That’s going to be the bottom line at the end of the day.

  5. I totally disagree. Yeah there are spammers, but using someone’s URL to decide whether to “ditch” a comment precludes the possibility that that human being has something important to say just because they are not blogging in the same niche as you. That just creates a clique and probably pisses off otherwise valuable readers.

    I’ve tried many approaches, but generally speaking, if the comment isn’t idiotic or nasty, it doesn’t bother me overly (anymore). I’ve written for many high-volume sites, and that seems to be the best approach.

  6. In my case, the commenter usually gets one hit, i.e. from me to check that the site is legit or not.

    Well, I’m click happy when it comes to sending to the spam bin.

  7. This is something to think about. How would you feel after spending time to post a comment, and then have it marked as spam (and you didn’t feel you were ‘spamming’).

    In the end we all have the final say as to what gets spammed – and keeping spam out is vital, but I like to temper that with the flip side – if I spam this comment will this person be alienated, will they stop reading.

    So I take a transactional approach with 2 metrics: Authenticity and Payload.

    Authenticity: If somebody posts a “me too” and links to their legit business I’ll probably spam it, but a thoughtful post with the same link will stay. I want and need thoughtful comments, and don’t mind a link to a business site.

    Payload (or damage to my credibility): No matter how authentic the comment is if the link is to something that damages my credibility – it’s gone. It could be spam or other ethically questionable activities.

    In other words: How much authenticity will I gain by accepting this payload?

    As far as stripping the URL – I probably won’t bother. If a comment is too great to pass up I would shoot the author an e-mail and ask them to please try again – if they are that smart they can’t be too surprised. I want them to understand my objection, and invite a potentially thoughtful contributor to try again.

  8. I like the sounds of de-linking the author, rather than just spamming the comment. After all, it could be that you’re spamming a potentially good commenter who will, in the future, have a lot of good and relevant things to contribute to the conversation.

    Which begs the question, should you continue to de-link if someone does become a regular contributor? I think I would want to learn more about them and the website they link to before making that decision. But would probably lean towards wanting to leave the links for a genuine contributor.

  9. This is why I added the bit about me being brainwashed. I realize that not all of the sites people link to which sell products or services are spam, but I don’t even think about it and just do what I normally do. I’m not quite sure I agree with the similarities between a blog with ads on it and linking directly to a site which sells products and or services. I’ll have to give your comment some more thought before I make up my mind.

    Until then, I think Vipers solution would work the best and that is, publishing the comment but delinking the URL.

  10. Actually, I think Mark Ghosh of WLTC uses something similar called Delink Author. It strips the URL from the comment or at least, delinks it. I guess that would allow for relevant comments to remain while the bad URL is history.

  11. I’m with you Jeff, but what if the individual’s link points to their own, personal business? What if the comment is insightful, and the commenter runs a website that happens to sell ‘Widgetz’? Surely that is more of a grey area? What if you wanted to leave a comment somewhere, linking to your site, and lets say you ran ads and made some money that way? It’s hardly viagra spam, but is it really so different?

    Food for thought?

  12. Wait a sec, I think you read the post wrong heh. The gist of the post was, even if the comments are relevant, should they be published even though the site they link to is possibly spammy? That is the question I was answering and giving my opinion on.

  13. I totally agree, there is nothing worse than going to the effort of putting together a really great post for all to enjoy and then having random people posting comments that are irrelevant and useless simply in order to gain a little bit of traffic from your site. I say, don’t publish those comments!

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