Just a few days ago, I published a poll which asked the question, “Who owns your comments?“. So far, the response with the majority amount of votes is “The Blogger“. Despite all the hoopla involved with the issue of owning comments, I think every blogger should clearly display a commenting policy either near the comment form or have a link within their navigation that points to the document. This policy will cover the basics and will ensure that the blogger and commenter are on the same page. Now, let’s dive into some examples of commenting policies as well as tips on what information your own policy should contain.
Your commenting policy should be easily accessible. If you are using WordPress, you can use Alex King’s Comment Policy plugin which will add the policy within the comment form. In case you don’t want to use a plugin, you could always add it in manually by editing your blog’s theme and hard coding the text into the comment form. Alternatively, you could publish an entire page dedicated to the policy, but I doubt anyone will bother browsing to that section of your blog.
This policy should clearly explain what you as the blog author will do with comments posted on your site, who retains ownership of those comments and explain circumstances which would require you to edit an end user’s comment.
Once you’ve figured out how you are going to display the policy, keep the following tips in mind before creating it.
- Make the policy clear and concise
- Be specific
- Outline what you will do with the comments that are published
- Explain how certain circumstances will generate the need to edit a comment
- Think about adding privacy information
If you experience difficulty creating your own policy, here are two examples in which you can use for inspiration.
Please note: Use of a non-personal web site or blog in the field below and/or comments that are off-topic, personal attacks, or support requests will likely be removed at my discretion.
By commenting here you grant me a perpetual license to reproduce your words and submitted name/web site in attribution.
1) Abuse toward myself or any of this blog’s readers/commenters will not be tolerated, and since it’s my blog, I decide what is/is not abusive and will edit/delete accordingly.
2) This blog uses the Comment Timeout plugin to help fight spam, since spammers seem to enjoy leaving their crap on older posts. Feel free to contact me to discuss a post with closed comments.
3) I DO Follow.
If you still need help, please read this article entitled, Does Your Blog Have A Commenting Policy which illustrates a myriad of different things you should consider putting into the policy.
Do you have a commenting policy on your blog? Do you think this is a non trivial issue? Is this better than actually giving the comments a creative commons license?