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Update To Comments Policy

Just a quick note to say I’ve updated my comments policy to include this point:

Out of respect for the shared space here, and the conversation that follows, I’m now deleting comments that come from a list of keywords rather than someone with a name.

It follows the policy espoused by Michael Martine (Remarkablogger). I’ve toyed with this for a while, but I’m getting more of these anonymous comments from ‘cheap credit online’ or ‘anti-aging cream’ and they really are off-putting, especially when you’re trying to engage people in conversation (as I do).

So from now on I’m going to delete them quietly - I won’t mark them as sp*m if they’re an attempt (however feeble) to construct a relevant reply, but I won’t leave them up on the blog.

Share your name and a point of view however and I’ll happily start engaging in conversation.


  1. Debbie Yost says:

    Isn’t it a sign of success when you start getting spam? Sounds like a good policy.

  2. Douglas says:

    Comments like the ones you describe are exactly what comment spam is (or has become).

    Even the ones that have generic ‘me too’ content. “Great blog. I’ll have to tell my friends!!!”. Check the link address or the email provided it’s likely to be to a place you’ve never heard of but are suspicious isn’t apposite.

    Why not try something like or whatever TypePad has built in?

  3. --Deb says:

    The truly sad part is that this has become something you need a “policy” on at all. Who really ever clicks on those things? And yet the spammers keep on trying. The ones that Douglas mentions, “Loved your site, I’ll be back” that have a link to something like “sam at creditunions dot com” at least look like something someone MIGHT click on, but ….

    I’m sorry. I start getting carried away when talking about those annoying spammers!

  4. John says:

    Annoying aren’t they. Like Douglas I’d consider them to be spam (and I mark them as such).

    I’m not keen on CAPTCHA’s though and they have put me off commenting…

  5. cat says:

    When I first read about this stance I was all for it.

    But when I tried to put it into actual practice, I couldn’t.

    I mean, what is a name? The person? Their online persona? Their blog name?

    You see, I get a number of bloggers using their blog name instead of their real names (and yes, their blog names are all key words - ‘Design Bloggers Blog Designers’ or some such).

    These are the same bloggers declining banners on DWB using a photo of their faces. So, I have to take the leap and say it’s partially a privacy issue.

    Also, another blogger taking on a similar stance came close to deleting my first comment because I used ‘cat’.

    Like you, he had to balance my comment content over his policy.

    I use the short version of my name in part because on the rare times I’ve used my full name, it comes back to me right quick on google. So for me it’s also a privacy issue.

    Btw - looking at your MyBlogLog recent readers, out of 5 shown, there are 2 real names (if mine can be called real) and the rest are obviously blog names or online sigs.

    PS: I do delete obvious spam (Great blog!, Harry’s Hardware Needs You!, etc) But the spam driving me crazy at the moment comes via trackbacks, tracking back to their sites using my copy. The bane of the blogging world, I’d love to mush their faces silly like.

  6. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Thanks for the feedback and suggestions on the comment policy everyone.

    Debbie, yes, to some extent it is :-)

    Douglas, fortunately Typepad catches all but a tiny proportion for me, which means I don’t need to use captcha. I do nearly always check the host site, and that tells you most of what you need to know.

    -Deb, I know, that’s the bit I don’t get either - who on earth will click on the link or change their buying policy as a result?

    John, the ones that are gobbledegook I mark as spam (or rather Typepad does it for me) but there are some that look like attempts to say something sensible, but come from “anti-ageing cream” or some such nonsense. As Cat says in her comment it can be a fine line to work out what’s genuine and what’s not, so I tend to err on the generous side and just delete the ones I’m not so sure of.

    Cat, I know what you mean, and I acknowledge there are a lot of grey areas here. I tried to express this by saying I’d delete comments from a list of keywords - which gives licence to keep taking valuable comments from the many, many people who chose not to share their name online, or who leave a comment in relation to their blogging identity, rather than their ‘real’ identity.

    Some of the other tests I’d include would be from a look at the site they’ve come from - is it a blog, what language is it in, does it have anything to do with writing (or in your case design), is there a person or people behind the site that I can identify even if I don’t know their name.

    I have included some from sites like ‘essay writing’ as there was a writing dimension to what they do and it was written by a person not a bot, but wouldn’t for example highlight their comment (and give them a link).

    Lots of fine lines I know, but I found myself deleting a few, so thought I should try and set out the whys and the wherefores.


  7. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Partly for my own benefit, here’s the slightly fuller version of the policy:

    Typepad catches a vast proportion of sp*m (comments and trackbacks) - thank you Typepad :-)

    This means I can live without captcha - so it’s easier for genuine commenters to add their piece

    When I get a comment from someone I haven’t ‘met’ before I go and visit their site to see what they’re up to and what they’re about. This is mainly to be friendly, and informs my comment by way of reply, but also gives me a chance to see if it seems like a ‘genuine’ comment

    …esp if the comment has been left semi-anonymously say with a pseudonym, or the name of the blog

    99% of these I’ll keep, esp if I can find a person behind the site, see it’s a blog rather than just a selling or advertising site, or can hear a human voice in what they’re doing

    On the other hand, 99% of comments left by a string of key words like Kredit Ohne Stress or Anti Ageing Cream or Comfortable Sofas Online will be deleted, even if they’ve made some small attempt to match their comment to the words in the post

    Hope that helps to clarify things :-)


  8. Brad Shorr says:

    Captcha may be a decent tool for picking off sp*m, but it sure is user-unfriendly. I think what you’re doing by articulating a policy makes a lot of sense, and yours is quite reasonable. And just because you have a policy doesn’t mean you can’t change it or make exceptions if common sense warrants.

  9. Michele says:

    Hi Joanna! Thanks for stopping by and welcoming me to my new home. ;-) I appreciate it!

    I think you’re right about those types of comments. I’ve only had to delete a few, but I did delete them. I just felt like they stuck out and didn’t have a place in the conversation. I felt a little bad about it, but it’s really best for the sake of the ongoing conversation.


  10. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Brad, I know, it’s so much better with captcha and when I go to other typepad sites and see it there I feel like screaming. Typepad does a first class job of screening most of it.

    Michele, I agree that it doesn’t fit with the conversation. I felt bad about deleting them without explanation, which is why I wrote this. I’m sorry I haven’t been commenting actively on your blog but I do follow, which is how I found you on your new site this morning! Congrats on making the move


  11. Michele says:

    Thanks! I’m loving my new home!

    Ah, don’t feel bad about not commenting on my blog. There just isn’t enough time to comment on each and every blog we like. ;-)


  12. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    That’s very true Michele. Glad you like your new home.


  13. Yvonne Russell says:

    Hi Joanna
    If it says “great furniture” or the like, I go back to their site to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    It’s something I’m not keen on, but if they add to the conversation it’s a tough call, but I’m tending towards your approach.

    I’ve found that while these comments can be relevant, they are usually more token comments than true participation in a conversation.

    Interesting discussion.

  14. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Yvonne, like you I try and visit the site in order to give the benefit of the doubt. Analysing comments becomes interesting too though - some look sensible, but a more cynical view could see them as a mish mash of words from your post, and don’t actually mean / add anything.

    I think the answer is to keep it a judgement call - but if I’m going to do that I want to make it clear in the comments policy too.


  15. Lillie Ammann says:

    This is something I’m struggling with too, Joanna. When I read Remarkablogger’s policy awhile back, I was ready to take the same action. Then I looked back through my comments and realized that many of my regular commenters who do add to the conversation use keywords instead of names. So I evaluate each on a case-by-case basis. As others have said, I look at the site and consider whether the comment relates to the actual post or is just a “me too” comment.

    I probably err on the side of approving comments that I shouldn’t, but I really want to encourage comments and community, and I feel bad if I delete a legitimate comment. Like you, though, I don’t mark them spam - simply delete them. I have also gone back and deleted a comment after I approved it when I moderate comments on another blog and find a similar comment from the same keyword.

    Usually I address the commenter by name in my reply, but I refuse to address a reply to “cheap credit” or “houston lawyer.”

  16. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Lillie, this conversation has helped me to realise there aren’t black-and-white rules when it comes to this part of our comment policy. Case by case sounds like the only way to go - which is probably what I was doing. Just that I had started doing more deleting because I was getting more of this sort of comment.


    PS Like you, I don’t address someone as cheap credit either. If there’s no name it’d need to be “hi”. Even then it feels awkward.