Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Blog comments - Nesdoly

In our new reality of feedback on newspaper articles and comments on blogs, we all welcome interaction — or do we? I have, in the last while, activated comment moderation (an option which lets me view the comment first before deciding whether or not to publish it) on several of the blogs I write. That's because though comments can be a great way to get to know readers and interact with them, they can also work against you and your blog.

There are three types of comments I've encountered lately that I haven't published:

1. Comments in foreign languages

Someone routinely posts comments in Chinese characters to my mural blog. I've been able to translate some of these: they're usually harmless sayings or proverbs. However, I don't have the time to sleuth out what language they're in, or what they say. So I've posted a comment policy directly under the blog's banner to the effect that foreign language comments won't be published. (However, they keep coming anyway; maybe they're posted by a bot)

2. Comments with links
If someone I know has linked a relevant article, definition or some such in a comment, I will publish with no second thought. But often the links within or following comments are pure advertising, lead to questionable sites, or may even whisk one away  to malicious places (who knows... I refuse to click on them and neither do I want my readers to fall into any traps). Of course I'm not talking signature/name links created when you sign in to Google etc. to access the comment feature.

3. Comments that work against the purpose of the blog
This last category is tricky. As an example, I got a comment on Bible Drive-Thru the other day. It was in response to this post about tithing. Here's what the commenter said:

"The tithe was NOT a tenth of everything the people owned. God defined His tithe in Leviticus 27:30-33 to be a tenth of the crops and animals in herds and flocks. NO other animals were tithed on.

The poor did NOT tithe. Every TENTH animal was tithed. IF they only had nine new-born animals that year, there was NO tithe.

The poor actually RECEIVED from the tithe. The three-year tithe was FOR THE POOR.

Wage earners did not tithe. Jesus did not tithe. Paul did not tithe. Peter did not tithe. ONLY Israelite farmers could tithe.

The New Testament teaches generous, sacrificial giving, from the heart, according to our means. For some, $1 might be a sacrifice, while for others, even giving 50% of their income might not induce a sacrifice. In the Old Testament, ONLY the farmers tithed, and it was equal percentage (a tenth). The New Testament teaches the principle of equal sacrifice instead of equal percentage. Equal sacrifice is much harder to achieve, if not impossible, than giving ten percent."

To his credit, the commenter's posted name was linked to a website so I was able to check him out. I found that he was a financial adviser who considered himself an expert on tithing — in fact claimed to have special Holy Spirit teaching on the subject.

What to do? His first point was well taken. As I reread my post, I realized one of my statements was probably not defensible. So I changed it. (I had first written: "The tithe was one tenth of everything the people owned." I changed it to: "A tithe is one tenth.")

- His tone was chippy (note the words in caps).
- His ideas were somewhat controversial (at least to me).
- I sensed that because he considered himself an expert, dialogue would probably not be possible.

What tipped my decision to not publish his comment, though, was the fact that Bible Drive-Thru is a blog for children. I felt I could defend my post as orthodox the way it stood (though perhaps not to his satisfaction), and I didn't want this blog to become the scene of an adult theological argument. (Had I received such a comment on an adult-reader blog, I most likely would have published it.)

Did I make the right decision? What are your comment denial criteria? Do you have a comment policy page posted on your blog? Does it help?



Personal blog promptings 

Kids' daily devotions Bible Drive-Thru

Daily Devotions for adults: Other Food: daily devo's

A poem portfolio 


Peter Black said...

Thank you for sharing from your experience; it is informative for others of us. No, I don't have a stated comment policy on my blog (hmm, I haven't been servicing my site nor blog regularly of late, anyway).
In view of your intended readership and purpose for the blog in question, I reckon you worked through the tithe comment, very well.

Marian said...

I think you are wise to moderate the comments.

violet said...

Thanks, Peter and Marian,
Yes, moderating comments can be time-consuming (although not bad for me; I don't get that many). But it sure is better than having your site used as a link to a questionable things, even if it is only for a few hours.

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