Community management in journalism and beyond…

Following on from the point raised by Martin Caparrota on moderating comments I wanted to raise this issue in relation the sites I run and the impact moderation has on the community.

With Pope and Swift comments on posts are sporadic. Often we can post ten times and not get anything more than a pingback or Twitter notification. This is often due to the nature of the topic, everyone knows about sport and everyone writes about sport. But occasionally, mainly thanks to well-timed posts with exaggerated SEO we get an influx of comments, quite often negative ones.

And when I say negative I do not mean a critical point about the blog post or the topic at hand, these are always approved, but instead just one line with some pretty obscene language. These are not hard to deal with, they go straight in the trash. I did once find myself considering whether to approve a comment which cited male genitalia just to take the comments total into double figures but I resisted temptation.

A more interesting dilemma was presented with my work for Wannabe Hacks. We have a decent following and get regular comments on the variety of posts on the site.

The dilemma on comment moderation is often raised when we get comments, some short, some lengthy, which offer insightful feedback and encourage debate. Recently we had a comment on a posts which offered some helpful criticism of our work and added some thoughts to the debate. It also however included a line of foul and abusive language. I initially removed the line of abusive language and approved the posts however I was then told that we couldn’t do this due to opening the debate on editing the words of others.

It is a valid point. I had edited his point and changed his words and so in order to maintain a very black and white distinction between right and wrong comments we had to unapproved the post.

Surely there must be another way?

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