Given that my blog does offer the possibility for readers to leave comments, I thought I should let people know what my comments rules are.
First of all, the technical side. Comments are handled by the WordPress blogging engine, complemented by plugins and custom code. This means:
- Thanks to the plugin Bad Behavior, If you are trying to offer a comment and you are doing so from an IP address that is on a spam blacklist, it probably won’t even get through to my spam checker.
- I don’t accept trackbacks or pingbacks. I like the concepts behind these technologies, but the bottom line is that they are too easily hijacked for spam purposes.
- Next, all comments are parsed by the Akismet spam filtering engine. I don’t know the ins and outs of Akismet, but I do that if it flags you your comment will wind up in a special spam list which I only check very rarely, as 99% of the comments that wind up there really are spam.
- If you have never posted a comment before, WordPress will hold your comment for moderation until I can review it. If it looks legit, it will be let it through, and from then on you should have no trouble posting new comments. As you must provide an email address with your comment, I may contact you if I see a potential problem.
- If I expect to be away from my computer for a time, or am experiencing a period of high commenting traffic (such as after a television appearance when curiosity drives an increase in the number of visitors), commenting may be suspended or the threshold for getting a comment posted may increase. Rapid posting of several comments from a single user, for example, may be interpreted as suspicious behaviour, and wind up getting your commenting privileges suspended until renewed.
Now, regarding the content of comments, I should add the following:
- Your comment remains your intellectual property, such that it will never be modified by me (or anyone else) without your permission. That being said, no one has a right to have their comment displayed on my blog, so I may delete a comment at my discretion. You are responsible to keep local copies of your comments.
- I don’t mind comments that challenge me, or elements of the Catholic faith. However, comments should keep a respectful tone. This is especially true of comments directed, not to me, but to third persons. I want my blog to be a friendly place, such that insulting or abusive comments will not be tolerated. Users who display a pattern of such comments will have all their past comments deleted, and will be banned from future commenting.
- Comments should be related to the topic at hand, and any fact claims or arguments made in a comment should have some sort of backing and/or reasonableness. Generic comments like “Nice blog!” often come from spammers as well, and so will likely get deleted.
- In terms of style, comments should generally respect the rules of grammar and syntax. I’m pretty easy-going on this point, as I make a few style mistakes and typos myself. I’m talking about things like COMMENTS THAT ARE ALL IN CAPS, or which have odd uses of language that make me unsure if they come from a person or a machine.
There are many bloggers out there who have simply stopped allowing comments on their blog altogether because of the hassles they have faced. I’m putting forward these rules because I don’t want to have to do that — I enjoy the back-and-forth! Still, there must be limits, and when we all know the rules of the game is makes it more enjoyable for everyone.