I was talking to someone who’s just getting into blogging – more about that soon, I’m sure – and the topic of commenting came up. As we discussed it, I remembered that I had meant to post something about comments here, so here we go. My comment policy is essentially very simple: I only delete spam. I have comment moderation turned on not to restrict legitimate comments but because lately Akismet – as good as it is, and it really is very good – hasn’t been catching everything. Rather than have icky spam attached to my most-current and most-read articles, I’m leaving moderation on until Akismet catches up with whatever trick this wave is using. I expect that won’t be long, and then I’ll turn moderation off again because I prefer to run that way. There are only two cases in which I can even imagine a reasonable claim that I deleted or disallowed something that wasn’t spam.

  • In one case, I chose to hide a particular post and its comments from search engines, including a referrer check that will decline to produce the content if the request came from a search engine. The post is still there, you can still see it if you come here and use my search feature or otherwise know to look for it, but you can’t get to it from Google. I am sensitive to the internet sometimes remembering things longer than it should; that was my compromise between being an accessory to continued harm and being guilty of censorship.
  • I define spam rather broadly. My definition includes advocacy or endorsement for a product, party, or position without what I consider a good-faith attempt to do more than advertise. Yes, I reserve the right to make that determination myself. This is my own virtual property, after all. On exactly one occasion, I deleted a comment that was spam by the just-given definition but probably not considered so by its author. Too bad for him.

That said, I’m sure some readers will be tempted to point out that I’ve often been rude to people who have crossed me here, told them to go away, etc. Yes, I have. I will almost undoubtedly continue to do so when I think the situation warrants, though I’d prefer to have more civil conversations. What I won’t do, unless and until I find a reason to change my policy and announce such a change, is delete people’s comments. You can disagree with me, you can annoy me, you can do whatever you want but – at least for now – as long as you don’t spam me I’ll leave your comment up.

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