Don’t move your blog to the ghetto…
By: Jennine Jacob

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When I moved my own blog, I left my old one up, so people could find my new location. For a while, the comments I got on my old blog were relevant to the posts, but then came the spam comments that had nothing to do with my blog or my posts. If that wasn’t bad enough, I started getting weird, creepy comments in addition to the spam and that’s when I knew to turn off comments entirely.

This phenomenon doesn’t just happen with abandoned blogs… it’s also happens on active ones that don’t keep on top of moderation.

Broken Windows

Lovely Tricia of Bits and Bobbins forwarded me this great article about ‘The Broken Windows‘ how in real life a building with a few broken windows will attract more acts of vandalism.

“[The] theory takes its name from the observation that a few broken windows in an empty building quickly lead to more smashed panes, more vandalism and eventually to break-ins. The tendency for people to behave in a particular way can be strengthened or weakened depending on what they observe others to be doing. This does not necessarily mean that people will copy bad behaviour exactly, reaching for a spray can when they see graffiti. Rather, says Dr Keizer, it can foster the “violation” of other norms of behaviour.” Via The Economist

The same principle applies, with negative comments, spam and the like. When a site is left up for abuse, it doesn’t necessarily mean that bad comments are going to multiply, but it does foster the idea that it’s ok to leave those kinds of comments up, therefore encouraging more.

Set up a Policy and Maintain It

Tricia has always been really great at maintianing community, like Wardrobe_Remix is what it is today because she makes sure everyone is following the guidelines. While many other Flickr groups ascent in to chaos, repetitive pictures, photos that have nothing to do with the group… near-pornographic pics… Wardrobe_Remix remains one of the most important ‘what are you wearing’ communities on the internet.  You might wonder how much time it takes to manage all of that, I know I do, but in terms of building a reputation and a respectful community, maintenace is very important.

I personally do not allow comments with any kind of slanderous or abusive language on my blogs, nor do I allow spam comments. This also applies to comments that could be construed as slanderous, to anybody. Luckily, I’ve only had to put my foot down a few times. And more recently, upon staring the IFB Forums, I’ve had to ask myself similar questions about who can use the forums for what purposes, as companies have been trying to use them as a place to ‘let us know about their products’.

Your own policy doesn’t have to be set in stone. You can publish a list of rules, or it could be anything that makes you uncomfortable, what ever it is, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Remember it’s your blog, it’s your hard work, treat it like you would a real place. Would you allow abusive, rude, people in your house? What if they pee on your carpet? What if they invite their abusive rude friends?  It’s always best to nip the bad behavior in the bud.

Don’t Reward Vandalous Behavior

Often times trolls, or negative commentors are looking for attention. They want you to get upset. Don’t play their game, remember it’s your blog, if they want to participate, they have to play YOUR game. You can simply delete bad comments, and forget them. There is no reason to figure out why someone does this because there are plenty, and I do mean plenty of people who write nice and encouraging things. The nice ones are the people who should be rewarded.

I’ve seen posts highlighting particular bad commentors, and I personally have mixed feelings about it, and I’ve even written a few angry posts, only to delete them. Sure, it feels good to get back at “them,” and yes, it’s nice to rally support for your favorite bloggers. But on the other hand, I’m not sure what it really achieves, and I often wonder if it’s sending the wrong message out, like “Hey, if you write a nasy comment about me, I’ll dedicate an entire post to you.” It’s not really a detterent for future abuse.

It’s your call

How you maintain your blog is entirely up to you. When I first started blogging, I got a couple of not abusive, but certainly creepy comments. I didn’t want to encourage this person to keep coming back, or other people to leave similar comments, so I deleted them. I came to the conclusion that if I wouldn’t tolerate it in real life, I won’t tolerate it online. It’s not censorship, and don’t let anyone tell you different. Just like it’s not censorship to crack down on a graffiti artist gracing your home with his or her art, it’s not censorship to crack down on online vandals.

Resources:

IFB: Where is the Love?

The Economist: The Broken Windows Theory of Crime is Correct

Does the Broken Window Theory Hold Online?

Image by [parentesi quadre]

Comments

  1. I <3 the title of this post so much– it definitely intrigued me to check it out!

    Having a policy in place is a great idea– in the past I have deleted a few comments that I had thought were inappropriate and would do so in the past. Honesty is one thing, rudeness or meanness another.

    There’s one blog I regularly read where the writer regularly calls out commenters who may ask innocent questions, who may leave her comments disagreeing with what she says or does… and it really gives me a whole other opinion of the blog. It’s one thing to defend her blog, its purpose, when people are accusing her of lying or faking information, but another to call them out for discussion. Often times her readers make entirely judgmental comments as well, and I find the whole place to be entirely negative…

  2. S says:

    GREAT article! I was really needing to hear this, and I think you put it perfectly.

  3. lisa says:

    Thank you for this great post! It brought up a couple of issues in my blogging experience:

    1) I went through a long and painful blog migration process this year where I moved my blog post by post from MSN Live Spaces to Blogger. After I did that, I deleted all of my old posts except for one informing readers who accessed the old URL that my blog had moved. No spam on the old blog, thank goodness.

    2) I don’t have comment moderation enabled, but I have set up comments to be automatically emailed to me. If I see any spam in there, it gets deleted right away.

    Anyway, great post again! I think this is a subject a lot of bloggers can relate to.

  4. WendyB says:

    Great post. Especially the point about not giving trolls the attention they desire. It’s hard to resist doing that, but it’s for the best. Making fun of spammers, though, is okay with me :-)

  5. I don’t moderate the comments before they’re posted on my blogs, but I’m subscribed to my own comment feeds. My policy regarding spam or rudeness is “delete and ignore”. I get more time to spend posting, and the trolls don’t get the attention they’re after, like you say.

  6. meligrosa says:

    awesome! great link to the economist.
    BitsBobbins/Tricia/WRemix and all the lovelies that have participated throught it have been one of my many inspirations to start my own blog, since I had been an avid blog reader-follower for years. I stopped worrying about ‘creepy’ situations, and it has certainly paid off to the people I’ve met online- and off, sharing similar likes.
    Also a good point to treat it as something you would in real life, after all since starting the blog, it’s like my own personal journal that I keep track of visually in one area of my daily treks.
    I have been lucky as far as comments, which I’m very pleased with. Just a couple of really sexual-dumb ones, but just ignoring them does it.

    Thanks, great post and long live bloggers!
    xox.m

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