4 Best Practices for Moderating Blog Comments

Beto Molinari
by Beto Molinari on February 13, 2014 in Business
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Maybe you have this vision of a moderator as a nightclub bouncer, keeping the “unacceptables” out of your establishment. Or maybe the image is something closer to Miss Manners, tut-tutting her way through the acceptable and unacceptable content on your company blogWebsite Moderator

Moderators Are a Must

Wherever there’s a blog or a forum – somewhere that welcomes the exchange of comments and content – there’s a moderator (or should be one). A moderator is a registered user who is granted access to all posts and discussion threads.

A “mod” is there to uphold the blog’s ground rules, answer user questions, review submitted content and, when necessary, exercise the full weight of her authority by editing, locking, renaming and deleting comments – even suspending or banning members from posting there.

If all that puts you in mind of Johnny Buzzkill, just consider what your blog might look like with no moderation. A thread of discussion might devolve into name-calling, accusations, profanity, irrelevancy and other content that leads to the fabled forum “train wreck” for the entire world to see.

Your business blog should remain just that – business-oriented in an engaging way– and a moderator can go a long way toward policing this area for you. Not to mention her value in spotting and squashing spambots that could creep their way into your blog.

1) Stay in the Conversation

A moderator also has some proactive tasks, too. She might bring up new blog topic ideas for contributors, create polls or surveys, or combine similar threads into one larger discussion. When she comes up with a great question or comment, it could prompt responses and sharing that raises your company’s online profile.

  • Whenever you post a question or comment and request response, be prepared to revisit that thread frequently and reply in kind. Nothing turns off users and visitors like contributing to a blog and hearing only *crickets* from you afterward.

2) Don't Descend into Dullsville

Many is the blog forum that has undermined its own interests by having moderators post boring or obvious threads that nobody is interested in answering. It’s one thing to ask your best friend what they did this weekend; another to expect a stranger to share this kind of personal info.

  • As a contributing moderator, start discussions that have some level of “meat” to them – even a spirited debate is better than a dull topic that nets no response.

3) Ditch the Pitch

Your blog is a place for visitors to find relevant, interesting or entertaining content – not to get pressured to jump into the sales funnel. Certainly your blog can contain a call-to-action that leads visitors to your website’s landing page, where they may turn into website leads, but your blog should remain sacred.

  • Make no sales pitches, mods – and make no mistake, users can tell when they’re being schmoozed.

4) Put out the Fire

And when the subject turns to addressing complaints – dissatisfied customers, folks with a cross to bear or even scammers from competing companies posting negative comments on Yelp – the moderator has a large role in turning the tide back toward your company.

When you see something negative, your first impulse could be to ignore or delete. Resist! If the complaint or comment has any kind of validity, you’ll do far worse pretending it never existed. “Remember that if you do not give people their say they will probably go somewhere more public to spread the word,” according to Social Media Today. “I personally like to publish people’s comments and respond to them with something witty and intelligent if possible.”

It’s odd but true: A customer complaint left on your blog or Facebook page can be a good thing. Such a post gives you the opportunity to publicly make good – to show that the customer’s needs really do come first.

  • Use Empathy and Sympathy – demonstrate that you understand why the customer is cheesed off. Then tell what you plan to do about it – not just a generic “we’ll try to do better,” but a concrete plan to address that customer’s issues.

If you know the comment has no validity – it’s a “false negative” from a troll or scammer; or it descends into objectionable language – then as a moderator you have the right and responsibility to delete it. At the same time, ensure that your visitors have easy access to your blog’s terms of use.

*Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net