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Every month, WordPress.com users leave 77 million new comments on new posts.
Yes, you read that right — 77 million.
That’s a lot of engagement, conversation, and community-building. But while the comment section can help you connect with your audience, it comes with a lot of responsibility, particularly in terms of moderating comments and keeping things civil.
So how do you balance fostering meaningful conversations with ensuring that your comments section aligns with your brand’s core values? Here’s how to effectively monitor comments on your site without completely halting the conversation.
Create a strategy for your comment section
Today, the internet is the Wild West. Everyone says whatever they want, whenever they want — sans any filter.
You probably don’t want to adopt this same anything-goes approach in your comments section. So you must first decide how to manage comments, including whether you’ll approve or reject comments before they go live.
There are some advantages to approving comments beforehand. You can pre-screen content and remove anything that isn’t on-brand before other users see it. You can catch potentially offensive or inflammatory comments before they spark a discussion you’d rather not have on your site. Pre-approving comments also allows you to spot spam or users who are using your comments section purely for link-building and to draw people from your site to theirs. In short, this approach gives you more control over your site and the conversations that take place within it.
However, there’s a downside to this approach, too. Some users may feel you’re unfairly censoring them or that you’re only filtering out comments that you personally disagree with. You may also be missing an opportunity to spark a lively debate that increases engagement and time spent on your site. Time is another issue. Pre-approving comments could quickly turn into a time suck and draw you away from other activities that could also grow your business.
Weigh all these factors before you decide to pre-approve comments on your site.
Create a comments policy
Moderating comments can be tricky to navigate, which is why you should consider establishing a comments policy and posting it on your site so everyone can see it. Your policy can include things like:
No graphic or explicit content
Be respectful of others — no abusive or offensive language, and no name-calling
Don’t forget to add what will happen if someone violates these rules, such as a three-strikes-you’re-out policy or immediate removal from the site and revoking their user privileges.
A comment policy can also be effective if you decide an entirely different approach: not moderating comments at all. You may want to test this for a few weeks before you decide to go all in. For example, if you notice your website is overrun with trolls or spam, then it’s probably better to moderate everything on the front end. However, if you notice you’re getting more engagement and that your users follow the community guidelines you’ve established, then keeping the comment section open — at least for the time being — might be the best approach.
You can also go to your admin dashboard to adjust the default settings on the Discussion page to make comment management easier. For example, you can choose to hold a comment in the queue for a specified time if it has spam characteristics, or set all comments to be manually approved.
Driving engagement on your site
The comment section on your website can be an invaluable tool to help you build community and boost your business. But with great power comes great responsibility. Letting others share their opinion on your site can drive engagement, but failing to put any parameters around how people should behave there can go wrong quickly, potentially repelling the visitors you want and keeping them from coming back.
You want your site to be a welcoming, fun place for everyone who visits but when someone consistently violates the rules or posts something that doesn’t align with your brand values, they’ve overstayed their welcome, and it’s best that you show them the way out.
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