You’ve done the hardest parts of writing a blog post: Gotten the reader to your site, evoked a strong enough emotion to make them feel they need to add to the discussion and leave a comment, and they submit it and see this:
“Your comment is awaiting moderation”
“Your comment is awaiting approval”
“You need to register first”
Congratulations, you’ve just halted the conversation on your post.
For the most part, moderation is used to stop spam from appearing not necessarily to censor comments, but you’re hurting the voice of the very people that can be your biggest evangelists.
There are many issues with this:
- When a commenter sees those five words and has to wait for approval, it will stop them from spreading the post until it has been approved
- 99% of the time the commenter doesn’t get a notification that the comment has been approved, and so never spreads the original post at all.
- The flow of comments is dictated by the blog owners ability to approve comments in a timely fashion.
- As soon as a commenter sees that their original comment is awaiting moderation, they will hesitate to comment on anyone else’s comment in the thread.
- The commenter doesn’t know if it’s awaiting approval for being a non-spam comment, or that the blog owner is only allowing positive comments.
If the spam issue is your main reason for moderating blog comments, there are a few quick fixes.
- Install the Askimet plugin. This well-known, and free for personal use tool is amazing for filtering out spam comments. I average 100+ comments per post, and have only ever had to delete one spam comment that made it past Askimet’s filter.
- Use a comment management system like Disqus. That’s the system I use here. It allows threaded comments, meaning I or others can reply in-line to a comment and it makes it linked as a conversation, including emailing the original commenter that someone has replied, so they can return and continue the engagement. It also emails me every time someone comments, and I can reply on my Blackberry in the email, and it will post it as a comment. Not to mention if a spam comment slips through (or a troll) I just reply to the email with “delete” and it’s gone instantly.
There are some valid reasons to moderate comments, such as very sensitive topic-based sites (especially religion, politics, parents against Justin Bieber) and also large corporate blogs that have certain topics that bring out the “special” folks of the world.
But for the most part I see moderation being done on the very blogs that need comments: the ones that don’t have many at all. Especially when you’re starting out, let the conversation flow. Create community and engagement. The comments on my posts are 10X better than my original post. Why would I want to stifle that?