Conversations on Commenting

… thoughts on commenting in general and on blogs in particular.

One of the most important tasks of a blogger is to set up a commenting policy. It doesn’t matter whether a person writes for a blog professionally or works on a site for fun and family — a clear statement on comments is necessary. The Props Blog, a good source for blogging information, features this informative post, The 10 Commandments of Commenting. I’ve rewritten these 10 commandments for my students using “Thou shalls” rather than “Thou shall nots,” and I’ve attached this document at the end of the post.

In today’s world, many people do not understand the purpose of commenting, and only recently have many websites started to set limits. Moreover, the rough and tumble, devil-may-care attitude that many people assume as they navigate the web (see newspapers — paper or electronic — for the latest digital scandals) leads to individuals not always thinking before they write, send, and post. I wrote a post, also titled Conversations on Commenting, sharing more of my views on this subject.

If you are setting up a family blog, whether for your immediate family members or for relatives near and far, you have a perfect opportunity to define your expectations and establish a commenting policy — sort of a digital citizenship policy that you can reinforce when people make strategic (and not so strategic) communication errors. In the process you may help more than a few of your readers avoid some public and embarrassing mistakes in their other digital activities.

One of the most important notions to understand is distinguishing when a comment should be sent privately or as a more public missive (just like e-mail). Often on blogs people send messages meant for a person to the blog comment section. The situation is a bit different from e-mail because, on some blogs, the editor reviews all comments and sorts these out — a safety feature of sorts. However, on other blogs, the comments go right through, posted for everyone to see.

On my blogs I have set up commenting policy pages. (Comment policy on AsOurParentsAge – Comment policy on MediaTechParenting). I include a link on these pages that contacts me directly, and I also feature this direct contact link prominently on the main blog page. Feel free to check out my comment pages and, use any part of my copy as a template for your blogs.  And, your suggestions about how I might improve my policies are most welcome.

With children and adolescents, who are often trying on new hats and experimenting with personas, the comment policy page provides a parents with an opportunity to explain views as they relate to the blog and not the child  (and sometimes we even get to repeat our explanations!), so the policy is a handy and convenient educational endeavor for parents of digital children.

Here is a PDF file, A Few Etiquette Pointers, based on the 10 commandments posted at the Props Blog. I hand this out to the fifth graders at my school each year.

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