Best way to deal fairly with non-spam, malicious comments on a personal blog?
May 9, 2008 3:09 PM   Subscribe

Best way to deal fairly with non-spam, malicious comments on a personal blog? Deleting them straight away, or allowing such comments but following up with an answer/reply?

I have a pretty boring personal blog (website in profile), where I post occasionally. One old blog post (with my thoughts on the Obama assassination fears) has seen consistent traffic and a few comments over the last few months - some comments to date have been on the "internet crazy" side, but fairly benign. Then today, someone added a comment stating their intention to commit a murder/suicide, should Obama become president. This comment is currently in my moderation queue.

Now, my first instinct was to just delete it. But if I delete this comment, I should probably go back and delete some of the others too - even though they were not quite as bad. I originally decided to post them since it's always fun to get comments, and because I think some of the crazies out there are interesting. Also, what's the point of allowing comments at all if I'm going to uber-moderate them?

The other option would be to allow this comment, and then make a very strong statement against it. A friend suggested that I should say that I have forwarded the commenter's IP address to the appropriate authorities, then address the inappropriate nature of the comment. I don't know, though, maybe that's overkill.

The only substantive discussions I've seen online on allowing/not allowing negative/malicious blog comments have been about business-related blogs. I am very interested to hear about how others deal fairly with this sort of thing. Thanks!
posted by gemmy to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
Best answer: I think you should just delete the comment. You don't have to be "fair" about what comments you allow and the ones you don't. It's your blog -- you get to be the final arbitrator about what's allowed and what's not. So maybe you want to allow amusing crazies' comments, but not those of potential murderers. That's completely your prerogative. I think forwarding the comment to authorities would be overkill and rather pointless.
posted by peacheater at 3:12 PM on May 9, 2008

If it were my blog, I'd just ignore it. Lots of people talk, but never act. It's the same on the internet, just with a bigger audience.

I wouldn't post it. It's on the extreme end of crazy, which isn't something I'd want my blog to be associated with. There's only such much of a right to free speech that I'm willing to extend to people when I pay the hosting bills.
posted by Rabulah at 3:13 PM on May 9, 2008

Delete it. It's your blog. No need to be fair, especially when the commenter stated an intention to commit a crime. I mean, WTF? If he vowed to hurt your children would you let him post on your blog?
posted by desjardins at 3:14 PM on May 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

You don't owe anyone anything - it's your blog. If they're serious about killing themselves for political reasons then they can GTOFB.
posted by GuyZero at 3:14 PM on May 9, 2008

When I've come up against this in the past, I agonized about it for a bit, but eventually decided to delete. I figured that it's a blog, my blog, not an open forum, not proper journalism, not a public service. I wouldn't let someone speak that way in my home, so I wasn't obligated to air in in my cyber-home either.
posted by mostlymartha at 3:31 PM on May 9, 2008

Best answer: i think maybe you should google some crazy obama related terms. imagine what nutcases might want to google. i don't want to do it for (work) paranoia reasons, and i don't want to suggest search terms either. but you know what i mean.

how far down on the results page is your blog post? if it's in the first couple pages, you may want to just delete the post altogether.

so as not to attract more crazys.

posted by stubby phillips at 3:43 PM on May 9, 2008

Best answer: I'm pretty lenient about leaving up comments from people who are somewhat crazy, but I don't have any problems just deleting them if they really bother me. It is my blog, after all, and if I wouldn't want someone sitting in my living room saying something like that, I certainly don't want it on my web site. So delete, delete, delete ... and feel no guilt. You aren't obligated to provide a platform for every nut on the internet or to bother condemning or refuting their comments.

Also, I use the Comment Timeout plugin which allows me to turn off the comments at a predetermined time. I've noticed that most of the useless, crazy and spammy comments happen long after a post is old news.
posted by Orb at 4:05 PM on May 9, 2008

Response by poster: This was the way I was leaning, but it's good to know that others would deal with this in a similar way, and for similar reasons. I guess I'm just used to moderating forums and being called out on every little thing...

Deleted! And thanks to all.
posted by gemmy at 4:38 PM on May 9, 2008

Good to hear that!

Comments on weblogs, especially personal ones, are usually the lowest common denominator. If they start to worry you, consider only reading comments by emails. They hardly add anything to the contents anyway.
posted by semi at 9:47 PM on May 9, 2008

(I do realize this is a moot point now, but I'm just going to say...) I have a personal (non-business) blog that isn't very personal, and I just received my first negative comment recently. It wasn't malicious or threatening in any way, but it was unnecessarily hurtful and uncalled for, so I did compose a lengthy response that the original (anonymous) person returned to read. If the comment they left had been threatening, I probably would have removed it immediately.

Just remember that this is your blog, and you call the shots. You don't owe anything to anyone, and you don't have to feel bad for not indulging people who would leave such idiotic comments! Don't ever let anyone make you feel like you don't have control over the content and the management of your own blog.
posted by Mael Oui at 10:20 PM on May 9, 2008

A good counter to the inevitable cries of "free speech! free speech" from the people whose comments you delete is "free press! free press!"

I.e., you are exercising editorial discretion as the owner of a publishing outlet, which is your right under the First Amendment.
posted by kindall at 4:08 AM on May 10, 2008

Yeah, it's your playground, do what you want. Especially if your blog is, like most, just a communication tool for you and some friends, uninvited guests sniping wreck it for everyone. You are not the government, so free speech and free press issues aren't relevant.

If it's a more publicly-faced blog where you are inviting comments from everyone, a deletion with an explanation might be better. Sort of like they (sometimes) do here. IE, "[comment removed- for this reason]" I would only leave one up if you can use to comment to clarify and explain your position, and to show the folly of the bad commenter. IE, "Editor note: etc."
posted by gjc at 10:33 AM on May 10, 2008

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