Biddy from TameBay.com left a comment requesting a regular ‘Ask Martin’ feature on this blog whereby readers can ask for my advice/opinion on issues specific to them. I think this is a good idea, and am willing to give it a try.
For this article, I will address Biddy’s specific request. If you would like to throw some questions or requests for advice my way, contact me and I will see what I can do to help.
I have a commenter on one blog at the moment who is making me uncomfortable. I’m not sure what to do with him because if I just block his posts, he’ll (quite rightly) accuse me of only wanting comments that agree with me.
This isn’t true: disagreement is fine and welcome, but telling me on my own blog that my opinion isn’t wanted is not really acceptable.
He’s anonymous – using a made-up name, fake email and no URL. What I should do about him?
Firstly, let me say that I am relatively new to the world of blogging. The scenario you provide though, does have many similarities with the types of users I have had to deal with on message forums in the past so I still feel qualified to offer you advice on this situation.
The first thing to remember is: you control the blog. Don’t let abusive members take control. Have you published any rules on your blog so contributors are aware of what is and what is not acceptable? This would be my first recommendation.
In my article entitled ‘Dealing with abusive members‘ I go through a number of steps you can take to address problem users. Unfortunately this is not wholly useful to you, because you mention that this user does not provide a valid email address or URL for you to contact them.
In your specific situation, I would advise you to consider the following options:
Attempt dialogue with the user
This may be difficult because you do not have any direct contact information about the user. I would recommend you attempt to create a dialogue with this person in the following way:
Next time the user posts a comment, reply directly to them in the comments section. If you are not happy with the content of their comment, edit it as you see fit. When you then reply to the user, explain the exact reason why you have edited their comment.
Refer them to your rules if you have them. Then, invite them to contact you directly with any of their concerns.
If a user has a genuine grievance about something in particular it will always pay to speak directly to them to try to address and diffuse such problems. You may be surprised at their willingness to discuss things further with you if you take this pro-active approach.
Set your blog comments to ‘moderate all’
By preventing your blog’s comments from appearing until you have moderated each one, you are ensuring no abusive messages get through. As you are applying this rule to all comments, individuals cannot complain and claim victimisation.
Unfortunately on the downside, some users may feel less inclined to comment if they do not see the fruits of their labour immediately published on the site.
If you are to take this course of action, I would recommend you make it temporary and advise your members why comments are currently fully moderated.
If all else fails…
If after all this you are still receiving unacceptable posts on your blog, you will need to either continue will full comment moderation or just delete messages as they appear.
You may want to consider making users register to comment on your blog, but this will severely reduce the number of comments you will get in the future.
At the end of the day, be consoled with the fact it takes you one click to delete an abusive comment. It takes the abusive user much more time to craft and type their rubbish onto your blog.
Opening the floor
If you have any additional advice to offer Biddy, please leave a comment below. If you have any feedback on my suggestions, let me know.
Do you have a specific problem with your community site? Do you want to ask me for some specific advice? Feel free to contact me with further details.