How Moderating Comments is Like Scooping Cat Litter

We’ve all experienced “those” commenters – the ones who write completely irrelevant, spammy, even rude replies to your posts. Whether these comments are from spam-bots or people with no internet etiquette, be proactive in moderating them for the sake of your blog’s health. Just as you wouldn’t want dirty cat litter in your home, you don’t want unhelpful comments on your site, tarnishing your reputation.

Pooper Scoopers: The Best Tools for Moderation

There are many guidelines for moderating comments on different channels, most of which you can find in a Google search. For example, if you use WordPress, install the Akismet plugin to remove spam comments automatically. On YouTube, remove, report, hide, and mark comments as spam, or change your settings to hold comments until approval. Facebook for Developers offers a comments plugin with built-in moderation tools.

Your own intuition often is the best tool. Scan the names of your commenters and deny any comments from names that don’t look human, such as “Blogging Tips” or “Marketing Guru.” Accept comments only from users with real, human names to ensure you don’t get spammed. Comments completely irrelevant to your blog and those that state something generic are most likely comments generated by a spammer’s software. Real comments contribute something to the conversation, are relevant, and add value.

Clean Litter: Comments that Count

Comments that add value to your site – the “clean litter” – can help your site boost credibility and traffic. Great comments support their statements with facts or research, ask thought-provoking questions, and are completely relevant to your post. Comments you want to keep should be well written, interesting, and high quality. They shouldn’t sound like sales pitches or pointedly direct readers away from your blog. These comments say something that adds to your post and continues the conversation.

Helpful comments don’t necessarily agree with you. If a comment offers a differing viewpoint in a constructive, healthy way, it still adds value and you should keep it in the litter box. Best-case scenario is that someone will correct them if they are wrong, and worst-case scenario is that people visiting your blog will learn something new. It’s a win-win, even if your first thought is to delete comments that argue against you.

Dirty Litter: Comments You Can Live Without

Often, loyal readers will leave short and sweet comments such as, “Great post,” and “Loved this read.” While these comments might make you smile, they are not relevant and do not add value to your post – thus they qualify as “dirty litter.” Dirty litter doesn’t necessarily hurt your site, but it doesn’t help either. A better way for fans to show appreciation is to share your post on social media sites, which is something you can tell commenters if they ask why you took down their posts.

Other comments you may be on the fence about moderating include those in a foreign language, with poor grammar, and those that are borderline spam. Use an easy translator tool such as Google Translate to decipher comments in a foreign language before deciding what to do. Keeping comments in a foreign language won’t hurt your post unless they are spam or inappropriate.

If a comment adds value, but has poor grammar, use your own judgment for moderation. Leaving it can encourage other low-quality comments and damage your site’s reputation, but deleting it may not be in your best interest if the comment added significant value. You may be able to fix the bad grammar before accepting the comment, depending on your moderation tool.

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if a comment is spam or not, like if a user comments something of relevance and value but finishes with a link back to their site. To decide which of these comments to moderate, ask yourself a few questions:
• Do I want my readers to click on the commenter’s link?
• Is the comment specific or could it apply to any post?
• Is the comment overly complimentary?
• Does the comment have more than one link?

Comments can be self-serving and valuable to you at the same time, as long as they don’t obviously look like spam or linkbait. Use your own discretion and always verify links before accepting a comment.

The Unmentionables: Comments to Toss

The comments you should definitely deny are the “unmentionables” in the litter box – the ones that clearly need to go. These comments may be a variety of symbols that don’t form words, those with zero relevance to your topic, terrible grammar, or those that don’t add anything of value to your post. These comments are more often than not spam and can damage your site’s reputation. Always delete rude, inappropriate, and offensive comments, as well as those that only have inbound links.

Keeping your site free from unwanted comments is important to the success of your page, just as cleaning your litter box ensures a healthy, happy home. Now that you have the tools and information that you need to successfully moderate comments, blog with confidence.