When you are running a blog, there is quite a lot of work involved. While you can speed up a lot of the admin using shortcuts like the ones on this excellent cheat sheet for WordPress, you may be tempted to try and keep the work you have to do down by letting users post comments without requiring you to moderate or approve them. There are some other reasons why you might think it best to let people comment freely too, for example the perception that people are less likely to comment if they don’t see their words appear on the site instantly.
However, moderating comments can not only improve the quality of your site and prevent anything that doesn’t fit with your vision of the site appearing, but can also help you foster better engagement with your audience. Here we look at why:
Preventing Unwanted Content
The simplest reason to moderate is that you don’t end up with any content you don’t want on your site published – even if just for a short time (before you notice and delete it). What you class as unwanted content will depend on what kind of brand identity you have. You may, for instance, really not want people swearing or arguing in your comments if you’re running a very professional looking blog, but be fine with that kind of interaction if you are doing a blog for sports banter. You may not want any criticisms or negative views on your posts if you feel this will harm your efforts to sell things, or you may welcome them as a demonstration that you welcome all sorts of feedback and don’t hide it if it’s bad. You may be happy for people to link to their own content where it’s relevant, or you may not want any links at all. With moderation, you have full control over anything users put on your site.
Moderating Shows You Care
Nobody likes to feel that when they post a comment they are just hurling their opinion or feedback into the void. If you clearly moderate, it means you clearly read everything. As long as you moderate quickly and fairly, so you don’t frustrate your users by taking ages to get their comments up or by rejecting them for reasons they won’t understand (you should also have your policy clearly explained – this should cut down on the number of comments that don’t comply if you don’t accept things like profanity or links that other sites might), most users are happy to know you take this level of interest in your website. It also implies you are more likely to reply, which makes asking questions in comments seem more useful. When people ask questions you have a great chance to engage with them and expand on your content to really show your expertise, so these kind of comments are gold.
While you can also moderate ‘after the fact’ and simply delete comments you don’t like, this is generally less of a solution than simply putting in a moderation step before a comment is made visible.