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Pick One: Completely Un-Moderated Comments Or No Comments At All

September 29, 2010
Who's The Dick Writing Comments On My Blog?

Credit: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

If you had to choose between completely un-moderated comments on your site or none at all, which would you go with?

Completely Un-Moderated Comments

OK, maybe not completely un-moderated—I’m thinking of this within the confines of the real world and most comment platforms allow user policing. But even then, gangs of people can team up against one person or opinion and flag those comments till they disappear. Is that worse than cutting off people’s ability to comment entirely?

No Comments

This immediately strikes me as the worse of the two options. The web is, above all, one big conversation and if you cut off people’s ability to interact with your site, you’re basically dialing it back to 1998.

On the other hand, do a bunch of un-moderated threads on your site cause such a chilling effect that the people you want to comment don’t show up anyway and you’re left with a bunch of trolls and a small handful of “legitimate” users?

Like I said, my gut reaction is to go with un-moderated comments. A chaotic democracy is better than none at all and who knows—in some cases you might be pleasantly surprised by your user base.

I’m curious to know what you think, though, so please discuss….

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Lewis permalink
    October 1, 2010 1:57 am

    My gut instinct is to go with unmoderated comments, but that’s just an ideological stance. Comment threads are, or inevitably become, the anus of the internet. And I’m aware of the irony that I wrote that in a comment.

  2. October 5, 2010 9:41 pm

    @Lewis- Comment threads do, almost always, succumb to chaos theory, but I had a thought, too: What if you gamble on completely unmoderated comments and are consistently pleasantly surprised by your audience?

    I don’t have an answer for that; it’s more just a rhetorical question. Any thoughts in return are welcome, though.

  3. Wiley permalink
    October 8, 2010 9:32 am


    I also think the correct approach would be to go with unmoderated comments but I feel there are times when a moderator or at least discretion in the comment process are necessary. I’m not talking about typical troll behavior where one group or opinion shouts down the others, but rather, when the comments begin to spiral into the realm of hate speech and other inappropriate comments. I think a free-flowing discourse is the ideal, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable with a policy that allows our website/content to be dirtied with racial slurs and other kinds of intolerance.


  4. October 8, 2010 2:18 pm

    @Wiley- Yeah, I totally agree. I thought this one part of our comment policy at my last job was brilliant: “In a nutshell, don’t say anything you wouldn’t want your mother to read.”

    I also think that moderators are more effective when they don’t just delete comments but actually interact on the threads. Think about it: If you say something slightly offensive and one of your friends says, “That’s not cool,” you’ll probably at least reconsider what you said and lighten up, whereas if some guy you don’t know pops out from behind a bush and berates you, you’ll probably respond negatively.

    Thing is, people/newsrooms don’t always have the time and/or resources to patrol comments regularly or at all, which is why I was wondering: completely un-moderated comments, or none?

    Thanks for stopping by to comment!

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