How to Keep the Conversations on Your Blog Civil

If the mid-term elections in the U.S. are any indication, the lack of civility in public discourse has sunk to a new level. No one seems to listen to their opponents. Pundits (and politicians) routinely talk over one another. Volume appears to be more important than logic.

Networking Group - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/jgroup, Image #5649910

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/jgroup

You might not be able to solve this cultural problem, but you don’t have to put up with it on your blog. Yesterday, Publishers Lunch Deluxe, commented on my blog post, “Why Do eBooks Cost So Much? (A Publisher’s Perspective).” After noting the high number of comments, the editor said,

What also stands out is the civility of the discussion—even from those who might disagree—and the general appreciation from those who comment for an explanation from an executive.”

This isn’t an accident. I have tried to cultivate this environment over time. Why? Because I believe in the value of healthy, civil debate. I love leading and participating in meaningful conversations. I readily admit that don’t have all the answers. I learn from the community and especially my commenters.

But how do you keep the conversation on your blog healthy and constructive? How do you make it safe for people to disagree without becoming disagreeable?

Here are five tips:

  1. Use an industrial strength spam blocker. I use Askimet. It is owned by Automattic, the same people who created WordPress. It stops comment spam dead in its tracks. Even though I get more than 100 spam or porn comments a day, Askimet weeds them all out. Occasionally, it mistakenly flags a comment that is not spam, but I have yet to see it let anything through that is spam.
  2. Create an official comments policy. You can’t expect people to follow the rules if they don’t know them. I am very clear about what I allow and what I don’t. I have blogged on this and include a warning with a link in the “Post a New Comment” box. I say, “Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.”
  3. Participate in the conversation. This is the most important tip. It’s your party; people expect you to participate. If you don’t, your blog becomes like an abandoned house. Don’t be surprised if thugs vandalize it and spray digital graffiti on your posts. Maintaining an active presence keeps the conversation civil.
  4. Make your own comments stand-out. I also make my comments stand out by highlighting them in a different color. This is easy to do if you are using self-hosted WordPress. You can find specific directions here. This way, people can scan down through your comments and readily identify those that are yours. People are much more likely to comment—and do so civilly—if they know you are “on the premises.”
  5. Be consistent with enforcement. I rarely delete a comment, but some are so off-topic or belligerent, I must. Likewise, some commenters have to be banned. They are simply trolls spoiling for a fight and some perverted sense of feeling important. I don’t put up with it. Their comments are like graffiti. If you let them stand, you will only get more of them.

Good comments, even from people who disagree, add value to your blog. You want to encourage these if you are going to build a community, but you also must protect the community from those who would abuse it.

Question: What else have you found helpful in promoting civil discourse on your blog?
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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • http://bigisthenewsmall.com Scott Williams

    100% agree… some of the best dialogue happens on my blog when readers not only disagree with me, but have disagreements and discourse amongst each other.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree. Sometimes people are hesitant to disagree. They equate that with being disrespectful. (I had a commenter say this yesterday.) I don’t. I want to create an online environment that is safe for dissent.

      Thanks, Scott.

      • http://www.kinderboost.com Michael Gray

        I used to think that disagreement (especially in front of others) showed a lack of respect for my boss, so I used to avoid it for that very reason. I found out quickly that my lack of push-back was not received as respect, but as weakness and an inability to contribute. Talk about a major backfire.

  • Benjamin S. Lichtenwalner

    I would only add that how you market your blog and who you associate with – particularly early in your blog’s existence – has an impact as well. As i mentioned in the comments earlier this week, i am fortunate to receive a fair amount of traffic from your site. Given that your followers are civil, ModernServantLeader.com benefits from these participants. I also added a comments policy after reading your post on the topic. I have not yet highlighted my comments as you suggest and look forward to doing so – thank you for the tips!

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Very good point, Ben. Like they say, “If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.” ;-)

  • http://benandjacq.com Ben of Benandjacq

    I often blog about theological hot-button issues, and I have found that the best help for civility in commenting is much like in real life: seeking to see things as others see them, and then making that clear in response. Anticipate objections and validate those objections before you rebut. Avoid attacking people, attack issues.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Totally. I often times have to check my own attitude, take a deep breath, and stay focused on the issue.

      • http://twitter.com/NowInANutshell @NowInANutshell

        Well said, Ben. It is being intentional in how you deal with people and their words. Wrong attitude gets in the way of an argument, even if it is the right one.

      • http://cflemming.com/ripeforharvest/ Charles Stewart Flemming

        I wish I’d done this yesterday (check my own attitude, …). A friend who is extremely angry at my politics commented on my post about healing. He got increasingly argumentative. I emailed him a warning, which only provoked him further. I don’t know how to dialogue in the spirit of 2 Timothy 2:24-25, online, with someone who is so angry–AND so in need of grace.

  • Kingsly

    Great post!

    “Maintaining an active presence keeps the conversation civil.” And I have seen that very much in your blog. The way you keep yourself in the conversion makes your blog different. And i also like this “Good comments, even from people who disagree, add value to you blog.” and i have also seen that in your blog.

  • http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com Courtney(WomenLivingWell)

    Oh I have struggled with this at times. I actually spoke at The Relevant Blogging Conference 2 weekends ago on this very topic! The title of the session was “Dealing with Criticism on your blog”.

    At first, the criticism was so unexpected and made me a little insecure (this coming from a typically confident person)! But then as James 3:2 says – “If anyone is never at fault in what he says he is a perfect man.” Seeing that I am not perfect – sometimes the criticism is justified…but often it comes from someone who just doesn’t like me and what I stand for and no matter what I do I can’t please them.

    I like to leave up negative comments so there can be a deeper discussion but I have found that my sweet loyal readers can get feisty in my defense! I have tried to set a tone of grace. I want to see through the harsh comment to the commenter who is hurting but at times their remarks are so bitter they must be removed.

    I like your list and how you are present here in the discussion – it makes it a warm place to visit!

    Courtney

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You are doing the right thing. It’s certainly not easy, but it is so worth it.

  • http://www.frankviola.wordpress.com Frank Viola

    Excellent! Another thing I’ve done is to create an entire post that’s readily available about the dynamics of email correspondance. E.g., people will often say things via email that they wouldn’t on the phone or in person. And email is often misinterpreted because it’s a wooden medium. We easily project thoughts/feelings into them. So extra care should be taken before releasing a comment to the world. I’ve found that it’s helpful to refer back to that post from time to time.

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  • http://www.gospelofkingdom.com Gregory Scott

    I’ve always appreciated the civility of the comments here. Thanks for the advice. BTW–there is a typo in last paragraph “you” instead of “your”.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for pointing out that typo. I have fixed it.

  • http://www.tomraines.wordpress.com Tom Raines

    Thank you for the pointers. Love the comment policy! Debate is inspiring but anger is anger.

  • http://LiveIntentionally.org @PaulSteinbrueck

    One I would add is “Set the tone.” Blogs have a tendency to attract like-minded people and people have a tendency to comment with the same tone as the post they’re commenting on (not always but usually.)

    IMO, a big reason why it seems like civility in public discourse is at an all-time low is because commentators, pundits, and, yes, bloggers have figured out that controversy gets attention. Many bloggers are intentionally provocative. If you go that route as a blogger, expect to get argumentative readers and comments.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That is a great one, Paul. If I were re-writing this post, I would add that. Thanks!

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

      Well said Paul. Now that you mention it, I’ve found that how I title my posts alone can significantly change the tone of the comments and discussion that follows.

  • http://www.kristinemcguire.com Kristine McGuire

    What I have found most helpful is that all comments are approved either by myself or my husband (who helps moderate my site). I’ve had a few snarky or unkind comments in the past but because they are simply not posted the amount I receive has dramatically improved.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Personally, I don’t believe in moderated comments. I think it really discourages conversation. Of course, this means you might occasionally get the snarky or offensive comment, but I find that to be very rare. When people comment, they want to see it appear immediately. It’s just the culture we live in.

      Thanks for commenting!

      • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

        I totally agree. Moderating comments is cumbersome. Or making people read those impossible words/numbers. That only discourages commenting.

        • http://www.kristinemcguire.com Kristine McGuire

          I understand your position. However, the subject matter of my blog also draws many non-Christians who are simply there to be argumentative. In a year, I’ve only not posted three or four comments. It works for me.

          • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            Just a thought … how many comments are you missing because people don’t want to be moderated? I have WordPress email me every comment, so I usually know within minutes if something is inappropriate and needs to be taken down.

  • http://www.robertgtaylor.com Robert G. Talor

    I have always appreciated the atmosphere on your blog. The goal (which is realized) is to shed light, not create heat. I believe the tone of your posts create this atmosphere as well as managing comments. I read some sites which betrays the author has a chip on his shoulder waiting for someone to knock it off. Thanks for doing such a superb job of both writing the blog and modeling the behavior of good management.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Michael, you have one of the most civil, thought provoking blogs on the web. The variety and scope of the commenters are second to none. That is what makes this a must-read daily destination.
    I have had a pretty civil audience on my blog over the years. Writing about personal development tends to draw a professional crowd. However, in the early days I had a couple of posts picked up by Digg. The traffic soared and so did the crazy comments. Sometimes the referring sites can be more trouble than they are worth.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree. I haven noticed that some referring sites bring undesirable traffic. I would rather stay smaller and civil than ruin the digital neighborhood.

  • Mark McKeen

    I agree with this post. There is nothing to help you learn and defend your position on a topic like a healthy debate. I am growing increasingly aware that debaters today would rather discredit a debate by personal attack than to logically think through an argument. Your blog is a refreshing drink of cool water in the desert of postmodernism.

  • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris Jeub

    I recently removed the “monitor comments” feature on my blog for many similar reasons. We attempt to take on tough issues that sometimes stir up anger, but, like you, I agree with the “value of healthy, civil debate.”

    I’m a debate coach, too, so I should welcome it! Thanks for the great post. I’m going to get to work on making a comments policy.

  • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

    I think respectful public discourse should be the hallmark of Christ followers. It’s when things get histrionic that I wonder just what we’re afraid of. We serve a sovereign God. Why get worked up?

    • http://www.LaurindaOnLeadership.com Laurinda

      I was thinking the same thing. Jesus is still on the throne regardless of who wins.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I totally agree, Mary.

  • http://www.kinderboost.com Michael Gray

    I love that you don’t shy away from respectful disagreement. I have seen a number of comments over the years that have challenged your stance on one issue or another, but you have always dealt with it well by allowing it to be there, and by responding calmly.

  • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

    I really like step #5. I would love to see more of this in some cases.

    I’m a firm believer in actively moderating comments for the sake of creating more conversation, not less. If the bullies are allowed to have their way and comments without redemptive value are allowed to flourish, there are many would-be commenters who won’t feel comfortable chiming in. In addition, when I call out abusive comments, they’ve often backed off and changed their tune. It was awkward at first, but paid off in the long run.

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

      And when I say “moderating” I suppose I used the word imprecisely. I meant in the sense of calling out bullies. I don’t have to approve every comment on my blog. I only intervene when things take an inappropriate or combative turn. Sorry for the confusion!

  • http://mayfairya.blogspot.com Derek

    Not only is this true in the blog world but, it is ever more true in actual conversations. Especially in the work environment. I can’t help but think the healthy debate culture you have created on your blog carries over into your leadership style. I’ve have been in several meetings (I might or might not be a pastor) where the leadership has asked, “Any new agenda items?” Which actually means, “If you haven’t already told me about it and divulge it now, you will get shut down immediately.” Thanks for being willing to engage-not stifle! I’m sure your staff appreciates this.

  • http://www.LaurindaOnLeadership.com Laurinda

    I don’t get a lot of comments but everything you shared could be applied to all means of social media. Last night on Facebook, I was shocked at some of my “friends” posts & responses. I don’t tolerate arguing for the sake of arguing. I’ve unfriended and blocked people who do that.

    I agree with Paul, as bloggers we set the tone for the conversation. If we come off combative that’s the response we’ll get. I love your comment policy.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Laurinda. I agree that we set the tone as bloggers. (I wish I had included that in my post!)

  • sjbarkley

    For the most part your posts are providing valuable help and direction for people, not trying to strong arm opinion toward your point of view. People respect this and it helps create civil debate. That’s why yours is the only blog I follow. I was shocked at how much your filter has to weed out though. Glad you have this in place.

  • http://www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com Nikole Hahn

    I never thought about having a conversation policy on my blog. Only one person became a little snarky, but it evolved into meaningful conversation. If the blogger’s attitude is conversational then the comments tend to remain this way. There’s always an exception to that rule.

  • http://www.brianhinkley.com Brian Hinkley

    I agree with the comments that disagreeing is OK. I think though I would add not arguing unless that is the purpose of your blog. One thing I have always said is; I have never won anyone over to my point of view by them loosing an argument.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Excellent point. Thanks for sharing it. I am going to start using that!

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    Wow! I am surprised you get the much “spam”? Because my blog does not get hardly any comments, I do not use any spam blockers or anything… When I do get more comments and readers, I am sure I will have to get a spam blocker.

    Great post!

  • http://cashwithatrueconscience.com/rbblog Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Michael,

    I enjoy the graffiti analogy, so true.

    I never engage in a mean-spirited conversation. Some bloggers make the mistake of fighting against someone who is there for….a fight. Since force negates this practice rarely results in a happy ending. Other than that, you covered key pointers.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree. Engaging with trolls only encourages them!

  • Ralene

    Great advice! I’m looking to drive some more traffic to my blog in the new year and hope to have some great conversations. This year I haven’t been as actively participating in the discussions, but plan to change that. Thank you!

  • http://thatguykc.wordpress.com ThatGuyKC

    Very sound advice. Thank you for sharing.
    As an amateur blogger I’m always on the lookout for benchmark practices from professionals.

    Got some updates to make now. :)

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  • http://www.willeymac.wordpress.com William McPherson

    Hey Michael, thanks for the blog. Do you have a post that deals how to attract traffic to your blog; I would really appreciate any sort of help you could present. Thanks

  • http://www.rowentree.com April Rowen

    #4 is a great idea! (“Make your own comments stand out”) It’s true that your replies to comments are easy to find, but I never knew why until this post. Brilliant!

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    I don’t really mind snarky or belligerent comments on my blog, as they give me an opportunity to respond and come off exceptionally mature and witty by comparison. I consider it a challenge to deal with personal attacks in an sage and elegant manner, thus leaving the attacker in a lurch. (That said, my blog draws but a handful of visitors a day, only a fraction of them posts replies, and so far I haven’t had many particularly out-of-line comments. If I were flooded with comments whose sole substance consists in cursing me out, I may activate my moderation feature and consign some of them to the trash receptacle.)

    As to posting an official comment policy spelling out the rules, I don’t really see the point. Anybody intelligent enough to type a comment and hit Submit on someone else’s blog is probably intelligent enough to know that his or her comment will get zapped if the blogmaster is displeased with it for any reason, whether that reason is listed in the comment policy or not.

    Also, having spent a few decades on planet Earth and observed people’s behavior, I’ve noticed that many of them don’t act according to their own rules all the time. So if I see a warning telling me that such-and-such language or tone or whatever won’t be tolerated, I have no way to tell what will actually happen if I violate that rule until I actually violate it and see what happens. In the past, I posted comments that I was certain would get nuked but, to my great surprise, very welcomed instead. On the other hand, I’ve posted what I considered harmless comments in absolute accordance with the rules and found them magically disappear. Sometimes people just misunderstand stuff.

    So it’s very difficult to predict how a stranger (and most blogmasters I encounter online are strangers to me) will react to any of my comments, irrespective of whether I, myself, consider the comment to be in violation of or in compliance with that blogmaster’s rules.

    For instance, most comment policies contain some sort of a disclaimer that personal attacks won’t be tolerated, but what a person (especially a person I don’t know) considers a “personal attack” is all over the map.

    Moreover, there aren’t really any negative consequences to violating a blogger’s comment policy. Being “warned” is sort of pointless if the consequences of insubordination aren’t particularly threatening. Worst that can happen is that my comment will get zapped or I’ll get banned from commenting in the future. With hundreds of millions of blogs to choose from, it won’t be much skin off my back if a particular blogmaster slams the virtual door in my face for having violated a rule.

    And who’s going to bother to read a comment policy anyway? Trolls and folks whose main objective is to provoke and offend certainly don’t care what the rules are. So in a way, the rules are preaching to precisely those individuals who are least likely to break them anyway.

    And many webmasters probably copy & paste some formulaic comment policy from somewhere else, just because they feel having a comment policy looks “professional.”

    I don’t have the statistics in front of me, but I’d be surprised if in the history of the Internet even a single snarky or mean-spirited comment has ever been prevented by an official comment policy.

    And yes, I posted “Terms of Use” on my blog, too, but strictly for entertainment value. And you know how many clicks I’ve had on my “Terms of Use” link so far? Zero. It’s literally the only page on my website that NO ONE has ever visited.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      The rationale for having a comment policy is the same for having any law or set of regulations. You have people that are civil that will never refer to it. You have people that are uncivil that will never reference it. But it’s the folks in the middle that need to know what standards you expect. I have been moderating some kind of public forum for more than 10 years, and I find it very, very helpful. If you don’t, no problem. All I can report on is my experience.

      • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

        So you’re saying that you tried it both ways? You didn’t have a comment policy for a while, but as soon as you added one, the number of undesirable comments plummeted because now the people in the middle had an opportunity to familiarize themselves with your standards in advance?

        Here’s what you write in your policy:

        I reserve the right to delete your comments. This is my blog. I don’t have an obligation to publish your comments … if you post something that is, in my sole opinion, (a) snarky; (b) off-topic; (c) libelous, defamatory, abusive, harassing, threatening, profane, pornographic, offensive, false, misleading, …

        Boiled down to its essence, this translates to “If I don’t like your comment, I’ll delete it.” That, of course, is what everybody with an operational Delete function is apt to do on their own turf.

        Just as all you can do is report on your experience, all I can do is report on mine. And I’m as smart after having read your policy as I was before, because if I don’t know you personally (which I don’t), I have no way of knowing what you, in your sole opinion, find snarky, threatening, or offensive. (For instance, you may find my present rebuttal “snarky.”)

        Given that all the adjectives you listed are highly subjective, the only way to find out what you—or other blogmasters—find acceptable or not is to post my thoughts the way I think them, and then check back to see which ones remain on view and which ones vanish.

        Of course, if your comment policy works for you, that’s wonderful, and if you say it does, I believe you. It’s just that I can’t quite put my finger on the psychological mechanism by which a comment policy such as yours could possibly have a clarifying impact.

        • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          I think the psychological mechanism is this: When I added the comment policy, it gave notice that there are rules. Obviously, they are always suggestive to an extent, but it sets a tone. Second, it provides something to point back to when someone approaches the “edge” or goes over it.

          But if you don’t think you need it, fine. Blogging is an art, not a science. ;-)

          • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

            I certainly understand the CYA aspect of posting a comment policy. If somebody files a complaint about a comment having been zapped, one can always point to one’s policy to demonstrate that the defendant had broken the rules.

            Of course, an added disclaimer along the lines of your “or which otherwise violates or encourages others to violate my sense of decorum and civility” renders any policy so broad that becomes is effectively impossible for the defendant to make a case that he or she didn’t violate the rules if their author states otherwise.

            I’m trying to figure out how to determine if I need a comment policy or not. The thing is, I actually have one, but it’s a deliberately silly one. But since no one ever clicks on my very serious-looking “Terms of Use” link, no one knows that the text of my policy is just a joke.

            So could it be that the mere presence of the words “Terms of Use” sends a (perhaps subliminal) message to my would-be commentators brains telling them that there are rules here and automatically prompts them to keep their comments within the bounds of civility? Is this the reason why I haven’t had a comment decorum problem so far? Rather than the text of the policy itself, is it the mere suggestion that a policy exists that does the trick?

            Interesting thought. I may have to remove my “Terms of Use” link for a while in order to measure whether its absence will result in a statistically significant decline in comment civility.

  • http://www.hearthope.org Olga Griffin

    I love your blogs and have learned so much to assist me in my own ministry. I have not had the problem of negative comments, but would like to know if you have additional information on how to get people to make comments. I have several people who faithfully make comments, but the majority will tell me their thoughts on a particular blog in a personal conversation, but never post anything. Any suggestions?

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your kind words. Yes, I have written a post on this called, “7 Strategies for Increasing Your Blog Comments.” I hope this helps.

      • http://www.hearthope.org Olga Griffin

        Thank you for providing the information to me. I have just checked it out and will start to incorporate some of the ideas, such as ending with a question. I can also tell that you follow your own guidelines, by responding to the comments. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge.

  • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

    I think a big part of it is how you handle yourself and how you view yourself.
    You know it can get out of hand when you struggle with someone challenging your thoughts.

    For me I have to really step back and realize that my thoughts, ideas, and post are not 100% perfect or even correct. And that I can be wrong.

    But understanding that you do not have to always be right is a great start.

  • http://betterlifecoaching.wordpress.com/ Darren Poke

    Great post Michael,

    I must say that I’m very fortunate to have such nice commenters on my blog, so I’ve never had any problems (yet).

    I remember a post that you wrote a couple of months ago that discussed wrestling with pigs. You both get dirty and only the pigs like it. Great advice!

  • http://www.pastorbrett.com Brett

    Michael, could you share with us how we could copy your comment policy? I read the Creative Commons “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported” page and think I have a good understanding of it.

    Would something like this suffice…. “My Comment Policy is the same as that of one of my favorite bloggers, Michael Hyatt:” and then the policy with the same creative commons icon and url? Or is there another way we could do this?

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yep, that will work. Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/NowInANutshell @NowInANutshell

    I’d say that a guide question like the one you post at the end of your blog is totally helpful, and brilliant! It’s also a practical way of moderating comments on your blog without technically moderating it. This promotes relevant discussion, allowing readers to stay focused on the topic. Helps much in topic retention, and eventually learning the key point/s.

    Another thing is tosee where others are coming from. If there is no attempt to see things from another standpoint, a good conversation is missed.

  • http://www.lamourtrainingsystems.com Jimmy Lamour

    I also think that allowing yourself to make mistakes in front of your audience creates a safe environment to share. It also shows maturity, which will ensure a civil and thought provoking environment through the freedom of not being afraid to be wrong.

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  • http://www.kathyfannon.com Kathy Fannon

    I have no problem with disagreements as we aren’t all going to see things the same. (How boring would that be?) I love an honest debate between politicians and/or pundits and usuall walk away with respect for the one I disagree with. But the ‘trolls’ do irritate me and I’ve stopped reading in certain places (or stopped watching certain news shows) because of them.

    My blog is too little yet to have problems with commenters, but I did use your idea for a comment policy right away and I stay involved with the ones that do comment. (Who are usually my friends at this point!)

  • http://www.christopherscottblog.typepad.com/ Christopher Scott

    Healthy civil debate is very important. This is why I often don’t talk politics with people. Because they are so passionate about their view, they very rarely debate. They just tell! They tell their point of view and they don’t bother to listen or debate to someone else.

    For me, I have found it helpful to respond to every comment made on my blog. This helps promote civil debate as it can be an easy way for us to dialogue back and forth. I’m always positive, encouraging, and upbeat with my messages.

  • http://www.idoinspire.com Jody Urquhart

    I think that if someone complains openly about something than it should always be addressed. Some blogs ignore it and when you read the comments you wonder what happened and if the blog is genuine
    The comments are often more interesting than the blog because it is the conversation.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree. Some see a blog as another broadcast tool. It’s not. The real key is in the dialogue. Thanks.

  • http://www.jonathangaby.com/ Jonathan Gaby

    Frankly, Michael, I have only been blogging consistently for a week and a half and haven’t gotten many comments. Maybe my writing isn’t WOW? Anyway, How do I get more comments on my blog? I like the fact you have a comments policy and are up front with people when they post on your site.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I have an entire chapter on that in my book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. It’s chapter 52.

      • http://www.jonathangaby.com/ Jonathan Gaby

         Oh, I totally forgot to pull out that book and check for that topic!  I’m working systematically through it and have really reaped benefits from following your plan.  It’s amazing what happens when we follow the “book” isn’t it?  While I have the opportunity, Thank you for your book and for your blog. I think you have really helped re-shape my life to be more intentional in my development. Now, I’m off to read Chapter 52!

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          Excellent. I’m glad you have it. Thanks.

  • http://www.lawrencewilson.com/p/about-me.html Lawrence W. Wilson

    FYI regarding #4, the color option for moderators is available in classic Disqus but is not possible in Disqus 2012. However, there is a “moderator badge” that identifies moderator comments.

  • Stevey Thompson

    I like the idea of “discourse” as the mode for exchanging ideas. Etiquette and civility is always proper in a public forum area. Unfortunately, we do allow ourselves to be open to the vulnerable things that destroy freedom of speech and thought, i.e., those who wish to manipulate and control because of their own personal needs and not for any real concern for the issues in the forum.

  • http://www.natashametzler.com/ Natasha Metzler

    Great tips.

  • PastorDoyleB

    Absolutely enjoyed this article. Michael, you never cease to amaze me of your attention to every detail in creating a successful blog. Thank you for sharing.

  • http://BeltofTruth.com/ Stephen

    Hi Michael, I was wondering if you could share how you got the comment policy disclaimer box embedded into the comment area? I’ve exhausted my Google-Fu and can’t find any info anywhere. Thanks!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Stephen, I’m afraid that is part of my Get Noticed! Theme for WordPress. It is in private limited release now. (We have about 1,000 users.) We will be launching publicly in Q1 of 2014. Thanks.

      • http://BeltofTruth.com/ Stephen

        No problem. Thanks for the quick response.I will look forward to its release.

        I’ve been reading Platform for a few days now and can’t put it down. I think I’ve got more highlighter marks in this book than anything else I’ve read.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          Thanks, Stephen. I appreciate that.

  • Anne-Marie Gosser

    Michael Hyatt, may I use your Comments Policy on my own blog? (I may tweek them a wee bit but basically would like to use them mostly as is if it’s okay with you.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Yes, you may. Thanks.

  • Deborah H. Bateman

    Michael, thanks for sharing this post. I always find your posts to be civil no matter what subject you’re tackling. Some of the responsibility has to go back to the blogger, even though I do get some spam comments on my blog, which I delete.
    Have a blessed day,
    Deborah H. Bateman

  • Chris

    Hey Michael,

    Great tips, and very close to my thinking. 

    My opinion is that your blog is your house. Therefore, your rules. You can edit, delete and change comments as you see fit. This gives me confidence to encourage comments, and I’m in control. 

    I moderate only if it’s the first time someone has commented, then after that they can comment freely. Might change this approach as I receive more comments. 

    I use akismet and growmap anti spam, used together are awesome.

    If you are getting heated debate it probably means that your content is challenging and aggressive, which is a good thing when done well.

    I think responding to comments is crucial for keeping the conversation alive and it shows that you are listening and that you care. 

    Great stuff! 

    Chris. 

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