Steve Groves asked today about the reasoning behind my practice of moderating comments. He follows Scoble's practice of leaving comments open and unmoderated. I've not left a comment on Scobleizer but I presume Bob also uses CAPTCHA (that tool that displays a graphic containing a few charatcers and requires you to enter them).
In contrast, when I set up a blog for a client, I turn off CAPTCHA and authentication but turn on moderation (comments must be approved by the blog owner before they are published. Here is my reasoning:
- Make it as easy as possible for people to leave comments.
- Make sure that negative, derogatory, or inappropriate comments never get published.
- Make sure comments are read by the blog owner in a timely manner.
One big reason for our blogs is to solicit feedback. We want that feedback. If someone is going to take the time and energy to respond to my blog and provide me with a pearl of wisdom, I want to make sure that there are as few barriers as possible. To me, authentication and CAPTCHA are barriers. By using them, we are making legitimate commenters jump through hoops. CAPTCHA sends the wrong message: "Blogger to Commenter: My convenience is more important than yours."
We do however, want to make sure that comments are approriate. If someone is going to leave a comment saying mean things about my wife - as has happened to Miriam Scoble - I don't want that post to ever be published. I accomplish that by moderating comments.
To accomplish the third goal, I configure the blog so the owner is notified of each comment. Otherwise, if someone leaves a comment to a post I wrote months ago, I might not notice. On top of that, most business owners have their hands full just running their businesses. They are likely to be too busy to periodically check for comments if they have to do it themselves. Email notification is a great way to make sure that comments get read.
I'm not saying that Bob Scoble does it the wrong way. Bob Scoble has a different problem: He gets hundreds (thousands?) of comments and it is just not humanly possible for him to review and approve each one. CAPTCHA allows him to filter out the SPAM. It does not, however, prevent inapropriate comments from being published, but Bob knows that and it's something he is willing to accept.