Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Using Comments & Blog Comment Guidelines

Tēnā koutou katoa – Greetings to you all
Comment Challenge Logo

I’ve been a Blogger in Middle-earth for just over a week now. Long enough to be touched by the friendliness and warm welcoming comments that came over the few posts I’ve had time to write.
My very first commenter, Kevin blew my socks off, for no sooner had I saved my first post when he gave me this wonderful comment:

"Hi And welcome to the new blog (it looks so shiny!) I found you from a comment at another blog and so the circle continues. How do you envision using this blog? (Or have you gotten that far?)"

Well, of course I had to tell him that the main thing I saw ahead of me was a whole lot of new learning. So true, for the very next day I started writing my second post for this blog.
And just the day after on the same humble post I got this from Andrea Hernandez:

"Hi Ken, where exactly is middle-earth? How wonderful that the comment challenge has inspired you to start blogging. I was reading the comment you left on my post about habits and change and thought, this is a blog post in itself! It is funny because when you commented the other day I tried to find your blog, but couldn't. Now I know why! I am a new blogger myself. I started my blog in January, and I believe that it has really propelled me forward as a learner/teacher/writer. Words are so powerful! I look forward to reading your thoughts on your shiny, brand-new blog. What is ka-kite?" from Florida USA

Ka kite is short for ka kite ano which is Māori for till we meet again.

Y’know, there’s something very exciting about comments coming out of the blue from cyberspace. It’s like going on a journey into the unknown and being greeted by fellow travellers who want to spend the time of day with you and share a bite to eat or tell a story.
What a boost it was also to get real positive feedback in these first few days. This from Diane Hammond:

“Good conversation happening here. Ken, I like your style of responding to commenters. I've seen other bloggers state their preference is to stay out of the conversation and let the commenters have the floor. I tend to follow your approach; I think interaction with the poster keeps the conversation flowing.”

To watch a conversation happening between two commenters on my post was something else. D
iane gave me some good tips in her comment and finished with a gem-piece of worthwhile advice about bloggin:

“I tell all my student bloggers that although language conventions still need to be followed, they should consider their posts and comments more as conversations than polished pieces of writing. Would you agree with that?”

On that same post my vulnerabilities were found wanting but were also confirmed as being common, if not normal, thank goodness in Michele Martin’s:

“Ken, you aren't alone in feeling vulnerable with commenting--that seems to be a pretty big theme that's emerging in the challenge, one that actually surprises me. Just about everyone involved is blogging, so they're accustomed to putting their thoughts online. I wonder why it feels different to post a comment vs. posting a blog post? Also makes you realize why kids are so reluctant to comment in class. . .”

These words of support were confirmed in Sue Waters’:

“Ken as Michele says majority of participants in the Challenge are reluctant commenters because of feeling vulnerable or feeling they have nothing to offer.”

And again from Kevin, who came back with words of encouragement:

“I hope you keep confident in your role as a commenter, and as a blogger. Your ideas are valuable for conversation and connection. Take care and thanks for being honest in your sharing.”

With these sort of flashes of bonne homme appearing on my shiny new blog, I decided yesterday to take up Michele’s Day 11 Challenge and put together my blog comment guidelines.
After all, I had this wondeful friendly atmosphere on my blog and I realised I had to maintain it.

I started by reading Michele’s advice and perused all the useful sites she gave links to on her post. Then I drafted out my thoughts for guidelines – not without difficulty.


I wanted guidelines that were succinct, not too detailed, so that the gist was covered in a page or so. I also thought that it should reflect the issues for me as one who was ethically responsible for the material displayed on my blog. But I didn’t want to put a damper on the general atmosphere of what I want to be a friendly blog site - not after I'd had a taste of how wonderful it was to have all these friendly visitors to my posts!

I decided I needed a disclaimer, which released me from any dispute over who was ultimately the decision maker, namely me - Michele more or less said so in her brief. It also had to be couched in such a way that the reasons for the guidelines being there in the first place were transparent and understood.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far. I'd love to learn what you think about My Blog Comment Guidelines.

( 3 ) ( 2 ) << - related posts

Ngā mihi nui – Best wishes

2 comments:

Michele Martin said...

Hi Ken--I like how you've combined two challenge activities into one--always an efficient way to participate in one of these challenges! :-)

I read through your comment policy, and overall I think it's very comprehensive. If I may, I wanted to offer a couple of suggestions.

You may want to consider changing to the first person (I) rather than writing it in the third person (the blog owner). I've found that the first person makes things more connected and friendly and that people tend to respond more because you sound like a person, rather than an organization. So if you were saying things like "my policy is. . . " and "I reserve the right to delete racist or sexist comments. . . " then I think people tend to respond better to that.

Related to this (and in some cases it might be the use of the third person), some of your policy sounded more "cop-like" to me, rather than inviting comments--for example, the part where you talk about deleting comments with personally identifiable information. It might help if you explain WHY that's your policy (why is that anyway--isn't it on the individual to decide if they want to include that kind of info?). I would just make sure that the tone of your policy is friendly, although firm in stating what you do/don't want to have happen on your blog.

Again, overall I think it's good--these are just a couple of thoughts.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Fair Cop Michele :-)

I have revised my Comment Policy, having considered your good advice. The policy first written was done in a bit of a rush. I spent little time thinking about the atmosphere for thinking about the intent. I hope I have sorted that now.

What do you think?

Ka kite ano