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Never attribute to maliciousness what can instead be attributed to softwre, or, Anyone who googles himself deserves what he finds

I encountered this. It writes, of our blog and Econlog:

Comments require pre-approval. Here’s where the bullshit really starts. I only understand this if there’s a clear policy that it’s to reduce liability and to prevent posting of illegal, defamatory, or commercially exploitive materials. I don’t see such an explicit policy with these blogs. So the feeling is that any comment posted has to also meet the threshhold in being something the blog owner is comfortable with. Yuck.

Actually, we require pre-approval because we sometimes we get tons of spam. Going in and approving comments once a day (or more frequently if I feel like having more distractions) seemed better than going in and deleting spam once a day. But, I don’t know, maybe this other approach is better. There was a time when we were getting dozens of spam per day but now we only get something a couple of spam comments per day that slip through the filter.


  1. Jeremiah says:

    Vote with your feet. Don't read anyone that doesn't have a comment style that you don't like.

    I once new a comic site that did a fairly good job of creating a blog style of discussion from a post linked to each comic; however, if you posted in a way contrary to the original authors opinion about the topic your post was subject to deletion. It became clear that he was being successful by cultivating an audience of like minded people. If you arn't down with that? Don't go there!

    I just post that as an example of something even more extreme than have no comments allowed: having comments and then carefully cultivating them for agreement.

    Hence my advice.

    Personally I think a blogger that doesn't allow comments is to self-indulgent to waste your time on. But at the same time why get upset about it?

  2. jsalvati says:

    Can't you set it up so that you have to approve comments by anyone who hasn't had an approved comment before? That seems like the best policy to me. I know wordpress can do it.

  3. Jon Peltier says:

    I moderate comments on my blog. I do this mostly so that if someone notices an error or asks a question, I can address it more directly. I am not running a forum. I am merely trying to maintain a sense of order. I have on occasion edited a comment for spelling or grammar, but I don't delete comments because someone disagrees with me or points out an error I've made. Any of us can learn from any others.

  4. Ben says:

    I don't understand the claim that you are somehow obliged to let every poorly socialized idiot who happens to stumble by leave whatever comment they want on your blog. It's your blog and you can moderate your comments however you want. Unmoderated comments often devolve into banality anyway, so moderating only shows respect for your audience's time. A would-be commenter who has something useful to contribute will likely have their own blog, or can start one in 2 minutes – although as HA demonstrates, even having a blog doesn't guarantee having anything worthwhile to say.

  5. Bob O'H says:

    Can you install Captcha to filter the spam?

  6. Ubs says:

    I'm all in favor of restricting comments. On high-traffic blogs where comments are unrestricted, any good comments there may be are drowned out by the swarms of rude, repetitive, irrelevant, or just plain illiterate comments from compulsive commenters who just enjoy shouting at each other.

    Seriously, when you read an article from some mainstream newspaper's website and there are 115 comments, do you even attempt to look at them? Does anyone?

    That said, I agree there is great value in cultivating a community of readers who don't necessarily agree with you. But that's an argument toward a liberal approval policy, not for not restricting comments at all.

  7. ZBicyclist says:


  8. ZBicyclist says:

    Andrew, your actual policy differs from your stated policy. The stated policy when you post a comment is:

    "Your comment has been received. To protect against malicious comments, I have enabled a feature that allows your comments to be held for approval the FIRST TIME you post a comment. I'll approve your comment when convenient; there is no need to re-post your comment." [emphasis added]

    It's your blog, so do what you want, but you might want to make sure this statement is consistent with your policy.

    Your current policy of reviewing all entries means you are more likely to read comments, which is nice and means you are more likely to comment on the comments. This is of considerable value considering the statistical nature of the blog and your willingness to share your own expertise.

    Your stated policy (approved first time comments, not all comments) also has advantages — comments appear faster, promoting more cross-communication.

  9. LemmusLemmus says:

    I think jsalvati's is an excellent idea – if it's technically possible. I comment on a somewhat regular basis on at least three blogs that require pre-approval, and I can't remember a case of the comment not being shown because I disagreed with the author. Someone who wouldn't approve a comment because of that would probably be too boring to read anyway.

  10. Andrew says:

    Thanks for all the suggestions. I just use the default option. The "Your comment has been received…" statement is just something from Movable Type. It's really all about spam, not in practice about maliciousness.