Where Do You Draw the Line on User Comments?
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You know that letting your users comment on your site's content will encourage them to stick around and quite possibly increase your traffic. What you may not be aware of is that there are certain pitfalls in addition to benefits to user comments. You need to worry about more than spam when you add a commenting system and welcome words of wisdom from your site visitors.
To some Internet users, a little link that says “add your comment here” actually reads as “anything goes!” They feel as though they have carte blanch to carry on in any manner they see fit. Sometimes, that’s a great thing -- after all, you want people to feel open and honest and to share, or you wouldn’t have added a comment feature in the first place.
But at other times, a comment free-for-all can create serious problems. It can also seriously affect the way users look at your site. If you’re going to invite them to write, you’re going to have to consider every aspect of this type of user interaction. You’re going to have to ask yourself a question only a Web master can answer: where do you draw the line on user comments?
But wait. How hard can controlling comments really be? After all, you already know that spam (random advertisements for other sites, text that’s nothing but links, garbage you can’t really read) can be automatically deleted. When an actual user has something to say, why shouldn’t their words be showcased the same as anyone else?
Learn more about the good, the bad and the downright horrible that just may come up on your site when you open the door for user-created comments, and find out why you should establish a set of guidelines right now.
Has any link looked more fun, friendly or benign as the add-a-comment link? This little button often beckons to traffic in a siren song of sharing. Tell everyone what you think, it cries, we really need your opinion on this subject! Many Web writers find comments to be a mark of success: the more they have, the better their content. After all, it takes something pretty darned compelling to get the jaded Internet public to start sounding off and virtually shouting out…right?
Not true. Sometimes, traffic will comment on content and never once mention the subject matter of the content itself. Some users may choose to comment only to say they like or dislike a person, place or thing mentioned in the content. Not every user comment is going to be deep and meaningful. In fact, even hoping that every user comment will have anything to do with the content itself is going to be pushing it.
Remember, you’re inviting every single one of your users to add words at random and at will. Sometimes when they do so, the results range from wonderful…to disastrous.
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