When I started this blog way back in May of 2011, I had a lot of decisions to make. What would it be about? How often would I post? What would the blog look like? You know the drill, you’ve been there (most of you, anyway).
One of the easiest sets of decisions I made was how to handle comments. Embedded, because I like that more than pop-up. Word verification? Off. That was a no-brainer. Captcha is a barrier to participation, one that often drives me crazy when I encounter it on other blogs, so it was definitely going to be off. Besides, I didn’t expect to actually need Captcha. With no followers, no history, no readership, what bots were going to come to my blog? Ditto for comment moderation. As a user, it’s nice to see what other people have said before me, and to sometimes respond to them as well as the actual post. It feels more like a conversation, and I like that. And as a new blogger, I didn’t want to have to work that hard (again, should anyone actually come by to comment).
There was only one aspect of comment management that bothered me: Anonymous comments. Yes or No? Hmm.
|Who wouldn’t want him visiting their blog?|
I’ve been around the web neighborhood enough to know that things can get touchy in the comments section of blogs, and people may not always be comfortable posting with their normal ID. On the other hand, I could argue that you should be willing to stand behind your words; if you’re not, maybe you shouldn’t be posting them for the world (or my small corner of it) to see. In the end, I decided to allow it. There are legitimate reasons for not posting under your own name, and I want to foster discussion and conversation. “Let’s see how it goes,” I told myself when I enabled Anonymous commenting. “If it’s a problem, I can change it.”
It wasn’t a problem. In two years I received no anonymous comments, and I was fine with that. We’re civil folks here, and even when we do touch on controversy, it stays pretty cool. No one does anonymous drive-bys or snarking, and that’s good. Lately, though, straange things have been happening. Last month I received my first anonymous comment (or at least, the first I remember).This month has seen a deluge.
You don’t see them. The funny thing is, I didn’t, either. The first one arrived in my e-mail last month, a necro comment (i.e., on a very old post). It said:
It’s really a great and useful piece of information. I’m glad that you simply shared this useful information with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.
The comment also had a ‘visit my blog’ with an address linked in. But the bigger mystery was, where was the comment? I couldn’t respond directly, because it was a ‘noreply’ comment. So I went to the post to see if I could reply there, and…it wasn’t there. There was no comment. Over the next couple of weeks, I got more of these comments, some on old posts, some on new. All of them were flattering, all of them had links, all of them were ‘noreply.’ None of them turned up in the actual posts they were commenting on, and I was mystified. Until I discovered Blogger’s little secret: anonymous comments are moderated.
They don’t tell you this, as far as I can tell. I found it by accident while trying to figure out what was happening with these anonymous comments. And then I found it, under settings>comments>spam. The anonymous comments sat there, waiting for me to approve or delete. Who knew?
It wasn’t the last anonymous comment. Since the beginning of August I’ve received 7 more anonymous comments, and many of them are like the one above: vague, yet flattering, with a link to a site that I will not go to, because…well, just because.
I’m not quite ready to zorch anonymous commenting. I do believe, as stated above, there are valid reasons for putting your thoughts out there without a name. However, I will continue to moderate, and if I see no real relevance to your comment, it will not make it through. In the event that any of you anonymous posters are reading this and are offended by my policy, I’m sorry. I do not wish to offend and I do not wish to exclude, but those comments look like thinly-veiled attempts at driving folks to a website that may or may not be legitimate, and I’m not about that. That is all.
Photo by Laser Burners