My Comment Policy

One of the most helpful blog posts I’ve read in awhile was yesterday on Michael Hyatt’s blog: 8 Blog Tips from Tim Ferriss. I’m going to try harder to put some of the tips into practice.

But it was tip #6 that really got me thinking and re-examining. “Practice zero tolerance for negative comments.”

I’ve always tried to make this a friendly, welcoming place for everyone. I’ve intentionally allowed, even encouraged, differing viewpoints. We don’t all see things the same way, and I’m very interested in other perspectives. In the vast majority of cases, my readers are a smart, kind and funny bunch, and your comments make this blog great!

Yet once in awhile the tone in which an opinion is expressed can be harsh, overly critical or even intended to wound. I always had trouble figuring out what to do with these comments, because I didn’t want to seem “intolerant” or unable to take criticism.

But this is my blog, right? So I’ve decided to set some ground rules for comments. And here they are:

  • Differing opinions are welcome and valued.
  • I expect all comments to be respectful of me (as your host) and of the other commenters. If you disagree with another commenter, please do it without being rude or your comment will be deleted.
  • I don’t mind criticism of me or agents in general, but please do so respectfully and in a constructive manner, or I will delete it.
  • Obviously I don’t say anything anonymously; if you have something important to say, perhaps you shouldn’t either. (But it’s your choice.)
  • I delete comments that use profanity.

So there it is… pretty simple.

Readers… what do think? Fair? Are there any other “rules” I should consider adding?

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Books & Such Literary Agency. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!

62 Comments

  1. Becca Chopra on October 26, 2010 at 11:53 AM

    >Aloha Rachelle,

    Thanks for creating this forum and for aiding those of us who want to snare new readers and polish our craft.

    namaste.

    Becca Chopra
    Author of The Chakra Diaries
    http://www.TheChakras.org



  2. Anonymous on November 19, 2009 at 7:55 PM

    >In regards to submissions, can you please elaborate on what you mean by "short fiction" and are you saying that you would not consider a 40,000+ novel?



  3. MisterChris on July 10, 2009 at 1:43 PM

    >Hey Rachelle,

    of course I think your rules are fair; you're the owner of the blog, and have the right to set groundrules. You've been very courteous.

    Groundrules are great because they let everyone know what to expect. In Awana one of the requirements is to play tictactoe with an opponent, but don't use any rules.

    The first player always wins, because he/she covers the board with x's. (Until player two breaks out the eraser etc…)

    I was going to suggest that you post your groundrules on your base page, and see that you've already done so. Cool beans.



  4. Laura Christianson on July 8, 2009 at 2:42 PM

    >I've banned only two commenters from my blog in five years for consistently publishing negative comments (before banning them, I e-mailed them privately several times and tried to reason with them, but to no avail).

    In my job as a business blog consultant, I always encourage bloggers to develop a comments policy. When visitors know your rules, they're more likely to play by them.

    Great policy, Rachelle. Simple and effective.

    Laura Christianson
    http://www.bloggingbistro.com
    Twitter: @bloggingbistro



  5. Nicole O'Dell on July 8, 2009 at 1:40 PM

    >It's a shame that people have to be told to behave kindly and respect each other…but such is life. Perfect guidelines!



  6. D.I. Telbat on July 8, 2009 at 11:43 AM

    >More than fair!



  7. Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write on July 8, 2009 at 9:21 AM

    >You're on this earth to help push people up the ladder of life not tear them down – That's my dad's mantra and I believe in it too.

    Your blog follows this positive practice but disrespectful comments do not. Anyone who can't abide by your blog rules, doesn't deserve to be commenting on it.



  8. Laurie on July 8, 2009 at 8:22 AM

    >Leaving rude comments on a blog like yours where the tone is friendly and helpful is like being disrespectful to someone in their own home. I simply can't imagine it, and I'm sorry that rules are even necessary.



  9. Ashley on July 7, 2009 at 4:09 PM

    >I totally agree with your guidelines. Very fair!



  10. careann on July 7, 2009 at 4:00 PM

    >If there are differing opinions to debate I think we need to accept that sometimes we'll have to agree to disagree because there may not be an amiable compromise.

    Guidelines are good and yours are perfectly reasonable. I've appreciated how your advice and replies are always tempered by your Christian faith and values. Thanks for all the time and energy you put into maintaining this blog as a constant source of information and education for us.

    Careann/Carol Garvin



  11. M. K. Clarke on July 7, 2009 at 3:53 PM

    >I agree: this venue is a place for support and solace — but, I'm usually known for a dissenting opinion, so I'll say it here.

    I'm with Timothy in the sense that, a you'd mentioned Rachelle that writers need to get a thicker skin, this goes for personal attacks, too. While I do NOT condone such flaming on your blog (as it's yours), I think that writers get their skins galvanized to hurtful criticisms as well as some personal attacks. No, they shouldn't happen here, but that doesn't mean when they do happen, they all shouldn't be censored. This, to me, just toughens me as a writer and as an individual.

    Curse-filled rants serve no purpose and are bomb-throwers, IMO. Also, too, are the psuedo-intellectual putdowns that are meant to talk down to you in a lofty, condescending way. I've had both happen. And I've handled it nicely. Not everyone's learned Miss Manners Rules as we all have. 🙂

    Forgive the analogy, but I liken this to a sperm meeting an egg. Out of 100 million sperm trying for the ovum Powerball, it's not greeted in a very welcoming environment. And it's the persistent sperm that wins this prize. The weaker, the sick or deformed sperm, or those of lesser intestinal fortitude sperm, well, will and do die. Some get caught off guard and veer into detours, intentional or unintentional. Others just quit swimming upstream. Point being, those personal attacks will come. Though you can control them being here, you can't control them much. And, you can always report those to Blogger, or delete them without an announcement they will be deleted. Just do it.

    What I'd suggest is, if you get them, make them the example in a post and have them back said attacks with facts. I wouldn't just "not put them here" because this is your blog, you want to keep it nice and because they're not nice. Sometimes, personal attacks have a grain of truth in the diatribe that might merit consideration once the ego and emo gets out the way. Conversely, others are just empty, nebulous spewings that serve better for a landfill rat's dinner than for a writer. Picking this out takes a keen eye and tons of patience. Only doing this craft every day do these traits manifest itself. My Granny always said "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all." Sometimes, the not-so-nice things that get said–and in times, in not-so-nice ways–are the best lessons we have to learn.

    Thanks for the bravery in this forum. I always come away from here learning something new.

    ~Missye



  12. tulafel applebuns on July 7, 2009 at 3:17 PM

    >I write a blog for a daily newspaper. Sometimes the topics are quite controversial and can spark some heated debate.

    I'm always amazed by the people who have the audacity to attack either me, the blogger, or other readers who have commented because they have expressed a contrary viewpoint.

    If you wouldn't say it to that person's face, you probably shouldn't be saying it in a blog comment.

    You're a brave soul, Rachelle. I love your blog.



  13. Gigi on July 7, 2009 at 3:02 PM

    >I like your rules. Your blog has very helpful advice for which I am thankful. Keep it up! As a new author I'm learning a great deal from your posts. It's all fair in how you decide to accept or delete a comment. It's your blog so go for it.



  14. Tara on July 7, 2009 at 2:01 PM

    >Great rules. Even though most people will understand that comments come from outside viewers, you don't want to discourage someone new to your blog by allowing comments which might make the person look at your blog negatively. It's obvious a friendly blog, and the new comment rules won't change that.



  15. CKHB on July 7, 2009 at 1:25 PM

    >Sounds reasonable to me, and I certainly hope I've never posted anything disrespectful!

    On my own blog I wouldn't delete for profanity, but I have no problem with those who do. I can't imagine cursing in a comment I was posting unless perhaps there were swearwords in the original post that got it all started… when in Rome…

    I prefer it when people don't post under "Anon" but that's mostly because I sometimes want to respond, and then I find myself saying something cumbersome like "to the Anon who posted at 2:43pm" and then everyone else has to scroll up to figure out what's going on, and it's all so needlessly convoluted.

    Until I got my blog up and running, I was "Carrie" and let's face it, that's almost exactly as anonymous as having no name. There are plenty of Carries out there. So, purely for discussion-identification purposes, I really prefer when people pick a name. Any name. "Anonymous#1" would work perfectly well.



  16. Lynnda - Passionate for the Glory of God on July 7, 2009 at 1:12 PM

    >Rachelle, your rules are the equivalent of "wipe your shoes before you come in the house" and "don't slam the door." These are things we should learn at home and practice everywhere we go.

    Without ever seeing these rules, most of us could probably have guessed that you would ascribe to this particular set of rules. You set the tone of your blog and the kindness and respect for people comes through with every post. I would not want to disappoint you by commenting any other way.

    Be blessed!

    Lynnda



  17. Dawn Kinzer on July 7, 2009 at 12:57 PM

    >I also agree with your rules.

    I moderate my blogs. Yet, when I first started, I felt almost an obligation to include all comments, whether they were negative or not. (I have yet to experience someone wanting to comment with profanity.)

    I didn't want to appear to be biased or not open to hearing other people's opinions. I thought it might inhibit people from expressing their thoughts.

    You removing comments from this blog has helped me realize that it's okay. We do have a right to control what we "share" with other readers – and that includes "unhelpful" comments.



  18. A J Hawke on July 7, 2009 at 12:49 PM

    >I think that you have an obligation to control the comments on your blog for the sake of your followers. Your followers have an obligation to you to leave comments in a civil manner. In our household we follow the rule:
    Mean what you say,
    Say what you mean,
    Just don't say it mean.

    As always thanks for easing our path to publication.

    A J
    AJHawke.blogspot.com



  19. lynnrush on July 7, 2009 at 12:28 PM

    >I saw Michael's post as well. Good one (as always.)

    Hey, I say go for it, Rachelle. I do that with my FaceBook account. There have been some heated discussions posted on my "wall" that got a little "mean" — Oh, and some naughty comments too…so out they went.

    So hey, go for it.



  20. Christopher Goodwine on July 7, 2009 at 12:08 PM

    >Sounds absolutely sensible and reasonable to me.

    In my ideal world, there are only two rules: Apply common sense and think before you act.

    See, I think those two cover all the bases, but for some reason many people have the hardest of times doing just those things.



  21. Anonymous on July 7, 2009 at 11:21 AM

    >Rachelle, we keep coming back not only for your wisdom and advice, but becasue you have a sincere desire to help writers. Your kindness and generosity of spirit shine through in all of your posts. Even when you're "snarky," you're nice–thanks!

    (See, we Anons can post positive comments.)



  22. Arabella on July 7, 2009 at 11:11 AM

    >It isn't an open forum, so I don't think you should have to add more rules. Deleting comments should always be at your discretion. Someday, I'm hoping that I'll have to moderate on my blog!



  23. Glynis on July 7, 2009 at 10:44 AM

    >As you say, it is your blog.I think fair and correct to lay out your rules.Thank you for having a comment space, and for allowing me to join in with your posts.



  24. Shen on July 7, 2009 at 10:41 AM

    >A blog with a following as large as yours definately needs some guidelines. I think the ones you put forth are completely fair.

    You might even include a disclaimer that any comment received is totally at your discretion. Otherwise you could be in a position in which you receive a comment that is borderline on your criteria, but that feels wrong or makes you uncomfortable. I'm quite sure you can handle constructive criticism, so if it makes you uncomfortable it probably is not constructive.

    In my blog, since my following is much smaller, I have kept and replied to all the comments posted. So far I haven't come across anything that was so over-the-top that I couldn't print it. There have been a couple that raised my anxiety level slightly, but I felt that a calm, reasonable response was sufficient to set the boundary I needed to set.

    Of course, if the person was to start an all-out argument that didn't seem to have a direct point or benefit, I would have no trouble deleting the comments, and even banning the person from my website.

    By the way, I love your site and your posts.



  25. Marsha Sigman on July 7, 2009 at 10:16 AM

    >I love your blog. It is very informative and a pleasure to read. You do not represent the genre that I write in and I have never been very religously inclined but I have to say this is the nicest blog site around. The rules seem more than fair.



  26. Jess on July 7, 2009 at 10:11 AM

    >Nope, sounds perfectly fair to me. I love reading comments with differing viewpoints, but nasty comments toward the blogger or anyone else just put me on edge.

    I haven't actually noticed too much of the 'nasty' on your blog, but it's good to have rules so you can officially apply the boot to those comments.



  27. Teri D. Smith on July 7, 2009 at 9:46 AM

    >It's your blog so you can post the rules, but they were all very reasonable not only for you, but for the readers. There's enough negative things in life that I don't think most of us who come here need to wade through more.

    Some blogs won't post comments until approved by the administrator. The only slight problem I see with that is if the administrator doesn't check back quickly, there's a day or so delay in the "conversation" which I think limits the overall traffic to the blog.

    Your ways seems best. Thanks for all the tips and advice you constantly give.



  28. Rose McCauley on July 7, 2009 at 9:36 AM

    >Sounds very Biblical to me. "Speak the truth in LOVE." Each day I pray for God to keep me from negativity because I have experienced how hurtful it can be, and I don't want to hurt others that way.



  29. Bryan on July 7, 2009 at 9:25 AM

    >very fair. It is your blog and you can do what you want to. Good call.



  30. JStantonChandler on July 7, 2009 at 9:21 AM

    >Excellent work, Rachelle. While we are all entitled to our own opinions, we are NOT entitled to attack others with those opinions. Mutual respect is important in all types of relationships, even those which are not "face to face". These rules are spot on!

    ~Jennifer



  31. Novice Writer Anonymous on July 7, 2009 at 9:18 AM

    >I think it's completely fair to post ground rules for commenting. And nothing in your rules discourages commenting so I don't see any problems.

    Novice Writer Anonymous

    Word verification: stick

    A normal one for once!



  32. Katie Ganshert on July 7, 2009 at 8:57 AM

    >I think it sounds like a wonderful idea. 🙂



  33. Amber Lynae on July 7, 2009 at 8:50 AM

    >I complete agree and respect your policy. A blog should be thought of as a persons home, or place of work. Do most people walk in and start saying rude things in these settings? Hopefully the answer is no. If there are people who are rude in the face of someone gracious enough to host them, then as far as I am concerned they can be uninvited.



  34. Livia on July 7, 2009 at 8:49 AM

    >I watched a similar lecture from him, and I like his living room analogy. Your blog is like your living room. People are welcome in, but they have to follow the house rules, or they'll get kicked out.



  35. amykiane on July 7, 2009 at 8:44 AM

    >these are very fair. his post made me think of posting my own even though my blog is pretty much a hobby and mommy blog.



  36. Jen on the Edge on July 7, 2009 at 8:39 AM

    >On my blogs, I am tolerant of opinions that differ from mine. In fact, it's refreshing to have an intelligent debate. What I will not tolerate, however, are personal attacks. Those get deleted immediately and I don't respond to them.



  37. Karla Carlson on July 7, 2009 at 8:30 AM

    >Those are great guidelines and easy to follow. I am all about expressing opinions but expect respect first. This is a great blog and I enjoy checking in to see what's new.



  38. 12stargazers on July 7, 2009 at 8:26 AM

    >Have you heard about troll whispering? It's a handy set of rules for dealing with problem commenters.
    http://www.boingboing.net/2008/03/27/boing-boings-moderat.html. Theresa Nielsen-Hayden's main blog is here http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/.

    I do know some blog owners that will remove/not approve anonymous posters on principle.



  39. Gwen Stewart--Singer-Scribe on July 7, 2009 at 8:19 AM

    >Very fair, Rachelle!

    I have posted anonymously, but not to hide behind insults. I post anonymously to express praise or when I'm speaking of sensitive information related to my writing. I know that many publishing professionals read your blog, and I wouldn't want to post that my book has gone to auction and we're probably going to take two million for it, thus discouraging the bidder who was going to offer three mil.

    What? I wasn't supposed to give that away?

    (heehee)



  40. Chatty Kelly on July 7, 2009 at 8:16 AM

    >Very nice. Differing opinions make the world go 'round, but polite debate and insulting attacks are two different things.

    Glad this is place where folks can come and learn and share without fear of attack.



  41. SM Blooding on July 7, 2009 at 8:08 AM

    >I love your blog. The comments yesterday were…entertaining to say the least. This is a great idea. I love to read differing opinions, but…sometimes find myself getting a little riled when people are rude. And then I'm rude and then…well, there's a slight down-hill effect there. *wince*



  42. Dee Yoder on July 7, 2009 at 8:05 AM

    >Yes–very fair!



  43. Anonymous on July 7, 2009 at 7:50 AM

    >Good idea, Rachelle! I'm a big fan of your blog but I post Anon cuz I have nothing to promote, but nothing to hide–I'm not a blogger or an author or a coward. I simply haven't signed onto a service. But I do have my ms. under consideration so want to keep my views private. Maybe we could be called "Guests" instead? Just a thought!



  44. Rachel on July 7, 2009 at 7:40 AM

    >Totally fair. I've noticed how you go out of your way to support the occasional dissenting commentator. This blog has a very warm vibe.



  45. Jeanette Levellie on July 7, 2009 at 7:35 AM

    >Rachelle:
    Yes, very fair and reasonable.
    When I taught high school history, I charged the students money if they put down another student or called them a name. The money went into the Xerox fund, but the point is, it cut down on tacky commments, and told the kids my class was a safe place.
    I appreciate your blog, similar to a classrooom, being a safe place.
    Thank you,
    Jen
    Audience of ONE



  46. A Musing Mom on July 7, 2009 at 7:33 AM

    >Funny, but your "rules" make this blog seem an even safer place. It does take me by surprise to be reading along and hit a hateful comment. Thanks for putting those rules in place.

    And I agree with Nicola, the "check out my blog/website" posts don't deserve to stay. I don't ever follow the links, but I'd rather not have to read such shameless self-promotion.



  47. Marla Taviano on July 7, 2009 at 7:32 AM

    >That stood out to me in Michael's post as well.

    I'm with you.

    I talked about faith and politics a couple weeks ago on my blog and specifically asked that comments be respectful. We had some VERY different views going on and everyone was courteous. It was awesome.



  48. Jessica on July 7, 2009 at 7:21 AM

    >Sounds fine to me. It's your blog. 🙂



  49. Scott on July 7, 2009 at 7:17 AM

    >Great posts and rules.

    I have to approve all comments that hit my blogs. So far, I haven't rejected a comment, though I did put a disclaimer up after one comment since those viewpoints were definitely not my own. I did the whole approval thing after a friend had a very bad experience with comments. My philosophy: better safe than sorry.

    My other philosophy: treat people the way you expect to be treated.

    Thanks again.

    Scott



  50. Richard Mabry on July 7, 2009 at 7:08 AM

    >Your patience thus far has been exemplary. The rules seem fair, and if more are needed, I have no question you'll be even-handed and Christian in their enforcement.



  51. Heather Long on July 7, 2009 at 7:00 AM

    >I think it's very fair. I practice the theory that if it would hurt my feelings for someone to say that to me, I don't say it. You can critique without being critical and cruel. You can be opinionated without being facetious, vacuous or bitchy. So cheers to you!~



  52. Aimee K. Maher on July 7, 2009 at 6:48 AM

    >I guess as much as the anonymous comments irritate me, once in awhile I understand it. Some come from published authors.

    I still think it's insane to have to worry about your reputation so much that you can't say what you think.



  53. Mariana on July 7, 2009 at 6:48 AM

    >Pretty fair, from my view. And I agree with Lisa (up here) that your blog is one of the most friendly there is, so please keep it going!



  54. Krista Phillips on July 7, 2009 at 6:47 AM

    >Totally fair and I completely agree. There's no need to be rude or mean and anyone who is deserves to have their comments deleted.



  55. Lisa Jordan on July 7, 2009 at 5:50 AM

    >Your blog=your rules!

    I get frustrated by bloggers who post comments that are scathing and attacking. Do they speak to people like this in real life? It's fine to have a different opinion, but how about using the manners your mother gave you in expressing that opinion.

    As for anonymous posts, some people feel freer writing retorts when they don't have to give their names. To me, they look cowardly. If they feel so strongly about what they have to say, why do they feel the need to hide?

    Rachelle, you have one of the friendliest and knowledgeable blogs in the industry, which is why I visit on a daily basis. Keep up what you're doing because you are a blessing to many readers!



  56. Jill on July 7, 2009 at 5:20 AM

    >Michael Hyatt's blog post made me do some thinking as well. Your rules ask for courtesy while still allowing room for people to disagree. I don't think that's too much to ask.



  57. Timothy Fish on July 7, 2009 at 5:10 AM

    >In the comment rules for my blog, I have two basic rules: 1. Be Nice, 2. Don't be mean spirited toward my guests.

    I am somewhat tolerant of personal attacks on me or my work, but I will not tolerate people using my site to attack other people. It is my option to shrug off personal attacks, but to allow my site to be platform from which someone attacks others would be no better than if I said the words myself.



  58. Sharon A. Lavy on July 7, 2009 at 5:04 AM

    >Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    I know writers need to develop a thicker skin. And we need to have tension in our stories, fights even.

    But on this blog where we come to learn, the negative bashing comments always made me feel I had been punched in the stomach. (I have a easily upset stomach anyway.)

    Once again. Thank you.



  59. Nicola Morgan on July 7, 2009 at 4:14 AM

    >I completely agree. You are generous with your time and a generous blogger does not deserve rudeness. I have one other "rule" – that any comment which seems as though the person is *only* using the comment space to promote themselves/blog/book rather than actually contributing to the conversation also gets the thumbs down from me. In other words, I don't like to be "used" and I don't like to see others be used.



  60. Laura Martone on July 7, 2009 at 1:42 AM

    >Excellent guidelines… I wish more blogs would follow such simple rules. As you say, it's fine to disagree with someone, but there's no need to be rude or insulting to get one's point across. And I'm personally tired of encountering "anonymous" negative comments – people who spew vitriol from the safety of their "anonymous" hiding places truly dismay me.

    So, thanks, Rachelle! I appreciate your effort to make this an even more supportive place for writers.



  61. Adam Heine on July 7, 2009 at 1:41 AM

    >Totally fair. Opinions are good. Personal attacks are not.

    It's like I tell my boys, "You can wrestle all you want, until you get mean."



  62. writer jim on July 7, 2009 at 1:15 AM

    >pretty simple, and fair: EXACTLY



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