Jim's Marketing Blog

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Should bloggers delete comments that disagree with them?

I was prompted to write this post, after 2 people recently thanked me for publishing their blog comments. They assumed that as their comments disagreed with me, they would be deleted. I am hearing this more and more often, hence the reason I want to bring this out into the open.

Here’s the problem: It seems some well-known blogs refuse to publish comments, if they take an opposing view to the points made in the blog post. Unless a comment is neutral, complimentary or has an argument that can be easily shot down in flames, it’s banned from being published.

Removing critical blog comments

What amazed me, was that in each case these people say they had left comments that were not offensive, but were removed simply because they made a solid argument that was opposed to the view, expressed by the blogger. In my opinion, it shows a total lack of respect (and self-confidence) on the part of the blogger, if they refuse to allow anyone to disagree with them! I believe the blogger also loses a useful learning opportunity, as banning such comments eliminates the opportunity to scrutinize their point more thoroughly.

Note: Here’s how Mark Zuckerberg used criticism, to improve Facebook.

One of the benefits of a blog is that it is designed for communication, rather than broadcasting. Communication needs to be 2 way or multi-way, which means giving people the right to question you, as well as compliment you or agree. Blog comments allow that to happen, if we let them.

Blog comment policy

Now, I do have a commenting policy on this blog, which is designed to eliminate comment spam and stop people from using this site as a platform for abusing others. You can read it here and you are also very welcome to copy it and use it on your own blog too. However, I warmly welcome you to contribute to anything I write here, if you have something you want to share. That includes expressing a different point of view to mine (so long as we agree my point is always right, of course! ;) )

Yes, your blog is your own property and you can do whatever you want to with it. However, when you decide to ban people from expressing a different point of view from your own, the word soon gets around. Bloggers don’t need a reputation like that!

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Jim Connolly

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43 Comments

  1. I’m really glad you brought this topic up as it creates a serious problem.

    here’s what I mean – I’ve had numerous comments deleted form a famous marketing blog, because I pointed out several flaws in their logic.

    The problem this creates is that people read their posts and see no professional disagreement, then act on bad information.

    Thanks for giving us non bloggers a voice.

    • Hey Rob. You have just proven one of the key benefits from comments; when a commenter makes a great point which adds to the original post!

      I’m referring to: “people read their posts and see no professional disagreement, then act on bad information.”

      Very true and also extremely dangerous. Thanks for the feedback.

  2. Great piece! I had a bit of a discussion on this the other day with someone using social media for marketing around customer complaints. I made the point that they are for learning from and improving and if you show you do just that you will get more credit than less.

    • Hi Ali. Though that’s a slightly different subject, your point is solid. Customer complaints can be massively valuable, when used correctly. Sadly, too many organisations simply get defensive and lose out on a lot of valuable feedback.

  3. I totally disagree! :) If a blog show’s it’s true colours by deleting constructive debate it’s a good signal to stop reading that blog! Carry on deleting I say. If I read a blog I want interaction and controversy. Testing of opinion (mine and others’). The stronger the writer the longer the comment thread and the more disparate the opinions expressed. If the commenters are a bunch of sycophants bleating I’ll assume that anyone with an enquiring mind has long since stopped reading and follow their lead! Notwithstanding that everyone on your blog knows that everything you say is SO right of course! :)))

  4. Thanks for validating what I think to be true as well. I’d much rather have people tell me negative things directly (Yes, social channels are a way to do that), then say it in a place where I can’t see and react to it if necessary. I also appreciate that you’ve come up with “Terms of service”.

  5. Couldn’t agree more with your viewpoint, I think people get spam confused with a conflicting comment. They start out monitoring for spam and then just migrate in to deleting anything they just don’t want others to see without giving it a lot of thought. The other mindset I see is if the blogger doesn’t know how to respond to the comment they don’t want it to sit out there … I say grow a pair and be able to defend your view if it’s great enough to blog about.

    • I love this from your comment, Emily:
      “I say grow a pair and be able to defend your view if it’s great enough to blog about.”

      Hard to know what to add to that, other than “thank you” for sharing it here.

    • I think this is a really useful point from Emily: the balance between learning from comments made and having the conviction of your own views.

      If in doubt, I suggest better to assume the learning stance, that way you don’t miss an opportunity but if you strongly believe your view to be valid, don’t be too quick to fold. There is a tension that probably needs yout judgement on a case by case basis.

      • Good point, Glenn.

        I discovered many years ago that when someone says something you disagree with, you have (at least) 2 options:

        1. Respond with anger.
        2. Respond with education – (Look for the learning.)

  6. It is a sad state of affairs when a blog owner goes to the effort of writing a post but then deletes comments that would allow them to:

    A) Expand the post in the comments section.
    B) Explain things in greater detail (in case the commenter did not read thoroughly).
    C) Learn something from the comments.

    Sounds like they are scared of losing face as they can’t provide evidence to back up the topic they have written about.

  7. Jim

    Good topic. And some good feedback too – I’m all for people disagreeing with me and forcing me to reconsider my position. Either I reaffirm that position, or I discover a new position. Either way I learn and grow.

    By deleting comments that disagree with you you’re missing out on feedback, conversation, learning and all sorts of other good stuff. (In fact the stuff that makes blogging so important!).

    The only comments I delete are obvious spam comments – or rude and abusive comments (which I don’t get as everyone knows I cut my teeth being flamed by abusive American teengagers on YoUTube :) ). IF the comment adds to the conversation – irrespective of which side of the fence it falls – and provided it’s respectful, I publish it.

    I thought that was everyone’s stance. Sadly it’s not the case. Not only do those blogs lose readers this way, but they also lose opportunities to learn and grow. (Said opportunities are free as well – why, oh why would you do that?)

    Nonplussed about it all. Makes no sense of any sort.

    Paul

    • Hi Paul. Thanks for sharing your feedback and for being one of those, whose experiences inspired this post.

      Fortunately, it seems the same few well-known blogs have been accused over and over again. Hopefully, it’s a tiny minority.

  8. Paul O'Mahony (Cork)

    November 21, 2011 at 17:39

    Let me put a contrary view: I delete all comments with which I disagree. I do this because I think it is important that people find the truth on my blog. After all that’s why they read & value the blog.
    If I were to publish well-argued advice which wS in disagreement with me, I might lose readers, people might click on opposing links and my traffic might be damaged.
    Remember we’re all in this to make a decent living & my commercial & reputational interest must be protected.
    Anyway very few people really expect a variety of views & they certainly don’t trawl through blogs looking for idealists who deliberately cultivate diversity.
    Get real.

    I wanted to express that view fully so that I could appreciate why you published your excellent blogpost. At first I thought “you must be joking. Surely no one would be so transparently foolish to delete genuine comments that – as others have said – offer an opportunity to deeper the connection & enrich the publication.

    Thanks very much

    • Hey Paul. I have to admit, that’s not a viewpoint I have ever seen expressed previously by a marketing pro, so thanks for sharing it here. It’s certainly an extremely honest perspective.

  9. I actually wrote about this in December of last year because a blatantly deleted comments (mine and one other person’s) that didn’t support the article’s point of view. There was no cursing, no bigotry, no marketing or spamming. Just a difference in opinion. I had subscribed to the follow up emails which is how I confirmed that they had in fact deleted only those posts that they didn’t like. Authors of comments can’t even delete from their site, only ‘s staff.

    There was no system snafu and they even left my comment about being censored and responded with “…all comments are welcome on our site – please feel free to voice your opinion!” which allowed them to pretend to the rest of the world that they weren’t deleting comments.

    It prompted me to post on my personal blog post since I can control all of the content there. I also sent a message to but got no response.

    My opinion and general rule of thumb:
    Don’t delete comments from people who are adding value to the conversation even if you don’t totally agree with them.

    …Or don’t allow for comments at all.

    I try and give second chances and I do expect that occasionally something gets accidentally treated as spam but if they weren’t willing to take action to address their problem they lose my respect and devalue their product (information.)

    • Hi Hilary. That is a very similar story to what I have been hearing recently. I think you make the point really well at the end of your comment, where you say:

      “Don’t delete comments from people who are adding value to the conversation even if you don’t totally agree with them.”

      That’s a good place to start. Thanks for the feedback.

  10. Jim, I agree completely that you should have a commenting policy. A fair debate should be encouraged so long as everyone remains civil. I firmly believe that blogging is so popular now because the mainstream news media is now so idealistic and pretty much spouts their own views vs giving way to any balanced debate. My thought: folks are fed up with onesided views. Therefore, allowing opposing comments could keep things interesting. But Paul makes a great point as well… don’t harm yourself in the process if this is vital to your business. Guess it should depend on the individual blogger/business owner’s and their client’s needs.

    • Hi Rich. Thanks for the feedback. I agree with your fist point, but I fail to see any negative side, when allowing people to disagree with you or share their counter opinions.

      In my experience, if you know your subject and make a valid point, you will not look bad or lose anything, by allowing others to disagree with it. I’ve used that approach here and developed a daily readership of thousands, whilst attracting over 20,000 comments. It’s up to each blogger to do their own thing, but almost all the feedback so far suggests people hate being gagged, when they are respectful and simply want to share a point of view.

  11. I think that a blogger should only delete comments that are disrespectful. If a comment is just poking fun at the blogger instead of creating a valid argument about the blog, then the blogger should delete it. Also, if a comment is just totally unrelated to the discussion, the blogger may want to delete it, else respond they missed the point. Responding is the best way to go.

  12. QUICK FYI

    If you are one of the people who left a comment here, using an SEO term instead of your name, please read the comment policy. It’s linked to in the post and in bold, capital letters above the comment box.

    Thanks ;)

  13. I’ve gotten many comments that I haven’t agreed with, but I’ve left them up. I only remove blatant spam or offensive material.

    If it’s in poor taste or misinformed, I’ll sometimes add a note to the comment, which I clearly identify that I’ve left or I’ll respond to the comment to straighten the comment out.

    Other than that, I leave most everything alone.

  14. P.S. Are you aware your content has been stolen and reposted verbatim her:

    http://www.websitenotes.com/2011/11/21/should-you-delete-comments-on-your-site-that-disagree-with-you/

    Thought I’d point it out.

    Best,

    Grant

    • Hi Grant. Lots of sites use my content, this one does, at least, give me the credit at the bottom of the post. Each of my posts is immediately reused on around 30 sites, within minutes of publication, thanks to scraper software.

      I am happy for any site to use and of the thousands of posts I have written, so long as they don’t edit it, leave the links intact and they offer it to their readers free of charge.

      Thanks for the heads-up.

  15. That’s not right. People will not always agree with us and for as long as they are not being rude and is bringing something new to the table their comments should be heard. Instead of deleting the comment,a blogger should instead respond to it. Defend your statement or agree with the commentor’s point. To paraphrase Voltaire, “I may not agree with the words that you say but I will defend to the death your right of saying it.”

    • Your quote at the end of your comment is an important one, Reese: “I may not agree with the words that you say but I will defend to the death your right of saying it.”

      Wise words.

  16. Ouch! There is nothing more painful than seeing someone disagree strongly with something that you have carefully thought about, prepared, written and posted.

    But… as with all things in life you have to take the rough with the smooth.

    I feel that deleting comments that disagree with your post is childish and dishonest to the reader.

    I found the discussion above about how to respond to negative comments very useful too.

    Thanks guys!! x

  17. In certain cases I do delete negative comments. I have a few blogs (52 at the last count) and I have picked up the odd stalker here and there, and they have chased me across my sites (and other peoples) creating comments that look harmless on the surface but when the bigger picture is looked at they are really quite vicious. I always publish people who disagree, disagreeing doesn’t mean they are wrong.

    Another thing to consider is how you frame the comment. I saw one parent blogger angrily ranting about the negativity in her comments whenever she posted. Her posts where full of typos and spelling mistakes and the comments were advising her to correct them. She saw it as negativity, her fledgling community thought they were helping… she wasn’t at the stage to be helped in this way and the community didn’t realise how harsh they came across.

  18. If someone disagree on what we posted, it should not be deleted. Instead we should stress our point. Who knows? Maybe this negative comments from people may help us in anyway.

    • Hi Kim. You’re totally correct. We need people to challenge our thinking and open up the conversation.

      As someone commented earlier, there’s more than one truth. Thanks for the feedback.

  19. I agree 100% with the notion that only abusive comments/trolling/spam should be deleted.

    As a lot of my blogging is centred around my personal religious beliefs, I might be very tempted to cut out views that express a contrary view… however I have styled my blog as a “sanctuary” where all can come and share their views on what I say without fear of reprisal.

    Many years ago I defended a young blogger against some trolling on their site. I drew the offending commenter on to my own blog and faced similar trolling. I deleted all their expletive ridden abusive posts but when one came along that was aggressive but made a valid point, I kept it on there… told them why and responded to their point. It actually stopped them in their tracks and gave them something to think about.

    If you treat the people who comment on your blog posts (however disagreeable their views may be), with respect… you do find it is reciprocated in unexpected ways.

  20. Good stuff Jim.
    1. If everyone agrees with everything you’re saying, you’re probably not reaching enough people with your message, or;
    2. What you’re saying is probably not important enough for people to talk about, and;
    3. Deleting the opposing side of your argument is akin to ignoring other peoples opinion.

  21. Very interesting debate – my opinion? If you need to delete then perhaps the author is not as informed as they may have you believe. BTW I have only just discovered the blog will definitely be saving and revisiting regularly..

  22. great new lesson for me.

  23. The only comments I delete are those which are spam filled with links and/or unrelated nonsense posted for the sake of having a link back.

    Opinions, disagreements, other points of view can only positively contribute. At the end of the day, I may be wrong :)

  24. I have been a blogger for just over 4 years and maintain and operate 7+ blogs. I never would delete or ban a comment for any reason unless it was blatantly offensive, disrespectful or spam. Arguments and opposed point of views facilitate discussion and a blog is about discussion, if are just writing a story/article without any intention of facilitating communication then just disable comments altogether.

    That being said, respect and professionalism are necessary. I don’t ever approve hate speech or blatant disrespect on my blog sites. I have always appreciated when my readers pointed out either something I missed in my article or didn’t consider in making my points, it doesn’t happen often but when corrects or retractions are needed I am more than happy to update the post and cite the reader who cased me to correct or retract something.

    • Nicely put, Justin. That’s why I have a commenting policy. I like people to respect the readers, fellow commenters and me. If they do that, I’m happy for them to disagree with me.

      Thanks for the comment, sir.

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