Valuing Comments and Their Authors

  For the most part, comments have been a value-add on this site. There have only been a handful of commenters that I've had to block - using Disqus and Akismet has helped me limit the more obvious spam.

The other day, a comment was left here that I have been thinking about. I ultimately blocked it due to the language used by the commenter (the comment argued some of my thoughts, but the words used were unacceptable).

I've long-felt the right strategy to monetize a media site is to provide the content for free with a premium (for-pay) discussion / community area. This would accomplish a few things:

  • Validate content. Users who pay to discuss topics make the site / content legitimate.
  • Limit spam. Users would only be able to comment if they subscribe to / purchase the premium service. (Known users would likely spam less.)
  • Ensure productivity. Sites who create "community paywalls" will be focused less on administering the site and more on creating value for their community.

After running this site for a few years, I can certainly appreciate the challenges with this approach. Still, I think it's the right, long-term strategy for any community looking to make money from their site.

The biggest challenge I've seen with this approach is around the subjectivity of accepting comments. Even with a commenting / interactive guideline, there are some reactions that would be seen as unacceptable - how do you manage the discussion without limiting the voice of your community?

Back to the spammed comments here. In general, I let all thoughts and contributions flow through. That's part of the fun and enjoyment of putting a site / content together.

Those visitors who use comments as a means to personally attack others, though, are removed as quickly as possible. Yes, this can be subjective. However, it's how I'd treat any 'real-life' conversation.