I’m a strong believer that communications professionals (especially in PR and social media areas) have a responsibility to be somewhat liberal in their comment policies on blogs, networks, etc. Why? Because I don’t think you can really advocate for building conversations if you aren’t open to them yourself–even if they may get a bit heated.
NakedPR only now has an official comment policy, and I try to keep it open. Criticize as much as you want as long as you’re constructive, and if you want to post just to be a jackass, hey, that’s okay too–just take credit for your words. I’ve only banned one person from commenting on any of my blogs that I can think of (not this one), and that was for associating not only myself but many of that blog’s readers with the KKK because they didn’t agree with our views regarding pay issues of all things. It crossed a line. My lines are hard to cross. How about yours?
Do you think it’s okay to ban comments just because someone repeatedly questions you, disagrees with you, or points out what they believe to be flaws in your reasoning? At what point does open communication cross a line into the inappropriate? Are those lines different (or should they be) on a corporate blog? Is it okay for companies to reject negative comments and essentially “control” all aspects of the conversation?
What about links? Judy Gombita of PR Conversations recently asked on Ragan.com why comments didn’t allow a link to a person’s site or blog. I think that’s a good question, and Ragan isn’t the only guilty party – just a few weeks ago I was commenting on a larger media site with the same issues, and honestly I think it’s a problem.
To allow truly open conversations, I think it’s our responsibility to allow readers to decide who they trust and don’t trust. I should be able to click on a link if someone wants to leave one, where I can learn more about that person and determine whether their credentials make them someone I can believe in that subject matter or not. It’s one thing if everyone recognizes your name. That isn’t the case for most people, and not allowing them to demonstrate that they’re actually familiar with the industry or topic is almost akin to having them comment anonymously.
I’m less concerned with things like no-follow and do-follow links, as long as a link is available for actual visitors to click on (although that’s an interesting topic on its own).
How open are you with your comment policies and linking, and do you think communicators need to be held to higher standards on that front?