I haven’t talked specifically about the comment policy on my blog for a while. At a recent conference, lots of people said that they really enjoyed reading my blog, but several people complained about off-topic comments that interrupted the flow of the conversation. I plan to keep adjusting things until I find the right balance between free-wheeling discussion vs. comments that don’t add to the discussion. Here’s my current line of thinking:
– I hope to do the occasional “grab bag” post where people can throw out questions or comments about miscellaneous topics. Off-topic comments in other threads may be pruned. If I post about a laser pointer and you ask about a PageRank update, you’re probably outta there. Save it for the grab bag.
– One-line or “me too” comments rarely add much to the conversation, and I often prune them unless they’re frickin’ hilarious.
– I pre-moderate comments, and sometimes I’m traveling/busy. Please don’t double-post, ask when a comment will show up, or accuse me of oppressing you if your comment doesn’t immediately appear.
– For some reason, I hate signature links. Hate them. Your odds of getting a comment approved are much slimmer if you drop a sig in the body of the comment.
I have a limited amount of time to blog, so going forward I won’t be able to answer site-specific questions or requests. If I answer one question about a site, that just encourages more people to post with questions about their site. Those types of posts are rarely of interest to most other readers. That includes “Matt, I think I have a great business and/or patent idea; will you please call me?” posts. Since I started this blog, the comment-to-post ratio is over 50 comments to every one of my posts. I’m grateful for that interest, but there’s no way I can respond to every comment. The best way for me to spend my time is to talk about topics that are of wide interest. I’m sorry that I can’t give feedback on particular sites. Going forward, I won’t moderate questions/comments about individual sites to be visible to everyone; I hope it makes sense why not. Your best bet is to ask questions that generally applicable to a lot of people.
I want to help people, and I also want to enjoy doing this blog. I think these guidelines will increase the signal-to-noise of comments and make the blog more useful and interesting. If these guidelines don’t work out well, we’ll adjust things again. Thanks!
Update: If you do have a concern that’s specific to your site or you want to discuss Webmaster issues that aren’t relevant to a particular topic on my blog, you might want to check out Google’s Webmaster Help group. A lot of helpful people (including some Googlers) are regularly reading and posting there and you’re actually encouraged to give specific examples and include a link to your site.
I would recommend putting your site name in your profile as well. Don’t expect that Googlers will chime in on every thread (the idea is partly to give webmasters a chance to share insights and tips), but the community of users there is often very helpful.
Update, 7/20/2007: It should go without saying, but I also reserve the right to prune comments or delete all comments by someone that is being insulting, lowering the quality of the discourse, or otherwise being a jerk. I reserve the right to delete comments for any reason, but I try to allow on-topic, constructive comments.