Comment Policy, Do You Need One?

After writing 2 posts about the Ajax Edit Comments WordPress plugin, and receiving an e-mail from a reader who was wondering why I was editing comments, I thought it was salient point in time to develop a comment policy for But where should I begin?

The first thing I did was read a bunch of articles about blog comment policies like:

Then I ‘perused’ (the literal sense of the word, look it up if you must) approximately a dozen comment policy examples like these:

Now before I get all wound up telling you how to write a comment policy of your own, the most important (and often least discussed) thing to note is that ‘Not all sites need a Comment Policy.’

Some major blog hosts like already have a comment policy built into their Terms of Service (paragraph #2 titled “Responsibility of Contributors”) which should serve as a guide for those blog owners and commenters. On the other hand, some little blogs are so small that it’s counterproductive to create a lengthy all-encompassing legal statement just to scare away the few potential commenters you might have.

Besides, does your Aunt Millie really need to agree to a 3 page legal contract before telling all the readers of your personal blog how small your weenus was when you were a baby? Perhaps, but that’s not the point. The fact of the matter is that most blogs will never encounter a situation where comment copyright or ownership is or will ever be an issue.

So where does stand on this issue? While I doubt anyone will post an acceptable Unified Field Theory or write the next great American novel in a comment on this site, there is a good chance that someone might provide a unique viewpoint or chunk of code that’s worthy of copyright protection. Since I don’t have the desire or resources needed to hire a lawyer to write an explicit legally binding policy and enforce it, I’ve chosen to take the less formal route and use a set of Comment Guidelines instead.

The guidelines probably aren’t legally binding but they do tell potential commenters what to expect and hopefully that’s enough to smooth out any potential problems before they occur. If you have any thoughts on my comment guidelines or comment policies in general feel free to… leave a comment.

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