Scobleizer Zapping Comments


Times they are a changin'. Robert is now filtering comments on the Scobleizer.

Yes, I am approving every comment here. And I will delete any that don't add value to either my life or the lives of my readers.

Woman_with_sword Robert, I will defend your right to the death .. well perhaps virtual death .. to do anything you want with Scobleizer's blog comments.  However, I'm hoping that your corporate blog fans realize that completely sanitized comments - zapping off all negative comments - may harm rather than help a biz blog. People are talking about your brand (and if they are not ... well that's a post for a different day!). The good. The bad. The ugly. To borrow a few lyrics from Bonnie Raitt - 

People are talkin, talking 'bout people
I hear them whisper, you won't believe it

We can learn much from blogosphere conversations (Consumer Generated Media) from listening to raw custormers-talk (without the filter of a moderator). In addition, addressing concerns on your company blog provides a 'home court' advantage to tell your side of the story, perhaps with a vlog or podcast, show clients what you're made and how you handle customer concerns.

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I used to agree with you. For a variety of reasons I no longer do. Blog comments are used by competitors to wage war. That's not a good way to learn from customers any longer when that happens.

And, sorry, I used to kick people out of my store when they got abusive toward employees. That's just not good customer behavior either.

Posted by: Robert Scoble on Apr 16, 2006 3:45:17 AM

This is one of those occasions when I agree with both sides.

Toby- you're right. Having an honest and open conversation yields greater credibility. Sometimes it isn't even HOW you respond to criticism, but the mere fact that you DO respond to criticism- even if that criticism is a planted comment by a competitor (I've gotten plenty of them myself).

Robert- you're right. Thanks to blog popularity and the recent uptake of them by more and more companies, a bunch of people are using them to push agendas on competitor sites. I've been there too, so I can relate. I too, have had to tell the customer that they are, in fact, NOT always right. I have had to tell them that there business is not welcome and that my employees were ultimately more valuable to me- so I appreciate your defense of your people. Good for you!

In my very humble and pseudo professional opinion, allowing the negatives ultimately yields a greater positive by showing the "warts and all" side of things. Nobody is perfect- I think we can all agree on that much. I'm a big proponent of the idea of fighting the good fight, but sometimes you might lose the argument. That's fine too. Remember that great word we keep throwing around in the blogosphere; transparency. By standing up to your critics, win or lose, you look better for having stood your ground and shared your side of things.

That's my theory anyway and I'm sticking to it... today.

Posted by: Tim Jackson- Masiguy on Apr 16, 2006 10:41:18 AM

Tim, at the end of the day, though, I just didn't want to run Slashdot on my personal blog. It was mentally destroying me and I noticed that there were just some people who weren't there for a conversation, but were there simply to attack me and they were getting in the way of having conversations with the other 99.9%.

I figure if you want to simply attack me or the company I work for, just start your own blog and build your own audience on your own dime.

Posted by: Robert Scoble on Apr 16, 2006 10:50:53 AM

I'm more worried about "The Four Agreements" than the comment moderation. Although they are related. There aren't any easy answers that wrap problems up in pretty paper and a bow. If only.

Comment moderation as it stands today is flawed. The disruption to conversation and inherent distrust that readers are 'missing the whole story' make it so. As a technology evangelist, maybe Robert will push the envelope and get some smart folks working on making BETTER comment systems rather than having the "death penalty or set them free" system we have now.

All in all I'd err on the side of what Toby says here. But Toby and I don't get the kind of playground punches robert gets either.

Posted by: jeneane on Apr 16, 2006 11:31:01 AM

Thanks for the continuing this thread. How to manage comments is a concern .. no more of a fear .. for almost every "on-the fence" marketer that I've met.

Jeneane is right of course; the number of comments on Diva cannot compare to what Robert sees. However, most business blogs don't receive that many comments. It takes time to build, unless the topic/brand starts off with a base of passionate customers - a la GM.

If I found it frustrating that comments on the Scobelizer went far off track, I can't imagine what Robert felt when issues he wanted to discuss morphed into off topic rants. []

I've always believed that it was necessary to zap comments if they were not on topic, did more harm than good to the brand and were scummy or unprofessional e.g., spam, profanities, racial slurs, etc. However, on a corporate blog where one of the benefits of this medium is the ability to create conversations with customers/stakeholders, to only post what "feels good" is a loss of valuable feedback.

I would hope that biz blogs would not turn into another homogenized communication strategy. Seems to me that there is a middle ground.

Posted by: Toby on Apr 16, 2006 12:15:02 PM

I've seen Robert's "adding value" comment interpreted to mean "not critical" and "only happy", and I doubt that's what Robert has in mind (at least I hope not).

If a commenter doesn't have the skill and/or willingness to be critical without making it purely a mean-spirited personal attack (and it's like porn--we may not be able to define what that is, but we all know it when we see it), then not only are they not adding value, but they're removing value for everyone else... bringing down the signal to noise.

I absolutely agree with Robert's "living room" policy, and if I were invited to a dinner party at someone's house and people started attacking him that visciously and purely personally, I'd leave. On the other hand, if there was a vigorous debate--including the strongest of criticisms--for someone else's ideas, that adds value.

I agree with Robert that moderating comments and not posting the purely personal attacks is not censorship, any more than me tossing someone who's drunk, belligerent, and mean out of my dinner party would be.

I also don't believe the argument that moderating out the purely personal attacks leads only to sugary, sanitized, content-free commenting. There are plenty of examples of large-scale community sites which enforce a "no personal attacks" policy and manage to remain vibrant and full of debate, arguments, and criticism.

Is it stopping people from being "authentic" by stopping them from saying whatever they want? Yes, I suppose that's true. But I'm not sure why blogs should be all that different from other places where we have at least a few social constraints--most parties, classrooms, user groups, restaurants, concerts, meetings... while all those contexts might have *different* levels of social constraint, the point is that they have *some*, and if every place I visited had a 100% "no moderation" policy, this world would be a lot less enjoyable.

If someone's only point is to simply trash Robert as a person, perhaps they should learn what my daughter had learned at school by the age of 10--instead of attacking the person, figure out the specific behaviors of that person that you have a problem with, and criticize *those*. Those criticisms are productive and add value, but they require engaging the left side of the brain to help make a point.

I have to say I'm with Robert on this one (unless he starts doing what people have suggested -- keeping ONLY the happy comments, in which case I'll assume that he HAS lost his mind).

Posted by: Kathy Sierra on Apr 16, 2006 3:28:29 PM


I know many happy people who disagree with me often and vigorously. Heck, I'm married to one! :-)

I don't plan on deleting posts that make a good point and add value to the conversation.

But, the risk is that I will. If I do, it'll get pointed out on other blogs anyway and I'll make a mess. This world is way too connected for that not to happen.

That said, I plan on kicking people out of my family room if they consistently are negative, consistently make ad hominem attacks, and I'm biased against anonymous people cause I want to know where people are coming from. I'd rather have them start their own blog, if they think they need to attack me or Microsoft consistently.

Posted by: Robert Scoble on Apr 16, 2006 3:52:09 PM

I've not always agreed with Robert in the past, but he is 110% in the right here.

1) Jerks generally do not contribute substance. They detract from substance.

2) By slicing off the cancer from his blog, neither Robert nor Microsoft are losing any feedback of value. People can and should be direct, blunt, and critical without being assholes. When Microsoft screws up or needs a clue, you can damn well bet that at least a few non-jerks will step up to the plate.

3) Life is too short to put up with jerks. I'm not talking about people who cuss or blow up occasionally. I'm talking about folks who are -- simply by their nature online or otherwise -- just unredeemable jerks, plain and simple.

4) By setting a clear no-jerks policy, Robert is quite honestly elevating the level of discourse on his blog... and making it more informative and productive for his readers. The people who want to read a constant downpour of negativity aren't those Robert (or I, for that matter) hanging around the blogosphere anyway. They can go read and participate in fuckedgoogle with the other morons, for instance.

The only downside? The frustrating tedium of moderating. But I know it's worth it in the end.

Cheers, Robert. You did the right thing. Thank you!

Posted by: Adam on Apr 17, 2006 10:45:30 AM

I don't disagree with Robert at all, I just worry (as does Toby, I believe) that the trend will swing toward "moderation" or censorship. Robert, you're such an influencer that many folks will follow your example- right or wrong. I'm not implying that you are wrong because I understand your motives (besides, I'm a complete hack so it doesn't matter).

I think that a totally transparent conversation is better for me personally. I remove spam comments and anything that is racist, sexist or just plain "crass". Outside of that, everything else stands as it was posted. I have about one billionth the site traffic Robert does, so my butthead to nice-guy ratio is totally different. If I were to ever sniff the rarified air of the A-List, then maybe I would feel differently. For now, with my piddly traffic, I'm sticking with my current view on comments.

Posted by: Tim Jackson- Masiguy on Apr 18, 2006 12:40:54 AM

Jumping in late but I delete stuff from my blog now too... not from people who have legit complaints as those are service opportunities.

Rather, wingnuts from both sides have waged war on our blog and other (non-political) local blogs because somebody walked in one morning and we had Fox News on in the coffehouse (mind you, it's always the closed caption, no audio).

That's how low the level of discourse has sunk. I'm trying to educate folks on coffee, and some whack job wants to crucify me as a fascist because I had on channel 25 instead of channel 32.

But they don't read the posts about the Democratic event we hosted, nor the house we helped build in Nicaragua, nor the Katrina fundraisers... nope, they saw Fox News once and we're Satan.

Some people are really weird. And stupid. And the weird and stupid ones no longer get to comment.

Posted by: RichW on Apr 20, 2006 11:25:39 PM

Well, doesn't it all come down to - um - that old-fashioned thang, "common courtesy?" It's one thing to have spirited discourse, quite another to be rude, crude and insulting. I'm with Robert on this one. I'd kick 'em out of both my family room and my store.

Sure, we need freedom of speech but that's not the same thing as freedom of slime.

Posted by: Mary Schmidt on Apr 21, 2006 12:58:50 PM

Absolutely agree with you. Sleazy comments belong from whence they the garbage!

Posted by: Toby on Apr 21, 2006 9:32:07 PM

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