And if you’re like most nonprofits, you’ve probably already had a few discussions on this very topic.
What is a comments policy?
A comments policy (or community guidelines) is a set of rules and expectations your readers can follow when commenting. A good comments policy should accomplish the following goals:
- Encourage the reader to comment, debate and even disagree
- Convey a sense that all voices are heard, valued and equal members of the blog community
- Outline comment ownership and liability
- State rules for how links will be treated
- Define what would be considered disrespectful
- Define what would be considered spam
- Set expectations for comments that will be edited or deleted
How to write a comments policy
- Discuss – The first step in writing a comments policy is to discuss the above goals with relevant stakeholders. Do it in person, face to face, where possible.
- Listen to concerns – Understand that some folks in your organization will fear the transparency of a blog, and will come up with all sorts of scary commenting scenarios. Don’t dismiss these concerns. Instead, acknowledge and discuss their fears openly. Often, just talking with them openly about their concerns will make them feel better.
- Be positive – Focus on creating an overall positive tone in the policy. And avoid legal jargon (remember, you want comments).
- Reflect your culture – Finally, write a policy that reflects the culture of the blog and its community. Leslie White, a nonprofit consultant in Pennsylvania, shared a comments policy she wrote for a client adding “a little legalese but it fit their culture.”
- Keep it short – A comments policy will change and grow along with your blog. Start simple (like the Red Cross example below) and then season to taste.
What are some good examples of comment policies?
Check out these examples:
- Red Cross’ comment policy (in post)
- United Way’s comment policy
- Chris Garrett’s policy
- Grant Griffiths’ comment policy
- Danny Brown’s comment policy
Does your nonprofit have a comments policy?
Cross-posted at JohnHaydon.com.John Haydon delivers social web strategy solutions for “the quick, the smart, and the slightly manic.” Curious? Then visit the John Haydon blog, follow him on Twitter or leave a comment.
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