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October 9, 2015 | 26th Tishrei 5776

How to Guide the Conversation

To moderate or not to moderate?

Who is wise? The one who learns from all people. (Pirke Avot 4:1)

The conversation on your blog will take place within the "comments" section on each post. One of the first things to do is to craft a Comment Policy for your blog, indicating how you will handle these comments. This does not have to be written by a legal team, and can have a playful and gentle tone. Searching for "Blog Comment Policy" will find many interesting articles and blog posts on the subject, as well as comment policy samples.

A blog comment policy is also a statement of responsibility. By posting it, you are informing your readers of what you will allow on your blog, what you won't allow, and what they are allowed to do. This is a public covenant with your blog readership. It reminds everyone that they're all playing by the same rules. Comments are absolutely essential to a blog. Your blog will thrive on the interaction between writers and readers. The posts that you and your team write will establish the tone of the blog and create a culture of trust and welcome on your site. You want the comments section to do this as well.

Post your policy in an early blog post and then put a link to it on your front page. This will give you something to refer back to and a way to, from the outset, discourage inappropriate comments. Laying the ground rules early on removes all doubt of your expectations and assumptions. You may feel free to delete comments that don't apply to your blog, are spam, or deliberately try to undermine the purpose and scope of your blog (i.e. invite your readers to convert to Christianity).

Moderating your blog is important. While you don't want to make it difficult to comment on the blog, you also don't want to be afraid to maintain control of your own space. The blog is an extension of the physical plant of your congregation, and as such, you reserve the right to maintain decorum and gently guide the behavior into that which you feel is most appropriate. This is not, however, an invitation to censorship. The most interesting blog posts will generate differing opinions. Allowing respectful disagreement makes for a blog that people will want to visit!

Encouraging community means taking the chance that someone will say something that you don't like. Leave the door wide open and monitor carefully. You have the right to control content and comments on your blog, but you also have a responsibility to allow dialogue to grow and develop in order to create community.

Here is an example of a personal blog's Comment Policy:

This is my own blog. Please do not try to make it yours.That said, I LOVE comments. Please comment. Regularly. Often. All the time! Please! Please feel free to criticize. But please do it with kindness and with the spirit of constructivity. If you look at your comment and think it might be misconstrued -- rewrite it, please! If your comments don't reflect a PG rating, they will be edited or removed. I reserve the right to:

Edit comments for content, including removing comment signatures. (Don't worry, I'm not interested in playing grammar-police.)
Delete offensive comments and attacks, as well as out-of-line or rude comments.
Block offensive commenters
Delete spam and suspected spam.

-- This article by Rabbi Phyllis Sommer, 


Larry Kaufman

November 9, 2009
05:14 PM

Blog Comment Policy (by Larry Kaufman)

As an instinctive if not congenital liberal, my gut would lead me to totally un-moderated blogs, and I would still hope that a blog in my congregation would allow the widest possible expression of opinion. But especially using a program that allows anybody to read, I think the congregation should moderate to assure that the writers are in fact members of the community, that the language should be, as Rabbi Yoffie put it, suitable to be read from the bimah on Shabbat, and that no personal invective be allowed. I am opposed to moderation aimed at stifling dissent or criticism, but in favor of that which recognizes the specific responsibility of the synagogue as an institution to model appropriate Jewish behavior. In framing these comments, I thought about proposing that the blog policy call for signed comments only -- but recognized that as a roadblock to free expression. (It would also be hypocritical since I post comments on various blogs under noms de web.) But I do think that the member should be able to post anonymously, subject to the moderator verifying that the writer is eligible to post.


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