Auditing My Blog Atmosphere

I am bit behind with Comment Challenge tasks (isn’t everyone?), but the last query had us thinking about how welcoming our blog is to visitors and how inviting it is for people to comment at our blog. I decided to go the video route again, using Seesmic, and talk through my reflective stance.
Meanwhile, the next task is to develop a comment policy for visitors. Michele Martin provides a pretty comprehensive piece for her blog. I don’t feel the need to go into such depth, although it was interesting to read hers.Here is a draft of what my Comment Policy might look like:

Welcome to my meandering mind!

This blog is a place where I explore writing and teaching and technology. But I don’t like to go on such a journey by myself and I want you to come along as a companion. Although I am doing the writing of posts, I am hoping you will feel comfortable enough to join the conversation and enrich my experience. Teaching can be an isolating experience, but it does not have to be.

If you feel the urge to join the discussions, you should search for the comment link at the bottom of each post. If you are the first, you will see the words: “no comments.” That means I’ve been waiting for you! (If others have posted comments, the link will indicate how many comments are there). This comment link will bring you to a comment box, where you will be asked to fill out some basic information (unless you are logged in as part of the Edublog Community and, therefore, are already known by my blog).

I do have the comment moderation switched on at this point. It is not intended to muffle your voice. Instead, it is intended to keep out unwanted Spam. But I am rethinking the use of moderation, so that may change in the future. For now, though, you should know that your comment will appear only after I approve it. A little note should indicate that your comment is being moderated when you submit it. Rest assured that I do check my blog regularly, so it won’t be a long wait.

I do not edit comments nor change comments. Your thoughts are your own and I respect that. And the voice of dissenters are as welcome as those in agreement, as long as we are all civil in our discussions.
Thank you for visiting and I hope you join the digital dialogue with me.

— Kevin

How does that sound? Any thoughts?

Peace (in policy),
Kevin

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25 Comments
  1. I wonder, am I the first here or will I join the others waiting in your moderating comments bin. I removed my moderating comments check and if there’s a problem I will put it back. I did follow Sue’s directions to have the first log in include some basic information and I’m thinking about removing the hold up for our upcoming SI. I would rather have them see each other’s comments immediately I just wish they could respond to the prompt and then to each other (hint, hint, edublog chiefs).

    I also like the video chats Kevin. I tired to join up with Sessmic. I even used your name but so far I haven’t gotten an invite. I’m waiting.

    I wonder about the blogging policy. Where will that be for visitors to read? Will they click to a page and read? I’m wondering if visitor just need a short instruction about where to comment as you wrote above?

    I think people are reading, getting comfortable and then taking the plunge. It helps if they are in a community already: Comments Challenge, Slicers, Boilers…I think? You?

    I like your invitation to comment, I’m wondering if I will create one.. I wonder how others feel?
    Bonnie

  2. Hey
    You are the first and only one, so far.
    😉

    Email me about the video component and we will see if we can get it going for you.

    The comment policy? If it makes sense, I will probably post it as a Page here at the blog, like an About Me sort of thing. That makes the most sense. I may have been a bit long-winded, but I could not stop myself, I guess. And yes, the communities you talk about that we have discovered are all supportive, wonderful places.

    Doesn’t it make you wonder what others are out there, just beyond the periphery?

    Kevin

  3. Kevin, I like your draft commenting policy; it is welcoming and it explains how to comment–crucial for newcomers. Your posts also invite conversation.

    I’m thinking about comment moderation with regards to my own blog. I’ve always had it so that the first time someone comments, that post is moderated, but after that they don’t get moderated. After reading <a href=”http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/TheEdublogger/~3/287948450/” on commenting I changed my settings so that there is absolutely no moderation at all. It’s making me nervous–not sure how long I’ll leave it like this.

  4. Wow, that is a really nice piece of writing. It is very inviting. I remember the first time I decided to respond to a post, I wasn’t sure what to do or if there was a “right” way to do it. If I felt inspired to respond to something you wrote, that would really make me feel welcome. The only thing that I would add would be the actual wording, such as, click on the words “leave a response” or “Comments”. When I clicked to a direct link to your blog the choice is “leave a response”. When I go directly to dogtrax.edublogs.org, you have to click on the word Comments. I wonder why there are two different sets of wordings?

    Nice job.

  5. Hi Kevin,

    I enjoy the wording of your comment policy, it’s very consistent with the tone of your blog and seems to encourage conversation. I find the term ‘comment policy’ problematic. A policy sounds like rules to me, and I don’t know if that’s the best title for it.

    You once again have shown the way recording your reflections by video, I love how you use your blog and your students to experiment and play with new forms, very refreshing. I don’t think you come across as a ‘know it all’, just as confident and willing to engage.

    Cheers,
    Nirvana

  6. Oh, and re: moderation, I have it set on my blog too, but that’s just because I want to see the comments before the whole world does, mostly to help/protect the commenters themselves. And I’ve never found a reason to say no to a comment!

  7. Ann, it must be my theme. I guess. Thanks for pointing that out. I will have to check it out. One thing that I did not do, and should have done, is to log out as an administrator and view my site as a visitor. I forget that this can be an important way to evaluate things, with fresh eyes.

    Thanks to all of you for your reactions. Glad I am not too much of a know-it-all, since I am mostly a wanna-know-it-all-but-know-I-don’t-know-it-all kind of person.

    🙂

    Claire, I will be interested to read your reflections on the changes you have instituted, re:moderation.

    Kevin

  8. You know, as I read through the comments above, I reconsidered the need for an “invitation” to stop by and leave something for the blog owner. I have to go back to the drawing board and I agree too that maybe it shouldn’t be a “policy”.
    Bonnie

  9. Hi Kevin–what a nice and inviting policy you’ve written. I agree with Nirvana that maybe “policy” isn’t the right word, although this morning I can’t seem to think of an alternative. 🙂

    RE: moderating comments. I turned off moderation last August during the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog challenge and, honestly, I’ve had minimal problems with comment spam. When some does get posted, I just delete it–maybe this happens once a week or so. It’s very manageable though and I think given that comment verification can be one more barrier to commenting, I’ve felt that the benefits outweigh the minor annoyances.

  10. Kevin, I see it more as a comment invitation than policy. I really like it, very inviting and informative.

    I moderate first time comments, and will continue to. Enough spam gets through, and as a business I don’t want it on my site for even a few minutes.

  11. I have to say I’ve never considered having a policy on commenting, and I guess I just figured having a comment form at the end of each post was enough of an invitation. However, after reading yours, I can see that it’s a very positive thing. It’s actually part invitation, part how-to, and part policy.

    I think I’d call it “About Comments” or something like that, so it incorporates everything you want to say. (I’m sure you’ll come up with something much more appealing!) Someone mentioned placement of the invitation/policy thingy, which made me think about your sidebar and realize that it’s not on every page. I wonder why “tom” decided the non-archive pages didn’t need navigation…poor non-archive pages. 🙁

    So, anyways, I think I’ll work a policy, too. (I don’t get a lot of comments, but then I don’t really post a lot, I suppose. Most of my feedback comes from teachers requesting copies of my literature quizzes and tests, and those are usually via my contact form or e-mail.) I keep thinking that this summer (since I’m not teaching summer school!!!), I’ll get all my materials online and get into the habit of more regular writing, heal myself and all…

  12. Good point about my Pages not showing up on individual posts. That makes it harder for an audience to find it, doesn’t it?
    What was tom thinking?
    I’ll be interested to read your comment ideas at your own blog.
    Thanks
    Kevin

  13. Hi, Kevin–
    I’m soooo behind in the comment challenge. I’ve been sitting here trying to think about a comment policy and not getting very far. Then I thought, ‘I’ll bet Kevin has something helpful on his site.’ and sure enough … I think I was thrown by the idea of a ‘policy.’ That doesn’t much feel like me. I’m still thinking about this, but your post and the comments here are definitely a help. Thanks!
    –Stacie

  14. Kevin,

    The tone of your Comment Page is really welcoming, friendly, just like your posts!

    Just like others, I haven’t considered a “comment policy” before as most of the times i think these policies are kind of too formal and not adequate to my space, which I want to make welcoming and informal. However, after seeing Michelle’s page yesterday, I decided to create one and I’m still working on it. It’s not so well-written as yours, but I’ll improve it.

    I decided to call it Your Voice for now, but had considered a page like “About Comments”. I think your voice would be more inviting for people to click there.

    As for comments, I never moderate them. I feel like the comment space is my reader’s space, so I just let them post. I’ve never had a problem with that. A spam, or other, but easily solved. Not a big deal. So, I prefer to leave it an open space for communication and sharing with no moderation on the way.

  15. I like that concept of “your voice,” Carla, and may come up with variation of it.
    It seems given that the moniker of “policy” hits many of us the wrong way, I think.
    Thanks for leaving comments
    Kevin

  16. Just found this great post from you Kevin. You’ve gone and turned ‘policy’ on its ear (which is where all such things belong) and set the tone for your guests’s contributions.

    Good stuff.
    PS Too late for Seesmic. I’m wearing the second-best pyjamas! 🙂

  17. Well, Hi there Kevin!

    I just heard about the comment challenge and was led to your blog by a (great) virtual colleague, Carla Arena.

    I thought I’d do my bit in the spirit of the comment challenge and leave a comment on a blog I’ve never commented on (or read ) before.

    I’d just like to say that I really like your comments policy. What a great, humanistic, encouraging way to draw your readers into interaction. I love it.

    If I decide to adapt a comments policy, I might (if you don’t mind) loosely base a comments policy for my blog around what you’ve written.

    Keep up the great work!

    Seth

  18. Thanks, Kate — no need to get out of your pajamas for blog comments, right?

    Greetings, Seth.
    It’s nice to have you here and feel free to adapt as much as you need.
    I am still mulling it all over myself.
    Take care
    Kevin

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  21. Claire, thanks! I think we should invest in phrased that are catchy and inviting visitors to click to see what’s out there! Have you come up with something to your blog?

  22. I like “Your Voice” too! And your screenshots are a great addition to the how-to.

    I thought of a comments “policy” title for my page, but it may be a little long for my sidebar: Invitation to Conversation. Of course, I haven’t yet begun writing anything for it. 😉

  23. @Carla, I agree with you about coming up with phrases or titles that catch the visitors’ eye and invite them in. I haven’t come up with a comment policy/page yet–procrastinating…

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