Commenting Guidelines for Students

The folks over at the 31-Day Comment Challenge ask us to consider what kind of commenting policy or suggestions we have for students when they use blogs. This is very important and when we start the year, we spent a bit of time talking as a class about the responsibilities of the person who is going to leave a comment and the respect they need to show to the writer.

Over out our Youth Radio site, Gail developed a nice set of guidelines for students who participate from around the world. We call this the Youth Radio Blog Netiquette (a term used elsewhere) and this is what we provide as guidelines:

Please do:
  1. Remember that the Internet is a public forum. Keep your communication appropriate.
  2. Discuss ideas and issues that concern you and your fellow students, especially as they connect to learning about the Youth Radio community.
  3. Back up your statements with examples, reasons, or other supportive evidence.
  4. Read through all the posts in a discussion thread before you respond to one (so you are not asking a question that has already been asked or repeating something that someone else has already posted).
Please do not:
  1. Post your full name or others’ last names, phone numbers, home addresses, or other personal information.

  2. Attack others. Agree or disagree with others’ ideas using reasons and examples to support your view.

  3. Use language that may be offensive to other users.

  4. Initiate divisive discussion topics (e.g., regional sports teams)

  5. Change font sizes and/or colors unless you are trying to emphasize a point. It’s the content of your message that counts, not the style.


Here are some suggestions on for creating good comments for each other. The richer the comments, the more likely it is that someone will answer you back. You can begin your comment by writing and explaining:

  • This made me think about…….
  • I wonder why…….
  • Your writing made me form an opinion about…….
  • This post is relevant because…….
  • Your writing made me think that we should…….
  • I wish I understood why…….
  • This is important because…….
  • Another thing to consider is…….
  • I can relate to this…….
  • This makes me think of…….
  • I discovered…….
  • I don’t understand…….
  • I was reminded that…….
  • I found myself wondering…….

(Much of this was adapted from Excellence and Imagination)

My friend, Paul Allison, and his colleagues in a social networking site called Youth Voices have also explored in great detail how to help students see comments in a productive light. You can view Paul’s guide to blogging at his Hypertextopia space, where he created a hyperlinked document for students.

Basically, they suggest a model for students and although they admit that some of the comments may come across initially as a cookie cutter, the template allows students to get a feel for commenting and then expand beyond that mode.

Dear Writer’s Name:

I <past tense verb showing emotion> your message, “<Exact Title>,” because… <add 2 or 3 sentences>

One sentence you wrote that stands out for me is: “<Quote from message.>” I think this is <adjective> because… <add 1 or 2 sentences>

Another sentence that I <past tense verb> was: “<Quote from message>.” This stood out for me because…

I do/don’t <adverb> agree with you that… One reason I say this is… Another reason I agree/disagree with you is…

Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next, because… add 2 or 3 sentences explaining what will bring you back to see more about this person’s thoughts.

Peace (in comments),

One Comment
  1. Kevin:
    I find it so helpful to give students clear and concise guidelines on any project. I had seen something similar to (or perhaps it actually was) the Youth Radio site guidelines. I hadn’t run into the example laid out by Paul Allison. Thanks for posting this, I know it will come in handy in the coming school year.

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