A few weeks ago, I presented a workshop at the Bay Area Video Coalition Nonprofit Institution. One of the participants was an organization named GroundSpark which has a project called "Respect for All," that facilitates the development of inclusive, bias-free schools and communities by providing media resources, support and training to youth, educators and service providers.
For example, they have a film called "That's A Family" takes a look at family diversity. (I am no stranger to family diversity having adopted two children and being of different cultures and races.) The film helps kids see and understand that families can different shapes today. (They were kind enough to send me a copy)
The nonprofits in this workshop, for the most part, deliver programs and services that address sensitive topics. So, when we talk about social media and being open and embracing the conversation, one of the most comment questions that comes up is:
To what extent do you need to moderate the discussion in a socnet space or blog so it isn't antithetical to your mission?
The are several answers to this question. If your nonprofit is using a blog and the subject matter isn't sensitive or you don't feel you need to "control" your messaging, it depends on the type of community you want to create. You moderate comments or leave it open. Most blogging software can accommodate whatever you decide. And, it will usually take a way to build up to a point where it more efficient to moderate than leave open and delete.
I'm not referring to comment spam, either. That's a different issue and you definitely need to use a spam filter. Again, your blogging platform will have this feature.
What I'm talking about deliberately are hateful comments by trolls that might happen if sensitive subject matter being discussed. This requires carefully thinking about comment moderation techniques and part of this includes articulating a clear policy about use of moderation.
This morning I left a comment on the Harvard Business School's Conversation Starter blog and noticed this response message about their comment moderation policy right after I commented. While I initially liked that they told me right at the time that I made the comment, I wondered if editing someone's comments and then posting could lead to any legal trouble.
If your nonprofit organization has a blog, do you moderate the comments? Why or why not? What does your comment moderation policy look like? What does your comment moderation work flow look like?
Related Articles selected by Beth
James Joyner, Outside the Beltway, Enforcing Civility in Blog Comments
Ross Douthat, Atlantic, Comment Moderation Policy Announcement
Guy Kawasaki, Why Blog: An Interview with Darren Rowse (covers two questions on comment moderation)
Wired Journalists Ning Site, What's Your Policy on Moderating and Editing Comments? by Ken Fischer