Pub Rants

Dirty Word: Comment Moderation

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STATUS: I have a lot that needs to get done today. Doing a phone conference in 5 minutes and I’m in the middle of negotiating a deal.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? ROAD by George Winston

This morning I have to say that I’m a little annoyed. I’ve been blogging since 2006. I certainly wasn’t the first agent to start this process (waves to Jennifer Jackson and Miss Snark) but I certainly was early into this game.

And for the most part, I love it. I love being able to rant when I want to and I love how sometimes my blog topics spark an interesting discussion in the comments section. I prefer open forums. Freedom of speech, etc. But for the past 2 months, I’ve contemplated turning on the moderating comments function again because there have been several posters (about 3 of them) who seem to have a personal agenda and regardless of what my specific blog entry is about, these comments hijack the comment section to turn the conversation around to their specific viewpoint on publishing or to highlight, once again, their personal taste regarding what they think is worth publishing and what is not.

Now this certainly isn’t a crime. Everyone is entitled to their own personal opinion but I’m finding that these constant hijacks are completely limiting the possibility of any other real discussion about the publishing industry in the comment section. Not to mention, my blog’s comment section has become a soapbox for a select few individuals.

Sorry, I’m done with that. Sadly, comment moderation is back on. It’s more work for me and it depresses the number of comments people actually want to make but I guess so does a constant soapbox.

As I’ve mentioned on previous blogs, there are plenty of terrific writer chat forums that are excellent vehicles for expressing opinions and having your voice heard. Here are three just to name a few:

Writers Net
Backspace Forums

Absolute Write Forums

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63 Responses

  1. Tim Archer said:

    I think that’s a constant struggle for every blog that gets much traffic. Sooner or later, people come to see that blog as their own personal forum. How do you slow such people down without killing discussion?

    Sorry you had to turn on moderation, but I understand why.

  2. Saundra Mitchell said:

    I’m sorry you’ve had to do it, but I’m glad too. It’s been very frustrating to see the comments in posts about midlist titles, for example, spiraling into the same stupid, unrelated soapbox. I have to think if the soapboxers would put as much energy into writing, revising and polishing their books as they do pontificating- they’d already have a book deal!

  3. Stephanie, PQW said:

    Sorry it has come to this. I enjoy your blog. I don’t often leave a comment because by the time I get to it there are 30+ already there. I hope things turn around soon.

    And to those who have caused this action…knock it off!

  4. Dara said:

    That’s understandable. It stinks that a few have ruined it for so many, but I’ve found that’s often the case in life.

    Sorry that you’ll have to go through extra work too when you’re already so busy.

  5. Yunaleska said:

    I almost always read your blog – I don’t always read the comments. I’m sorry this has happened to you.

    *hides flaming wooden spoon behind back*

    I hope the unwelcome comments stop so that in time you can get rid of this extra task you have to do

  6. Laura said:

    Kudos to you. It’s a difficult decision (especially for someone who understands the importance of the written word and freedom of speech), but there’s a time and a place for everything.

    I enjoy reading your blog, but I stopped reading the comments a while ago, which actually was a little depressing to me. I normally love reading the comments on a blog entry, but when they degenerate into soapboxing and he-said/ she-said, I just kind of sigh and leave.

    I’m glad you’ve taken this step. Perhaps now the comments section will once again become as readable and interesting as your blog. 🙂

  7. Ash. Elizabeth said:

    that even happens on my blog, and I have a third of the followers you do. that’s when i tell said trolls to knock it off or be banned from my blog (which you can’t do of course, but im hoping it instills fear. mwuahauhau.)

  8. Holly Bodger said:

    Good for you, Kristin! Both Nathan and Jessica’s blogs have recently been highjacked by these types of commenters as well. It’s time for people to realize that anonymity is not a license to be irresponsible and disrespectful.

  9. Karen said:

    Good for you. I would view the non related comments as a sort of graffiti. It detracts from the purpose and if those bloggers want to have an agenda, why not start their own blog and then they can post whatever they want and have people comment back directly to them.

  10. Scott said:

    The sad thing is . . . people can be hateful, and they normally do it under the ‘anonymous’ moniker. I mean, heck, if you’re going to leave a comment, use your name – I do.

    The main reason I use comment moderation is that one of my blogs often deals with gay issues and, well, people have very strong opinions on that subject. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. I just choose not to have deragatory comments against people appear on my blog. In the few years I’ve been blogging, I’ve only rejected one comment.

    I think Nathan Bransford turned off the ‘anonymous’ capability in comments for a similar reason that you’re having to use comment moderation.

    Maybe one day soon you can remove the moderation aspect. Maybe . . .


  11. Colette said:

    Kristin, thanks for sharing this. As a relatively new blogger, I have also encountered the ‘inappropriate comment’ and struggle with the free speech/everyone has a right to their opinion argument. When it starts to take over it’s too much. Good to know there are options.

  12. AM said:

    You are gracious to provide the links to other websites.

    Though I’ve only recently begun commenting, I’ve enjoyed your blog a great deal. I regret that you have to work harder to maintain civility.

  13. David Kearns said:

    It’s hilarious watching writers advocating censorship. (num num num num kiss kiss kiss kiss Oh come on!)

    Simply amazing.

    Kristin, why not look at it the other way? You have a popular forum here. And hey I looked at the other blog sites. blech/klunk…this one’s so much more fun.

    Get an ad sense account and make a mint off the controversy. It’s what I’d do.

  14. Anonymous said:

    Maybe Teresa Neilsen-Hayden will lend you a copy of her disemvowelment program?

    Dave Kuzminski, P&E

  15. Anonymous said:

    Sorry for the anonymous post, I don’t have a logon and don’t need one more.

    I think you are perfectly within your rights to moderate and from what I’ve read, your blogome(Like a biome) would be enhanced by it.

    Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, but I view a blog like a home- people have the right to free speech. If, however, someone comes into my home spouting bilious “Crass” nonsense, I have the right to ask them/compel them to leave.


  16. Stephanie said:

    Stinks that those few people have pushed you into taking this kind of action. The internet seems to give people a weird confidence and cause them to act more rude than they would in face to face conversations. You blog is not the place for that stuff!!!

    Thank you for moderating your comments instead of turning them off completely!!

  17. Lisa Dez said:

    Darn it! I was really hoping to redirect the comments today into a discussion about how my 528,000 word masterpiece about my toaster, written totally in second person present tense stream of conciousness, isn’t getting published because of an evil conspiracy in the publishing world to only buy books that will sell.

    Serioulsy–we really appreciate all your invaluable information and it’s too bad a few people feel compelled to ruin it for everyone else.

  18. Cheree said:

    Good for you, but it’s a shame you have to burden yourself with an extra task because a few people don’t understand there’s a right place and wrong place for every discussion.

  19. Chris Scena said:

    This is unfortunate. I have noticed (in my limited experience in writing and publishing) that most people who bemoan the current publishing system are those least likely to listen to anyone but themselves. They think their own work has no warts and can’t understand why they haven’t been published yet. Not much you can do but ignore them or shut them out entirely.

    Thank you for your daily blog entries Kristen. I hope the trolls never make it too much work. This is one of the few blogs that I always read.

  20. Jill H said:

    I’m thrilled to see certain comments banned from here on out; although did anyone find Gordon’s criticisms hilarious in light of the fact he lists “The Blair Witch Project” under his favorite movies?

    Love the blog, Kristen–been following it for some time but usually don’t comment.

  21. Anonymous said:

    I’m sorry for this. Flamers and haters are pretty easy to ignore, in my opinion. I have a tendency to like Anon comments because they are often times more truthful that the “rah-rah everything is perfect” image that so many in publishing give off.

    Under the Anon function people are allowed to give comments without fear of backlash. I’ve been plenty comforted by Anon comments where you find out someone else didn’t sell their second book, or someone else had an agent that dumped them, etc.. It provides a more complete picture of publishing — rather than the forced happiness of “look, here’s my NYT best-seller.”

    Too bad, but you should do what you want. Best, Kristin!

  22. Suzan Harden said:

    It’s so sad you’ve had to take this step, but highly understandable.

    But please don’t stop blogging. Your posts are wonderful and educatonal.

  23. Carradee said:

    Comment moderation doesn’t bother me or make me less likely to comment. Being required to have an account with the blog host will decrease my likelihood of commenting.

    The only thing I dislike about comment moderation is the increased workload it puts on the blogger.

  24. Robin M said:

    Coming out of lurkdom to say sorry you had to take this step, but it’s totally understandable. It’s always a few bullies who ruin it for the rest of the kids on the playground, isn’t it? I enjoy your blog very much and always learn a lot from it, Kristin.

  25. Judith Mercado said:

    I always look forward to reading your posts. Perhaps now I can feel the same eagerness about the Comments section. You do a wonderful job humanizing this industry for us. Thank you. Sorry the new policy will cause more work for you.

  26. Catherine Misener said:

    I am sorry you have to make additional time to sort through posted comments. I think this type of thing goes in waves – a select few meanies troll blogs and go rant-crazy, but over time they realize no one is paying any attention and they stop. Still, it is really thoughtful of you to moderate comments so as to maintain the positive tone of your blog!

  27. Lucy said:

    @ David

    Wrong. Censorship is when you don’t have the right to go start your own blog and make all the rude comments and/or statements that you wish to make.

    The enforcement of general respect and courtesy on a popular blog is a long way short of censorship; and I am completely in favor of it.

    I have also noticed–repeatedly–that when the majority of a blog’s readers support the blogger’s decisions against a vocal and rude minority, the majority is accused of “kissing up.” Sorry, but rudeness, sniping, hijacking and other trollish behaviors don’t remotely indicate a bastion of individualistic integrity. They do, however, indicate a lack of adult social skills.

  28. L... said:

    I admit I haven’t even bothered to look at the comments for the last couple of weeks, ’cause, well, you know.

    Keep up the good work.

  29. cynjay said:

    Well there’s 15 minutes of my life I’ll never get back 😉 I stopped reading the comments ages ago, but I just had to go and find out all about your hijacker. Staggering.

  30. Botanist said:

    It’s sad when some people interpret “free speech” as “everyone’s entitled to *my* opinion.”

    Shame it’s come to this Kristin, but understandable.

  31. Gilbert J. Avila said:

    Has anyone ever been banned?

    “farfacty” Now THAT’S a captcha I can use. It sounds like some 16th century adjective—“Sirrah! Cease thy farfacty behaviour at once and get thee hence!!”

  32. Cat Moleski said:

    Thank you, Kristin, for blogging every day. I love to read your blog, but don’t often get to it until evening or the next day, so I feel too late to join the conversation, but I wanted to let you know that despite the hijacking of the comments section, that I appreciate your blog, the free advice, and the peak inside a very complex industry.

  33. Tara said:

    I don’t have a huge number of commenters, but I’ve turned on comment moderation. It’s more work, which is a pain, but it cuts down on trolls and other people who only post for their own agendas.

  34. Tina Lynn said:

    Hmmm…I have my own soapbox. It’s called Sweet Niblets and there is freedom to become a follower or not. I save my “agenda” for my own little space. The comment section is for commenting. Is it not? Or am I just showing my lack of education again?

  35. Sharon Mayhew said:

    Yikes, I hope I’m not a soapboxer…I’m not even sure what I’ve said in your comments section. I’m a nice English lady who taught elementary students in America for 17 years and now wants to be (excuse me)/is a writer. I enjoy learning from your blog, but understand with over 1300 followers you might have to draw the line. I just hope I’m above the line. 🙂

  36. Greg said:

    Don’t feel that way Kristin. When every idiot can and does speak his (rambling and illogical) piece, it makes me LONG for tyranny. I will fall to my knees and kiss the feet of the dictator who shuts these people up.

    Protect us from stupidity!

  37. Cam Snow said:

    I remember working for a small business and the owner once told me, “the first time you get sued is when you know you’ve made it”… in blogging, you know your blog has made it when you get soapbox posters. So Congrats! (I’ve personally only got 3 readers of my blog, so I’m not in your inconvenient position)

  38. Diana said:

    I don’t always read the comments, so I went back to what prompted this action and all I can say is: Wow, just wow. Some people really need a course in manners. I am flabbergasted that anyone would think it’s ever okay to say something so inappropriate.

    Sorry that you have to do this, but I am grateful that you aren’t going to stop blogging because of the trolls.

  39. Christina said:

    I think moderation is, in general, a good idea. We have all had our share of negative bloggies crowding our site! I am building a website specifically helping for women writers and their issues and I am definitely adding a moderation feature!

  40. Jen Chandler said:

    I haven’t commented in a while, not because of comment content but because of lack of time and my computer putting up a fight when it comes to reading blogs.

    I understand comment moderation. Thankfully, I haven’t had to do so (I hope I won’t have to). It’s frustrating to you as blogger and unfair. I hope this helps eliminate the bothersome hijacks.


  41. Vivi Anna said:

    Don’t feel bad about it Kristen. It’s your blog. I’m all about free speech but if someone comes into my home and starts screaming and yelling about some crap, they’re out.

    If someone wants to bitch and complain they can get their own blog to do it on.

  42. magolla said:

    Normally, I don’t read comments, but I skimmed them when I offered my congrats on Monday’s column, after I saw the topic of this column.

    Sorry, you have a troll with an agenda, Kristin–is there anyway you can block the commenter, or do trolls have a way of sneaking around and generating new addys? Maybe the commenter will get bored and wander off to pester some other poor soul.

  43. Laurel said:


    I, too, went scrolling back through to see what all the fuss was about. I have two observations:

    1. At least he owned his position instead of hiding behind “anonymous.”

    2. Wow. And…hilarious! Very disrespectful, yes, but I laughed out loud.

    I understand why you’re taking this step but I’ll miss the unintentional comedic interludes.

  44. Anonymous said:

    One of the trolls brought up an interesting point when he called romance novels porn. I do not agree that they are porn but I have heard this many times before and I do not know what to say beyond that I do not agree. I would like to see a post about this issue at some point.
    Just a thought.


  45. Falen said:

    I agree with Carradee completely -comment moderation never stops me from commenting.
    I’m glad you turned it on (though sad for the work) – i, personally, don’t need people bringing me down.

  46. M.B. Sandefur said:

    That’s terrible. You shouldn’t have to deal with that and neither should other readers who want to make comments. You post a comment on the entry or another comment ABOUT THE POST people. Not so hard a concept to grasp. Well, maybe for some people…lol.

  47. saralee said:

    There is an old saying, the minister who boasts has a congregation of one. Ditto for commenters who try to hijack legitimate blogs. They have no audience but themselves.

    Kristin- I admire your dedication to blogging and have learned so much from your posts. I blog too, but often find it’s like the laundry. Do it once and two weeks later you have to do it all over again, lol.

    Keep going. You’re the voice of reason we all need.

  48. lora96 said:

    I’m only a sometime reader, but I am in favor of comment moderation where needed (offensive or derailing posters). THis is NOT to say that I want books banned or censored so please do not feel that your freedom of speech was pillaged by my humble remark 😛

  49. Anonymous said:

    Kristin, thank you for choosing to moderate but keeping the anonymous option open.

    To the person who said that Nathan turned off the anonymous option, that is not true. He considered it but after discussion he decided that too many editors, agents and published authors prefer to post anonymously.

  50. London Mabel said:

    I think comment moderation is necessary–you’re doing a service to the majority of readers/commentors who do NOT want to see the discussion highjacked yet again yet again. I hate it when discussions get derailed from the original question, and channeled towards another topic that’s been addressed elsewhere. If I’m reading the comments it’s because I want to see what people have to say about THAT blog post.


  51. Wavemancali said:

    When you turn on comment moderation you are letting the trolls win.

    You know who your 2 or 3 offenders are, the correct solution would be to ban those 2 or 3 users.

    Moderation affects all your users therefore you are allowing the actions of 2 or 3 people affect everyone.

    In my opinion it’s the wrong choice.

  52. Anonymous said:

    It was certainly interesting for me to read this blog. Thank you for it. I like such topics and everything connected to this matter. BTW, try to add some images :).