I’m a part of several blogging groups. Several of group have comment threads, but each group has its own rules for these threads. There is one thing that all seem to share in common however. There are no requirements on how a commenter expresses him or herself. As long as it’s a positive comment, no foul language, no insults, etc., there are no limitations. As a blogger, I’ve noticed comments that are left are generally on topic of the post. They discuss some aspect of a blog, even if it just one sentence. From what I gather from conversations, the majority of readers do not answer questions specifically asked, and that’s great! Something sparked their interest and resonated with them.
Recently, I had a blogger publicly request that I change my comment to be about the main topic of the blog. I understand the desire for this; however, if a reader has no opinion on the main subject matter and several others have also posted a similar comment without issue, is it okay for a blogger to request they change their comment? Or is it unethical? Can you dictate to your readers what they should respond with if their responses address one of the post’s topics?
The code of ethics for bloggers (yes there is one….here or maybe two haha) states you do have a right to your opinion, that a blogger is to state the truth, talk directly to someone rather than publicly, and if someone is behaving badly, to tell them so. Does this also apply to commenters? A blogger already has the ability to approve or deny comments. I personally believe it is too far to try and censor those who comment on your work as long as their comment isn’t crude. If it touches on a topic discussed then they should be able to post their opinions. Perhaps it’s the background in journalism and public relations as I feel to do so is to spin.
Journalists and others in the arena often see spin as a manipulative and unethical practice. It does not provide your reader with genuine and honest information or opinions. As someone who blogs, I would never request that a reader change their comment. Why would I ask them for feedback and then request them to change it because it wasn’t the feedback I had wanted? In any other practice, this wouldn’t even be considered. My 9-5 doesn’t allow us to alter our feedback during reviews of each project.
When working in PR, we would send products for our clients out to review. Lets use Sony as an example. If the only positive thing that the reviewer could post was about a Bose component, we weren’t allowed to go and ask them to change their comments. I would have been black balled from the industry for that. It just seems so foreign to me that others feel it’s an acceptable practice. I don’t fully understand why others do, especially when they are soliciting for the comments. Why is it okay in this situation? And why is it okay to pinpoint one person in public for doing it? If you have no problem speaking with others privately, why call make it a point to speak to another person in front of a group?
I refuse to make up something that I have no opinion or experience on. I’m not going to lie and say I hear a company is good when I have never heard it. I will not focus on something that I have nothing to add onto. To ask me to do so, you have either some really shaky ethics or you really don’t want my comment. I would not hold my readers to that either.
I’ve had people comment on my horrible editing skills….which I make fun of. This blog is purely therapeutic, and I’ve been told to have others read it to get me comfortable in voicing my feelings. It scares the crap out of me. Editing is often the last thing on my mind. I’ve still accepted and approved those comments. I did not request that they do something else. I don’t feel censorship or trying to “design” opinions/thoughts/comments to your liking is an ethical practice. To request that another individual do so should be frowned upon in the blogging world in my eyes, just as it is in other arenas. No exceptions.
Featured image by Lauren Hardage