There are a number of laws that could impact what I say, from Human Rights on freedom of expression, to Harassment and Defamation legislation. I try to be careful. I try to make it clear when expressing an honest opinion and not stating a fact. I try to be truthful and accurate. And no - this post is no because someone has had a go at me :-)
However, the comments section is perhaps more of a difficult issue. I don't take responsibility for the comments. They are posted by other people.
As a general policy I post all comments. Even if I do not agree with what they say. I'll respond if I don't agree, but I respect the basic right to freedom of expression of those that wish to debate the points I am making.
However, there is one exception, well, two actually. One is simple - duplicate posts - blogspot does not make it obvious that posts are moderated and so we get duplicates and I delete them. Not an issue I am sure.
However, the other area is spam. Where a post is deliberately just trying to get links to other sites to sell stuff, or in some cases just gibberish. Spam is usually very easy to spot, and quite a lot is clearly automated.
The issue is that this is a form of editorial control over the comments. That could, in theory, gain me some degree of liability for the comments if they are themselves defamatory. I don't want editorial control for that reason, but I don't want spam. I also don't want people thinking I only post favourable responses to my blog posts - that is not the case.
The editorial control to zap spam is not something that is in any way editing the comments people are genuinely making on my original post. So I hope it does not make me an editor.
However, it is also worth explaining the main criteria I use for this.
- If the comment is totally unrelated and looks automated, then I'll delete it. This is getting rarer, as the bots are looking for keywords in posts now and making related posts.
- If the comment links to some other product or site that is related, I make a judgement on whether I think it is a genuine person making a genuine helpful recommendation (which happens) or just a bot or spam post. I want to allow people to make useful comments obviously, but spammers are increasingly posting comments like "how very helpful my post was, and look I found a really good company that does this [link]". A big clue is a proper link in the comment rather than just the name of a company. Another clue is the wording style.
If you have made a genuine comment and I have deleted it, please do make it again and add some explanation. I would not want to zap a genuine comment.
But should I edit these at all, or just allow them unmoderated?
Is my judgement on this sensible or should I use other criteria?