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The Case For Open Comments

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I’m not very hep on comment moderation. I think it’s a line for bloggers that cannot handle criticism – why is the blogosphere so full of thin-skinned people? – but the usual line trotted out that it’s to stop comment SPAM.

Well, since I use Blogger and Typepad, that seems like a cop-out. You can set it so you get comments sent to you when posted – and then delete the comments if you believe or feel that they are SPAM.

Today, BL Ochman posted about the potential for bad PR for American Airlines. I read the article about American the other day in the WSJ – contest winner declines tickets – and smiled. I didn’t think it was going to be a huge issue, because the guidelines were pretty explicit in the contest rules. It’s an unfortunate event, but the IRS is the IRS.

I wanted to post a comment. I had a valid point that it’s not bad PR, but crappy rules. But, apprently I’m no longer allowed to comment on BL’s blog … click the photo for her nice little statement.

Oh, this was my comment:

Is it a PR problem, or the inability to read and understand the fine print, and the lack of knowledge of tax laws?

American Airlines has to declare the tickets at full value. Do they ever sell the tickets at full value? Probably 1 percent of the time – but per tax laws, that’s what they have to do.

I feel bad for the guy – well, actually, I think it’s pretty funny. But, is this really deserved bad press for American Airlines? Even if they gave him vouchers, they and he have to technically declare the value to the IRS.

I guess this means that I no longer will be reading BL’s blog (unless someone IM’s me something for a laugh … which is usually what happens). Which is fine, since I noticed that she doesn’t post things so she can usually have the last word.

Why did this come about? Likely because I posted a comment on this post, asking why she felt she had to attack Constantin Basturea. I like Constantin. I’ve meet Constantin. And, no offence to Constantin but attacking him is like kicking a puppy. The man has done nothing but good for PR and the blogosphere: New PR Wiki, Global PR Blog Week, Blogdigger Headlines, plus much more.

So, why moderate comments? Steve Rubel just went to the same policy (although no explanation), which would make me think that if he moderates, he would respond more to comments, but alas that is not happening either.

To me, comment moderation is good for corporate blogs. In a corporate blog, you do have people that are trying to attack the company on unfair grounds. I have posted comments on the GM Fastlane blog – something usually along the lines of move out of Detroit, to save the company – but those get moderated. And, at the IABC Conference, GM noted that their agency does help moderate comments.

But, individual blogs? Blogs written by people in an industry that pounds its chest about open communications and how blogs are equalizing the world, and how these are great venues for a two-way dialogue? Well, that two-way dialogue ends when comments are moderated. Then it’s just lip service.

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Jeremy Pepper is the CEO and founder of POP! Public Relations, a public relations firm based in Arizona, USA.

He authors the popular Musings from POP! Public Relations blog which offers Jeremy’s opinions and views – on public relations, publicity and other things.

The Case For Open Comments
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