Blog Comments – When To Delete?

Four months ago I published a post about HRevolution, that most excellent of all HR conference-type events. In case you don’t want to click here to read the post, I will just tell you that in that post I mentioned Sue Marks, CEO of Pinstripe Talent, because her company was nice enough to furnish the attendees with Meet-Meme cards. I didn’t endorse her company or say much of anything except thank you.

So I was a little surprised to receive notification of the following comment just a couple of weeks ago:

 Now, I presume you will agree with me that the comment is not offensive, vulgar, discriminatory,  or any other negative type that we all agree is fair game for deletion. It contains spelling and grammatical errors, but I think we can also agree that poor writing skill is a problem up and down the social web, and certainly not a reason to hit the delete button.

The issue with this comment is that it is really not about the substantive content of the post, but a politely worded political commentary. Not exactly spam, but . . . close. A troll? Not quite.

Since that comment was posted, I have been thinking a lot about the spirit of free speech and whether, in that spirit, I should allow this comment to stay. I was reminded of a case I studied in law school, which discussed whether private property owners of large open-to-the-public shopping malls should be required to allow picketers and other public speech demonstrations. The argument was that these places have supplanted public parks and town squares as gathering places, and that free speech principles should be allowed to follow the public.

In law school I argued vehemently against such a law, believing that business owners can best determine whether allowing demonstrators on their property was in their best financial interest. Now, with this blog comment, I’m not so sure.  Even though I own my blog and can delete any comment I want to – should I? If the social web is the “democratization of communication”, as pundits claim, do I have a social responsibility to honor that democracy by allowing political comments on an HR blog?

What about you? Would you delete this comment if it was your blog? Does it matter if you agree with the comment? I’d love you to tell me your thoughts.


6 thoughts on “Blog Comments – When To Delete?”

  1. Joan, I did see this comment on our facebook page and I did think about having someone delete that comment, but at the end of the day decided to let it stand. Here’s why. I am a political independent and proud of it. I have voted for Republicans, Democrats, and those otherwise categorized or uncategorized. I knew both candidates for Governor of Wisconsin, and they are both high integrity, capable guys (too bad there wasn’t a woman running!). At the end of the day, I felt Scott (yes, a Republican) was the better candidate and proudly supported him and voted for him. I also, in the spirit of my independence, contributed to Tom Barrett’s campaign, have always been a supporter of his in other campaigns and count him as a friend. I, like many others, am really tired of our highly partisan, politicized 24 x 7 endless loop media and political system, but I will never deny someone freedom of speech and thought. Thanks for the dialogue! Sue Marks

  2. Sue, I appreciate your reply so much! The fact that you let the same comment stay on your Facebook page shows a lot of style and class, in my opinion. I almost didn’t post this blog out of concern that it just gives the commentor (who I find kind of class-less for hiding behind a fake name) more publicity. But I really do waffle around about the issue of freedom of speech when it comes to personal blogs and the comments they generate.

    Thanks again, classy lady!

  3. Joan,

    I, myself have never deleted a comment unless it was spam. I have never had the exact situation but when I blogged about the SHRM Members for Transparency, Michael Losey was quite vocal on the post using it as his opportunity to voice his opinin which did not mesh with my own. I replied to the comment and invited him to guest blog on my site letting him know that I would invite SHRM to do the same. After some banter back and forth, he quietly emailed me and declined the opportunity. It was very, very strange.


  4. I not at all against people having a different opinion of my content – but in this case the comment isn’t a difference of opinion. I’ve never deleted a comment or even considered doing so until now, but I think that it will stay.

  5. Even though I don’t blog very often, I have deleted comments from my blog…from my ex, who thought it was appropriate to post a commentary about our former relationship on one of my posts.

    I thought about leaving it up (especially since she had mentioned that I would delete her comment in order to silence her within the text of her post), but then FrannyO pointed out, “if someone came into your office and pooped on your desk, would you leave it there or would you clean it up?”

    I know that falls into a different category than what you’re discussing in your post, but I thought it was worth sharing. As far as what was posted about Pinstripe and Sue’s political contributions, I think the way she handled it was pretty classy.

    I also love that this made you (and us) think about this in depth. You always make my wheels turn, Joan. Thank you!

  6. Thanks for sharing this, Teresa. I think Franny is right to advise you to delete, and Sue Marks was a class act about it. This is a whole different can of peas than deleting personal attacks, though. I’m leaving it up, though, in the grand Sue Marks style. :)

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