Sunday, July 01, 2007

Laws Every Blogger Needs to Know; And Comments

I found this via Librarian in Black: 12 Important US Laws Every Blogger Should Know.

And, of course, there is the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Legal Guide for Bloggers.

There's a lot to think about and I'll be revisiting these sites in the future. In the meanwhile, I've decided to add the following language about comments to my sidebar: "Comments are great. They add to the conversation. But it's my blog, so I reserve the right to delete any comment. Reasons for deleting comments may include offensive or abusive language or behavior, spam, advertising, trolls, flaming, personal attacks and the like."

What language, if any, do you have on your blog about comments? Have you ever deleted comments, and why?

Since adding word verification to my comments, I've cut down drastically on the spam but every now and then one gets thru. And once or twice I've deleted a duplicate comment.

In terms of offensive language, I'm talking offensive; I don't mean we disagree. Some of the best conversations arise over disagreement.

Here is an example of what I think warrants deletion. It is a comment that was made when this blog was only a few months old; and yes, I deleted it.

Harry Potter is tripe written for children. You and half the adult population should grow up. If you like fart and snot jokes then just say so, don't hide behind a kids book. There are much, much better science fiction or fantasy or magic.witch craft books around but they usually require an intellect so I guess you are out of luck there. Then again you also like Buffy so I'm pushing [word removed by Liz B] uphill here.

edited to add: also being discussed in the comments in the lee & low post, below


Kimberly/lectitans said...

Comments like that seem to me to demonstrate some of the worst things the internet has to offer. It always makes me wonder if that person would say something like that to your face. It also makes me wonder why they care. Why does it offend them if you are unintelligent according to their standards? People confuse me.

Robin Brande said...

You were right to delete that comment about HP just on the basis of meanness. Who needs more of that in the world?

As for me, my website has me moderating everything, which is a pain when I'm busy, but otherwise not so bad. I get TONS of spam. Grrrr.

I feel free to edit people--both to correct misspellings (as a favor) and to bleep out the bad words, since I know of a few grandmothers and preteens who read my blog. In the beginning I'd write to people and tell them I was bleeping them, so sorry, etc., but now I just do it. I figure what I post is a reflection of me, and that includes what naughty words show up in my comments.

Gwenda said...

I very rarely delete legitimate comments on the blog, but I think that's mostly because if someone/things seem(s) to even remotely be getting out of hand I come in and wave the stick. One of the reasons I rarely post on controversial topics is that I can't imagine anything more tedious than moderating a constant flamewar. But, yeah, it's my space and so I feel completely justified deleting rude/over-the-line stuff.

Anonymous said...

I've definitely deleted spam without thinking twice. And I've deleted what I can see are inadvertent duplicate posts. I've been fortunately not to have to do too much else. I just turned on word verification, and that's cut back on the spam a lot. But I agree that as the owner of a blog, we have a right to delete or edit things that are outright offensive, to our own personal standards. Which is not to say just anything we disagree with, though really, I've had very little of that anyway.

Anonymous said...

PS. I took your implied advice, and added a sentence to my copyright notice (that I've had since I started) that I reserve the right to delete comments. Thanks!

Michele said...

I turned on comment verification at a very early stage, having lots of experience of flaming, spam and other junk on the Net from my years of moderating discussion forums.

I've deleted a couple of pointless comments relating to Poetry Friday posts before now. Both comments implied that the commentators believed I had written the poems I had posted and took me to task over word usage. Since they were, at best, inattentive and at worst, trolling, I deleted them...

I get little spam, thankfully...

MLight said...

On my main blog, I'll delete any comments that are basically mean. Disagreement is fine; nastiness isn't.

I also have a blog that I use to post items of interest to my teenage daughter. Since I know others have similar interests (musicals, history, marine biology, books), I've made it public. However, since this is basically a conversation that others are politely invited to, I've posted my comment policy: "Comments are always welcome, but this is in no way a free speech zone. Any inappropriate comments will be deleted so fast it will make your head spin."

Andromeda Jazmon said...

Thanks for this. I had no idea about all that legal stuff. I've deleted a few spam comments in the past. I have word verification on now so it doesn't happen much. I did add something about copyright and reserving the right to delete inappropriate comments today.

I have to think about all the book cover pictures I have linked to in the past. I guess I won't do it any more since it seems not to be the right thing. Good to know but it's a shame because I love having the visual along with a review.

Liz B said...

I am very conflicted about book covers. I did at one point find commentary at wikipedia that said as long as the cover image was small & for a review, it was OK (and of course have not found that language again!). Also, I get books from publishers; while we have never had the conversation about covers, it would seem to make sense that I could use the cover since they supplied the book.

Truth be told, I have a hard time imagining bloggers getting into trouble for using covers for reviews.

That said, and this may be the lawyer in me, I think that we are thinking about it & having a conversation & realizing yes, someone does own the cover/image, so when can I use it, is a good thing.

Miriam said...

I've been thinking about putting covers of the books I review on my blog, but I have heard conflicting things about it, so I haven't. I have (or had - I may have lost it when we changed email programs) an email from YALSA-BK that said it was permissible to use them on reviews. I think it's technically okay. But...

On a related topic (though I know it takes the conversation a little astray), I have also thought about linking my reviews to Amazon or But then I start feeling guilty about linking to a huge corporation or chain instead of to an independent book store. I could link to the publisher's site, but there's often very little there, and if someone is interested in following the link, it's probably because they're at least thinking about buying the book. And the general public can't buy directly from a publisher, so that doesn't seem very helpful either. So I haven't linked to anything yet. Is it better to link to Amazon or to nothing?

Saints and Spinners said...

If there are issues over whether or not to post covers for reviews, I wonder if there are copyright issues over my doctored versions of "Children's Books that Never Were." Satire is protected under the law, right?

I've deleted spam and duplicate comments without thought, and have debated about some of the saucy comments by one of my particular readers. I know he's about fun, fun, fun, but sometimes I have to respond and say, "You've gone over the line, there, buddy." If a person actually has a legitimate profile link, I'd be less likely to delete a comment than if it were some anonymous commenter with axes (and teeth!) to grind.

bee said...

i agonized for a while before i started posting cover images. in the end i decided that they are for reviews and small and they make a nice visual.
i never thought about posting anything about copyright or comments but now i'm cooking something up to add. thanks for this discussion!

Camille said...

The only comments I have deleted have been spam. A few sneak through even with verification turned on but not many. It seems to occur in waves. I haven't experienced many vulgar or "unhelpful" comments. The most interesting thing I realized once I started approving comments was how many comments I was still receiving on much older posts.

As a librarian, I have always tried to model good copyright manners. I signed up as an Amazon associate precisely so I could feature book covers with a clear conscience.

The whole copyright thing gets so embroiled sometimes that I begin to wonder if librarians and teachers should even read books aloud anymore. I know it qualifies as face to face teaching but then it is also a performance...especially when I am reading... Hoo boy.

Liz B said...

Camille, I was just a party pooper during a recent discussion about whether or not a library could use "jeopardy" when advertising a booklist or program.

I do think that half of the battle is thinking about it. I have no doubt that Alkelda is protected under satire. And that usually the copyright/trademark laws allow for what we do. But I do think that we should model the law instead of flaunt it; hence I'm so pleased at how we are all now handling copyright and Poetry Friday.

So reading aloud: OK. But the nightmare begins when it's taping the story time to put on YouTube or use for a library commercial.

And I'd love to know the answer on when we can show TV shows on DVDs in the library.

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