The “moderation abyss”

One of the first things I do when I get in the morning is comment. I comment on articles and blogs I read.  The blogs have no central theme. I comment on stuff on the Middle East, health care, generations, social media, marketing, economics and just about anything else I feel like. Each comment runs between 100 to 200 words, not just “I agree” type of stuff. And I try to do two or three comments a day.

Commenting is my daily warm up, not unlike warming up before going for a run or a physical workout. Writing is an incredible mental exercise and it helps me build synaptic connections to carry me throughout the day. That and my four mile walk … bring it on!

I try to add something significant to each piece I comment on, my take on it. If my comment spurs additional comment activity, then that’s a good thing for everyone – especially the writer of the post. It follows along with my idea of my personal value. The same goes for comments on my blog – I love’em. They add to the discussion, and isn’t that what a blog’s supposed to be, a discussion? And they give the post legs.

The abyss of moderation

This brings me to my big commenting irritation, the “moderation abyss.” You know what I’m talking about. After you post a comment, a lot of blogs require moderation before actually publishing it (mine included). Normally this takes a few minutes or in some case a couple of hours. That’s cool. Believe or not, some people actually have lives outside of moderating my comments. Hard to believe but it’s true.

Here’s my issue. Writing a blog is not a right, it’s a privilege. It’s a privilege to have an audience, no matter how small. People take their time to read your ramblings. The least you can do is treat them with respect. If they not only read your blog, but also put forth the effort and mental energy to actually respond and add to it … then you should sure as hell check your email and moderate their damn comment. To let their creation sit in the “moderation abyss” for days on end because you’re too damn lazy to get off your butt and read it – is unacceptable. And you should be stripped of your blogging privileges. If you aren’t going react to comments, then turn them off. Seth Godin does, and that fine – it’s his choice, plus he probably gets a million of them. That way there’s no expectation that your creation will unveiled to the world. And yes, a thoughtful, well constructed comment is a creation.

A few days ago I commented on piece I liked talking about “story telling, curation and the Long Tale.” I’d never read their blog before, so I didn’t know how they operated. I liked their piece and felt strong that my comment added to their discussion – abet a different twist.

My comment sat in the “moderation abyss” for day and a half before I couldn’t take it anymore. I found the email of what I think was the assistant to head of the company that owned the blog.

Below is my email:


I don’t know if you’re the correct person to contact concerning this issue … but here it goes. From what I’ve read on your site, I like it. Your mission seems to go hand in hand to much of what I stand for. I especially liked “The Long Tail and the Curation Economy.” It provided me a launching point for some great thought. I thank you.

Here’s my issue. I commented on the post, a comment I thought had some merit and added to your discussion. Unfortunately, nobody will be able to read it, nobody will be able to use it as their own launching point. It sits in “the moderation abyss.”

I don’t know if this is intentional or not. Maybe my comment is not up to your literary standards. If this is the case, all I can do is try to improve before my next submission. But if my residency in “the moderation abyss” is due to your laziness … shame on you. Having a blog, a blog that people read is not a right, it’s a privilege, an honor given to you by your audience. It’s also one that can easily be taken back.

How you treat people, prospective clients before they become clients … is a reflection upon how you would treat them afterwards. Something to think about.

In addition – I’m following you on Twitter. You might want to reciprocate. You might just find some interesting stuff.


Clay Forsberg

It took them about an hour to post my comment. But they’re still not following me on Twitter. Oh well.

Oh, by the way … if you comment to my blog, I promise not to send you to the “moderation abyss.” 😉


If you’re on Twitter please follow me … there’s cool stuff happening over there too @clayforsberg.


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10 thoughts on “The “moderation abyss”

  1. Shame on me! I am a bloggers worst nightmare – I take (read the blog) and in many cases do not give back (comment). I just want you to know that your blogs are very thought provoking and deep and sometimes I ponder them for days – reading and rereading them. For example “Road to Your Perfect World” I have read over and over – how do you respond to something so powerful…I certainly couldn’t find any words to express how I felt. It would be mundane compared to the piece.

    Now this! Some of us are thinkers and some (like you) are great writers. Although I lack in the writing, moving forward I will give you a comment – as you deserve at least that.

    Needless to say I am still thinking about the Road –

    1. Thank you Laura, I’m humbled. The point of this blog is not to bag on readers or those readers who, like you, decide to take their time and effort (which for some is not that easy) and add to the conversation. My issue lies squarely with the bloggers who take their readers, the lifeblood of their blog, for granted.

      Like having a business, a blog (one that people actually reads), is a privilege, not a right. It’s privilege to have people listen to you and patronize your thoughts. And by the way Laura, you to can be a writer. Up until two years ago, I had never written anything … not even in college. I guess it’s never too late 🙂

  2. Clay, I’m digging this post! I must admit, I do not comment on blogs as often as you.

    Like you mentioned above, I stopped because it seemed no one would have an opportunity to read my comments.

    Of course. a decent amount of blogs approved the comments quickly, especially writers’ blogs. But, other industries usually allowed my comments to hover in the “moderation abyss” for an extended period and I gave up commenting.

    Obviously, I love your email to the moderator who ignored you for so long. It’s a great idea I’d love to adopt because I think commenting regularly is a smart way to get my writing “mojo” started first thing in the AM.

    1. Chamois, thanks for the comment. I’m glad you liked the post. Commenting first thing in the morning is a great mental exercise … as you’ll find out. I wish you luck, and keep me posted on how it works out.

  3. I have heard the reverse argument, that a blog is like someone’s house, and a home-owner is under no obligation to let in every way-farer who happens by — this in support of the practice of moderation itself.

    So we have a perfect antinomy:

    It is a right to have a blog and a privilege to comment.

    It is a privilege to have a blog and a right to comment.

    But I do not know which sides arguments are the best, and not knowing, I try to permit readers and writers the greatest individual liberty that is consonant with the liberty of others.

    1. I see your point. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but I see it. The point of my piece is not to debate the merit or accepting comments – but rather if you choose to, then you should respond in a timely matter (out of respect of your readers time).

      I just view “the moderation abyss” as a blatant example of laziness.

  4. Clay, absolutely agree about using comments as a warm up. I find that just forcing myself to reply intelligently to someone else’s thoughts often leads to new connections that become the foundations of my own new insights.

    With regard to the moderation abyss, don’t know what to tell you except that some people just aren’t that interested in your attention. I don’t think I have ever required moderation but I have definitely gotten lax about responding to comments at times. At some point you realize that that is why you bother blogging in the first place, that the conversation is your inspiration.

    1. Greg you bring up another point – responding to comments. That takes the discussion to another level, but a level that it deserves to take. I’m going use your comment as a challenge to myself to make the most of every effort that someone makes to better my posts.

  5. Clay- thanks for sharing. As a new blogger I get to comments fairly quickly since I’m thankful to have a comment to approve. Having said that I never realized how important the readers ability to comment was in regards to the blog. You really put it in perspective and I appreciate it. Now I know better than to leave my readers in the “Moderation Abyss”. Thank you!

    1. Thanks for the comment Amanda. I’m glad I can help you on your journey down the blogging road. As you’ll find out, it’s a love hate relationship. Some days you’ll find it’s like giving birth (I can’t really say I know what that’s like – for obvious reasons, but I thought it was appropriate) and other days it’s euphoria.

      New synaptic connections will form with each paragraph. And with each post you’ll get better. You won’t even want to reread your old posts … they’ll make you cringe.

      As you know, they’ll always be help here – whether it’s me or the your fellow travelers that frequent the “Perfect World.” We wish you luck 😉

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