February 12, 2007

The Fast Company Blog: Deleting Negative Comments

I've enjoyed reading Fast Company since the go-go internet days of the late 1990s.

During the past year, I've been an avid subscriber to their blog.

Today, Fast Company wrote about personalizing Kleenex tissue boxes. In fact, the writer was critical of the idea.

I found the criticism unfair, because Fast Company generally supports marketing innovation, promoting those who try new things. So, for the first time ever, I wrote a comment on the Fast Company Blog. I stated that I found it unfair that Fast Company pushes companies toward marketing innovation, only to then bash innovation when it doesn't meet Fast Company expectations. I did not use profanity, I simply used similar text to what I describe here.

For the next hour, my comment was listed first. And then, it mysteriously disappeared.

I guess my mistake was to criticize Fast Company. Maybe if I had discussed whether the actual strategy was good or bad, my comments would not have been deleted.

Now that I know that Fast Company does not encourage an open discussion among its loyal readers (a decade of loyalty, on my behalf), I have chosen to unsubscribe from their RSS feed. I'm certain they won't miss me.

This also causes me to feel uncomfortable about the motives of other business blogs. Who knows how often comments are deleted, all in the spirit of promoting a 'conversation' that is perceived to be open and honest? Because this problem also happened when I left comments with a Seattle-based business blogging organization, it could be more widespread than my naive mind perceives it to be.

Am I stupid to allow all comments, positive or negative? Am I stupid to leave comments on other websites that may be critical? What do you think the right strategy is, brand protection or open commentary regardless of the content?



UPDATE: 10:41am PST: A reply from Fast Company suggests the omission was part of a spam filter. Let's take them at their word, and appreciate the fact they responded to me in a positive way. Here's what they said:

Hi Kevin, Comments are never removed based on content. If the comment posted, then disappeared, it was inadvertently deleted. I'm so sorry about that! We welcome diverse opinions and would never remove something because it was critical of the magazine. I hope that you will re-post the comment. Again, I'm very sorry about the inconvenience. We get a lot of spam, and it sounds like your comment was accidentally removed as part of an overzealous spam purge. Best wishes, Leslie.

10 comments:

  1. Jim Turner10:02 PM

    Keep making those comments! We tell our clients to leave the comments open and transparent and if they want to moderate and control comments they better have a very well worded comment strategy and terms. This is exactly the message we want to eliminate when people start buzz about our clients. Comments are as much a part of the conversation than is the content.

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  2. Hi Jim!

    It has been my opinion that the best discussions on this site happened when folks completely disagreed with me. How else do we share ideas and shape concepts without disagreement?

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  3. Hi Kevin, you might want to check that link to the Fast Company blog.

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  4. All comments should stay unless they are spam or really offensive. A couple of times I asked people to reword comments that were very commercial before I posted them but positive or negative they stay and show up on the comments feed etc.
    Sad that someone like FastCompany would do that.
    JT
    www.edmblog.com

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  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  6. On Liam's suggestion, I checked the blog and didn't find Kevin's comment. Liam, did you see it there?

    Couple of thoughts/questions, Kevin:

    1) Did you email the author asking why your comment was removed?

    2) I can see my way to a POV as to why your comment was removed: It was off-topic. The question posed was whether or not personalized kleenex was a good or bad idea... not whether or not FC was right or wrong in thinking it was a bad idea.

    3) But, in the end, if FC deleted the comment because it criticized them, then I think FC is being incredible short-sighted. It can't possibly believe that everyone is going to agree w/ everything. And be deleting your comment, you're not likely to comment again. That's the wrong direction for "customer engagement" to be heading.

    So... bottom line... feel free to come to my site and tell me what an idiot you think I am. I won't delete your comment. I might edit it to make it fit my POV :) [kidding]

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  7. I looked at the most recent series of comments, and still do not see my comment listed among recent contributions.

    I did e-mail Fast Company, asking for an explanation as to why the comment was removed.

    We'll see if they reply.

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  8. Adelino de Almeida10:37 AM

    I didn't see Kevin's comment either. It may be that FC is interested in promoting itself only and that such promotion does not include a review of opposing points of view.
    It seems that FC's overenthusiastic support of new fads cannot do with some tempering, it's sad.

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  9. Kevin,

    Glad to see you got a response from them. I guess they do care about keeping a conversation going.

    I fully believe that the comments are what make a blog different from any other newsletter, website, or journal. The interaction is invaluable, and I encourage any and all thoughts on my blog. Typically (with one exception I can think of), a blog without comments is not a blog I frequent.

    Kevin, we have had different points of view in the past, and that was great to further the topic of discussion. Keep it coming!

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  10. By the way, folks, I deleted a comment per Ron, so that I could make a correction with the wording. One might find it ironic that I grumble about a comment being deleted, only to have a comment deleted on my own blog!!

    Yup, Becky, we should all be able to disagree. That's where the fun happens. There's nothing interesting about everybody having the same point of view.

    Jim, Liam, James, Ron, Adelino, Becky ... thanks for your frequent comments, which keep things interesting. I appreciate the time you spend thinking about what each of us have to say.

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