Picking Your Battles – #Controversed Issue 4

Moderation & Conversation

Welcome to the final issue of the #Controversed series! Today’s issue will cover moderating your own space for discussion and knowing when to engage with critical discourse or give it a pass. This is the fourth article in in the series as part of an event I’m sponsoring with Moya of The Moyatorium. Be sure to check out the first issue, second issue, and third issue here. You can find the full information regarding #Controversed via the first issue if needed.

Should You Moderate?

Originally this issue was only going to address burnout and knowing when to engage with critical discourse but Moya posed an interesting question regarding moderation of blogs like this one:  

How do you manage your comment sections, and how would you describe your comment-writing voice?


I thought it would be prudent to give my professional opinion on the matter given that this is actually in my field. As a marketer, there are exactly two ways you can handle comment moderation, and anything else is going to be detrimental to you:

  1. Never Allow Comments
  2. Always Allow Comments

The first one is less ideal, but as long as you are consistent it isn’t an issue. The reason you might consider this boils down to not wanting that engagement. Some websites do this so you can’t refute their position, which is a bad reason, but a fairly common one. Really though, this method is primarily good for situations that involve harassment. For anything else, it’s pretty foolish. In short, this isn’t your best solution and I wouldn’t recommend it.

When I say always allow comments, I don’t mean literally every comment under the sun. I use a spam detector, and of course would remove comments that were derogatory with explanation given. Otherwise, you let everything else slide. Off topic? Sure. Disagreeing with you? Fine by me. Personal insults even? You bet.

There are a whole host of reasons you should more-or-less let your comment section run free. The big ones are:

  1. Encourages Engagement
  2. Shows Transparency
  3. Allows for Feedback

The first one is pretty obvious and plays into the third point. When you are discussing things online, you usually want people to respond to you. It helps continue the conversation and can lead to expanding your own understanding on the topic. Even when both sides heavily disagree, there’s value in seeing those exchanges play out.

As for feedback, this has more to do with your presentation and structure. If your article is hard to read or lacks clarity, people are going to tell you. Same goes for if you’ve done a good job too. This can help you correct the existing work and aid you in avoiding the same pitfalls in future projects. It’s invaluable and not something you want to miss out on.

So what about point two? Transparency is important when having discourse in that it builds trust with your audience. If you go around banning comments that disagree with you, deleting every little critique, or even just being rude with how you respond to people is going to show. I’m sure this is shocking, but folks really won’t like that.

Ideally you want your work to get people to return to you time and time again. This trust is integral to you building that audience. So who cares what the comments really say at the end of the day? I do my best to respond to every single comment I receive in a meaningful way and you should as well.

Picking Your Battles

With that being said, you absolutely need to know when to engage with someone or a topic. There is so much arguing online about so many stupid things, and if you were to try and engage with all of it, you’ll burn yourself out in a hurry. For example, I’m sure a lot of folks were tired of seeing election news when that was going on and arguing with others about who should or shouldn’t be president. Sometimes you just need to let that stuff go.

So here’s how I determine when to engage with something or not, and maybe this can help you avoid burnout in the future. This is basically a checklist I go through:

  1. Can I bring anything meaningful to the table? If the answer is no, I don’t engage.
  2. Has somebody else already made the point I want to make? If yes, can I provide even further clarity? Otherwise, you guessed it, I don’t engage.
  3. Do I want to spend time with a continued conversation? Sometimes these exchanges can last hours, even days, which is more than I always want to deal with. If I’m busy or don’t want my thoughts consumed by the topic all day, I just let it go.
  4. Is the other person receptive to ideas, even if they disagree? This is a big one, at a point the person will either get what you are saying or they’ll keep arguing in circles. Eventually you just need to bow out and let them “win”.
  5. Finally, is this an issue I want to attach myself to? Especially in the anime community, you need to ask this question. I hate certain rhetoric in our community but I don’t always want the stigma of saying something either way to come back at me. Generally I speak my mind, but if it looks like it’ll impact me personally, I usually just stay out of it best I can.

Doing this can help you avoid being consumed by all these controversies and free your brain up for happier stuff. Again, just because you have thoughts on something doesn’t mean you need to share them all the time. Sometimes nothing is the right thing to say, and nobody is really going to judge you for that for most topics.

Thanks for reading folks, I hope you have enjoyed this series for the month! If you want to join this week’s discussion the prompts are:

  1. Do you have a blog/video comment horror story? If you get a chance to interact with the same commenter again, would it go differently?
  2. How do you manage your comment sections, and how would you describe your comment-writing voice?
  3. Everyone gets worn out by controversial debates online. How do you fight the fatigue?

Remember to use the hashtag and tag us if you post them! If you are in my Discord, submit them under the submissions tab as well. Finally, if you want to support my work here please consider a donation by clicking either of the buttons below.

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