Posted By Jennie Chancey on November 16, 2011
We’ve had several readers leave comments lately complaining that they don’t immediately see their comments posted to an article or wondering why they are being “ignored.” I just wanted to post a quick reality check so readers can understand how LAF works, especially when it comes to comments and conversation.
We have comment moderation turned on for LAF to prevent spam or abusive posting. Way back when we first started LAF, we didn’t have the blog format, so there were no commenting features. Instead, we had a feedback form that went directly to email. Unfortunately, the email box filled to overflowing very quickly–and much of what was there turned out to be spam or abuse (we don’t mean confrontational emails but outright nasty stuff). There just wasn’t time to deal with it all, so we got rid of the feedback form and wondered how to give folks a platform for genuine feedback or discussion. At last we turned to the blog format, which would allow readers to leave comments on specific articles. However, we knew from past experience that comment moderation would be necessary, so we put that in place. When you post a comment on an article, it does not automatically appear but is held in comment limbo until the article’s author or an editor has a chance to check the comment, approve it, respond to it, etc.
Now for the reality check! 95% of LAF’s writers and editors are stay-at-home wives, mothers, and daughters who do not dedicate hours each week to read through comments, approve them, respond to them, or delete spam/abuse. In my own case, as a homeschooling mother of ten (one of whom is a newborn) living in Africa (with its attendant power outages and s-l-o-w Internet connection), moderating comments is pretty much at the very bottom of my to-do list. Sometimes I just have to ignore it for weeks on end. There are far too many things to do in the real world to spend hours sitting in front of a computer (not to mention family members to email and home businesses to run when we do have computer time!). Some of our writers/editors do have more time and are at a stage of life where they can take part in online discussions. More power to them! But for most of us, that’s just not the case. And some LAF writers only get on the site a few times a year when they have something special to post…and then go back to real life for the next few months and forget to check back for comments. If you do not see your comment posted, it’s not that you, personally, are being ignored or sidelined. It just means no one has reached your part of the queue yet or hasn’t logged in for an age.
For those who really itch to discuss issues or debate, we put up the LAF Facebook page. Many regular readers spend time there discussing articles, engaging those who disagree, and sharing links to things they’ve found that they believe would interest LAF’s readers. So if you’ve got a strong desire to participate in regular discussion, please consider joining the folks on Facebook. And thanks for your patience with those of us who run LAF over here but don’t have the luxury of time to sit down and write you back. The online world is fun, but it’s not point-and-click wish fulfillment on the back end. Our clocks tick away the hours just like yours do. My clock tells me it’s time to log off and get supper moving as the equatorial sun begins to sink behind our house. All the best!