I've been considering allowing reader comments on stories and artwork published at The Western Online, and I keep going back on forth on the issue.
On one hand, I think it would be good because it would promote return visits from both readers and the writers who contribute to the site as they keep up with comments. Not to mention that every writer loves to hear from readers who enjoyed their work.
The downside to this is that some people can be overly and unnecessarily critical when commenting. Negative criticism, as long as it is constructive is not necessarily bad. However, I know from personal experience that a negative comment or review can totally destroy the writers thrill of having their work published, especially if that writer is relatively new, and especially if the comment is just absolutely absurd.
I've been writing NASCAR articles for Insider Racing News for about a year and a half, and at first, I was blown away at how passionate NASCAR fans can be. For just having a different opinion about a particular driver, I've been called just about every name under the sun, my editor was insulted, the site was insulted, even my mother was insulted. That's not necessarily criticism about my writing, but its shocking, none the less and its hardened me to the point that I don't care what other people say about my work. As long as the editor who published my work liked it, that's all that matters to me.
I've found several comment box applications that I'm considering, all of which allow me to delete comments that I don't like. However, I can't watch the site 24/7 and I don't want to take the chance of one of my contributors reading an uncalled for comment about their work.
Perhaps I'm being overly concerned about something that may never happen, but that's the way I feel about it. What are your thoughts on the issue?
What I'm looking for is a comment box system that would allow me to approve a message before it is posted to the site, but so far I've been unable to find anything that does that.