Not for Sale: Dealing with Self-Promotional Blog Comments

Those of us who write blogs have to determine a strategy for dealing with comments that readers leave. Most of the time, the comments section is what takes the blog entry to a new level , fueled by interesting insight our readers leave. We strongly believe that the comments section is a great forum for exchanging information and ideas with fellow linguists. However, we do moderate comments, which means that if a reader leaves a comment, it's not live on the site immediately. 99.9% of the time, we will approve the comment right away, and it will appear on the blog.

The reason we have to moderate the blog comments in the first place is because of the unfortunate fact that more and more spammers, pseudo-savy internet marketers, companies desperate for business, or simply unethical folks who want to take advantage of our hard work are trying to promote their businesses on our blog. So, for our reader's benefit and for universal fairness, we have come up with the following:
  • We will not, under any circumstances, publish a comment left with the sole intention of readers clicking on the commenter's link. A comment would be along the lines of "Great post. Please visit www.bestcarsontheinternet." It won't happen. This blog is a forum of professional exchange between linguists and is not a platform for others to promote their services.
  • We will not promote anyone else's services or products on our blog unless we deem them to be of great interest to our readers. We will, however, recommend things that we think are useful: dictionaries, new software, translation-related books, etc. However, there is never any financial interest with the publishers -- we are not getting paid to do any of this.
  • We will not participate in link exchanges. We will, however, link to our favorite blogs written by other linguists in our blog roll, and don't necessarily expect a link back.
  • We will not accept any invitations by dubious new translation-related websites to review their services. We frequently get invited into "bloggers' programs," which apparently is a thinly disguised ploy to get some free publicity.
  • The final word: we work very hard on this blog, and we appreciate our readers' loyalty. Hence, we won't turn it into a mouthpiece for anyone wanting to promote their services, nor do we want to put our readers through reading advertising copy. Whoever wants to promote something can start a blog of their own.


Guija Matías on August 19, 2009 at 7:33 AM said...

Excellent explanation, Twins. I knew that already, for as I follow other blog on different areas, but this is still something to remind readers once in a while.

On a side note, don't you think this case on PhotoshopDisasters could be a Localization case also?

I mean, we know many examples of design/text issues in Localization similar to that one of the picture.

Keep the good job!

Manny on August 20, 2009 at 10:04 AM said...

When it comes to robot spam comments, and self promotion from people who don't add anything of value to the comments section, I completely agree. I keep a close eye on the comments left on my blog, and only approve those that fit my criteria for publishing:

1. The comment must be from a human (no bots).
2. The human must engage with the post on some level, either as a critique, a correction, an explanation, or, a thoughtful contribution of some kind.

However, I don't automatically disqualify self-promoters. For instance, I would not hesitate to link to your blog (you are, in fact, on my blogroll) because I find your posts on the translation industry to be relevant, fun, and well written. They are also, indirectly, a form of promotion for your services and publications. I'm fine with that.

Self promotion is a tricky thing. A link is a vote, and I judge whether a person's site is worthy of my vote when I approve a comment, as I expect other people do with my own site when I leave a comment. Part of my editorial philosophy is to create relevant, fun content for people interested in translation and language in general. There is always an aspect of self-promotion when professionals blog, even if it's not your primary motivation for blogging. Indirect self-promotion via blogging (through link aquisition, increased site traffic, and all of the benefits of being a well regarded source of information in your industry) is one of the best ways a business or freelancer can market their services in a creative, interesting, and cost-effective way.

I wonder whether some of the people (not the bots or spammers -- who you've mostly blocked already by using a CAPTCHA) but, fellow industry bloggers who you've categorized as,

"pseudo-savy internet marketers, companies desperate for business, or simply unethical folks who want to take advantage of our hard work [by] trying to promote their businesses on our blog..."

would be surprised to hear such vitriolic words coming from a blog that is tied to a business, and hence is a form of truly savvy marketing and self promotion in itself. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on August 20, 2009 at 12:57 PM said...

@Manny: interesting comments, thanks for your insight and pointed writing. We agree on self-promotion: although we certainly don't expect to get any direct business from this blog -- there are WAY easier ways to get business than to write a blog -- it is, of course, tied to our working professional identities, and we are translators. This blog is meant to be an exchange of info between professionals, which is why we don't write posts about why our translation services are so great -- that's not the point of this blog. Ultimately, of course, you are right that it might benefit our business, which is fantastic. Our main point, as former competitve athletes who believe in sportsmanship and fair competition, is that self-promotion is fine, but hitching a ride on someone else's hard work is not. Our position is that someone who wants to promote something should put the necessary work into it. Ah, life could be so fair, couldn't it?

Join the conversation! Commenting is a great way to become part of the translation and interpretation community. Your comments don’t have to be overly academic to get published. We usually publish all comments that aren't spam, self-promotional or offensive to others. Agreeing or not agreeing with the issue at hand and stating why is a good way to start. Social media is all about interaction, so don’t limit yourself to reading and start commenting! We very much look forward to your comments and insight. Let's learn from each other and continue these important conversations.

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The entrepreneurial linguists and translating twins blog about the business of translation from Las Vegas and Vienna.

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