Moderate blog comments per the hotel’s request?

As you guys know I have a policy of not moderating blog comments. You can call me whatever you’d like (within reason), and I’ll take it. Since negative comments are usually directed at me, I’m totally fine with it, since no one else is impacted by them.

But this morning I got an email from a hotel that I wrote a review of, and they asked me to remove some of the comments left by readers (that’s right, not the blog post, but the comments). The comment mentions a negative interaction with the GM and Director of Rooms, and mentions them both by name. Further, the comment makes reference to the perceived sexual orientation of many of the employees of the hotel.

I get called names all day long by the “vocal minority” on the blog, so I guess it didn’t really phase me. After all, this is the internet.

That being said, I’m a bit unsure what to do, and would love to hear your thoughts. Do I remove the comments regarding the named employees entirely? Do I just remove their names and replace it with their titles? Do I remove comments referring to the perceived sexual orientation of a majority of the employees? Or do I just leave it as is and tell them that’s how the internet cookie crumbles?

Am curious what you guys would do…

Comments

  1. I’d probably take the names down out of respect for the employees’ privacy, but other than that people should be free to post whatever comments they desire.

  2. If they are being mean-spirited with their comments and calling out people rudely, I would moderate. If they are stating fact and the hotel just doesn’t like it, than I would leave it.

    Freedom of speech cannot be overrode by the fact that corporate scum is “embarrassed” …ymmv

  3. I’d remove names to respect privacy, maybe use a more generic title, but a comment is a comment even if bordering on intolerant.

  4. Keep the comments, but remove the names of employees. Posting personally identifiable information is a generally frowned upon.

    Their comment about their interaction may or may not be valid. We’ll never know. However, The derogatory comments only reflects poorly on the characters of the person posting the comment. In my experience people that need to resort to name calling are generally in the wrong, and it just weakens whatever case they try to make.

    With that said, if you want to keep your comment section clean, kill the comments entirely. It isn’t censorship if it is your blog, and you are trying to maintain a certain level of quality.

  5. My view, especially as I’ve seen this before:

    1) Remove comments, such as sexual orientation, that aren’t relevant to the discussion (keep the comment on point),
    2) Shorten names to only First Initial and Last Name, specially if their titles are also mentioned (as Surnames are often distinctive( – and keep this info only if relevant to the point commenter is trying to make.
    3) Refer the hotel people In question to the US Air Force model for responding to blogs and comments on same (See http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2008/12/31/diagram-how-the-air-force-response-to-blogs/). This model is considered best practice for managing discussion, negative or otherwise.
    4) If the original commenter has left valid contact information, extend both them and the Hotel the opportunity to get in touch to resolve the issue. Exchange their respective information ONLY if both parties agree.

  6. Your site is popular enough that you should have some fairly clear posting and moderating policies. Is it truly “anything goes” or are there rules? Personally, I would remove the names and also edit the comment such that the overall point is made, but the ad hominem attacks on the hotel employees are removed. And make it known that the comment has been moderated and why. My 2 cents.

  7. I respect you for not moderating your posts. Many other boardingarea bloggers do and I find it makes the overall feeling fake.

    That said, removing the employee names and derogatory words is completely understandable- travel blogs should not be a place for that kind of behavior. If it was simply a negative review though and listed the employee names I would leave it.

  8. Personally, I would have a policy of “no names,” just to protect the privacy and personal safety of people. However, you will run into a problem executing such a policy due to the sheer volume of comments that your blog gets. Good luck!

  9. I agree with @Nancy & @BR… I’d take the names out.. but leave everything else… just curious.. what review are you referring to so I can read the comments before you decide to delete šŸ˜‰

  10. That’s a slippery slope.

    On the one hand. if you do anything, you will have no ground to push back on future requests, from any party whatsoever. Let’s face it, you’re becoming more and more public and visible, so at this point you can chose to remain “independent” or sell your soul to the corporate devil. There’s pros and cons to both, I’m rather neutral–just pointing out where things may be headed.

    On the other hand, comments about sexual orientation, perceived or not, don’t seem appropriate to me (although I haven’t seen the comments in question.) I have mixed feelings about employee names. I’m not sure that it’s appropriate to publish them, then again the hotel is probably reacting because the comments are targeted. They probably would care less about generic poor feedback.

    What I would do in your case is establish and document a policy for comments. It’s fair to say that names and personal attacks should probably be prohibited, however details and specifics about bad service and employee titles probably should be allowed. Once the policy is set, maybe you can then edit past comments appropriately.

    My point is — don’t make it a one off. Come up with a consistent policy that you apply no matter what, regardless of corporate pressure.

  11. The hotel’s problem is with the person that placed the comments on your page. You cannot be held responsible for others’ comments (you may want to post a “Terms of Use” policy or disclaimer on your site to make this clear). But to avoid any potential legal hassles, I would agree with others above….remove identifying information (names) and references to sexual orientation (if they were made in a negative way).

  12. The one thing I actually like is when bloggers allow their readers to speak their mind. Are these last names? I think that one should be allowed to post the names of the GM and Director of Rooms because they are usually already given to the public by the hotel’s choice on tripadvisor.

    My opinion would be if you were to start censoring your reader’s comments after the request of a hotel, why should I then trust the validity of one’s future reviews of hotels? It would be one thing if a reader posted threats and used a name, but venting and not being politically correct are another thing. (to be upfront I have not read the said comments referred to in this post)

  13. Criticism of behavior is valid. But using names and also casting aspersions based on ethnicity, orientation etc etc should be unacceptable. Agree with Pat that you need a consistent policy (perhaps rooted in what I just said).

  14. I’d remove the names for sure. Maybe leave the first name and last initial. Even if you omit the name, anyone can connect the dots and get the persons name. I would be very cautious in removing comments. Perhaps you could redact the offensive statements so that it’s obvious that you’ve removed some content?

  15. I would definitely delete comments regarding sexual orientation. As far as the names, I guess it depends on if the information is publicly available. So if it’s a specific high-level person at the hotel, their name is going to be out there, while that would not be the case for a member of the cleaning staff.

    As far as the complaint, if it is legitimate, it should stay, even if the staff don’t like it. Keyword being “legitimate”. Given that the person felt the need to comment on people’s sexuality, they’re not going to be the most reliable of sources.

    The hotel should chime in and give their side of things, so your readers can decide.

  16. I wouldn’t invest much time into it – simply remove the names, but leave the comments. Opinions are OK but slander is dangerous. I’m not an attorney but I’d think you want to give the hotel the option: A. Remove the comments but instead replace it with contact information for the person who requested it be removed, as well as a message stating that the hotel does not believe in free speech and you were pressured into removing it or B. Leave it up and remove the last names of the individuals. If the comment include proof (audio? video?) then leave the names in there but you need to be careful as the “host” of this discussion. Good luck and keep up the good work.

  17. I think it’s best to leave them stand as is. Posting names isn’t always a bad thing- people sometimes have good things to say, such as ask for so and so, they’ll make sure your stay is great. Or maybe there are places that cater to gays and people may want to know that.

    I think it might be fair to allow hotels the opportunity to respond to comments they feel are unfair or may be inaccurate.

    To make rules about the types of comments is a very slippery slope. This is not China.

    And most readers can usually see through these types of comments.

    To start limiting

  18. I’d delete any comments regarding the people’s perceived sexuality, doesn’t really make any sense at all as to why they would be there in the first place, and for me invalidates the commenter’s post.
    I have no problems with the names being used in general, the positions mentioned are pretty much in the ‘open’ anyway.
    Good luck

  19. Ben, I think this is your call based on your knowledge of the circumstances. If the comments about the managers are from someone credible, I would leave them up.

    If you are delete comments on the managers, it is potentially letting them get away with bad behavior, their not avoiding responsibility for it and covering it up via intimidation. We have too much of such behavior in the world today.

    As to sexual orientation of the employees, I am inclined to delete it. The exception would be if inappropriate behavior was directed toward the guest.

  20. I generally agree with Michael H, although I’m not sold that names should be removed. If a last name is named, maybe shorten that to an initial. But it begs the question: if last names aren’t publicly available, how did the commenter get last names? But if last names are publicly available, shouldn’t they be fair game?

    Any derogatory, negative or condescending comments about someone’s sexual orientation (correctly perceived or otherwise) should be removed. That should be true in regards to any identifying factor.

  21. It is not fair to allow a reviewer to post names of employees just because they work at a hotel. If someone was dissatisfied with my work at my company (and sometimes they are — this is the nature of my industry) I would be mortified if they posted my name and location all over the internet. Also, sexual orientation does not contribute whatsoever to the discussion and those comments should not be tolerated.

  22. One thing no one has mentioned, but I notice, is that a lot of people want to cast aspersions on the Internet, but not do it under their full name. I would not allow anyone to impugn the reputation of another without using their name. I know I’m whistling into the darkness here, but you have to be able to stand by what you say, I think.

  23. A la gobluetwo’s comments, I would moderate. Comments on your site reflect your “brand” in the same way your own writing does. You set the rules for what kind of discourse happens here; by not setting any rules, you allow it to be a de facto free-for-all, and my sense is that you’re going for something slightly more respectful and professional than that.

  24. I think I vaguely remember the comments in question, and I thought they were insulting at the time…but I wouldn’t have expected you to take them down. I was originally going to say I think you should stand your ground and keep those comments up, but now after reading what everyone else wrote I think it makes sense to redact the names, if possible.

    Incidentally, I wonder what would happen if those same comments were on, say, TripAdvisor. Would TripAdvisor take them down?

    And finally, I am amazed that you are able to remain composed in the face of some of the more critical comments on here. People can be downright mean when hiding behind the veil of anonymity that a web site provides!

  25. Many good points made here in the comments.

    What do we do about a long ago post where Lucky posted the picture of one of United’s best gate agents? I shudder everytime I pass this man at IAD even if he’s not servicing my flight.

    I for one like uncensored comments but when they are completely inappropriate or not even relevant to the discussion, why should we restrain from removing them making for a better blog?

  26. As someone posted above, it’s tricky. As of right now, you don’t have specific rules pertaining to the issue, so whatever you do with this request will be setting a precedent. I would use this as an opportunity to set ground rules. Your options, as I see it:

    1. Do nothing — your de facto policy so far has been no moderation and you can continue to do so, using this as a way to make it “official”.
    2. Remove/edit names only to make them less or unidentifiable — this is a policy on the FT forums, and I like it in principle. However, CSRs, hotel and airline employees work with the public and identify themselves in some way (first name, title, etc) and this removes a certain level of expectation of privacy. I don’t think it makes them fair play for insults or defamation, but it does happen.
    3. Remove the entire post(s) — this gets you further into the moderation of comments and I’m not sure this is what you want to do, or have time to do, or that your readers would like.

    Each of these will piss someone off and it’s up to you what you’re willing to live with. I’m all for overall respect and reasonable level of privacy, but when you write reviews and open them for comments, people will express their opinions and experiences (with various levels of tact and respect, or lack thereof).

  27. Who the heck wants to waste time editing someone’s comment. Either it meets your personal guidelines for what’s acceptable or it doesn’t. If it’s the latter just delete the comment. If it was my blog that comment was a clear violation of what I find tolerable so I’d delete it and forget about it.

  28. I guess I’ll state the obvious. Once something is on the Internet, deleting it won’t actually removed it completely. Just makes it harder to find it.

    I’m not really sure I agree with removing names. On the one hand I can understand providing some privacy to employees but many in the hotel and travel business have their names published all over. Often their own web sites publish GM, Managers, etc. names.

    I kind of think if it is a problem with a manager or higher the name should be published, if it was a maid, cook, waiter, etc. then maybe just the first name and initial of the last name.

    If someone is wearing a name tag with their last name on it they can’t really expect any sense of privacy.

    The bigger issue is why did the hotel contact you? What was their exact issue?

    Too many of companies that receive critical reviews spend too much time fighting back against the negativity rather than admitting they have some issues and spend the effort and time to fix them.

    I am sympathetic to those who receive unjust criticisms and some people are not happy with anything.

  29. I do not think any of us can answer this for you. There are two separate slippery-slopes here.

    First, as many have noted, are the potential repurcussions from editing comments or from removing or not removing conmments. Do you want to run the kind of place that censors anything an airline, hotel, or other business does not like? Alternately, if you fail to do anything this time, does it make it more difficult to remove something offensive in the future?

    Second, are the repercussions of allowing people to use your blog as a place to anonymously defame or disparage companies and individuals. Just because someone writes something here about their supposed experiences does not mean that it happened at all, much less that it happened as they described it. You are probably not in a position to determine the truth of their allegations any more than you are in a position to assess the business’s side of the story.

    So, you need to determine what you want your blog to be and come up with posting guidelines as to what is and is not appropriate here. Then you need to enforce those guidelines.

    Ike

  30. If I were in your shoes, I would definitely remove names, especially since the request has been made. However, I think leaving titles in is ok.

    Also, a general negative comment about sexual orientation that isn’t directed at you specifically should be edited or removed. I understand you want to let people say what they want to say, and if they make negative comments, so be it, but there is line of keeping it civil, and I think a comment like that crosses the line regardless of who it is about. It’s better not to be associated with that, I would think?

    Although if you censor anything, you may face more scrutiny in the future as to why “XXXXX” comment was censored, but “YYYYY” comment was not…but in the end, this is your blog, and I think you have the right to allow what you want to on here and to enforce your own standards as you see fit.

  31. I forgot to add a detail about removing names. I think it’s a pretty reasonable request by the hotel chain to protect their employees. While you don’t necessarily what the hotels to have control over your content, they haven’t asked you to delete anything you wrote about the hotels, positive or negative, yet.

  32. My thoughts -, remove names and titles maybe just say management (senior or other) that gives a bit of privacy, especially when I suggest leaving the commenters perceptions in

  33. Remove the names and anything that it potentially libellous. Everything else should stay. Allow the hotel to post a response in the comments section (which they can now).

    Resist the urge to silently moderate (which you have by telling us about it) by allowing the hotel to comment pervasively by your editing.

  34. First I have not read the comments, but I am inclined to say leave it all alone. The names are out there whether they are here or the Hotel’s website etc.

    As far as sexual orientation, the person, for whatever reason gave his/her opinion of these people and has every right to do so. The hotel in good form could simply respond to the post, disregarding the sexual comments, or perhaps provide an email to you asking for you to publish it on your blog.

    While not as intense as the comment, the hotel is also wrong for sending this “behind the scenes email” to patch everything up

  35. lucky,

    If I were you, I will make it simple – remove the entire comment with the following: “Comment removed per hotel’s request”.

    In this case, you are not in trouble of censorship. You effectively divert the “blame” back to the hotel.

  36. First of all, freedom of speech refers to suppression of free speech by the GOVERNMENT. There is no obligation on the part of a blog to provide an unrestricted soapbox for its readers.

    If you’re making time to read through all the comments anyway, you can just delete posts that you consider offensive as you come across them. You don’t need to justify your standards to anyone.

  37. I believe I know the hotel review you’re referencing. While the poster’s comments actually didn’t seem to be extremely derogatory in nature (especially regarding the first name they mention) they weren’t constructive in nature, just frustrated, so they don’t seem to serve a larger point other than calling out specific people. The second name the poster mentioned did seem to be more of a personal attack regarding general frustration the poster channeled towards a staff member’s perceived sexuality. That is more warranting of censoring imo as it directly calls out a specific person and comments on a specific staff member’s personal life seems to be uncalled for.

    In terms of the poster’s reply where they mention the general sexuality of all men working there, while it’s maybe not a very tactfully written comment, the gist of the post is not about sexuality so much as it is about the professionalism of staff. A similar statement could be said about straight female or male staff at a hotel acting flirtatious with opposite sex members while ignoring same-sex guests and I can’t imagine people would find it offensive.

  38. It’s not really the audience’s decision. It’s your blog, you decide. Passing it to the audience to give you advice just defers the responsibility – you decide what’s acceptable in your comments, and stick to it.

    A comment input field at the foot of a page doesn’t give everyone with a keyboard the right to say whatever you like, it’s still your blog.

  39. Lucky, love the blog…but save yourself the legal headache and remove the offending posts if they appear to be potentially libelous, slanderous, and racially or sexually offensive. its not worth the long term headache.

  40. 1. Your blog, your choice.
    2. A moderation policy might be good to have posted
    3. Lots of good arguments here for and against. The most important, repeated comment, is that if you moderate by, say, removing names, then you MUST indicate on that post that you did so and why. Same for ad hominem attacks.
    4. Blocking trolls is not censorship. It is simply sweeping out the dirt that someone else tracked in.

  41. I don’t think it is unreasonable to removed the names of the employees, I don’t think it is unreasonable to leave the names of employees, but I would lean towards removing the names.

  42. I don’t fancy the idea of editing comments made by others that are a response to the blog entry or comments already posted under an entry. Once that editorializing path is taken, some of the comments which remain unedited may be considered a reflection of approval (or at least not disapproval) of other comments posted in response to either a blog entry or comments to a blog entry.

    If the concern is that of exposure to litigation in one or more jurisdiction or to unwelcome government action in one or more jurisdictions and there is to be an attempt at mitigation of legal exposure, then make sure to try to communicate that the editorializing is done in response to a request/demand from ____ [named party].

  43. Great! Now I’m going to have to go through Lucky’s blog to find the offending quote. šŸ™‚ I agree with those above who have admired your ability to ignore some very personal and mean attacks against you.

    I also agree with those that mentioned removing the names and also the mention of sexual orientation.

  44. And az a long-time reader of this blog, I must profess my disappointment at how a prperty can try to suppress open speech and dialogue.

  45. * state concise policy, including – no inappropriate/offensive comments or the post will be deleted
    * when not adhered to be consistent and delete the entire post
    * i would restrict posting surnames

  46. Lucky,

    The comment I most strongly disagree with is Gary’s. “Blaming the hotel” actually costs you credibility. You don’t want to be known as someone who will take down comments just because a travel provider doesn’t like them.

  47. A blog that permits anti-gay comments to remain posted is a blog that tolerates that type of talk. If you want your blog (and yourself) to be perceived as accepting of that type of negative, rude, hurtful and totally unproductive language, then so be it. But readers will remember that.

    “X” out the names, leave the titles, and if comments are just filthy you are totally within reason to erase them. It’s good to leave the post though, with the poster’s name, and just change the text to “Comment erased due to (fill in the blank).”

  48. Regarding the post’s regarding perceived sexuality… while it show’s the commenter’s ignorance, policing and censoring your comments section may not be something you want to do. HOWEVER, if the hotel reviewed is in a part of the world where perceived (or not) sexuality is illegal and could pose potential harm to the individual(s), then definitely delete the comments. I am in a same sex relationship and when we travel to certain parts of the world, we must be very careful.

  49. Remove the names for privacy reasons.

    Your blog is your home on the internet with an open door policy. If someone came in off the street and took a crap on your living room floor you would clean it up right? Same thing. You could leave it there and say “I didn’t do it” but it stinks up the whole place whether you did it or not. Removing racist, hateful, homophobic comments is a matter of personal choice, but you must decide where you draw the line and stay firm there.

  50. Why are you having a problem? are you too wimpy and wishy washy to moderate your own blog without a concensus from readers?….JK didn’t want you to feel left out and uninsulted.
    Like most I feel you should edit specific names, but leave the comments, offer the hotel the chance for a rebuttal if they feel the comentator is slandering their reputation without merit.

  51. edit the names. I’d also create a very loose policy around these items – name dropping w/ personal attacks is not accepted. You want to do that, go troll a message board.

  52. I’m generally in the “what users post on a site is their responsibility, not the site owner’s” camp, but it’s your site and you should do whatever makes you comfortable.

    My only worry if I was in your position would be the potential slippery slope you a step toward by removing something at a 3rd party’s request (and in this case a hotel being reviewed at that). Legitimate gripe or not, a lot of your credibility is based on the independence of the site, and I’d be wary of anything that might undermine that in users’ eyes.

  53. Your blog, so your choice. But since you asked, i would not edit comments, but simply remove those that are in poor taste or use vulgarity/profanity. Since it your blog, will let you be the judge of that. But overall, i seem to find the comments to your blog better than most of the internet forums.

  54. Editing the comment is not ideal. When I read a negative review, if it is also racist, sexist, or homophobic, I would discount the reviewer’s opinion. By removing this piece of the comment, you may actually make the comment appear more authoritative.

    If the comment contains nothing that is sexist, racist, or homophobic, I would definitely ignore the hotel and leave the comment as is. Perhaps X’ing out the people’s names as a courtesy.

  55. My opinion is that you should not censor this blog at all. I don’t buy into the slippery slope fallacy, I just think that free speech is important. To the people saying that you should remove the names of the employees, I disagree. Anyone working in a front-line customer service role does not have an expectation of privacy when it comes to review of the service they provide. Whatever you decide I believe you should set out a clear policy on comment moderation.

  56. At the minimum, remove the names. Otherwise it is up to you but generally would leave everything else alone unless this commenter has a history of troublesome posts — then delete the whole thing.

  57. I’m going to +1 carwag25’s point.

    Comments that could potentially cause harm to someone outside the context of their job deserve to be moderated. Even free speech has some limitations.

  58. I’d probably bust the post. I wouldn’t worry too much about creditability issues.

    1. You’re not TripAdvisor
    2. It’s not like you’re super-nice all the time to travel providers that screw up.

  59. That’s tough, and I don’t think you could really be faulted for choosing either way. I’d probably err on the side of changing names to just titles and leaving the nasty remark otherwise. It’s not nice, but it’s also not your comment.

  60. By transitive relation, Lucky, if you allow the comment to remain you are at least as racist as or equally homophobic as compared to the original poster. Better go comb through all your comments now!

  61. Wow, thanks for the all the feedback, guys!

    @ gobluetwo — To answer your question, I don’t feel that up until now I’ve really had a need to moderate. There have been maybe a handful of times I’ve deleted comments, but that was in truly extreme cases, like death threats to other readers. Everything else I’ve let stand.

    @ Patrick M — It’s in reference to a certain hotel stay in the US in 2011.

    @ Yummm — Nope, I was contacted by the director of rooms.

    Ultimately this isn’t a life or death situation, and I don’t want to make it seem like it is. I’ll probably delete the names and leave the titles and other statements up there.

    That being said, I’m not even really sure that’s necessary.

    I guess the question is whether the GM of a hotel and director of rooms are sufficiently “public” positions to the point that it’s fair game to post their names? I’m sure they wouldn’t be complaining if their names were used in a positive way…

    The thing is that the comment in regards to the director of rooms was actually pretty fair game, in my opinion. The commenter simply said that she had a negative interaction with her. The GM comment is a slightly different story…

  62. It would be interesting to hear from the lawyers. I assume (but don’t know) that you aren’t responsible for defamation in the comments to your blog.

    Does this change if you start to edit your blog for content? In other words, if you adopt editorial control over the blog, what happens if you don’t apply that consistently? If, the next time, someone posts something that defames another and you don’t take it down, do you have some concern?

    I would guess this issue comes up often, so lawyers with that kind of practice should know the answer, but it seems like a question I’d be concerned about before I started a policy.

  63. Drop the names – replace them with either generic ones or with their titles…and leave the rest.

  64. It’s a no brainer in my mind to delete the names.

    The fact they are public elsewhere does not mean they are publically slurred elsewhere.

    As far as free speach, this is your blog. Is there a level of hatred and bigotry that you would feel compelled to delete? If so, work backward from there.

  65. Remove the names and the homophobic comments. If the whole comment is homophobic speech, I say nuke the whole comment. We shouldn’t tolerate the bigotry.

  66. I haven’t read the original post in debate, but in my opinion it’s a no brainer to leave it exactly as-is. Delete comments that incite violent or criminal behavior, such as attacking these employees in question. Delete spam, too. But that’s all.

    Leave everything else. As many people have pointed out, once you edit / moderate you become part of the story. You will be under pressure to apply equal, fair treatment to anyone who objects to any content.

    I can’t see any good come out of censoring the comment. Play it out for yourself: right now, two employees at this hotel are called out for poor service and one of them has a comment about sexual orientation. If this is an isolated incident, it won’t affect their jobs, and someone else will post comments about their great service. If it’s a continued, repeated occurrence, then your poster is 100% correct in calling them out, and the hotel management will find out anyway. In either case, there is no benefit to censoring the comment.

    And, as someone else already pointed out, once Google has indexed the page, the comments will keep cropping up in search results regardless – it could be too late to censor the comment anyway.

  67. no, i strongly oppose removing comments unless the comments are really illegal. we should preserve a space for free criticism and comments.

  68. In general, you should moderate comments that are blatantly offensive, hate speech, etc. You may not have a legal obligation to do so, but you don’t want to become one of “those blogs” where the comments are littered with crazies. (Obviously can’t make a judgment about the comments re: sexual orientation without seeing them, but I assume you would moderate comments that were blatantly racist or used racial slurs, for instance.)

  69. Removing names seems like a reasonable compromise. And having posted a critical comment once, thanks for putting up with your readers giving you (what’s hopefully useful) feedback.

  70. Remove all the names and anything related to sexual orientation. Not relevant for a travel site, and will protect you and the user from legal action.

  71. I agree with the majority of the respondents. I would remove the names of the individuals, and just use their job titles. I would also remove the references to sexual orientation, and make a clear statement that you have moderated the post and why.

    Pesonally, I think people often lack judgment when posting on the internet, especially when they are posting “anonymously” (i.e. using a handle, or just their first name, etc.) I often wonder whether they would actually make the specific post if they had to identify their full name or other specific identifier.

    However, “freedom of speech” and all that ….. šŸ˜‰

  72. I don’t think you want to spend all your time as a moderator of comments.

    If a comment is off topic such as spam, or clearly hate speech from a relatively narrow definition, then delete it.

    Regarding a request from a property mentioned in a comment, it may be OK to redact the names of specific employees.

    Regarding comments on sexual orientation, I do not think it is appropriate but there is a broad concept of 1st amendment free speech so use your own criteria on when it becomes hate speech. Its your blog, if someone doesn’t like your own standard they can start their own blog.

  73. I think it’s clear what brought the Director of Rooms at the hotel here. A simple Google search of her name and the hotel brand shows the comment in question as the second search result.

    She is clearly more concerned about the negative interaction discussed in the comment than the references to the perceived sexual orientation of the employees. For this reason, I don’t think you should edit the comment.

  74. Do not become “politically correct”. All falsehoods or illegalities should be moderated but what is factual should remain unedited. It is what it is! Name names by all means.

  75. Ben, my two cents: this is your blog and you either allow or not certain comments.

    As you’ve mentioned in the past you’ve deleted some comments that you found inappropriate. If you didn’t consider the comments in question of that nature then they are not. You set the tone.

    As for editing comments for me it’s a no, no… that is then a disrespect to the poster and your readers.

  76. You never can make up the rules in advance. You will always start thinking about it differently when it comes along. One I would make is that names should never be written out here when dealing with bad stuff.

    Ask yourself if you feel comfortable what with you are doing now and if you are prepared to live with the possible concequences because of your actions.

    Imagine you having a bad day at work (professional behaviour yes or no), then getting such a comment on a blog attached with your name. Given the current climate in the US (assuming that it where the review was from) I would as a blog author pay extra attention and be aware of my responsibility against “normal people who have no clue and their search results on the internet”.

    I probably would have erased those names right when the comment arrived and commented in the blog that names where removed and added that to my comment policy.

    Your blog is a permanent record on the net. I assume at some point somebody is going to sue somebody because working for a company did not have “being blackmailed on the internet” in the job description.

    Ben, you also might want to check in with the lawyers of the FFN network or your own. By now you have been informed of this thing and cannot claim you did not know. I would assume that the FFN T&C state that you are freeing them of responsibility when being sued.

    Reality check for everybody who wants their name to stay there: What _benefit_ does it provide to you or the general public that these people now have such a comment on the net attached to their names? Do you go a around and google the employees first before entering into a hotel? Now you don’t.

    Even if you read the comments with the names you would attribute the general attitude to the hotel and act toward the hotel.

    If I would see such a comment regarding sexual orientation and the website offered me the chance “is this helpful” I would mark it as no and inapropriate. I see so many homophobic rants from the US that it looks like a witch hunt sometimes. Leaving names in your comments, searchable for the world makes you, the admin of that blog, part of that.

    Just because this is the internet does not mean that ‘anything goes’. As I said in the beginning – you decide what will be happening here. I would take this as the point to either clarify that comments will be edited because of naming people or that you will not edit them. After you spoke to your lawyer. šŸ™‚

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