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Michelle Obama, a Gown, and Blog Comments Gone Bad

December 23 2013

blog micA few weeks ago, I was checking my Yahoo! email and spotted a headline about Michelle Obama's outfit at a Kennedy Center function. I'm often an admirer of her fashion choices, so I clicked on the article. After glancing through it, I made the mistake of scrolling down to the comments section. I have rarely ever seen such hateful, racist, awful language – even in fiction. These were not comments about Michelle's politics or her husband's job performance (subjects upon which everyone is entitled to their opinion) – instead, these were vulgar slurs about her physical appearance, specifically her body shape/size and the color of her skin.

What does this have to do with real estate technology? Quite a bit actually. Many agents and brokers have blogs. And, if you're actually getting traffic on your blog, you might be getting comments. And if you're getting comments, you might be getting inappropriate comments. Here's how to deal with it.

1) Require a login.

The people writing the comments about the First Lady were doing so anonymously, with names like Truth Is Out There (who wrote of Ms. Obama in her elegant gown, "I saw something at the zoo like that"). Would they have said these things if their real names were attached to the comments? I certainly hope not.

On RE Technology, we require a login for people to unlock our full site (and to be able to leave a comment). They must provide a full name and email address, as well as the MLS they belong to. Thus, no comments are anonymous. And people generally behave quite appropriately.

2) Moderate comments and delete anything offensive.

The best anyone can hope for on their blog is the traffic and attention brought by lively debate in the comments section. However, it's important to pay close attention to the conversation and be aware when someone crosses the line between "lively" and "offensive." If a comment uses foul language or is hateful toward another group based purely on their age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc., you should delete it.

Keeping an eye out for nasty comments isn't the only reason to remain engaged with the comments on your blog. By participating in the discussion, you are encouraging repeat visits and possibly building relationships with those that comment.

We do not often have to delete comments on RE Technology. However, we have occasionally had someone step over the line from disagreeing with an article to ridiculing the author. If our readers disagree with the thesis behind an article, we encourage them to state their opinion and provide the basis for that opinion; this way, you can help educate others.