Comment policy

I started moderating comments in late April. I felt forced into doing it when I got some abusive comments that included expletives and some personal attacks. I don’t mind if I’m told I’m a dumb idiot, but some take it too far and don’t offer any actual points of discussion. A couple comments were so vile that I was physically ill and frankly a little scared.

I strongly dislike moderating comments because it is a cumbersome process and snatches little pieces of my day away from me when I have to run to the computer. By putting comment moderation in place, nasty comments have decreased to almost nothing. Aside from spam, I have rejected a total of FOUR comments in three months.

Additionally I read that the blog author is responsible for all comments on the blog (can’t find the citation right now). And there’s another reason to continue doing it. Some know my real name (they are my friends or interviewed me). God forbid someone slips and addresses their comment to my real identity. Even if my first name gets out that could jeopardize what I’m doing here.

One thing I dislike about Blogger is that if a reader chooses an old post and writes a comment on it I can’t find the blog post on which the reader commented. So it limits my ability to respond. Because of that in early July I went and closed all comments for all posts dated earlier than July 1st. Going forward I’m going to close comments on posts within a week or two of posting them.

Last week I closed comments very prematurely on the McDonald’s post. Within just a few hours of posting the blog post, it was unindated with more than 40 comments. I hadn’t expected that the post would elicit a response like that and as such I posted it on a day where I was not going to be able to be near a computer. When I noticed it exploding I made a decision to close comments. Had it been a different day where I had more time to dig into the comments, I might not have shut comments down. I thought that talking negatively about fast food was not controversial. Go figure. Don’t worry, I’m going to tackle fast food again on this blog, but hopefully it will be on a day where I can participate in the discussion more fully.

Also last week I shut down the comments on the tofu omelet post when two readers started getting into it. I like healthy discussions, but I could see that it was going nowhere. I really enjoy seeing readers interact in the comment section, but I will bust up a “fight.”

Comment policy:
1) Abusive language and expletives not permitted
2) Comments will be open for at least a week circumstances permitting.

I hope that explains my actions a little better. Please do continue to post comments. You have no idea how many times I smile every day because of you!

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38 Responses to Comment policy

  1. SuperSecretUserName July 20, 2010 at 1:37 am #

    Rules? What are these things?

  2. A.R.Ambler July 20, 2010 at 1:40 am #

    Comments are interesting and provide a lot of value, but they are simply not required for a blog.
    I don't delete comments, but that's because my readers are in the double digits. Once you achieve a certain level of popularity, people use your comments section as a sounding board, with little-to-no consideration for the original post.
    It's 100% fair of you to moderate comments on your personal, and don't let anyone convince you otherwise,

  3. Dorn July 20, 2010 at 1:49 am #

    Ms. Q, the sheer volume of comments you receive on each post is reason enough to turn them off after a week. Topics (generalizations, less specific) are commented on nearly each post. I wouldn't worry about it if people can't add once the post has aged. Keep doing what you're doing and quit worrying about the rest of us. We follow you for our own reasons, and at nearly 5,000 of us, I wouldn't bother trying to please us all.

  4. Joy July 20, 2010 at 1:53 am #

    Good work Mrs Q. It is a pity you you have to do that extra work, but I think you are making all the best decisions. Best Wishes

  5. A.R.Ambler July 20, 2010 at 1:54 am #

    I also wanted to mention that you can exclude anonymous comments.

  6. Anonymous July 20, 2010 at 2:16 am #

    Dear Ms. Q, I don't remember how I stumbled upon your blog, but shortly after, I saw your blog profiled on the news. I am so happy to see you doing this. I don't think that I could bring myself to eat these meals. I teach at a low socio-economic school where many of the students NEED the free breakfast and lunch. I am amazed at the junk that is served. When I stumbled upon your blog it was when Jamie Oliver's show was broadcasting and I was feeling gung ho about CHANGE THIS FOOD. I didn't eat this kind of stuff in my school years. I love your comments and the pictures of the food. I just wanted to give you kudos and I hope that the powers that be are reading and changes will be made and kids won't be served a Poptart before school.
    The one thing that bothers me is that SOOOO much food is thrown away. It can not be saved in a backpack or taken home when the kinders leave because of the federal lunch rules. Waste is huge. Do you see a lot of waste at your school? I also want to know if you see a lot of "free lunchers" that clearly have enough money to pay judged by the cars they drive up in, or the clothes that they wear, or the comments that they make about "Well, the first month is free anyways while people fill out lunch applications?" This is a hot topic with myself and fellow teachers. When you have a car that has wheels and tires that cost $3000, do you really need a free lunch and breakfast? I hope that you respond to my questions. I am guessing that you don't live in my part of the US and want to know other perspectives.

  7. Julie July 20, 2010 at 2:38 am #

    You're only responsible for comments made by your commenters if you moderate them, actually. Here's a quick overview by a reliable source: http://www.eff.org/issues/bloggers/legal/liability/230

    The attorney I've worked with that specializes in media law says the best thing to do is to not moderate, but edit– you're definitely not liable if you edit "in good faith".

    That said, comments are the best part of just about any blog– though I understand closing them after a certain amount of time or limiting anonymous commenters. I'll say, though, that some of the most interesting, thought-provoking comments I've gotten have occurred long after I posted the post.

  8. The Table of Promise July 20, 2010 at 2:40 am #

    I think you are well within your rights. I know some "agressive commenters" on other stories and blogs, and it can get silly. Because it can be anonymous, it can get out of hand.

  9. Anonymous July 20, 2010 at 3:41 am #

    I totally agree with your policies and think you are wise to go with them. I have been a blogger for 3 1/2 years and know how much comments can mean, but abusive ones are just plain stupid. I truly do not know why some people decide to be so mean on the internet. Honestly, I have chosen to be anonymous on your blog because of the controversy nature of your blog (in a good way) and I don't want people following me back to my blog and maybe leaving abusive comments there if they don't like a comment that I have left. I am glad you are taking a stand! My family is not effected by the school lunches one way or another because we homeschool, but I think every child deserves healthy meals. Since so many families can't afford it, they are depending on the schools to do what is right. I am glad that you and others are making such a bold stand. No one should abuse you for that!

  10. Cate July 20, 2010 at 3:57 am #

    I get email notification of new comments from Blogger with links to the old posts. You don't get those?

  11. Kathy July 20, 2010 at 4:49 am #

    If Blogger frustrates you, you might look into WordPress. It may be a case of the grass being greener elsewhere in your case, but it also would be worth some comparisons.

    Glad you're allowing your blog and your journey to evolve. Change is a necessary thing.

  12. Carol July 20, 2010 at 4:55 am #

    Mrs. Q: I saw this post and read it with interest. I, too, have a blog, but mine is not anything that is helping others make better choices in their lives, or giving one something to ponder or consider or, in any way, suggesting that individuals wake up, smell the coffee, take a stand, and make a change in "the system" as it pertains to school lunches across our nation. I moderate the comments on my blog because I read it was the best way to prohibit spam and I decided I would rather monitor comments and prevent spam from appearing, rather than have to back track and eliminate already posted spam. It's an easy task for me because my blog doesn't have a large following, so there isn't a lot for me to monitor!!

    I applaud your efforts, and can imagine the time it would take to review all comments . . . especially since your blog is popular and seems to be gaining in popularity.

  13. Scattered Mom July 20, 2010 at 6:21 am #

    You can get a widget to put in your sidebar that will show recent comments. That way, you can find out what post the person is commenting on if you like because it will link to it in the widget. If you want I can send you the link 🙂

  14. Colean July 20, 2010 at 6:32 am #

    This is YOUR blog, Mrs. Q and you should run it any way you see fit. There are a ton of us who support you, and I hope you realize that regardless of the people who are just hateful. Also I think being able to post anonymously frees people from the responsibility of their words.

    You keep doing what you are doing. We're behind you!

  15. Losing Weight After 45 is a Bitch July 20, 2010 at 11:42 am #

    You got to do what you got to do, although I often think the most interesting part of blogs are the comments. It's always interesting to read about how people feel and the reasoning behind it.

  16. Julia July 20, 2010 at 12:39 pm #

    I am an avid comment reader on this and other blogs, and I'm glad to see your policy for comments fleshing out. I think it's more than fair to ask people to be respectful of you and of each other. People can disagree but state their differences in a polite and objective manner. All good!

  17. M July 20, 2010 at 1:30 pm #

    Keep smiling, Mrs Q! You're doing a great job! 🙂

  18. Crystal July 20, 2010 at 1:51 pm #

    It's YOUR blog to do what you want, if others aren't happy then they don't have to read it. I've read your blog since the begining nearly and this is the first comment I've ever left you. I say keep up the good work, you are a great blogger. You have a great number of followers that support you.

  19. Mrs. Q July 20, 2010 at 2:06 pm #

    Thanks so much to all the commenters! It is my blog and I manage content exclusively. I just want to be fair to all who want to participate in the experience.

    @ScatteredMom — I'd love the widget! Please email me fedupwithlunchATgmailDOTCOM

    @Julie – that is really interesting that if I am moderating comments I become responsible for them. I must have misread something online. That gives me something to think about…

  20. Anonymous July 20, 2010 at 2:39 pm #

    As an owner of a blog myself (though, for personal use and certainly not with the number of readers you have) I completely understand the need to disable comments.

    I have no read the plethora of comments already posted here, but given how great this has been and how many people I know that read you via digest (like monthly etc), I'd recommend an alternate method of 'late' comments. These wouldn't be as public so perhaps this is not a great idea. But, perhaps getting a 'throw-away' email account (from Gmail, yahoo, msn or some other source that does not reveal your ID in any way). Have that ID tied to this blog only. This way you can get late, but useful (to you) comments. Then, hopefully, you can either post these or use them for ideas for new posts.

    Remember to secure it (https:// only, use an alternate password written down at your home PC – because if they are at your house, it's already too late, etc). Remember to archive abuse – so that if patterns emerge you can show history to the cops.

    Alternately, maybe it is just too much work especially considering this is not your full time job. 😀

  21. Rachel July 20, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    Your blog might be set up differently than mine, but on my Blogger dashboard where the comments that need moderation show up, there's a "Post Name" link right above the box where all the comments are listed. If you click that link it separates them out by blog post so you can tell which post they're responding to.

  22. Mrs. Q July 20, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

    @Rachel — wow do I feel dumb now! I never clicked that before. Thanks for the tip!

  23. HenrysMom A2MI July 20, 2010 at 6:25 pm #

    Mrs. Q, it's your blog, do with it what you like! I support your decisions. Keep up the good work.

  24. Kim July 20, 2010 at 6:29 pm #

    Mrs. Q, as a follower, I actually like knowing that comments will be shut down after a week or two. It will make it far less cumbersome to check for new comments that I may have missed on "older" blog entries.

    Who could have predicted that a tofu omelet and a Mickey D's poster would incite a couple of verbal riots? Yikes!

    SuperSecretUserName, you funny.

  25. Richard G July 20, 2010 at 7:22 pm #

    I think you reasons and policy are both well though out. I have moderated all comments on my own Blogger blog since I started out in September 2006. I have declined to post very few in that time the most common reasons being 'spam' or an otherwise lack of relevance. Profanity and libel are, thankfully, not topics that I have been confronted with and I do publish comments the sentiment within which I disagree. Moderation vs. censorship is a fine line but I think one has to trust oneself to realize where it should be drawn. Keep up thy good work!

  26. Anonymous July 20, 2010 at 7:41 pm #

    i think it's pretty funny actually that people start fighting about things like whether grains and mc donalds are evil or not. but it does make for a few laughs on the lunch break to see what people argue about. thanks mrs. q for your blog, it's always interesting.

  27. Anita July 20, 2010 at 8:05 pm #

    You can be notified of every comment, regardless of how long the post has been there.

    Go to "Dashboard." Click on "Settings." Click on "Comments." Scroll to the bottom of the screen. Type your email address in the "Comment Notification Email" box. Click on "Save Settings."

    Every time someone posts to your blog, including yourself, you will receive it in your email in box. No need to go to the blog. If the person has an email address attached to their comment, you can personally respond to them with your "reply option."

    If you want, you can have comments go to more than one email addresss. Just add it in the box, separated by a comma.

    Hope this helps you or someone else who may be reading it. It took a long time for me to discover this, and I wondered why Blogger didn't make such an easy and important feature more known.

  28. Anonymous July 21, 2010 at 1:12 am #

    As silly as it is for people to get into fights on the internet, you should take it as a compliment, Mrs Q! People are thinking, and taking sides, and getting really passionate about their stances on the issue, so it's a sign that you're really inspiring people to have heated, serious discussions about a heated, serious issue. Am I optimistically searching for silver lining? Perhaps. :p

  29. Mrs. H July 21, 2010 at 3:19 am #

    You go girl! You're the BEST!

  30. Mrs. Q July 21, 2010 at 1:31 pm #

    Thanks for all your comments! It's cool to see how all of you handle it.

  31. Anonymous July 21, 2010 at 6:23 pm #

    I definitely understand that moderating comments can be a big pain. But it's also really frustrating when you have something you want to say about a post, or even in response to another comment, and can't because the comments have been closed! That's what happened to me last week with the McDonald's post.

    Regarding that, now that I can comment (even if it's not entirely appropriate here), I just want to say that I think your post caused such a firestorm of comments not because people felt the need to defend to McDonald's, but because we felt the need to defend ourselves. The way you (and many of the people who comment here) talk about fast food makes those of us who do enjoy the occasional Big Mac feel like we must be stupid, horrible people for doing so. I think you just need to consider your tone when you talk about things like that, because you seem to think everyone who reads this is on the same page, when we don't all necessarily agree. You and many others act like fast food is the devil, while some of us don't think we're killing ourselves or our children by eating it from time to time (though I think we can all agree that eating fast food daily is not good for anyone). Sure, you say, "do what's right for your family." But your follow up comments about McDonald's clearly indicate that you don't think ever stepping foot inside one is right for anyone's family.

    I had a lot more to say at the time, but I'll leave it at that.

  32. Mrs. Q July 21, 2010 at 6:53 pm #

    @Anonymous 1:23PM — Yeah, I guess you are right. But I'm left wondering why can't you get your occasional burger at a local place where your dollar stays in the community? When you spend a dollar at McDonald's it's going to Oak Brook Illinois corporate HQ. I prefer the local greasy spoon's food over some overly processed beef equivalent BigMac. What's so great about the BigMac? It disgusts me.

  33. Anonymous July 21, 2010 at 7:55 pm #

    That is a good point! And we do support our local restaurants, too. We have some great diners here. However, they don't have a dollar menu. I said "Big Mac" in my original post, but when we go to McDonald's, it's usually to take advantage of the dollar menu when we're short on time AND cash. Unfortunately, you just can't get that kind of deal at any of our locally run burger places. If only we could!

    As far as what's so great about the Big Mac, for me it's the Thousand Island dressing. 🙂 I think the three buns is crazy though, and usually take out the middle one.

    It all comes down to taste, though, I suppose. I could just as easily ask you, "what's so great about tofu? It disgusts me!" Different people like different things.

    I'm curious, though, is there any fast food that you like? You seem to have a particular disdain for McDonald's, but I don't think you've mentioned any other fast food joints. I realize you don't care much for fast food in general, but do you have any guilty pleasures?

  34. Mrs. Q July 21, 2010 at 8:35 pm #

    @Anonymous — While I was pregnant I would get milkshakes from SteakNShake. My favorite fast food joint was Taco Bell, but again the last time I ate there I was pregnant and that was more than two years ago.

    I realize that not have money or time makes it challenging, but I'm up against the wall with that too. I guess if I liked the food there it would make it more tempting. Since I don't it's way easier for us to go other places. Little ethnic diners can be very affordable!

  35. Holly July 21, 2010 at 8:37 pm #

    WordPress.com might be easier for you than Blogger, and you can import all your Blogger posts and comments in one click. Seriously. WordPress.com also has a great antispam that takes care of all non-real comments.

    Have you thought about having your husband or one trusted friend approve some of the comments? Maybe someone else could take over the job of approving the comments that are obviously okay, which is probably most of them, and then leaving the sketchy ones for you. And maybe deleting the abusive ones that you don't even need to read?

  36. Kim July 25, 2010 at 3:58 pm #

    Mrs. Q, I wish there were "little ethnic diners" in my town but there aren't. If you don't want fast food, the only options are Friendly's or bars or pricey restaurants. I won't eat a burger from Friendly's because my sister got a serious case of food poisoning from an undercooked Friendly's burger when she visited me 3 or 4 yrs. ago. Taking pricey restaurants off the list of possibilities due to affordability concerns, you're left with a choice of 2 bars. I certainly wouldn't take a child to a bar and I don't drink alcohol (other than one 5 oz. glass of wine with Thanksgiving and Xmas dinners–carefully measured because I'm diabetic) so the idea of going into a bar to get a burger just ain't gonna happen if those are my only choices. There are some mom & pop burger options in a couple of nearby towns but those are primarily lunch places that are closed by 5 pm.

    From 11 pm to 5 am, the only businesses open in my town (other than the 2 aforementioned bars that are open until 1 am on Fri. and Sat. nights) are a gas station/convenience store combo, a 24-hr. CVS pharmacy, and the McDonald's drive-thru (inside dining is closed). While I'm not a Big Mac fan, I can be happy with a double cheeseburger or a Filet-O-Fish. I also like their Southwest Chicken Salad with grilled chicken, their fruit & yogurt parfait and they serve a special New England blend of Newman's Own Organic coffee that I love and they charge a buck less for a cuppa than Starbuck's, Dunkin' Donuts, or Tim Horton's.

    While I'm sure that a good chunk of our town's Mickey D's profits go to HQ in Oak Brook, it's operated as a franchise that's owned by a local businessman. That means much of the profit does stay local. Relative to most other McDonald's locations, this is a large restaurant and it employs a lot of people (wish I knew how many but certainly dozens). I love that our McDonald's hires many senior citizens, handicapped people (including a guy who works the front counter in a wheel chair), and many high school students for whom this is likely their very first job.

    I think it's pretty nice to have this McDonald's in my town. If they were to close down, the food options from 11 pm to 5 am would be Vienna sausages on Ritz crackers from CVS or a Slurpee from the gas station.

    I worked at a Wendy's franchise for one semester in college. I do remember that the ground beef was sourced locally and it was labeled "100% pure beef." It came from a meat processor in a town just a few miles away. I assume it was sourced from locally-grown cattle since we were in the middle of beef cattle country.

    I have the impression that the ground beef in a McDonald's burger is also 100% beef with no additives other than salt. I'm not sure why I have that impression but maybe it was stated in one of their ads. I think their food standards may be significantly higher than you might give them credit for. After all, they won't buy spent hens which are egg layers that are about 2 yrs. old and can no longer lay eggs (or maybe enough eggs to be profitable, I've forgotten which). Fast food chains won't buy them because the meat is tough. Spent hens are funneled instead to our school lunch program.

  37. former urban public school teacher July 25, 2010 at 10:35 pm #

    I too have become quite disgusted with the tone and the herd mentality of this blog. YOur opinion is one thing; passing it off as a lifestyle for everyone is another. As your blog has grown in popularity, so has your ego and your need to spout off a lifestyle for everyone that may not be feasible. Stick to school lunches only as right now, the entire focus and content of your blog has shifted making it another suburban blog preaching to the sheeple.

  38. Mrs. Q July 25, 2010 at 11:05 pm #

    @former urban public school teacher — please email me!

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