Keeping the Crazy out of Your Comments

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Recently, Google announced that they are rolling out comment moderation abilities to a handful of YouTube users, with plans for a widespread release in the future.

This is a welcome addition to the YouTube community, and anyone who has ever been brave enough to view comments on even the most innocent of YouTube videos knows exactly why. For beneath nearly every YouTube video lies some of the most ignorant, racist, and profane collection of nonsense you could ever imagine.

So, I started thinking… if a universally popular site like YouTube is experiencing these problems, what about our customers here at IX? What is an upstart blogger or online business owner supposed to do if they want user feedback, but want to avoid this type of online nastiness?

The Problem

Comment spam a very odd phenomenon that takes place on the internet. The ability to anonymously say anything you want, coupled with the absence of accountability, turns some people into raving maniacs who choose to take out their frustrations and insecurities anywhere they can.

This problem isn’t only affecting YouTube, either. Take a look at the comment section of any website that handles movie reviews, news, politics, or gaming. You’re sure to find your fair share of senseless aggression and filth.

So, the question is, how do website owners defend themselves from these malicious parties?

Know Your Enemy

First, let’s identify where all of this garbage is coming from. There are 3 major categories of inappropriate comment sources that you’ll want to filter out:

1. Trolls – Trolls are people that get a kick out of ruffling feathers. They will purposely try and start a online ruckus by presenting a ridiculous opinion in a serious manner, or play devil’s advocate just to rile people up. They rarely believe what they write, but they take pleasure in getting under people’s skin.

2. Bots – If you ever see a comment that sounds like an advertisement, it’s most likely a spam bot. Much like spam emails, these automated bots leave comments on popular videos and blogs with promises of great wealth for minimal effort. Here’s an example:

spammer

Note: Finding this bot spam took me literally 30 seconds. It was the most recent comment on the popular Gangnam Style music video on YouTube.

3. Genuine Craziness – Even though a lot of comment section trash is generated by people just being jerks to rile people up, there are some folks out there who have an agenda and legitimately believe in what they’re saying. These people can be particularly off-putting to level-headed comment posters because they’re typically angry, offensive, illogical, and relentless.

Filter out the Filth

Now that you know where all the junk is coming from, here are some methods to keep it out of your comment sections and message boards.

Turn off Anonymous Comments – If your blog software or comment section of your site has a setting that allows people to comment anonymously, make sure to switch it off. This will cut down on a very large amount of spam bots and trolls.

Captcha – This free program prompts the user to type in a series of letters or numbers before they make a comment to ensure that they are a live human being and not an automated spam bot. You may have seen these at one time or another on an online store or when signing up for a newsletter.

recaptcha

 

Captcha plugins are available for popular blogging and CMS software like WordPress, MediaWiki, and ASP.NET. Check out their website for more information.

Text Filters – Check to see if your blog or forum software of choice has a plugin that will filter out profanity, sexual references, and racial slurs. Some of these filters will just replace offending words with asterisks, while others will restrict an offending message from being posted at all. This should drive away or at least censor people who want to simply coat your comment section will four-letter words.

Don’t Over-Censor

Not all confrontation is necessarily bad when it comes to online comments. While filtering out the bad apples makes a comment area a better, more peaceful place, don’t be tempted to start banning people because of minor disagreements or legitimate gripes.

For instance, if you sell a product, and someone leaves a message on your comment board that says, “Your product broke after 3 days. Not a happy customer,” you might be tempted to remove the content or ban the user so they don’t spread any more ‘bad press’ about your company. However, this is a huge mistake and can backfire for a number of reasons.

For one, your customers are your revenue base, so it’s best to keep them happy. Ignoring or deleting users that have real complaints doesn’t fix the underlying problem, and will only cause more headaches in the future.

Secondly, if you’re caught intentionally ignoring or censoring displeased customers, you’ll soon find yourself in a firestorm of bad press. Nothing shows your customer base that you don’t care about them more than deleting bad reviews to skew public reception into your favor. People will take to Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and anywhere else that people will listen to decry your name and shady business practices. When it’s all said and done, the act of censoring a negative review can hurt far more than the negative review itself.

It’s best to address gripes and complaints head on, and in public. Make your own comment profile and respond to customers’ concerns directly. Let your users and customers see that you’re not afraid to address the issue and help someone who’s unhappy. It demonstrates your willingness to work with people and your openness to criticism.

Conclusion

These tips should help you ward off the majority of cyber-crazies, but there isn’t an everlasting cure-all. You have to be a constant gardener when it comes to your website’s forums. So, periodically check your comment boards and user forums from time to time to make sure they haven’t been consumed by the internet’s darker side.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!

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Holiday Sale IX-travaganza! – Updated

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Hey everyone!  This year we wanted to do something special for the holidays, so, we’re having a huge Holiday Sale!  These great deals are just around the corner:

  • 25% off ANY shared hosting plan when you use the coupon: HOLIDAY2012!
  • 50% off the first month of our introductory Cloud or VPS plans! Coupons: HOLIDAYCLOUD12 & HOLIDAYVPS12
  • For IX Customers Only: SSL certificates are only $4.95! Check your email for coupon codes!
  • UPDATEThe $1.99 new .com domain promotion has reached the limit.  Promo Code HAPPYHOLIDAYS is no longer effective.  The $1 .com, .net, and .org domain promotion when WHOIS Privacy is purchased is still active, however.  No promo code necessary.  Thanks!

It all starts this month, December 17th-25th!  Don’t miss out!

We love giving back to our customers for the holidays, but we also remember that there are less fortunate people people in the world.  There are families out there struggling to make ends meet. That’s why, for the third year in a row, IX Web Hosting joined the Franklin County Children Service’s Holiday Wish event!  This year, we all came together and raised enough money to give toys to 85 children. Check out the full story!

Happy Holidays! We hope everyone has a safe and wonderful holiday season.

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Look Who Made it into the Web Hosting Industry Review!

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Michael Harris of Ecommerce, Inc. talking about The Innovation Initiative at HostingCon 2012

Congrats to Mike Harris who made another appearance in Web Hosting Industry Review magazine!

Earlier this year, you’ll recall Mike having done a talk on his Innovation Initiative for HostingCon 2012. Apparently, WHIR enjoyed his talk so much, they decided to do a feature-length article on his ideas.

Every company faces the challenge of developing new ways to sell their products, solve a problem, or improve efficiency. Mike’s concept is for companies to use their entire workforce to drive innovation and develop creative ideas, rather than only relying on members of management or hiring outside consultants. Mike explained this in the article, but also gave us some ideas on how even smaller teams can take advantage of his ideas. So, keep reading to find out how you might be able to use Mike’s concepts for yourself!

When describing why his approach is so effective in the WHIR piece, Mike said, “What’s so interesting about the approach is you get a really good variety of ideas and backgrounds because you’re grabbing from different areas of expertise and you’re bringing them together,” He continues. “They come in as if they were all co-founders in a startup company to solve whatever problem it is they want to solve.”

Mike also explained how his method can be very beneficial to companies that have a limited amount of staff and financial resources.

“This is a way to leverage the resources you already have and achieve results that you didn’t believe possible before. For a company like us… we’re not the biggest company in the world, but it gave us a big company research and development group on a budget, if you will.”

Some of you might be wondering how to use these concepts for your own purposes. Well, we asked Mike for some insight on how some of our customers can take advantage of his ideas.

“The approach to innovation that I am sharing will work for small and large companies alike. The concepts do not depend on company size at all, but rather the ability to create small, diverse teams with the freedom to focus and the autonomy to create change. The challenge for very small companies will be to create team diversity when it comes to member’s backgrounds, skill sets, and experience. To achieve this diversity you could ask a customer, vendor, friend, or family member to participate. Once you have a few diverse thinkers on the team, the concepts and practices will apply just as they do for larger companies.”

After overcoming the challenge of creating team diversity, it’s up to those smaller organizations to then carry out the innovation concepts that Mike outlines so they too can propel forward.

To read the WHIR article in its entirety, check out “The Innovation Initiative with Michael Harris of Ecommerce, Inc.”!

Thanks, and once again, congratulations to Mike!

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Three Thousand Dollars!

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IX Top Converter Affiliate ProgramNow that I’ve got your attention, let me explain why I’m dangling obscene amounts of cash under your nose.

This month, IX Web Hosting is holding our very first Top Converter  Affiliate Contest.

The prize? You guessed it. Three thousand dollars. Oh yeah.

What’s that you say? You’d like to get involved? It’s easy. Become an IX Web Hosting Affiliate.

Here’s how it works: Affiliate Marketing is recommendation marketing, which means, whether you’re a customer of  IX Web Hosting or not, you recommend our hosting service to your website visitors, email list, you name it – and get compensated for every purchase they make.

In other words: You place ads (we have a huge collection!) or links on your sites, and, for every prospect who follows your link to IX Web Hosting and makes a purchase, you get paid.

You can earn up to $300 for each customer you refer to us. Some of our top affiliates are making thousands of dollars every month!Businessmen Jumping Hurdle

If you’re already a registered Affiliate or a Commission Junction Publisher, don’t worry – you’re automatically entered in the Top Converter Affiliate Contest.

At the end of February 2012 the affiliate with the highest improvement in conversion rate will be proclaimed the winner, and given the cold, hard cash. Of course, should you be the big winner, your prize money will be paid in addition to your normal monthly commissions.

Interested? We thought you would be. All you have to do is sign up here.

Sign up today!

IX Affiliate BannersClick the ‘Start Earning Today button and get in on the action! The registration only takes a few minutes, so you can start making money right away.

Remember, the affiliate with the highest conversion rate increase will win the $3,000 – so merely placing a banner on your site will not be enough. You’re going to want to sell, sell, sell.

Try adding a paragraph or two about the quality of our services and support. If you’re already a customer, tell them how great your experiences have been with IX Web Hosting. Mention our special promo rates. Tell them about our 30-day money back guarantee and our helpful, friendly, 24/7 call center in Columbus Ohio.

The more customers you drive to our site, the higher your chances of getting your hands on the $3,000 prize for being our Top Converter!

So what are you waiting for? Sign up, start promoting, and good luck!

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We're Always There When You Need Us The Most!

Your Dedicated Support

At IX, we take care of our customers. And dedicated support is one of the ways we prove to you again and again that we are here to help you every step of the way, regardless of your skill level. With IX dedicated support, you get a support technician personally assigned to assist you. You get their name, number, email, social media connections, and work schedule! It's just one more facet of our service which proves our deeply rooted belief that being a great hosting provider requires more than just cutting-edge technologies, but the best in support and service.