Monday, September 22, 2014

Blog Comments and AdSense

Today's post isn't one I planned to write, in fact, I had planned to update some older posts to reflect some of the recent changes in AdSense, but after finding this comment (you'll see it later in the post) waiting to be published, I realized that it might be wise to remind publishers that the comments they allow to be posted on their blogs matter.

You see, with AdSense, everything on your site matters. Whether it's your written contents, or images and videos, or even the comments your visitors leave. Visitor comments are considered "user generated content" and as publishers, we are responsible for contents generated by users of our sites.

What that means is that as a publisher, if you are using AdSense on your site, then you need to monitor and review all comments that are posted on your articles. Because even those comments can get ad serving disabled on your site.

Comments that contain a lot of profanity, or provide links to prohibited or illegal contents are just as much a policy violation on your site, as that content would be if you posted it yourself. You need to set your comment system up so that you can review and approve comments before they appear on your blog or site, no matter what type of comment system you are using. For Adsense publishers, there isn't really an option - if you allow comments to be posted directly to your site without your review, you are opening yourself up to several kinds of abuse (spam comments is only one issue), and you are placing undue risk on your AdSense account.

The type of comments I refuse to publish on my articles are:

  • obvious spam
  • comments containing links to spammy websites
  • comments with profanity
  • comments where it's clear the person hasn't read the article
  • bot comments (also considered spam)
  • comments containing affiliate links
  • comments containing hate speech
  • comments containing potentially libelous statements
And it's that last bullet point that I consider to be one of the more difficult ones to decide on. At least, it probably is for a lot of ordinary publishers.

You see, a libelous statement can be one where false allegations are made, and if you don't know whether an accusation is false or not, you may not even know if the statement is libelous or not. I refuse to publish comments that might contain libel, such as the one I deleted:

Firstly, because the grammar is so bad, I can't really be sure what this person is trying to say exactly. I've blurred some of it out since it actually doesn't make much sense. Secondly, several references are made to AdSense and Google with respect to them not paying "billions of publishers" (adsense only has just over 2 million publishers, so that statement is a bold lie, since there aren't "billions" of publishers in the first place) and to "sending" fake traffic (Google do not "send" anyone, they provide search results, and AdSense doesn't bring traffic to your site at all).

Because these statements might be considered libel (and possibly defamation) I refuse to have them published on my blogs. Some people might consider that going a little overboard in terms of safety, but when it comes to AdSense, there it's always better to err on the side of caution (and you'll note, that I don't even have AdSense on this blog).  Today I published part of a screenshot, although I am hesitant to do even that, but publishing this sort of thing as standard textual content in the comments sections meas it is searchable by crawlers, and indexed as well. Not only do I not want to be responsible for publishing libel on my site, I don't think it's fair to publish unfounded statements that come with no proof attached.

  1. the action of damaging the good reputation of someone; slander or libel.
    "she sued him for defamation"

AdWords ads may send traffic if an advertiser has purchased ads, and if that's what this person was referring to, then AdWords actually has recourse for the Advertiser to have their funds return to them. I don't deal with AdWords in this blog, so I won't address that except to say that advertisers can request investigations directly from an AdWords rep - they have direct contact with AdWords staff.

So for those of you who do not moderate your comments, you just might want to begin doing so, and go back and review some of the previously published comments on your site.

Who wants to lose their account for comments someone else has made? I dunno about you folks, but I sure don't.

posted by J. Gracey Stinson


  1. Yes moderating comments is truly an extremely important part of maintaining your blog in accordance with AdSense policies. Google+ comments enabled on your Blogger blog help a great deal in doing this task automatically. You are notified of new comments to your blog posts shared on Google+ directly in your email inbox, and that way you can visit your blog (while logged in to your Google account) and moderate the newly posted comments.

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