I read the following tweet the other day and it piqued my interest:
If someone requests that a comment they made three years ago be deleted as it shows up in Google searches about them, would you delete it?
— Jeff (@jeffr0) August 22, 2017
Jeffr0 is Jeff Chandler, editor in chief at WP Tavern, a website dedicated to things happening in and around WordPress. WP Tavern is owned by Audrey Capital, an angel investment and research company created by Matt Mullenweg, co-creator of WordPress and founder and CEO of Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com.
This tweet bugged me for a couple of reasons. If someone asks you to remove a comment they left three years ago because it’s showing up in Google when people search their name, the nice thing to do is to delete or sanitize the comment. If you can’t bring yourself to delete the comment, at least remove all identifying information from the comment that connects the comment author.
One shouldn’t need to go to Twitter asking people if you should do this.
When in doubt, be nice. This is especially true when being nice doesn’t burn any calories All Jeff Chandler had to do was either delete the comment or remove the comment author’s full name and URL from the comment.
Never miss an opportunity to be nice, especially when doing so is so easy.
The other thing that annoys me is Jeff Chandler deletes comments all the time on WP Tavern. Comments regularly disappear on WP Tavern. It’s one of the reasons I stopped leaving comments on WP Tavern. I don’t think any of my comments were deleted, but I’ve seen loads of others slip into the ether, never to be seen again.
— pearsonified (@pearsonified) August 8, 2017
I’ve tried to follow comments on some of the most active posts on WP Tavern. I would make a note of how many comments were in a thread and if I saw that number increase, I’d scroll down to find the new comments. What I often saw was the total comment count decrease, not increase.
The funniest part about that is each comment left on WP Tavern must first be manually approved before it shows up. Each and every one. It doesn’t matter if you’ve left 50 quality comments there in the past, each new comment must still be manually approved. Why go back and delete comments after you’ve already approved them? Who knows. The perception is that if a certain someone reads a comment they don’t like, they tell Jeff Chandler to delete it.
That’s the perception. It may be true or it may not be true, but it’s what some people believe it going on. The problem is Matt Mullenweg owns WP Tavern, a website that tries to be a WordPress news site. When comments disappear even after they’re approved by an administrator, it looks kind of fishy.
For the record, I delete comments when people ask me to, unless they threaten me with legal action. I hold comments in moderation if it’s the first time someone is leaving a comment. Once their first comment has been approved by me, they’re free to leave future comments without delay or moderation. I figure if someone doesn’t post links to penis enlargement cream in their first comment, they won’t do it in any subsequent comments.
I could be wrong.