FIRST POST! How the first comment sets the tone for the entire conversation

Back in the early days of blogging, readers of especially popular blogs started competing with each other to see who could be the first to comment on a post.

"FIRST POST!" would come the digital shout, the equivalent of a big of blog commenting graffiti, sort of like a tagger plastering his name on a wall. Nothing actually was said. It doesn't relate to the post at all. The poster has just established that they were here first.

Folks typing FIRST POST miss a huge opportunity, because as the first commenter they have a lot of power. It's important to understand how the first comment on a post has the ability to define the mood of the entire conversation. It's the first comments that I tend to watch most closely in my moderation process.

How to write your blog’s comment policy

On my sites, I’ve create three slightly different versions of my commenting policy. Here’s Offbeat Bride’s and here’s Offbeat Mama’s comment policy. They’ve proven remarkably effective in dealing with comment drama, and while I would never suggest that your policies should be the same as mine, I can offer some general tips for creating a commenting policy that’s a good fit for your site: