Adding disclaimers on blog comments

I was asked a couple of days ago to add a disclaimer to the commenting section on a WordPress Blog, something like: “Commentators are asked to be polite, stay on topic. While we do monitor and moderate comments, they are the expression of the commentator and do not necessarily share the opinion of the Blog owner.”

Surprisingly at this time there is no comment disclaimer plugin for WordPress (Jump to the bottom of the page if you want to see how to do it). In fact there is really very little written on the subject.

Quite a few bloggers over the years have been sued or faced criminal charges for their own postings, basically using existing defamation and copyright law. And recently we are seeing the threat of terrorist charges for “disseminating” a video that I saw a huge number of blogs sharing at that time, I don’t know of any that were actually contacted by any authority.

BloggingBlue have a great Comment Policy & Disclaimer, but if you go to comment there, there your attention is not brought to this disclaimer when you actually comment, I guess it should say “by posting you agree…” I found another well worded document but again with no way for the commentator to confirm they have read or agree to the policy here at Monsanto, who I know face a lot of commenting abuse.

Looking for legal advice on this, all I found was an Australian lawyer who suggests that you should:

add a Creative Commons licence to your blog comments page stipulating that in posting comments they agree to license them to you.

Funnily enough, the much loved, decade old herche’s blog disclaimer does cover commenting quite well.

Comments on this website are the sole responsibility of their writers and the writer will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The accuracy, completeness, veracity, honesty, exactitude, factuality and politeness of comments are not guaranteed.

I think it is also important to warn aggressive trolls if you have a “Comment Kittening policy“.  Comment Kittening of course far more effective than the ban hammer or IP banning.

comment disclaimer

Adding the comment disclaimer, or whatever notice, will look like this is, and is done by adding the following to the custom.css or style.css.

 

#reply-title::after {
 content: "(your message to commentators)";
 font-size: 12px;
 text-transform: none;
 font-weight: 300;
 font-style: italic;
}

Of course if you do come across a better method, please let me know, just be polite, stay on topic…   😉

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