It is never nice to receive abusive, rude, insulting or inappropriate comments on a blog, particularly a class blog. There are a few things to bear in mind:
- Our blogs are always set up for comments to be moderated prior to them appearing in public. So, no matter how upsetting the material posted, it will not be publicly viewable unless someone has altered the discussion settings or moderated it (this could only be a blog administrator).
- It is vanishingly rare for a school blog to receive a genuinely abusive comment - I have been asked to investigate one single example of such behaviour in over 12 years of blogging with schools.
- Every single example of rude, insulting or inappropriate comments that I have investigated has always come from someone associated with the school and its wider community (often an ex pupil). Again, this is extremely rare and happens on a few occasions per year.
- We cannot cite a single example of a comment on a class blog from "the Internet stranger" soliciting information.
When considering your approach to the receipt of such a comment the first thing to note that it is extremely important to distinguish between the above categories and spam comments. Spam is defined as irrelevant or unsolicited messages sent over the Internet, typically to a large number of users, for the purposes of advertising, phishing, spreading malware, etc. and is dealt with by our anti spam filtering system (See here for more information).
If you receive a comment that you are not sure about then take the following steps:
- Do not delete it, leave it on the dashboard of your blog unmoderated;
- Report it to the appropriate person. This might be the IT Leader, a member of SLT or even safeguarding lead at school;
- Email email@example.com reporting the comment as suspicious, abusive, insulting etc. making sure you include the address of the blog in which the comment was received.
Here's what we will do:
- We will look at the IP address of the comment (the address on the internet that left it) to determine whether that IP address is associated with legitimate comments elsewhere on your site (and in that way identifying the source - it may be that a sibling has accessed a device normally used by a child from your school).
- We will use the IP address to attempt to identify the geographical area that the device was located in. Note that this is very imprecise and we cannot guarantee that we are able to do this, especially with mobile devices.
- If necessary, and with your agreement, we will block the IP address from accessing your site.
- In extremely severe cases we will, with your agreement, report the offending IP address to the Internet Service Provider (ISP) who provides that internet connection. They have a legal duty to investigate all such reports of abuse, but due to privacy laws it is extremely unlikely that the owner of that IP address would be identified to you by the ISP unless the police were involved.
- We will keep you updated and report on our actions.
As noted above, we have only had to take the step outlined in 4 above of reporting to an ISP once in 12 years of blogging. In that instance we never heard what steps that the ISP took, but the abusive behaviour stopped almost immediately and was never repeated.