You’ve seen them: folks who leave a comment on Facebook or on your blog. The comment itself may or may not be great, but for some reason… they’ve included some sort of signature link or mention of their website, company, organization – whatever. Here’s an example:

Hey, this was a great post. I definitely agree with what you are saying. I’ve been managing communities for many years and one of the challenges that you’ll face is definitely in the management of members who are looking to cause you some sort of harm. It takes patience and an understanding that you must protect the community as a whole.

Patrick O’Keefe
Author, “Managing Online Forums” –

This is not a comment I’d actually leave.

You only get a signature if the site allows you one. This will usually mean one of two things. Many communities allow you to set a signature in your profile and then have guidelines covering what you can and cannot have in it. In this case, it’s allowed, within the site’s guidelines. Place your signature in the specified area – and no where else.

The other instance would be, even if you don’t have a specified box, that the site’s terms or guidelines say it is OK to have a signature, the person running the site told you so or, at least, it is a generally accepted practice at the site.

In any other case, never assume that it is acceptable. Always ask first to see if it is OK and then respect what they say. Otherwise, you are using a space that is not yours to use in a manner that is not kosher. This sort of practice also has a spammy feel to it. Whenever I see someone do this, that is the first thing that comes to mind.

Many blogs allow you to post a name and URL and have your name linked and that is generous and should be utilized. But, that is where the line should be. Unless it is allowed or generally accepted, don’t take it upon yourself to insert your website or company name in your comment in a context that is not consistent with the site’s general community.

Note that I am not talking about a signature that is just your first name, etc. If you want to sign your posts or comments with your name – and only your name – then generally that is going to be OK.

But, I see some people who consider themselves to be social media savvy doing this and I wonder why. Especially with blog comments, it kind of concerns me. I did an interview a while back with a blogger and one of the founders of a somewhat well known social network for entrepreneurs (not going to name them) came and left a comment with links to their site, etc. It got deleted – and rightly so. The blogger that interviewed me told me that the person scolded them for removing the comment. Remarkable. And, yet, not unheard of.

After this happened, someone else at the company that I knew before she worked there, contacted me and said that the aforementioned founder would like to meet me and if it would be OK if they set up the introduction. I declined.