Dealing with off-topic posts as a host

Since it’s very easy to submit posts to blog carnivals, the “barrier to entry” for the submitter is pretty low.  This can be a pain for the person hosting a carnival, since the host has to wade through a bunch of irrelevant submissions as the blog carnival is being assembled.

As a host there are a few ways of handling off-topic posts:

  • Silently exclude the post.  Just don’t include a particular post.  Maybe state in the carnival that there were a few off-topic posts submitted to your edition that weren’t included.  See if you hear from the submitter.
  • Exclude the post but let the submitter know.  If it’s reasonably close to topic but not quite, let the submitter know and suggest another carnival that might be a better fit.  Sometimes the submitter will accept this and other times they will debate it.  Forewarned is forearmed.
  • Spin the post to fit the topic.  This is another approach that can be taken for close-to-topic posts.  Word the description of the post to make a closer fit.  Doing this gives extra posts to your carnival.
  • Include it but separate it as off-topic.  For all but the most off-the-wall topics this might be a way to handle it.  It avoids most debates with the posters (their posts were included, after all) and indicates to the carnival readers that you did actually read enough of the post to recognize it as off-topic.  If you’re in an ornery mood, you could mock the post, I suppose, but that has its own set of consequences.

In managing my carnival I usually leave the discretion to the host because it’s their blog and their carnival, ultimately.  They have to be comfortable with what they post.  For other carnival managers, they may want more say in the editorial aspects of the carnival.  I won’t speak for all hosts but I’ll venture that most are reasonable folks that will listen to what you have to say as a host, so talk with them about issues as they come up.

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