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bolt_cutters.pngIn 2004, the Kryptonite Lock Company handled a blog storm so badly it was actually awarded Business 2.0 Magazine’s Dumbest Business Moment of the Year Award.
Recently, the company again ran into a thorny problem. But this time, Kryptonite handled it in a way that could win them a Smart Way to Handle a Blog Storm award, if there were such a thing.

The current issue: how to respond on its blog, (finally started in 2007) and in bike forums, to a competitor’s attempt to discredit the effectiveness of a Kryptonite lock.
The claim, made in a bike forum was that “ordinary wire cutters” could be used by a thief to break a Kryptonite lock. However, as Donna Tocci, Kryptonite PR director, points out, those 42-inch bolt cutters that were cited cost approximately $600 -742 (US) and are the tools of only the most dedicated thieves.
Last week, in an exceedingly long post, with the hand of the company’s lawyer quite apparent, Tocci responded. Despite the fact that it took them weeks to come up with their response, I think the company has handled the situation in a reasoned and thorough way.
Given the breakneck speed with which online communication moves, and the amount of damage that can be done in hours, let alone weeks, the speed is my basic point of contention.
Back story: Tocci, who’s become a friend over the past couple of years, emailed me a couple of weeks ago asking me for my opinion and advice on the problem. She asked me to wait to blog about our conversation, and I did, telling her I would do so as long as a thorough response would be coming soon.
She told me that a competitor had slammed them in comments on the Kryptonite blog and in bike forums (including Bike Forums and Visor Down ) and she wanted to know if it is seen as acceptable to moderate comments and not to publish ones that are abusive.
In this case, a commenter called her “a liar” and mentioned “silencing the Kryptonite PR girl”, which certainly sounds threatening.
I responded:

“it is absolutely acceptable, and most blogs do it. When it becomes a problem is when someone won’t allow negative comments or comments they just don’t like.
I draw the line at abusive and my policy is that if I wouldn’t allow it in my living room I won’t allow it on my blog. Many people post their comment policy in the sidebar. I’ve posted mine several times.”

And i encouraged her to out the commenters

“I feel that slime dries up when you shine a light on it and if I were you, I’d out them immediately and fully and let your readers weigh in on it — with comment moderation of course! :>)

Tocci emailed me yesterday, saying:

“The piece of the ‘story’, if you want to write about is when a company blog goes to comment moderation. Why it would. Why it may be necessary. We did and we will keep it that way. I’d like for it to be open comments, but sometimes it just isn’t realistic, I guess.
Interestingly, when we did the most negative comments slowed to a trickle. We are approving all comments that are legitimate comments without any hesitation even if they aren’t pro brand. I fully support that all voices should be heard, as long as they follow our living room rule. “

Posted by B.L. Ochman