June 06, 2024

Ombuds Blog: New Policy on Comments

To date, I have approved about 3,700 comments on the Ombuds Blog. For the first several years, no one really commented. But that eventually changed and now comments are frequent and there is even some dialog. I find it deeply rewarding to provide a forum for our profession. 

Managing the comments takes some time as I personally approve each and every comment. This is primarily to weed out spambots, which post multiple times the number of legitimate comments. But I often have to evaluate authentic comments. Sometimes, I face a difficult choice when deciding how to handle an anonymous comment. A legitimate point can be embedded in a longer, inappropriate comment. Without knowing the author, I am unable to engage in a dialog and I have been uncomfortable editing someone else's viewpoint. So, I have had to chose between approving or rejecting the entire comment. 

Some have urged me to reject all anonymous comments, especially those critical of IOA. The reasoning is that people should feel comfortable raising issues directly with IOA leadership or going to the IOA Ombuds if they are concerned about retaliation. But I feel it is important to provide an independent public space for dissent. Moreover, anonymous comments can promote free speech by separating the content of the comment from the identity and status of the commenter.

With all of these thoughts in mind, I have decided on the following guidelines for comments on the Ombuds Blog. My hope is that these will make my work more transparent and promote healthy commentary.

Content and Relevance
  • Stay on topic: Comments should be relevant to the post. 
  • Be respectful: Personal attacks, insults, profanity, inflammatory language, and discriminatory or harassing comments will not be tolerated. Feedback should be respectful and constructive. 
  • No self-promotion or spam: Comments should contribute to the conversation and not be used to for commercial purposes. Links to relevant resources are welcome, but excessive linking will be flagged. 
  • No confidential information: Do not share confidential information about your organization or visitors. Comments should reflect the underlying values and standards for Ombuds.
Length and Format
  • Keep it concise: Comments should be clear and to the point. Excessively long comments may be edited for clarity and length. 
  • Use appropriate formatting: Do not use all caps unnecessarily. Comments may include HTML formatting for readability. 
Other Considerations
  • Be professional and respectful: Please be mindful of your content, even when commending anonymously. This blog exists to support and promote the Ombuds profession, and comments should reflect that goal.
  • Comments may be edited: I reserve the right to remove or edit any comments that violate these guidelines. My edits will be noted.
  • Complaints about IOA: While I welcome general discussions about the IOA, please note that this is not the appropriate forum to lodge formal complaints.  
  • Guest editorials: I will consider submissions for guest editorials offering a longer, more in-depth perspective on a topic related to the organizational ombuds profession. Please email me directly to discuss your idea. 


  1. "Some have urged me to reject all anonymous comments, especially those critical of IOA. The reasoning is that people should feel comfortable raising issues directly with IOA leadership or going to the IOA Ombuds if they are concerned about retaliation."

    Oh! The irony. People on college campus may use the ombuds but are not required to do so. Those who don't want to go to campus leadership or to an ombuds have access to whistleblower hotlines, anonymous bloge etc.

  2. Thank you very much, Tom. I wholeheartedly welcome these new policies. I appreciate your blog and recommend it to all new ombuds. And, in the past, some of the vitriolic anonymous comments have done harm to both individual ombuds and the profession as a whole. I think this is a wonderful way forward to encourage genuine dialogue.

    1. I agree! Thank you Tom for clarifying the expectations you and many other Ombuds would like to see on how the discourse on the profession is conducted.

  3. Very much appreciate your blog Tom and your care for all. Thank you.

  4. Thanks, Tom. I appreciate your consideration and clarity here. Hope it encourages even more people to add their comments to the ongoing Ombuds Blog conversation, when so moved.

  5. Hi Tom, thank you for this. Would you consider sticking this post to the top so it will be there for people to read for a good amount of time?

    1. Thanks, Lily. I just put a summary in the right column, where I hope it gets noticed. I'll also highlight the post later this week.

  6. I appreciate this post, Tom. It has stayed with me over these many days, like none other.
    The importance of an independent space for dissent (thank you for providing a public one) informs our work as organizational ombuds. Anonymity here is loosely akin to our visitors' confidentiality within our work spaces.
    Perhaps those who believe anonymity should not be allowed for, especially so when critical of IOA, would care to comment, identified of course, and engage in conversation with us all.