The Art of Commenting

Comments!

Comments!

Comments on blogs — it seems so simple, but there are many things to consider as both the host and as the commenter. In the blogging world, comments are a big deal. It means someone’s reading our stuff and engaging with it! And how people comment can tell us a lot about how well our post did. It lets us know the types of posts people like too. It keeps pages active, which helps SEO.

So, what’s all the hubbub?

➺As a Host

Should you monitor every comment before it posts? Just the first one?

This is a tough one. I prefer to monitor the first comment by a new visitor, then let the rest go through. I think it’s much more work to have to approve every comment, than delete the odd spam comment that got though the filters.

Should you have captcha?

No. Blogger and WordPress both have great filters, and they are always being updated. Monitor your comments; you should be reading them anyway.

Should you use other commenting systems rather than the one that came with your blog?

No. No, no, no, no. Don’t make hoops for people to jump through. Many of these outside services are invasive, make people sign up for new stuff, or want access to accounts. They won’t do it. I don’t.

Should you reply to comments?

I think it’s a good practice. It reinforces to visitors, both new and old, that you’re engaged and interested in them. This doesn’t mean you have to reply to everyone. Make your replies count.

Should you leave comments turned on for older posts?

For me, I have found older posts just don’t get comments. Perhaps it’s because people think hosts won’t see a comment on an older post or that since it’s older, comments don’t matter. I have my blog close comments on posts older than 60 days. My two big reasons:

  • Older posts attract the most spam
  • Leaving comments open on all posts, slows loading time (it has to do with page requests, data, and crude)

Should you visit and comment on every visitor’s blogs?

This is a trickier question, and I don’t think there is a flat yes or no here. I do when I can.

➺As a Commenter

Why leave a comment?

It can lead to people commenting on your blog. Not just the host either. When I see a good comment, I visit that person’s blog and often add them to my RSS feeds.

What’s an appropriate comment?

Anything that is not spammy.  Now, the better the comment, the more you’ll stand out to the host and other visitors. I mean, we all want them to visit us, follow us, and become our buddies! Secrets to leaving a good comment:

  • Read the post
  • Try not to just restate what’s been said
  • Can’t find something specific to comment on, just let them know you like the post, be sincere
  • Don’t go overboard with a dissertation
  • Add something: share an example, add insight, add a point, add an amusing observation, or ask a related question (remember to comeback and look for the answer)

Should you have a avatar?

Yes. It adds to you, show’s you off, and helps you stand out. It also makes you more recognizable. If you visit WordPress blogs, get a free gravatar account. All you do is attach an image to an email account. You can add your blog URL too. It take less than two minutes.

  • Note: Gravatars can slow page loading, but here I think the trade off is worth it.

Should you add links to your post?

Nope, not unless it’s a reference to your comment. In almost all blogs, your name links to your blog, there’s no need to add it. Adding links often throws comments into directly into the spam folder.

  • Note: I don’t allow html in comments. This has cut down on spam and moderation.

question

What are your thoughts on comments and commenting?

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49 Comments

  1. Hi Holly!
    So interesting to see a post about comments. We all value comments, yet Google analytics shows that only a third of my visitors leave a comment. I think that's pretty normal. I've only had one or two cases of spam in 7 years of blogging, so certainly no need for the dreaded captcha or moderating comments. It's so obvious when people who don't read your post leave comments and that usually means they just want you to visit them. I always try to visit a commenter, but I'm sure I'm not perfect. I've never turned off comments on old posts, either. Must go do that right now.
    Have a great week!

    DEnise 🙂

    1. Same here on the comments. A lot of my view are older posts. Blogger is great at catching spam. WordPress is too, but they like to tell you how much it's removed for you.

      I try to visit everyone too, but I missed people sometimes too.

  2. Hi Holly – oh ok I'll go and turn off my comment facility on posts older than 60 days … I don't do captcha – though blogger says its there … it doesn't work – mine doesn't … comments go through. I've had a bit of spam – usually from one person … but I delete as soon as I find.. but the 60 day thing may stop that.

    The thing that frustrates me most – is that people don't tell me where they've come from – and boy is that irritating. I hate going to G+ … can't find my way round …

    But I generally stick to what I would call normal helpful etiquette (i.e. per life in general) for commenting …

    Cheers – I'll be interested to read others' comments – Hilary

    1. The Blogger robot thing is funny. I think everyone has it, but you can just ignore it. I'm not a fan of Google+ either. They changed the layout again and I don't know where to find their information. 🙁

  3. Great post!
    Just kidding.
    Word verification comes on automatically after visiting twenty-five or so Blogger blogs in a day. No way to turn it off or stop it.
    I set my comments to require approval on posts older than one week.
    Agree about the other commenting systems!
    I don't think I've ever set up a gravatar.

    1. Yeah, what's up with that! I don't understand why Blogger does that. Maybe someday someone will find out and tell us. 🙂

      1. And now I'm back to test my new Gravatar. And see if it worked…

        1. Guess not. I did set one up though.

          1. It did, it did. I see it! Sometimes it take awhile to update the info.

  4. An appropriate comment isn't longer than the post either.

    Good list. I try to get to most commenter's blogs, but sometimes I miss a few.

    1. Ha! Yes, I've seen comments longer than posts too.

  5. Excellent information! I try to leave good comments, but sometimes time and/or the subject matter get in the way. I blog only once a month. I leave comments open on all older blogs, but I moderate any for posts older than 30 days. There isn't much.

    1. I'll admit to leaving sucky comments from time to time, but I want them to know I was there and read their stuff–just like you say sometime the subject matter/time plays into it.

  6. If only more folks would follow these tips! I really should turn off comments on my old posts, because they do get spam. Sixty days sounds like a good time period for that. Thanks for that! 🙂

    1. The 60 seems like a decent cut off. For me, that's about eight posts. I tried 90 days, but nobody commented back that far.

  7. These are all perfect guidelines, Holly. In fact, I now have to check and see if I do stop comments after x number of days. I've forgotten. Thanks so much.

  8. We love a good comment, and we try to encourage open conversation in our comment section. "That was great!" or "This is funny!" is cool and all, but that really doesn't do anything for us. And it's a great way to connect with readers. To get a sample of what they're thinking. It's still crazy to us that for all the traffic we get, only about 3-5% leave comments. We have to assume people like what they're reading, because we have a 70% return rate, but we don't really know until we read the comments.

    We don't moderate, and we never delete comments, even the incredibly angry ones. And we've found that when you leave things open like that, more often than not, people are more willing to engage in actual conversation (even if they disagree) than leave a scathing anonymous comment and never return (the ol' hit and run!).

    1. I think I've only deleted one comment and it was defamatory to a group of people–I just couldn't abide with that. 😉 I keep fairly good track of my comments, but I keep the first one moderated still. Some spam sneaks in that way, but also it reminds me to give a warm welcome to a new visitor.

  9. I've been musing lately on comments too and if replying to the ones I get are worth the time. I like doing it, but lately, I've been lacking energy, so replying to people who comment on my blog has fallen by the way side. I have been trying to go visit people's blogs who comment on mine. You can find some great blogs that way.

    1. I get that. I think commenting has its ebbs and flows too.

  10. Interesting post!

    I view comments as feedback/review, and therefore often invaluable in judging what I'm doing write. On WordPress, I generally pigeonhole feedback into three types: 1) "Likes". Though not comments in actual fact, I use them as a sort of "I've read your post and didn't hate it" or "I've read your post and either didn't have time to comment, or couldn't think of anything relevant to comment." It's not an absolute that people use it the same way, of course, but I think it's a fair rule of thumb.

    2) Cheerleading types of posts. "Great post, would love to hear more, right on," and that sort of thing. I do it too, usually when I've enjoyed a post enough to make the effort to comment, but maybe I couldn't single out anything specific to comment on.

    3) Specific comments, referencing something in the blog post, or a character, or an event, and feedback (positive or negative) on why it worked (or didn't). I try to give these as often as I can, as I love receiving them. They show that a reader is really paying attention to what you're writing.

    My *other* content-posting account is on fanfiction.net, where I am lucky enough to receive mostly type #3 from some very wonderful readers. A little comment along the lines of "I loved it when X did that" or "I can't believe Y got away with doing ABC" or something along those lines always brightens my day. One of my stories recently had a mini-arc involving a spy infiltrating the group, and it was tons of fun hearing my readers speculate about the who and the why. Sometimes I peruse the reviews of stories over there with high review numbers, and I see a lot of generic "This is great, please write more" and "Good story, keep going," and I thank my lucky stars for the awesome, switched-on readers who care enough to give me feedback on the specifics of what they enjoy (or don't).

    One thing I do have a lot of trouble with is Blogger/Blogspot/whatever it's calling itself these days. Sometimes, I don't pass its "prove you're not a robot" test (Turing would be turning in his grave) leaving me high and dry when it comes to commenting on some of my fav blogs. I really wish I knew why it sometimes fails me on being human. :S

    Hope I didn't just leave a comment that's longer than the post! 😉

    1. Oh Spacey, you came in under my post count (barely) LOL!😀

  11. I like to respond to all of my comments to show that I've read them and in case there is an opportunity to open further discussion about the issues, which sometimes there is.

    I do like the idea of signature links because often I find that clicking on the name will lead me to something like Google+ which doesn't always lead me to the commenter's blog. The link is also faster. I can distinguish between a real blogger link and a spam link probably 99% of the time and if I'm in doubt I don't click on the link and delete the comment because rarely is a spam comment a legitimate comment that has anything to do with my post.

    Arlee Bird
    <a href="http://tossingitout.blogspot.com/">Tossing It Out</a>

    1. I use to have legitimate comments booted into spam because of links. Sometimes it was because the person entered the parts of the link wrong and made it suspicious (I guess). Others, I dunno why.

  12. I think comments are one of the best aspects of blogging because that's where you get the interaction. I do go back to others' posts occasionally to see if they answered a point I raised; however, I need to be consistent in replying to my own. One thing I do swear by is getting back to the blog of every visitor. Unless I can't find them. Interesting about the links; it seems to be a practice that's on the rise.

    1. I think it's great too. I love hearing what people have to say. Everyone comes from different places (I talking more metaphorically) so it give a wider view of whatever.

  13. Great tips, H.R. Comments are important. I know I fail when it comes to responding to comments left on my blogger. That's one area I really need to improve on. I think I have my comments turned off on anything over 30 days old.

    1. I didn't do it for a long time. I didn't realize people came back to read replies. It was when I say it on other sites I like seeing that the host was responsive.

  14. Testing stuff 👴 👵 👱 👼 👸 👹 👺 💀 👽 💩

  15. Thank you for the great information. I'd never heard before that leaving commenting open for all posts slows a site down. My site seems to have been getting slower over time, and I wonder if this is one of the reasons why. I have thought before about closing commenting for old posts, but I have very little problem with spam and I actually do get good comments on older posts sometimes, so I wasn't sure there was a reason to. Having read this, I might rethink my strategy.

    1. Blogs, especially WP, run into loading issues so quickly.

  16. Yup. I have a different system for moderating comments. I allow any comments for the first 3 days after the post, then have to approve all comments afterwards. I look over the comments in those first three days to make sure there is not spam, but this system tends to work really well since spammers like to find an old post an comment when no one is looking.

  17. I've become awful at replying to comments on my blog. I always did it faithfully but lately time has been a huge issue and I have let it slide. I do try to make sure I reciprocate visits and comments but I know I still need to get back in the habit of responding. Thanks for the reminder and for the other suggestions as well. 🙂

    1. There's a definitely ebb and flow on both sides of commenting, too.

  18. When I start doing videos I'll have to make a choice on how I handle. YouTube is filled with bungholes. So I might monitor are first. Not really sure yet. Interesting about cutting down on spam by not allowing html links. Smart cookie, you.

    1. YouTube is had a whole different audience of commenters. I don't really know how I'd handle that. 😕

      1. Some truly nasty folks, I find. No idea what I'll run into when I finally get there.

  19. i think blogging has changed, but comment etiquette hasn't =)
    i do what i can as my life has gotten busier… it's bittersweet as my kids get older and soon i will have more time to write and blog, so i am and i'm not looking forward to the silence…

    i like twitter, all i have to do is like or retweet! it's crazy over there!

    1. I've been getting into Twitter for the same reasons. My next post will touch on that.

  20. On the other side of the coin, I look forward to the day when I possibly won't have enough time to answer comments on my blog….which pretty much number at 0, generally, since I started it a year ago and have struggled with SEOs and all that.
    This is a good reminder to think about commenting etiquette, tho. Thanx HR.

    1. Ah, that'll be a nice day!

  21. Hi, Holly,

    A very insightful post. Sadly some commenters DON'T really now know to comment. And MANY lack sincerity because half the time what they comment about is usually different that what you posted. READ the post! So many readers gloss over the post and only pick up a phrase here and there. Why bother then? We look forward to our comments and what to relish in them. SO if the comment lacks sincerity, then it leaves my flat.

    Hope all is well with you? Any new contests? On a whim, I read about a Twitter pitch contest on a blogger buddy's post and PITCHED. The first two… nothing. I was bummed. With only twenty minutes left, I pitched one last time… IT WORKED! Hit pay dirt. The agent requested my query and first three chapters… NOW the waiting begins… UGH!!! Will keep you posted.

    1. Sorry about the typo in first sentence… it should read, Sadly some commenters DON'T really know how to comment. Ugh. LOL

    2. Congrats! Yes, yes, keep me posted!

      I used to open multiple posts and read and comment, then found out I was leaving the wrong comment on the wrong post! Embarrassing! I thought I was being efficient. I wasn’t. 🙂

  22. I've never thought about turning off comments on older posts. The two reasons you mentioned make me think that I should go back and turn off comments on all old posts. But I'm not sure I have the time to do so.

    Html in comments attracts more spam? I had no idea. You are clued up with these techno things, Holly!

  23. What about commenters who are blog followers, but end up offline for a good deal of time so rush back through the posts to play catch up? Then again, if I'm 60 days behind, then it might be best just to jump to the latest, huh?

    Good tips. I admit I don't usually respond to blog comments, which is probably bad manners. But I do visit those who visit me.

    1. 😂 Replying to comments is tricky. The commenters will probably never see your reply (unless they asked a specific question).

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