One of the things that initially differentiated blogs from website was the ability for readers to leave comments. These comments most often are found at the bottom of each individual blog post and was the innovative form that produced conversational dialogue. This enhanced a blog through engagement and is the feature set that can be pointed to as the propellant in the popularity of blogs as a whole.
Bloggers themselves view comments, and the ability to do so, in relatively different lights. There are some who determine the popularity of a post on the number of comments, some who determine the success of a post on the quality of comments, those who just crave comments for the sake of receiving them, and those who really don’t care for comments at all. While each of these viewpoints are understandable, there is no “correct” viewpoint.
There have also been a number of instances where blogs determine that they need a comment policy. The popular physician blog KevinMD has just updated their policy due to receiving comments that were a little too lengthy. While having a comment policy is an understandable initiative, it really isn’t something new bloggers need to worry about. Once your site gets huge, then it is definitely something to consider.
Comments are, for all intense purposes, what you and your readers who comment make of them.
Comments With Benefits
There are definite benefits to both allowing comments and leaving comments.
Allowing comments shows that you are open to discussion. This level of engagement will keep readers coming back time and time again. Comments left can turn into future content for your site. Most importantly it is an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation that could effect change on the topic you are blogging about.
Leaving a thoughtful comment on a post has a number of benefits. It will expand the knowlegebase of the blogger and other readers about YOU. The vast majority of comment systems provide a URL field, so there will be some traffic generated. Most importantly, it is a way to build a relationship with the other blogger and their readers that you might not have otherwise formed.
When Leaving Comments
It’s important that when leaving a comment you do so after reading the post and giving your comment some actual thought. It may just be a sentence or two, but there is nothing worse than a comment that obviously has entirely missed what was written in the post.
It’s also important to read the other comments on a post. If you’re one of the first, that’s great because you can set the tone for discussion. Ending the comment in a thoughtful question is a great way to initialize a conversation instead of simply leaving your own opinion that may or may not start a discussion. If you’re not one of the first, it’s important to know where the discussion has gone and take that into account when leaving you’re own comment.
When You Receive Comments
Responding to comments is another topic where there are various opinions. Some bloggers view their pressing publish as the end of their involvement on the post and allow their pontification to stand on its own merit. There are other bloggers who value every single comment and to show their appreciation they will reply to every single comment. Another option is to reply to the comment in an entirely new blog post.
Personally, I tend to waver along a middle road. Usually I’ll reply to a comment that adds something new to the post and I always try to reply to a comment that asks a question. Comments that I find to be both attempting to spread misinformation as well as disrespectful are usually the ones I address in a separate post.
How you respond to comments is a choice you need to make for yourself, but keep in mind that your level of response will affect the number of comments you actually receive. Everyone likes to be acknowledged for their contribution, and they are more likely to come back and comment again if they feel recognized by a reply.
Comment Tips And Tools
Here are 5 tips to commenting:
- Stay on topic
- Use the opportunity to create a relationship, not to make a pitch for something
- Keep the comment to the point, no longer than 3 paragraphs maxed out at 5 sentences each
- It’s okay to disagree, just be respectful when doing so
- Make sure that you have a registered Gravatar so people can put a “face” to the comment
Here are 3 tools for your blog’s comments:
- Disqus – this is the commenting system that I use here on TheSocialMedic.net. It allows for social network log ons, threaded discussions, gravatars, and comment ranking amongst other features
- Intense Debate – this is another commenting system that is extremely similar to Disqus. Because their feature set is so similar, it’s really a matter of personal preference as to which one you use
- Facebook Comment Box – this is a “social widget” from Facebook for bloggers to integrate into their blogs. Users need a Facebook account to log in and comment. This is both good, in that it keeps anonymous trolls at bay for the most part, but also bad because if you have sworn off Facebook as some people have then they will not be able to leave a comment
Do you have another suggestion or idea? Feel free to leave a comment…
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