Comments about comments

April 10, 2008 at 8:46 am Leave a comment

Cross-posted to Teaching PR blog.

 

I promised my WOM class students a post on “commenting” — how to write good comments, how to get good comments on a blog. It’s long overdue, but here goes:

 

Writing comments on a blog post

  • A blog is a conversation, so your comment is not just tolerated, it’s welcomed.
  • A comment should help build a conversation by saying something new, providing more information, or suggesting other relevant posts or stories.
  • It’s okay to disagree, but a blog belongs to a person, not the community at large. Therefore, treat the blogger with the same respect you would treat a host in a home.
  • Skip the “I agree” and “you’re so wonderful” comments. They do nothing to extend the conversation, and only tend to make you look silly. If you really want to say that you like something they said, explain why in a way that adds to the discussion.
  • Don’t just use comments as a way to publicize your own posts. Unless you’ve written something absolutely and completely relevant to the discussion, don’t link to yourself.
  • If a post inspires you to write a lengthy response, it may be better to write your own post and link to the original. In that case, it would be OK to write a comment explaining that.
  • The half-life of a post is pretty short. In general, you should comment within a few days of the original posting.
  • Bear in mind that sometimes an e-mail message may be more appropriate than a comment.

Recommended reading: 5 Comments No Serious Blogger Should Ever Post, Tiffany Monhollon; Geek to Live: Lifehacker’s Guide to Weblog Comments, Gina Trapani

Inspiring comments on your own blog

  • Ask for them. Ask a question, tell your readers you want to know what they think.
  • Respond to comments when you get them. If someone has taken the time to respond, you can take the time, too. It may be hard sometimes, particularly if the comment is of the “I agree” variety, but try to engage the person in a conversation.
  • Just as you should be a gracious visitor, be a gracious host.
  • Return the favor. If the commenter leaves a link, follow it to their blog. If you find something useful or engaging, leave a comment. If not, check back another day. Chances are, you’re interested in some of the same things.
  • Some people suggest writing controversial or purposely provocative posts. These certainly can inspire comments, but you’d better be sure you can handle the spotlight before you try this tactic, especially if you’re new to the field.
  • A few words on the technical aspects: If you moderate comments, post them quickly. People aren’t likely to wait around for responses if they’re slow to come. Similarly, enabling subscriptions to the comments allows people to follow the conversation without checking back to your original post.

Recommended reading: 10 Techniques to Get More Comments on Your Blog, Darren Rowse; 5 Easy Ways to Make Your Comments Section a Conversation, Tiffany Monhollon; Want More Comments on Your Blog?, Mack Collier

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