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The Art of Commenting

I began blogging in 2010. It took me a surprisingly long time to figure out that if I wanted my posts to be read, I would have to indicate to other bloggers that my blog existed. That meant doing more than “liking” posts; I had to contribute my thoughts in the form of comments. Once I began doing that, my blog gained readers, “likes,” and followers. Now I am part of a large community of writers, thinkers, and opiners.

When it comes to commenting on blog posts, this is what I do:

  • I usually comment only when I have something to say (other than “Great post!”).
  • It’s easier to comment soon after a post has published, rather than when a couple of dozen other readers have said it all. It’s a bit lame to say, “What everyone else said,” or “Me too!”
  • I’m more likely to comment if a post has few or no comments, especially when there are quite a few “likes.” If there are lots of comments and I don’t have anything new to add, I “like” and leave.
  • I’m uneasy about commenting late in the day when I’m tired, because it’s too easy to word a comment badly and offend or mystify someone. When my gut says “Don’t do it!” I listen.
  • If a comment I’m about to post sounds patronizing or condescending, I don’t post it.
  • If I really have nothing to add, I don’t comment, but I “like” the post to indicate that I’ve read it.
  • Sometimes a “like” means “I like it!” but sometimes it’s just a way of saying “I read it.”
  • If I find a post offensive or totally unrelatable, I neither “like” nor comment, unless I can come up with a civil way of disagreeing that may add to the conversation.
  • I never say that a post is “fantastic,” “fabulous,” or (cringe) “awesome.” It’s theoretically possible that a day will come when I encounter a post that’s accurately described by one of these words (except “awesome”), but it’s unlikely.
  • The posts I find hardest to comment on are those where congratulations or condolences are the only possible responses. It’s hard to say those things in an original way. Instead of scrolling through dozens of near-identical comments, I skip to the end of the comments queue, say something brief and sincere, and don’t worry whether it’s original.
  • Otherwise, it’s often interesting to read others’ comments and even comment on them. I love it when that happens on my blog; it’s as though guests at a party are connecting without my help.
  • I always respond to comments on my blog, if only to acknowledge and thank the commenter.

When I read blog posts first thing in the morning, using a tablet, any comments I make have to be thumb-typed. I much prefer a real keyboard, but I’ve developed a fair amount of speed and accuracy on the tablet’s keyboard. I was delighted to discover where the apostrophe, parentheses, and hyphens were hidden. And I must say the word suggestions above the keyboard are handy (although sometimes a bit peculiar).

Fellow bloggers, what are your thoughts on comments? Please comment!

152 comments

      1. Thank you for this excellent summary about the value and power of commenting. It ought to be part of everyone’s introduction to the WordPress community. I particularly appreciate this item in your list: “If I find a post offensive or totally unrelatable, I neither “like” nor comment, unless I can come up with a civil way of disagreeing that may add to the conversation.” This wisdom is what (in my experience) seems to keep the WordPress community thriving in a respectful manner.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Hi Audrey, As with many ‘beginners’ at anything, I imagine many people must feel awkward at first…I know I did. Checking back, I am sad to see few responses to the earliest posts. The fact that I had few followers/online friends then may have had something to do with it!! Perhaps I’ll republish some of my old favs. just to see the response?! Some are very zany…Like you, Audrey, I only press ‘like’ to register I have read a post and don’t have anything relevant to say. And I would never criticize anyone’s work on line, except mildly in a review. (like “A bit slow to start, but then it picked up…” Taste is so subjective! All power to your writing. Best wishes.

    Liked by 6 people

      1. Re-blogging one’s original blog posts is an intriguing idea which I have only begun to explore. My earliest posts often had no visual imagery (which I now love to find and include and give credit for…) Food for thought.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Sometimes I am held back from commenting when it seems to me that everything has already been said and my opinion would be just a repetition.
    If I don’t like a post, I usually don’t say it and I don’t even like it 💐

    Liked by 6 people

  3. Audrey, great thoughts on commenting (and “liking”)! Time is a factor — it’s hard to leave a substantial comment under more than a few blog posts each day when there is other work to do, including replying to comments under one’s own blog. But having conversations under various blogs is so interesting and rewarding!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Hi Dave, I agree that if you really engage with other bloggers and their posts, you can only fit in a few in a reading session. That is why I don’t read every post by bloggers I follow as some post every day or even a few times a day. I pick out the ones that interest me the most to read.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Sounds like you have a good system, Robbie! I’m kind of awed by bloggers who post super-often — even several times a day, as you note — but it’s hard to keep up with reading everything they write. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

  4. It’s easier to comment on a more detailed post; I like to quote segments I can reply to, or agree/disagree with. It took me a while to tune my (selective) responses so my online presence is one I’m happy with.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. I follow the same commenting guidelines that you do, Audrey. I found it much easier to comment and engage when I stopped reading blog posts on a tablet and went to a Chromebook. (I still haven’t mastered the fine art of thumb-typing. I’m still index finger-poking.)

    Liked by 7 people

  6. What everyone said.:-)

    I try to leave a comment that is specific to that post, no generic comments. It doesn’t always work, and sometimes my comments are eye-rolling. But I reckon even a bland, eye-rolling comment is somewhat appreciated by the blogger.

    I don’t hesitate to use your verboten “awesome” and “fab” and “fantastic” because they are words I use IRL. I have young people in my life, and I think I’ve picked up some of their terminology. But when I do a “vibe check” with the daughter, I often have her “ROFL” or get an admonishment for being “basic.”

    Liked by 8 people

  7. My thoughts are very similar to yours, and any time the question of advice to new bloggers comes up, mine is always to go and comment on blogs you like – it’s the only really successful way to build a congenial group. When I started out I probably started following too many blogs in my enthusiasm, and reached a point where comments – making and replying – were consuming more time than I could afford. But I’ve gradually learned to do what you mention – only comment when I feel I have something to add. Though sometimes with long-time blog buddies, if they post about something that doesn’t really interest me much, I still leave a joke comment just to kind of highlight that I visited. You have to be reasonably sure the person knows you well enough not to take offence, though!

    Liked by 5 people

  8. It drives me crazy that it seems that I make every comment about myself – just like this one. It seems like the natural thing to do – a conversation. But then when I look back, I cringe. I’m not on social media so hitting the “like” button is not something I do. I appreciate all comments. I will only add that I appreciate that you respond to every comment. I think that is important. Thank you.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Thanks, Chuck, and you’re welcome. Comments are your thoughts, so they are about you, in effect. I don’t do social media either. Blogging and posting reviews on Goodreads is about it for me; could be that’s why I have time and energy to respond to comments!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I love all the comments I get on my blog, short or long. I sometimes think I have nothing of value to add to a post but try to say something. Then I find it gets great responses. Perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to doubt ourselves. xo

    Liked by 6 people

  10. I think of commenting as an essential part of blogging, though having said that, I feel I’m not very good at it, and it’s sometimes a struggle to break the ice. As for the comments I get, there are the sincere ones, where someone was genuinely interested in what they read, and then there are comments that are obviously more about self-promotion. Also, as Kingmidget says, those likes that appear seconds after you’ve posted are annoying, when the “liker” is invariably selling something. I guess there’s a balance and, in the same way as opening a conversation with a stranger, you have to take the plunge and say something to get the ball rolling.

    Also, like you I tend to read blogs first thing in the morning, on a tablet or my phone, but I prefer commenting from the laptop which is easier to type on, but I’m often late picking the laptop up and if something has arisen in the day to distract me, I sometimes forget to leave a comment. It’s good advice also as you say only to comment if you’ve something to say, otherwise I too like to leave a like to indicate that I’ve read the post, unless, again as you mention, I really didn’t engage with it, or disagreed with it. I would also step back from anyone obviously looking for an argument, or espousing offensive views, which in my experience anyway is rare on WordPress. Above all, though, I find comments and likes are so encouraging, and want to reciprocate.

    Then there are the blogs you follow and comment upon and would really like to engage with the author, but they either don’t respond or they come back with a brief “thanks”, and never reciprocate on anything you’ve written. As Neil says, they seem to prefer writing in a vacuum, and it’s perhaps best to let them get on with it.

    Anyway, good to see there’s always a lively conversation going on around your blog, Audrey.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. I was referring to an idea I’ve had brewing for a decade… The Content Economy is one where everyone can get paid tiny amounts for quality content, regardless of form. And, it costs $ (a nickel maybe) to “Like” something — the money going to the content creator.
        It all flows through a service-bank which takes a small cut for operating expenses, etc.
        Pay creators directly is the concept — even for good comments.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. I think some kind of distributed payment system is coming, but we need blockchain technology to make it possible. At the moment, Australian [and I assume international] banks charge for every single transaction. If we were to get paid 10c for a bit of content but were charged 20c for the transaction, we’d end up losing money. 😦

          Liked by 4 people

          1. I considered blockchain as a means to implement this, and I think it might help.
            The micropayment system will need to be a different beast than common banking transactions. Faster, and nearly costless.
            A central ContentEconomy service hub that perform the transactions for requests of payment is the key. There are models in the financial system already that do this – securities and options trading is one that has to be fast and cheap. Billions of transactions per hour.

            Liked by 3 people

            1. That central service hub sounds like the perfect solution of the ‘how’. Getting people to trust the process, once there is one, may be harder to manage. I hope I’m still around to enjoy it. 😀

              Liked by 3 people

  11. I inadvertently tripped a blogger’s trigger point one time using a word I thought was complimentary but was a definite trigger point. (The blogger had blogged about it and I did not recall reading that particular blog). I have since made sure to say something nice but using other words in my vocabulary. I do agree with all of the points you made, but sometimes there are landmines one can not anticipate.

    Liked by 5 people

  12. These are excellent tips, Audrey, and I have incorporated some of them into my blogging life, but realize I can do more. My biggest reason for not commenting is simply because I’m near exhaustion and, like you, don’t want to type something that might sound silly or unclear. I tend to read blogs in the evening, after a day of writing and editing, so it’s also kind of my relaxation time.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I know what you mean, Debra. I read posts for a short time first thing in the morning, and come back to blogging in the evening, which is when I write my posts as well. By that point, I’m often out of well-phrased comments!
      Thanks for your comments!

      Liked by 2 people

  13. I do a lot of commenting, Audrey, and I think it’s why my blog gets so busy. But more so, engagement is the key to building friendships, and that’s the part of blogging that I like best. I will “like” quite a bit too, but if someone leaves a comment, I always try to return the favor. 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

        1. -nods- in real life I love dinner parties because you can relax with friends and have wonderful, in-depth conversations. Who knew you could do the same thing with blogging? The only difference is that there are so many more friends sitting around that dinner table. 🙂

          Liked by 3 people

  14. A very wise and thoughtful post Audrey. Like you I mostly try and back my ‘likes’ up with a comment. Although sometimes a comment doesn’t seem necessary, like a beautiful picture on a ‘Wordless Post’ or maybe a clever piece of promotion of a book that might not be ‘your scene’ but is worth a like.
    Ironically, I started up on WP as a means to improve my writing, break out of the bubble and exchange views with fellow writers.
    That said I could not keep my political side out of things and now have two sets of folk.. people who write and people who have a political side to their blogs. In the case of the latter I always have something to say (for better or for worse)…hence two blog sites 😀

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Like many writers, I started blogging to build an “author platform” and promote my books. I didn’t realize it would be a way to connect with so many writers and bloggers in a more rewarding way.
      It’s probably best to have different blogs for different areas of interest, but I’ve stuck with one for both gardening and writing posts.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Roger!

      Liked by 2 people

  15. I touched on this topic in my latest post. Commenting is a useful skill, no doubt, and your approach seems logical. When I comment, I use similar guidance. I’m an introvert, however, and for my “tribe”communication, including commenting, is not always an easy task. But, I’m genuinely happy to receive comments (thanks, Audrey!) and I always reply.

    Liked by 5 people

  16. This post is similar to one of my main blogging tips. If we’re going to engage, which is essential, it’s critical to add something of substance. Saying “nice post” or something to that effect adds nothing.

    Though I don’t always have time to listen to your video posts with other authors, I enjoy listening to different points of view on the same questions.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s great when those commenting have a variety of views, but that is in part determined by the post. I sometimes take exception with writing rules; those posts have spurred quite a few comments. Fortunately all civil and polite!
      Thanks for your comment, Pete!

      Liked by 2 people

  17. Hi Audrey, I am always interested in how others experience writing and blogging. I don’t read every post by all the bloggers I follow because I have a lot of blogging friends and there just isn’t time. I nearly always leave a comment because most posts that I do read interest me. I generally only follow people whose posts I enjoy.

    Liked by 6 people

  18. Interesting blog Andy. My thoughts on comments it is that a blogger should comment only when they have something to say, when they want to elaborate further on the topic, when they have enjoyed reading the post and are giving it a thumbs up 👍

    Also, what’s great about comments it is that you have a conversation with the writer of the blog and agree with others who have left their feedback on the comments section, it is such a great feeling when you comment here and another blogger agrees with you. The comments can lead to a heated debate even🙌

    Liked by 4 people

  19. I have just started my blogging journey and honestly this post has enlightened me. With only few weeks experience I can attest that commenting on other bloggers’ posts aids in building your own audience.
    My appreciation Audrey Driscoll for such an enlightening article.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. I have been the one to visit a post, like it and leave. I had never been encouraged to comment on why I liked the post. I like this post because it rings true to who I am, and who I could be. Thanks for the lesson you have taught us writers.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Awesome! Haha, just kidding (not really).

    But seriously, I have the same policy when it comes to commenting. If I have nothing to contribute I don’t. If I find a post offensive, I just scroll along and ignore it. Most often, I find myself liking a post more than commenting on them. I prefer reading comments to writing them. Seriously, that should be a genre of literature on its own.

    “What do you like to read? Fantasy, romance, sci-fi?”

    “Oh, me? Comments.”

    Liked by 3 people

  22. Learnt alot from that post
    Am not really the type that love to drop comments not only on blog post but on other social media platforms too and even group chat. But with this I will try to adjust

    Liked by 3 people

  23. In my thoughts, commenting seems awkward to me especially when youre just saying something to anyone for you to get noticed. I don’t know, but, I think leaving some comments could also clear your minds on a particular topic or issue. Nice post.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. In my thoughts, commenting seems awkward to me especially when youre just saying something to anyone for you to get noticed. I don’t know, but, I think leaving some comments could also clear your mind on a particular topic or issue. Nice post.

    Like

  25. Hello Audrey, that was very informative, thank you. I published my first blog two days ago and I am struggling with getting any comments on it. I’m awed you’ve been writing here for over a decade and I’d give an arm to have a seasoned blogger like you kindly check the piece I wrote… It was a mainstream media critic. It would mean a lot to me, thank you again

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I didn’t know! The beginning caught my attention. That if I must gain massive followers, I must follow others and comment on their blogs. THE ART OF COMMENTING INDEED. I’ll start exercising this just immediately!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I also had my own experience when it come to commenting on one’s blog post.

    Most people Siad that, commenting for the purpose of backlinks has no value.

    Though Backlinko still recommend it.

    But my problem was, “how can I comment with a link without getting penalty from the authors blog post.

    But after research, I learnt that…

    I will have to read the blog post first and understand it.

    When I try that, I come to realise that I can comment and others will reply or like my comments.

    What make me to have more backlinks and readers was…

    When I published a post, i will type my post title in Google search.

    All the related blog post on that title will appear.

    I will visit each one and make comments with a link to my post.

    But what I do is…

    I try to give value so that others will benefit.

    So that was how I saw some traffic increase.

    The truth here is that…

    Comments on other blog post related to my blog post has help me a lot.

    It has made readers to discover my blog post

    Liked by 1 person

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