Friday, October 21, 2011

Comments, Comments, Comments

So because you guys are all so awesome with the comments you make on my blog critiques, I now am somewhat reevaluating the thoughts I have about comments. Responding to comments that is.  I first talked about this subject here. You don't have to go and read that post though because these are the basic rules I gave about responding to comments (in blue):

  • When you are building readership and have, say, two followers, you should always respond to their comments.
  • When you have hundreds of followers, you do not have to respond to each and every one - they are usually commenting on each other. 
  • Do respond if a comment contains a question or complaint directed at you.
  • Do respond if you said you were going to respond.
  • Don't respond when people are having a debate. Let them work it out themselves while you remain unbiased.
  • Don't respond when you can't remain calm in your comments. It's the old addage: If you can't say something nice, don't reply to a comment.
  • Do respond if you are genuinely moved to respond.

Now, like I said because of what I'm hearing from experienced bloggers, I have to say I stand by everything up there. But one important question has come up:

Is it silly to expect people to return to your blog to read your response to a comment?

Hmm. That's a good point. Many readers will not ever return to your blog to read your response. Some people do subscribe to responses, and I guess I've always thought that if someone really wanted a response they would do so. But you might have something to add to a comment and that person may NOT have subscribed.

Blogger Matt MacNish emails responses to his readers which, turns out, many people seem to really appreciate. This is a great tool for building relationships and I greatly admire this response tactic. Particularly because it really seems to fit with Matt's personality.

But here's the thing: when someone publicly asks a question or makes a comment they are leaving it for other people to see. Lots of times a reader will come a long and NOT comment because something similar has already been said or asked. But that second reader still wants to know what the blogger's response would be. I've been really frustrated, in fact, when I've read a blog, seen a question that I want to know the answer to and then never see a back up response. It's not fair to only respond to public comments in a private place. 

It also is somewhat about appearances. It looks better to readers when the blogger takes time to respond to readers.

Some bloggers like Michelle Fayard leave a comment on the blog but then email the person who left the comment to say, "I have left you a response to your comment on my blog".

This is a better tactic and I personally really appreciate it. But it could be argued that it creates more work for the person who commented. Maybe an even better idea is to both comment on the blog PLUS email a copy of the comment to the person who posted it.

There still is a problem with that last idea: the person who originally commented might have missed out on other things readers said related to that comment if you just email what you said.

The one last problem with emailing and commenting is that it takes time. Which takes you away from other things.

I guess in the end I would say this: What is your goal with your blog? If you are trying to build relationships, make every effort to make it easy for your readers. Email and comment on your blog. If your goal is to maintain a presence in the blogging world while you focus on your writing, then don't spend too much time responding to comments.

What do you think about the subject? Do you like to be emailed responses? Do you like it when authors respond on their blog?


Miranda Hardy said...

I am one of those people who will not revisit a blog. I have between 100-200 blog posts to read every day. But, like Matt, if they leave their email address connected with their blog, I respond via email to every comment left.

Joanna Marple said...

Love the idea of leaving a comment and emailing someone. I have appreciate it when a couple of times during this campaign bloggers have tweeted me to say they had replied to a question I had left. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said we have to know what our goals our in blogging and then use our time consequentially.

@Miranda, I take my hat off to someone who can keep up with so many blogs each day!

Sarah Fine said...

In general, I think it's nice when people email in response to comments and I try to do that myself. I never have time to return to blogs to read the bloggers' responses in the comments, as nice as that is.

Krista said...

I like a response - but often don't have time or forget to check. However - when I visit a blog - if I don't see response to comments from the author I may not leave one myself.

I think it all comes down to what works best for you :)

Martine said...

I always return if I really want to know the answer to what I've said. If I think I might be interested in other comments and discussions too, I'll subscribe to comments, if not, I'll stop by again in a day or two.

I definitely wouldn't mind an email notice with "thank you for commenting. I've responded", but it's not required. :)

Stephanie Scott said...

I always appreciate blog authors replying to comments. If I have nothing to do with the chain of convesation but read the blog later, it's nice to see the comments have been followed up on and see the author's reaction. I try to also post at the commenters blog that week so they know I read what they write, too.

Susankayequinn said...

I totally wrestled with this a few months ago. Ultimately, I decide to respond personally (via email) most of the time, unless the blog post had generated a public discussion. Then I would post on the blog. Very rarely, I would do both - only if I REALLY wanted to make sure the person saw my response, but I needed to make it public as well.

Great thoughts!

p.s. the reason why I'm mostly private now is because I like building person relationships with my blog commenters.

Susanna said...

If I've taken the time to comment, I always like when the blog owner acknowledges and replies. That said, if I subscribed to comments (which you can't always do) to every blog I commented on, I would have so much email it would get more out of hand than it already is. What we need is a comment system (I'm talking to you, Blogger) that makes it easy for people to follow up comments in threads and some kind of easy alert system that lets you know if someone has replied to your comment. As it stands now, I try to remember places I've commented and then go back and see if the blog owner replied - but that is time consuming and a very imperfect system! As a blog owner, I do respond to comments, but not everyone's email address is easy to access, so sending individual emails in return isn't always easy.

Michelle Fayard said...

Thanks for the shout out, Laura!

When I first started blogging, after I replied to each comment, I'd send an e-mail message letting the commenter know I'd left a response. Then, concerned it would take to much of the commenters' time, as you so rightly pointed out, I started just e-mailing a copy of my response to the commenter.

It's the old conundrum that if we as bloggers leave a response, chances are very good the commenter won't ever know about it unless we go that extra step--otherwise, we're pretty much talking to just ourselves, and the relationship with our followers doesn't grow and strengthen. And while it does take some extra time, it really saves time in the long run, as we now have a solid group of friends who will be more excited about helping to cheer us on the journey toward publication.

I'm delighted when someone carves time out of their crazy-busy day to visit my blog and then take time to comment. I know I can't expect them to go back and check my blog and everyone else's they follow to see if we said anything back.

Even though I often would like to see what the blog host and others have to say about a particular comment, to be honest I just don't have time to receive e-mail pings for all the other comments that particular post garners, on the off chance one will be about the one comment I'm most interested in.

I'm a fan of commenting tools such as IntenseDebate and Disqus, but for some odd reason they won't work with my Blogger template. They can help bloggers automatically notify commenters they have a response--but only if the commenter checks the box asking for these notifications.

And I've just written a post instead of a quick comment. :)

McKenzie McCann said...

Yes, I've wondered about responses too. I often reply to comments on my own blog, but others rarely return. I do my best, but it takes a lot of time, especially if the blogger didn't write anything to me.

LauraBarnes said...


Not only is it impressive that you visit 100-200 blogs, but I think its amazing that you respond via email. And it sounds like many bloggers are doing that. I guess I'm in the fail category on that one :( I guess I'll have to make an effort to respond more. Thanks for the comment!

LauraBarnes said...

I admire those people too. I realize that I am not that type of person though, and I have to not beat myself up over it when I don't measure up. Thanks for commenting :)

LauraBarnes said...

I really think it's nice too, and yet I still can't get myself to do it. So don't get used to this! Thanks for commenting :)

LauraBarnes said...

I can be pathetically obsessive about checking a blog for a response. But usually I don't revisit. Thanks for commenting :)

LauraBarnes said...

I generally like to respond too, on the blog. And if someone leaves a question I will usually email them. I like the touch of going to their blog in return. I've done that same sort of thing before. I should try to do that more. Thanks for commenting!

LauraBarnes said...

I think it is something we ultimately have to choose for ourselves. Your wanting to build relationships is the exact reason email is good for you. Thanks for commenting :)

LauraBarnes said...

Generally I try to respond to comments on my blog, but not always every one. I sort of feel obligated with this post though, lol! I love Disqus, but I totally agree: a system that made it easy to respond to the blog and the person at the same time would totally rock. Meanwhile, this will have to do :)


LauraBarnes said...

Oh, Michelle, I love your post/comment! I appreciate you adding so much to the conversation. As I've said in other replies, I guess we all really have to find our answer for ourselves. It seems we must trial and error before we discover what works. :)

LauraBarnes said...

Yes, it's a time killer. I've found myself spending all my time blogging and very little writing. As much as I want to reply to everyone and get to know everyone, I always have to keep my priorities straight and remember I want to be a writer of books too, not just blogs. Thanks for commenting!

McKenzie McCann said...

Yeah, I get that too, and still I attempt to do both. Sometimes I feel like I'm not doing either as well as I could, but you can only give so much. Is it better to be a great networker and only write on occasion, or is it better to write great books and neglect networking? Unfortunately, I don't think that's an option for writers anymore. You have to do both.

LauraBarnes said...

So true. Sigh.

Susanna said...

Sorry :) I didn't mean to obligate you :) So how does disqus work? Because it looks pretty cool. You somehow replied to my comment, it came to my email inbox, and it had my original comment and linked back to this spot... Does Disqus do all that automatically?

Melissa Sugar-Gold said...

Laura, I am still a very new blogger and I feel like I am learning as I go. Of course I want to build relationships with other bloggers & writers so I want to follow the proper etiquette. I am not exaggerating when I tell you how much you have already helped me. You read my mind with this post. I am so happy to have many new followers and I try to be a good blogger friend which is why I had my first question for you about how far to go in trying to locate new followers with hard to find blogs.

I read all comments and I have been responding to each of them. It takes time and I am not complaining, but if most people who comment don't return to the blog, do they get offended if you do not respond. Now that I have more readers I was wondering if it is okay to respond to only those who either pose a question to me or those who say something I want to acknowledge? Is it okay to respond to a group of comments in one response, for example if six people say, "interestring post, thanks for sharing" or something similar?

We all have a limited amount of time and I want to respond to each person individually, but if pressed for time, I would rather make a blanket, general response to everyone who wrote similar comments and then spend my time reading their blog and commenting on the post that I read. I just don't want to do anything improper or offensive. I would appreciate your input.

I would also really love to know how to add the reply option that you and many others have, right inside the original comment. I keep seeing it, but have no idea how to get it. It makes the flow of the comments, conversation and responses much more organized and easy to follow. I hate that each time I respond to a comment it creates a separate and new comment ( hope that made sense). If I respond to all of my comments, then I have the same number of comments on my post from myself as from the people who read and commented. I hate having a lengthy list at the end of the comment section, all from me. It looks like I am leaving myself a bunch of comments. Kind of icky.

Thank you.

Melissa Sugar-Gold said...

Now I am all confused. I just left a comment and it asked me how I wanted to leave it. I answered, "google". When I saw my married name attacthed to the signature , I knew something was wrong. I did not even know I had a profile under my married name, because I have never used it. Apparently I do or it might be my husbands or my kids (that is the picture I saw when I clicked on the link). Here I am moaning and complaining about people making it difficult to find their blog and I am doing it. If I had not checked mine just then, I would not have known that my comment did not link to my blog. Everyday I think I am finally catching on to this blogging stuff & then I get knocked down and realize just how little I know. Just venting (and trying to correct my mistake and actually link my comment to my blog)

Melissa Sugar

LauraBarnes said...

That's why I love Disqus! Actually, Disqus just sends the email to me with your comment and if I hit reply it will post in reply on my blog. I copied your email address in as well so I reply to the blog and you simultaneously. Most of the time, the blogger's email is in the response so it is easy to do this. I really am liking Disqus and have had only a few minor issues so I would say try it out. Except I also tried out IntenseDebate and it didn't give me problems until a few weeks in.

LauraBarnes said...

YOU. CRACK. ME. UP! I have added Disqus to my blog. Disqus makes it easy to manage comments by putting the reply under the comment and allowing you to post replies by simply hitting reply in your inbox. Since it is not run by blogger, it asks commenters to choose a profile to post under. Usually people choose Google but you can also choose Facebook, Twitter, or Disqus. It is very easy to install on your blog. You can check it out at Hope that helps you!

LauraBarnes said...

Because readers generally don't return to a blog, I think the main reason to reply to comments is to answer questions or display input for future readers. I really think replying to each comment is unnecessary unless you have like 4 readers. Yes, you can reply to several people with one post unless you have your blog set up like I do with the reply directly under the comment. I hate that feeling of lots of comments from myself under my post which is one reason I added Disqus to moderate the comments for me. I really don't think there is a right or wrong answer on this issue. There are better answers, perhaps, than others, but really it comes down to what you want to spend your time on and what you are willing to sacrifice. Right now in my life I am sacrificing my writing for my blogging, but I plan to lay low on the blog in November so I can do NaNoWriMo.

Coleen Patrick said...

This subject has been on my mind for the last couple of weeks. I am still trying to work out some sort of system. Right now when someone comments I pop over to their blog and read their latest post and comment, or if they don't have a blog then I email them or tweet. I try to acknowledge that they took the time to visit my site. But then I also want future readers to know that I do read and respond, so I've been putting a thank you comment in, but it seems generic. I was thinking about putting some sort of message above my comments letting the reader know how I comment/respond. I'm not sure though. Thanks for your post!

skye_marie said...

thanks for letting us leave comments here.

shanvenice said...

learning is fun and i must say i have learned something new here.

Post a Comment

I love hearing from you! You can choose to comment as a guest or use any of the other login options available after you hit "Post As". Thanks for contributing to the conversation :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...