The Blogger’s Guide to Comment Etiquette

13 Feb

Imagine that you go to a presentation after which the lecturer asks for feedback. The person next to you frantically waves their hand in a maniacal effort to get the presenter’s attention. Excited at the prospect of a meaningful discussion the lecturer calls on them.

“You rock,” they say. They hand out their business card and then leave the room never to be seen again.

A version of this happens all too often on blogs much to the consternation of the owner. Bloggers begin blogging for a variety of reasons and when someone takes the time to comment, it makes us feel as though what we are doing is worthwhile which, in turn, inspires us to continue.

However some comments, like the one above, leave us tapping our virtual microphones and wondering “is this thing on?” Here are just a few suggestions regarding comment etiquette to help make blogging fun for everyone.

1. Write a comment, not spam.

Spam is the bane of all webernet existence and has caused many a blogger to resort to counterproductive measures such as closing their comment section. Even worse than spam, however, are comments that do little more than consume bandwidth. What most bloggers are looking for is feedback that continues the discussion about the topic at hand. Comments like “You don’t know what you’re talking about” or “I was here first,” are not helpful.

Take the time to read the blog entry and put some effort into writing a response that adds to the conversation and/or helps the blog writer. Your comment is your calling card. The webernet is an open rolodex and as such, how you present yourself through your words will tell people whether or not they want to look you up.

2. Stay on topic.

This policy may differ from blog to blog. Some blogmasters don’t care if the participants drift off onto tangent. Others will do a round house kick on you if you get too close to the white line. As a general rule if you find that you fall into a discussion with other visitors about something unrelated to the post, offer to email them privately.

3. Respect the rules.

Some bloggers will have an official comment policy in place. Usually because of issues they’ve run into with their feedback. Read it and respect it. Visiting someone’s blog is just like being a guest in their house. The last thing they want is you pooping all over their couch and doing so will usually result in them pushing you out the front door.

4. Comments should be comprehensible.

Make an effort to use good grammar and spelling and to communicate your thoughts clearly. People cannot respond effectively to your concerns if they cannot understand what they are in the first place. Don’t forget that people cannot see your expression or hear your voice. Flame wars are often the result of a misinterpretation of the meaning of your words. This is why smilies and snark tags, such as “sarcasm”, were invented. Use them.

Also, be sure your writing reflects the level of formality of the blog. Throwing around slang terms on a blog that is highbrow may cause you to appear uneducated even though you are Mensa member. On the other hand, using language more suitable for a doctoral thesis on a blog that is very informal may come across as pretentious and snooty.

5. Avoid setting the whole blog ablaze when flaming a topic.

Let’s face it there are some subjects in life that, no matter how hard we try, cause us to flip out at the mere mention of them. But while you have the right to act like a jerk when the topic is raised, unless you want to be banned from the internet I suggest you refrain from doing so.

There are some blog owners who are like Hitler when it comes to their blogs sending anything that doesn’t conform to their narrow-mindedness to the gas chamber. However, most bloggers welcome dissenting opinions on their blogs as long as the debate remains civil and respectful. Speak from your point of view and don’t treat others as though they are idiots because they don’t agree with you.

6. Follow up on comments.

Be sure to respond to comments directed at you even if just to say you don’t wish to talk about the subject. Services such as Co-Comment can help you track conversations you are involved in.

7. Keep it to a reasonable length.

Most blog topics don’t require more than a one or two paragraph response. Avoid writing a novel especially if it is your first visit to a blog. It also helps to read the other comments to make sure you are not adding to the broken record effect.

8. Link to your sources.

When citing material to make your case, provide a link so that the participants can read it at their leisure. Be careful of linking to your own website, this can be seen as spam if you are a first time visitor.

9. Do not feed the trolls.

They’ll just follow you home and poop on your doorstep.

10. A word about anonymous commenting.

For one reason or another, people feel the need to make anonymous comments. This practice is not right, wrong, good or bad. In some cases this is the only option available especially when personal safety is a concern. However, just so you know using a pseudonym is the same as talking to people with a paper bag over your head which can hurt your credibility. Even when leaving negative comments, it’s best to leave either your name or your web identity.

Commenting on a blog is about more than getting hits to your website or increasing your PageRank. It’s about building relationships. Use your comments as a way to get to know the blog writer and allow them to get to know you. The webernet may be virtual but we’re connected by more than service providers.

Daria Black is a freelance writer, erotica author, and amateur CG artist. Visit her website Daria Black – Words By Daria located at http://www.dariablack.com to learn more about Daria, get writing and blogging tips, read erotic stories, and to chime in on her thoughts about current events.

[ You may reprint this article on your website, blog and in your newsletters as long as the author bio and associated links remains intact. ]

47 Responses to “The Blogger’s Guide to Comment Etiquette”

  1. surjit February 26, 2007 at 7:04 am #

    Very useful information.Wonderful Blog.My best wishes.

  2. Daria Black February 26, 2007 at 4:22 pm #

    Thank you for stopping by Surjit. I’m glad you find the site useful.

  3. Andy of HoboTraveler.com May 30, 2007 at 5:16 am #

    Very good, it is good to read about manners in the new world of anything goes. I am trying to create some rules, TOS or Terms of Service and other helpful guides for my blog.

    I especially liked:
    10. A word about anonymous commenting.

    I have been deliberating whether I should stop the anonymous comments, I will continue to allow, however as of now, I am using the Blogger.com system and they must join blogger.com to post if not anonymous. This is not a good method. However I see very little value in an anonymous world of comments.

    I have readers from many countries that speak many language, I try to stop the Acronyms, Slang, and Jargon now used by the trendy people.

    Hope life is good, Andy of HoboTraveler.com in Lome, Togo on a never ending trip of the planet.

    Andy of HoboTraveler.com

  4. Daria Black May 30, 2007 at 4:25 pm #

    Hi Andy of HoboTraveler,

    Thank you for stopping by my little bit of the world. Very interesting blog you have there. I would love to be able to travel around the world but I’ll settle on living vicariously through you by reading your blog :)

    Yeah anonymous commenting is a catch22. You want to accommodate everyone and make it easy to comment but on the other hand you don’t want just anyone commenting (i.e spambots.) I have my comments set so that a name and email address is required but really a person can enter anything. Still it deters the spambots.

  5. LJP September 16, 2007 at 7:56 pm #

    Just what I was looking for. It’s sometimes hard to know the etiquette, not that I’ve seen that many infringements on my travels.

    p.s. you rock!
    ;-)

  6. Daria Black September 17, 2007 at 6:20 pm #

    Thank you LJP. I’m glad you like the article. I love your blog design and your blog too. You are hilarious :)

  7. Suki October 3, 2007 at 8:45 am #

    Thank you for writing this, Daria! Found it off google search, while writing my own post on blog ethics or manners.

    I tend to follow a similar set of ethics, but yeah – my writing style usually varies according to my mood. Your entry reminded me that when I’m on another blogger’s ground, I should temper my vocabulary to match his/her style.
    Keep it up!

  8. Daria Black October 3, 2007 at 8:57 am #

    I’m glad you found it useful Suki. I think of visiting other blogs as visiting other peoples homes. You want to be a good guest so that you’ll be invited back. I also try to match the blogger’s tone on their blog. If they are serious, I’ll be serious. If they are humorous etc.

    You have a very beautiful blog and thank you so much for linking to the article. I really appreciate that. Feel free to visit anytime :)

  9. Suki October 5, 2007 at 3:35 am #

    You’re welcome, Daria. By the way, I added your blog to one of my link lists – I find the tips here really useful for improving my blog in the long run.

    I think I’ll find myself a pretty regular visitor here. :)

  10. Christine December 13, 2007 at 8:58 am #

    Thank you for this post. I searched for it because of comments I have been recieving from someone. I deleted their comments after my husband read them. They were not offensive but rather snooty and prideful. My husband is a Pastor and felt that they did not reflet our theology. I recieved another comment from this person wanting to know what happened to his comments and wanted to know what happened to them. I am actually getting concerned because he won’t stop and not sure how to respond. Do you have any suggestions? Please help. Thank you so much

  11. SaeedTNT January 28, 2008 at 7:22 am #

    It was useful for me
    Thank you

  12. Julie Power May 6, 2008 at 1:34 pm #

    good post. But a question from a newish blogger: I don’t quite understand the bit about the trolls following me home. How does that work? Thanks.

  13. Daria Black May 7, 2008 at 11:36 am #

    It was an expression. I meant that they will often come to your website and post obnoxious comments on it.

  14. Wayne June 30, 2008 at 5:50 am #

    You Rock! But there’s more…

    I would add to this list that just like when you write your post (if you also happen to blog) that you try to be yourself and not something you’re not.

    The items you list above are pretty solid and well worth giving out to others.

  15. Daria Black June 30, 2008 at 7:04 am #

    LOL.

    Thank you Wayne. And you are absolutely right. You should always be yourself in any communication you have with others whether its face to face, in a forum or on a blog.

    Thank you for stopping by.

  16. jimwrightsmith August 7, 2008 at 6:42 pm #

    I’m new to blogging and can use all the help I can get. Thank you for taking the time to help us newbies out.

    You’d think it would be obvious to bloggers that they should talk to fellow bloggers the same way they would talk to their neighbors. (If not, I’m glad I’m not their neighbor!)

  17. Lyndon Phipps November 27, 2008 at 11:46 pm #

    Thanks very much Daria,

    As someone new to blogging (social networking on the web of any kind really) I found your blog extremely useful.

    You answered the exact question I had when typing – Blog Comment Etiquette – into Google.

    Blue skies

  18. Mariana January 25, 2009 at 8:42 am #

    Brilliant! I agree with everything you have said. I started blogging just because I was hoping it would give me the opportunity to find people out there who are into the same things, so we could have a decent conversation. But I can’t say this has often been the case, unfortunately. The web seems to work much more on a basis of thumbs up, thumbs down, “Loved/hated your blog, gotta go”. It’s especially disappointing when you put a lot of thought and work into a post you’re proud of, to get only total silence, or a “Great post! Gotta go!” So I don’t mind at all long comments, or as an alternative, people responding on their own site.

    • Daria Black January 25, 2009 at 10:56 pm #

      I agree. I see a lot of people leaving comments for the sake of links to their site or with the hopes of getting some of your blog visitors to visit their site. I don’t see a lot of people online wanting to have a real conversation just the shallow imitation of one.

      That’s why I’ve kind of given up on it and am spending more time offline. However, if you are willing to put in the time and effort, you will be able to find likeminded bloggers who are searching for the same thing you are. It just takes time to find them. Start hanging out at blog forums such as Blogcatalog and go from there.

  19. Margaret Anne February 16, 2009 at 12:00 pm #

    Thank you so much for this. A new reader to my blog has started posting strange comments to my blog, but through comment moderation they have not been posted. As a result I am now getting nastier comments from them.

    Question if a comment is not about the blog, but the blog’s author is there a polite way to handle it?

    • Daria Black March 9, 2009 at 11:46 pm #

      I think it depends on what the comment is. If it is a comment praising you, then I would publish it :) However if it is a comment bashing you for no apparent reason, then I would probably email the poster and politely tell them that you are not posting the comment and that you would appreciate it if they would not visit your blog again since they seem to have such a problem with you.

      Do no give them any attention on your blog. Most of the time, people like this are just trolls looking for attention and posting their comments or doing any kind of public rebuttal just gives them what they want.

      If they harrass you via email, send them a polite note telling them to knock it off and then block their email. Trolls hate being ignored and eventually they will go away when they realize they can’t get a rise out of you.

      Good Luck.

  20. Nowal from Melaka March 7, 2009 at 3:48 am #

    Nice post and I agree with the 6 as if you following up on your comments is most important. It increases your networking and PR (I am not talking about Google PR :))

    • Daria Black March 9, 2009 at 11:48 pm #

      I agree. It lets your visitors know you care that they stopped by. Thanks for stopping by and commenting :)

  21. Chania Girl April 15, 2009 at 3:12 pm #

    I am new to the world of blogging and your post was exactly what I was looking for when I googled “blog etiquette.”

    There is one question I haven’t seen answered here, though: Is there any protocol when you are a first-time commenter on someone’s site? That is, should I introduce myself first before I begin commenting, or is it okay to plunge right in (shallowly at first, of course)?

    You gave the analogy of commenting as being a bit like visiting someone’s house, so do I need to metaphorically “say hello” before I walk through the door?

    Thanks for your help, Daria.

    ~Chania Girl

    • Daria Black April 17, 2009 at 2:09 am #

      Hi Chania Girl,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my blog post. To answer your question, I’ve never introduced myself when I’ve visited a blog for the first time. I’ve always just jumped into the conversation. In fact I’ve never seen anyone introduce themselves to other commentors on a blog. Everyone just kind of starts talking and gets to know each other through the conversation and by visiting each other’s blogs.

      So my advice would be to just go for it. Good luck with your blogging. :)

  22. Chania Girl April 17, 2009 at 5:18 am #

    Thank you, Daria. Advice taken. :)
    Have a good weekend.

  23. Peter November 11, 2009 at 7:09 am #

    Well written. I’m starting a new blog, and was casting around for ideas on commentary etiquette. I’m definately going to run a link from my site to this entry (if you have no objections, of course), when suggesting appropriate manners.

    Thanks.

  24. citysoliloquy February 8, 2010 at 12:50 am #

    Very informative post. I recently started blogging after graduation, a spot of traveling and being plonked back into the real world as an unemployed science graduate with too many thoughts, and this information was just what I needed.

    Thanks Daria!

  25. Daria Black February 8, 2010 at 7:55 am #

    Your welcome. I hope things pick up for you soon. Maybe forget the job and look into becoming a self employed pro blogger :)

    Daria

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