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We eventually become acquainted with other bloggers.

We read each other’s posts, leave comments, and often become cyberspace friends.

Small communities form in comment sections of blogs.

Today’s Lesson

Not so much different than in real life, with blogging, like minded people are attracted to each other. That often become evident in comment sections.

If the blog author joins in the “conversations”, you will begin to see more of their personality.

At first glance, new visitors to a blog can usually tell (by reading the comment section) if they will feel welcome, or feel like an outcast, in the community.

On many blogs, you will find comment sections where each comment is acknowledged by the author. Responses by the author can add value to the post.

Other blog authors will pick and choose which comments they’ll reply to, believing not all comments need a response.

Some blogs have an open comment section and the author rarely “shows up”. Those leaving comments often answer each others concerns/questions, and the comment section may resemble a forum.

On other blogs, you’ll see comment sections that duplicate a social network instant messaging format. A small group of commenters are having an ongoing conversation. You may or may not feel comfortable interrupting their conversation by injecting a comment.

A handful of blogs have closed their comment section. Many of these are great sites that have established themselves as credible and the author has chosen to utilize his/her time providing valuable information, and not dealing with comments. Some have added a forum in place of a comment section.

Blog authors will, at times, receive “slams” or extremely negative comments. Because negative comments can detract from the value of the post, they are often deleted, and marked as spam.

Post topics can temporarily change the dynamics of the comment section. A controversial post may ignite argumentative comments, and add some spice to the comment section. When writing posts of this nature, a blog author needs to prepare themselves to address the differing viewpoints.

Comment sections become an extension of your blog post.

How you handle them is a reflection on you and can establish the personality of your blog community.

Today’s Assignment

Do you “control” your comment section, or do you let it run amok?

Have you ever felt out of place on a blog, based on the comments?

Do you answer each comment, “bulk answer” or pick and choose which comment(s) you reply to?

As a commenter, do you like to see your comment acknowledged?

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Look Who's Talking
  1. Cath LawsonNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara – I prefer to try to reply to everyone if I can. When you pick and choose I think you can upset your readers – especially if they ask you a question and you don’t respond.

    Deleting comments is an interesting one. I deleted a few on my recent SU post. The first ones were at the request of someone who said her ID had been faked. The rest were just plain abusive. I don’t know anyone who would allow others to call them a ***** etc in their comments section! I will have to add these words to Askimet.

    Oh and I delete comments from my ex and his girlfriend too. Mind you – they’re always off topic and abusive.

    Anything on topic and non abusive is allowed to stay.

    Cath Lawson’s last blog post..If You Want Glamour – Do Something Else

  2. Debbie YostNo Gravatar says:

    I have the comment approval turned on in my comment section, but I will post almost every comment. I can only think on one off hand that I deleted and it was clearly spam. On one of my posts I allowed a comment that was probably spam, but it did relate to my post and thought maybe someone might be interested in an alternative solution, even if I would not consider it.

    I don’t mind comments that disagree with my opinion as long as they are intelligent and well said. I enjoy a good debate and it gives me something to think about even if in the end, my opinion is not changed. I try to make these commentors feel welcome and thank them for joining in.

    I have felt alienated at times when one person always seems to get a comment from the blogger but no one else. Or when the blogger talks about other blogger friends all the time in their posts, like the rest of us don’t matter. But, on some blogs, like mine, the blogger may respond by e-mail to the commentor. You learn quickly if that is the type of blogger you are dealing with and personally, I like this method. It helps build a back and forth relationship with that person and you get to know them. You can further discuss an issue at times. If I don’t have an e-mail address available, I try to respond in my comment section. I rarely go back and check to see if a blogger has responded to my comment unless I know that is their practice. Sometimes I will check the “notify follow-up email” but, I don’t like my e-mail getting to clogged up with other commentors.

    I admit that on some blogs if I do not feel I am being acknowledged either by reciprocal comments on my blog or reply to my comment either in their comment section or by e-mail that I will comment less. So far I haven’t dropped many blogs from my reader, because of comment acknowledgement, but I’m getting closer to doing it.

    Debbie Yost’s last blog post..Wordless Wednesday – Uhm — Thanks?

  3. I respond to every comment because the number is quite manageable for now. At some point, hopefully I’ll have a lot of readers, which is good, but it will also mean more comments than I can respond to.

    I guess what I’ll do in that situation is only respond to comments when I can leave a reply comment that adds value, such as answering a question. When you get a lot of comments, I’m sure it becomes overwhelming to respond to every one with a “welcome” or “thank you” or “good point” type of comment, even though we want to acknowledge that someone has left a thoughtful comment.

    Hunter Nuttall’s last blog post..Synchronicities: Just Coincidence, Or Signs From The Universe?

  4. As a new blogger I’m quite happy to receive comments and try to acknowledge every one. I want my ‘cafe’ to be a friendly and inviting place, and my commenters can really add their creative insights to make the post that much more impactful.

    I’ve yet to deal with abusive commenters, but just as any cafe owner would show an abusive or disruptive person to the door, I wouldn’t hesitate to delete troublesome comments. Not people who might disagree with me, just abusive or inappropriate comments.

    The goal is to create community, inspire each other, and feel good!

    Mark – Creative Journey Cafe’s last blog post..10 Creative Late Bloomers

  5. JodithNo Gravatar says:

    Like some of the above commenters…I’m thrilled to get any comments at this point. I do have moderation turned on for first comments, but it is off after that. This is mostly to stop any spam that gets by Akismet. Mine isn’t a very controversial blog, so I don’t expect to get a lot of controversial comments. I have had comments disagreeing with me, or comments that I disagreed with, but I let them in and replied to them in the same style in which I post.

    I do expect, at some point, to get negative comments on my blog about religious life. Any anti-catholic comments will be deleted on that post as they aren’t really on topic. And any posts on either blog with bad language will be deleted.

    Other than that, I mostly let people post what they want.

    Jodith’s last blog post..Creating Recurring Tasks in Microsoft Outlook

  6. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Catherine,

    I know you’ve had a issue with some negative/abusive comments. Deleting them was a good choice. They certainly didn’t add value to your great posts

    Hi Debbie,

    Some comments don’t look like spam, but if you click on link back to their site, you can see if it’s a legitimate blog or website. Some aren’t.

    I’ve been on some blogs where I feel unwelcome based on comments. I just leave, never to return.

    Hi Hunter,

    I’ve seen some blog authors give a “group thank you” and then reply to any questions. When you see tons of comments you know the author couldn’t possibly answer each and every one.

    Hi Mark,

    Establishing a community does help to inspire others, doesn’t it. And that helps to gain repeat traffic, as well.

    With your cafe theme, you can have lots of fun in posts and comments by using welcoming “cafe” words.

    Hi Jodith,

    Aren’t comments great? I love opening my blog to see if I have any. It’s uplifting when you do.

    I think we will always get comments where others disagree. That’s good though as it makes us look at a topic from a different viewpoint. Often we have our blinders on and believe ours is the only way.

  7. NaturalNo Gravatar says:

    Do you “control” your comment section, or do you let it run amok? Anyone can comment on my blog. I only had to clean up one post for cursing and I had to delete a post because the commentator was angry that I edited her post.

    Have you ever felt out of place on a blog, based on the comments? No, I don’t think so….however, if every comment is full of cursing, instead of commenting, I might leave.

    Do you answer each comment, “bulk answer” or pick and choose which comment(s) you reply to? I bulk answer. In the beginning, I didn’t even know I was supposed to reply to the comments. I thought I said all I had to say in the post, now it was the readers turn to speak. I was wrong and now I reply to comments

    As a commenter, do you like to see your comment acknowledged? Yes. Sometimes, I don’t go back and read the comment to the comment, but if it’s a blog I frequent, I do go back to see what they had to say, eventually.

    Natural’s last blog post..Mindboggling

  8. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Natural,

    In the beginning of blogging, I didn’t know what to do with comments either. I just let them sit there and didn’t answer. It’s probably I good thing I didn’t get too many, otherwise readers may have thought I was being real rude.

    Like you, I sometimes will edit a comment to bleep out a curse word. I’m trying to maintain a “G” rating on this blog and I don’t someone unsubscribing because my content isn’t fit for them or their children.

    For answering each question correctly, you get an A. :)

  9. When I comment on someone’s blog, I don’t subscribe to receive emails on follow up comments. But, on one occasion, I received a follow up email from the writer acknowledging my comment, his/her reply and welcoming me to the blog. It felt good! It felt like this person cared to see me there and so I was biased to visit again.

    As far as comments on my blog, I let them run amok. Sometimes I don’t feel that certain comments need a response back but if it is a new visitor, I take the time to acknowledge them.

    Moving forward I suppose I could close the comments but right now it just doesn’t seem necessary. Besides, I think I’d be turning away any new/initial visitors.

  10. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Ricardo,

    I’ve heard of some blog authors who email all new commenters. That does add a nice personal touch.

    Closing comments would be a difficult decision. Right now, I couldn’t even imagine doing that.

  11. This is an interesting topic for me because as a doctor I have to be really careful with my comments. I have to worry about other commenters offering advice that I do not agree with or worse yet see as harmful which is a large liability. I also have to worry about my responses because I do not want to establish a “doctor patient relationship” with my blog readers…

    It is a fine line between being helpful and being too advisive when they need to talk to their own doctor. I have resorted to saying that I will “blog a general response” to many of the great questions that are posted in the comments. This works for me because I love to write and it makes more sense for me to post a well researched answer rather than an off the cuff comment. And that is what makes my blog readers special because they get their questions answered for free.

    I will always do my best to respond to as many comments as time allows me because I think it is really fun, and the whole point of my blog is for people that don’t have access to the kind of medicine I practice an opportunity to interact with me.

    Some of my friends get me laughing with their comments because they tend to be “inside jokes”…I think things should be fun and conversational in the comments though and you are right it is a better opportunity for people to see your true personality even if you just wrote about something totally yawn boring…

    Dr. Nicole Sundene’s last blog post..Welcome

  12. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Dr. Nicole,

    I can imagine you would have to be very, very careful with what you write. It seems like I read somewhere that someone got in trouble because they said “this” was a “cure”.

    I am a big follower of alternative medicine and find that some of the home remedies are phenomenal. When you think about it, our ancestors didn’t have access to all of these drugs and some lived to be very old, and remained healthy. I often wonder if that’s because they ate wholesome foods, free of preservatives.

    BTW: I like your new theme. It’s so easy to navigate.

  13. Pat RNo Gravatar says:

    I love comments. It’s the interactive part where you get a chance to engage with your audience sharing and learning from one another.

    My comments are currently open to all readers to comment as they choose. I haven’t had any comments that have been abusive or off topic so far.

    Can’t say I’ve really felt out of place by the comments on a blog. I feel it’s their place to comment on what they’ve read and if I have something to contribute to the conversation or the post I’ll chime in.

    I like to answer each comment. I enjoy receiving comments myself and reading what they have to say that I feel they in turn like to hear my response to what they’ve said. I have to say that when I was your NBOTW nominee I didn’t know the best way to reply to all the comments (I was taken back so much by all the responses – never had that many before) and I bulk answered. I wished I had addressed each commentor individually at the time and responded that way instead.

    If I’ve commented on something that was important to me or asked a question I look for a response and appreciate the acknowledgement. But there are other times too when I’ve commented to give a word of encouragement or “good job” that I don’t look for a response.

    Thanks for your post Barbara. You always give me something to think about.

    Pat R’s last blog post..Learning How to Awaken

  14. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Pat R,

    Aren’t comments great? Comments are also great to read when you visit other blogs. They can add so much value to the post as others have their say.

    I keep trying to find things to keep my readers thinking, as I don’t always believe there’s only one right answer.

    I’m happy to hear you enjoy my posts.

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