Good day Class,

Today we have the honor of having Alex Fayle from Someday Syndrome as our substitute teacher (guest writer).

Alex has been analyzing the comment sections of blogs and made an amazing discovery. He’s here to share his findings.

Please take your seats.

Welcome Alex

The floor is yours.
comment response policy for blogs

Hello all.

Let’s start the class with a change in perceptions. Everyone trade seats with the person beside you.

Ready? Let’s begin.

You want visitors, you must comment on other blogs, right?

But what about your own blog? Do you respond to comments?

Today’s Lesson

My research finds how you respond to comments creates different types of community. If you’re not aware of your comment-response habits, then you’re not in control of the community you’re creating.

1) No Comments

This is a lecture style blog. This works for IttyBiz, but only because Naomi had already developed a following and had shown that she knew hers stuff, so people have stuck around.

This isn’t recommended for most blogs, especially new ones.

2) No Response

Readers of blogs with hundreds of post comments, like Zen Habits, aren’t looking for a conversation. The comments exist as an exit poll with people giving their impressions of each post.

Most of us, however, don’t have 50,000 subscribers or more. With smaller blogs, not responding to comments tells your readers that you’re not really interested in their thoughts.

I used to rarely respond, totally unaware of the consequences. Few people ever commented and of those who did, few commented more than a couple of times.

3) Selected Responses

With selected responses, you play a popularity game. That’s fine if you want to create a clique with exclusive readership. But if you want to grow your blog and create an inclusive environment, this is probably the worst tactic you can take.

Unfortunately many bloggers do this without thinking, which is why it’s important to pay attention to how you respond to comments.

4) Batch Responses

This is probably the most popular tactic. The blogger responds to comments with one or more comments of their own using @name to indicate who the response is directed to. It’s not true conversation but it does encourage readers to continue commenting.

I’m in Europe with most of my readers in North America, meaning that most people comment while I’m working or asleep. So, I respond to comments once a day, making sure I don’t miss anyone.

5) Ongoing Individual Responses

Responding to each comment as it comes in often creates wildly off-topic conversations, but they are usually a whole lot of fun. Maximum Customer Experience is a good example of this type of conversation.

Although I will sometimes respond in this manner, I try to avoid doing so. I’m just not good at multitasking.

6) Mixing It Up

Of course you can mix and match any of the above tactics. Be aware of your choices, however and watch what happens with the responses. Try not to alternate tactics too much. After all, people are creatures of habit and if you bounce about you’ll just end up confusing people.

Today’s Assignment:

Do you have a comment response policy? If so, which one do you use?

When you visit other blogs, do you see how the handling of comments creates a different type of community?

As a blogger, which comment response policy do you prefer?

Raise your hand and share your thoughts.


Alex FayleAlex Fayle is the creator and author of Someday Syndrome, a site that cures you of procrastination. When he’s not helping others follow their dreams, he can be found at Super Eco or on Twitter.


Photo Credit: “The Last Conversation” by cliff1066

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Look Who's Talking
  1. I hope everyone enjoyed the class – you may return to your regular seats now as we discuss the topic.

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog post..Traveling light: learning what things mean to us

  2. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Welcome to the class Mr. Fayle – It’s great to have you here today. I thoroughly enjoyed the lesson.

    As you know, I batch answer my comments. Like you, I’m often sleeping or working while others are commenting. I’ll pop in and answer at different times of the day, or late at night, but I try my best not to miss any. Sometimes it’s hard to catch them on older posts, so for those I’ve missed, I apologize.

    As for how I like to have my comments answered, I like when blog authors reply to each comment. I do understand the big name bloggers do not have time, so I don’t expect to even see them in the comment section. As long as they continue to provide value, I’m okay with that.

    As you mentioned, I do notice how the community is affected by the author’s comment response policy. Some communities are a lot “warmer” than others. Those are the ones I prefer.

  3. DavinaNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Alex & Barbara. That is an interesting photo… and appropriately titled “the last conversation”. When a blogger doesn’t reply to comments I don’t stick around for too long. Not because I’ve stopped enjoying the reading, but because of the lack of conversation.

    People are busy and when they take the time to read and comment, I appreciate it. I answer comments in batches and so far the numbers have been pretty manageable.

    Davina´s last blog post..Shopping for Effective Attitudes

  4. Interesting topic :) In fact, I have written a couple of times about how blogger-reader and reader-reader interactions can tremendously help budding blogs.

    I am in batch mode. As in your case, I will take rest while most of my readers read my latest post. Usually I get to comment the next day and batch mode helps. However, for any subsequent comments, I reply in a 1-1 mode as the frequency of comments will die off slowly (unless it’s a major search optimized and popular post)

    I do comment a lot on other blogs – some on a regular basis, some once in a while… I use my backtype.com account to check aggregated comments once in a while.

    Ajith Edassery´s last blog post..Migration of FeedBurner to Google account

  5. Ulla HennigNo Gravatar says:

    Alex and Barbara,
    a good reminder for me. I should do it more, reply to the comments on my blog. Sigh!

    Ulla Hennig´s last blog post..The Lord of the Dance

  6. Kelvin KaoNo Gravatar says:

    I reply to all my comments. I usually reply to a comment as soon as I see it. So batched or not depends on how many unanswered comments there are.

    I usually stick around for blogs where the blogger actually replies to every comment. It’s not a necessary thing for me to stick around, because sometimes I just want to get it out when I have a response that pops into my head. I just assume that it will be seen, but that’s the idea part. I would also like to know that the blogger is someone that likes to connect with readers, and a good way of doing it is by replying to the comments. More personal connection = more returning traffic, usually.

    Kelvin Kao´s last blog post..Review: Chen Kuai Le Puppet Theater (Taiwanese puppetry) at Music Center

  7. Joanna YoungNo Gravatar says:

    Alex, hi and Barbara, thanks for inviting such a good teacher over to talk to us about this!

    I reply to every comment that’s left. Like Barbara I now do it in batches, but reply to each one using @ to let people know their response has been considered.

    If someone has left a comment for the first time, esp if a particularly thoughtful comment, I will do an individual reply, but I’ve started to think if you do that for every one it becomes hard for people to read the comments – they don’t necessarily want to wade through all your replies.

    I’ve been leaving comments to ‘settle’ for a bit longer recently – more time for them to breathe – and I enjoy that more as blog author. Does it help to give people the sense they’re not ‘late’ if the comments are still from readers not the blogger?

    Which takes me on to my last point – I always reply to comments, even if on a post from 6 months ago. The connection with that one person is still relevant to them (and me). I don’t know why others don’t bother doing that.

    Comments are the life blood of my blog and I treasure each and every one. I try and make everyone who leaves a comment feel that sense of value.

    Apologies for the essay!

    Joanna

    Joanna Young´s last blog post..Fear and Love: The Theme Tune for Audacious Writing

  8. DaphneNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Alex, Hi Barbara,

    My commenting policy is very much influenced by Lance @ Jungle of Life, who responds to every comment (batch style usually) and has built up an incredible community around his blog. So that’s the style I’ve learnt because it works so well.

    Daphne´s last blog post..The Gift of Community

  9. RibbonNo Gravatar says:

    Hello again I’m still very new to this blogging world and appreciate what you are saying here.
    I haven’t as yet set about a set pattern for replying to comments. I’m still learning about the technology :-)
    My intention is to be courteous and I figure that if I stick to that mindset I shouldn’t go too wrong.
    Best wishes.
    I like your blog x

    Ribbon´s last blog post..The Gift of Giving!

  10. I don’t get what you mean by ‘selected responses’. Does that mean deleting comments? Or just responding to only some of the comments?

    I don’t really see responding to all comments as a viable option. I certainly read and value all responses (and am not happy my Dutch blog hasn’t had any responses so far) – but I do only respond to comments when I have something to say about it. When I have several comments I want to respond to, I always go for the batch respond style. Living in The Netherlands with most of my audience in the US or India (though a minority is in Europe too) a batch type of response just works best.

    katinka – spirituality´s last blog post..What Our Economic Woes Can Teach Us

  11. Hi Barbara – What’s the amazing discovery you mentioned in your intro? I want to make sure I didn’t somehow miss it.

    Alex – As you know I’m a batch guy. I love to ask questions of commenters and you are one who actually comes back to answer the question or to respond to my comment of your comment. I appreciate that. Then we have a conversation. I guess not everyone cares to subscribe to the comments so they can see if it merits a further visit.

    Like Barbara I do respond to them all even if an old post because it could have been there first visit.

    When I speak or network in person, I always encourage folks to ask topic relevant questions regarding coaching right on the blog. They get a free tip and we all get more conversation that way.

    Tom Volkar / Delightful Work´s last blog post..Speak Up – Silence Makes You Poor

  12. You must have been reading my mind! I’ve just been doing some heavy thinking about this very subject … and mainly because of the example Lance, Barbara, and Joana have modeled on their blogs.

    I visit lots of blogs regularly, and I’ve recently begun go notice a pattern in myself, if the author responds to the comments with a thoughtful ‘focused’ reply, then I am MUCH more likely to participate in the conversation. If the blog author NEVER responds to comments, then they must have really good content, or I move on. Whether the author uses batch or individual responses doesn’t have a huge impact on me, although it does seem more friendly when the author has popped in a least a couple times during the day to respond.

    Tammie @ Are You For Real?´s last blog post..Two Kinds Of Fear, And How They Control Your Life

  13. My tactics for commenting is simple – when I hit my time box for commenting i check my blog and comment in batch, sometimes it turns out that i get comments during this time box so i actually comment individually to each other comment and it shows like I am responding individually to each commenter.

  14. LindaNo Gravatar says:

    What a unique picture! I do both batch or individual depending on time.

    Blogs that reply to comments with more than one word, gets my vote.

    Linda´s last blog post..Fuel Cells and More

  15. LingNo Gravatar says:

    I usually respond to every comment, except for some posts, where a commenter is so interested that he or she starts answering other peoples’ comments. That’s when i back off and let them have their own fun.

    Best thing that can happen to a blog is for the commenters to start talking to each other, instead of having you at the center of every conversation. Does require you to enable nested replies.

  16. Hi Alex and Barbara – I’m a “batcher” – I’ll respond to every one, but in a batch. I modeled after Barbara, who greets each individual with a “hi” and re-engages specific to the comment.

    I firmly believe that if a guest has taken the time to respond thoughtfully, the blog host should, as well. If a blog gets too big for that, then an explanation would be in order: “Please understand that every single comment is read and appreciated, and that we respond as we are able.” How could a reader not go along with that?

    I appreciate every single comment. Not only do they validate that you’ve provided something thought-provoking, but once you start getting to know commenters, you appreciate their unique perspective even more. I find myself thinking, what will so-and-so think of this?

    Sometimes Pete responds in our comment section, when the man of pictures and few words has something to say. I then find myself in the position of having to respond to my husband. Not doing so would seem rude perhaps to those who don’t recognize him, but it still seems funny. :)

    Betsy Wuebker´s last blog post..FINDING VALUE IN UNCERTAINTY

  17. DaisyNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks Alex and Barbara for that post.

    I have to admit that I was a little perturbed when recently, I was relegated to the ‘selected response’ method on a new blog I visited, and my comment was not responded to. Although I know people are busy, it certainly made me feel a bit like there was certainly an ‘in’ crowd in that community and perhaps they weren’t interested in any newcomers.

    Absolutely – some places feel far more open than others in addition to great posts. Thanks for having both, Barbara!

    Daisy

    Daisy´s last blog post..The Cookie Sin Continued

  18. @Barbara
    Thanks for letting me loose on the unsuspecting class. I took my clue for commenting from bloggers like you. I admired how you take the time to acknowledge everybody. It made me feel very welcome and heard.

    @Davina
    I’ve stopped reading many blogs because I felt that my contributions weren’t being heard. There’s nothing quite so irritating than taking the time to craft a reasoned response and having it ignored, no?

    @Ulla
    I factor the response-to-comment time into my day, otherwise, I skip it and notice the number of commenters drop.

    @Kelvin
    It’s about connection – responses create more connection. In a virtual world, we need overt examples of connection, or we have nothing, eh?

    @Joanna
    Don’t apologize for the long comment – it’s great that you had lots to say! I too let comments settle. It might not create a really strong conversation, but it keeps me sane. And I too try to capture all the comments, including those to older posts, but going back to my last comment and working forward, opening each different conversation in a new tab. That way I don’t lose anyone (I hope! I’ve just started doing this based on my research)

    Oh look! A long response to a long comment! ;)

    @Daphne
    As I said to @Barbara I learned from other bloggers too. It certainly helps to find mentors out there, no?

    @Katinka
    What a great example of different cultural viewpoints. As a North American I see responding only to some comments but not all as exclusive, but the way you express it, you’re not wasting words–if you have something to say in response, you say it, otherwise you don’t fill the blog with chatter. Nice perspective!

    @Tom
    I think the discovery @Barbara mentions is the different effects that different commenting styles have. Glad to know you like that I come back to continue the conversation. I have to admit that when I’m really busy and my blog readers respond to my responses, I think: “oh no another response needed!” but then I ask myself if I’d think this way if it was a conversation and of course I say no, so I drop the attitude and happily respond to the response.

    @Tammie
    We’re pretty much the same. I too like when people pop in and out, but have yet figured out a good way to do that myself without checking every five minutes (yes, I’m a bit of an extremist in most parts of my life). ;)

    @Alik
    I too timebox, and because it’s usually first thing in the morning, most North Americans are happily asleep (unless your Amy Derby from http://write-from-home.com who never sleeps). ;)

    @Linda
    okay.

    Nope, can’t do it. I tried a one word answer but it feels so wrong!

    I love the picture too. I saw a whole selection of these statues this summer in Madrid in the Queen Sofia Modern Art Museum. Fantastic stuff.

    @Ling
    I’ve done that too, especially with my Someday Interviews. I’ll often let the interview subject take over the conversation in the comments (since it’s they’re interview).

    @Daisy
    It’s likely the blogger didn’t even realize they were excluding you. It’s not something I notice a lot of people think about. BTW, great post title, I just had to click on it to see what was up!

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog post..The choice of too much

  19. Mike GoadNo Gravatar says:

    I still struggle with responding to comments in a timely fashion. For some of my posts, I like to hold off a little and allow the comments to develop without “tainting” my original post with my subsequent responses to comments.

    Unfortunately, my procrastination tendencies extend to my responding to comments. Often, other things keep me from “getting around to it” as soon as I would like to and, on occasion, comments don’t get a response. However, I really need to make a point of responding no matter how long it takes me to get to it!

    Mike Goad´s last blog post..Applying for Unemployment

  20. J.D. MeierNo Gravatar says:

    Great rundown Alex.

    I’m a fan of organizing and framing patterns. You did a good job calling out the impact of the different patterns.

    I particularly like the fact that you highlighted the different contexts where one pattern might make sense because of blog maturity or expectations or goals.

    J.D. Meier´s last blog post..Avoid Mental Burnout

  21. Heya Alex! I’m a mix of #4 and #5 together (batching and individual responses). The fact that I’m using DISQUS as my commenting system does help me receive new comments via email, while I too can reply to that comment from the email thread be it at home on my desktop, or on the road with my iPAQ. And I think that any of my replies will too be sent back to the commentor, hence allowing the choice for him/her to continue the conversation or leave it as it is – and not forgetting that they will know that I have responded to their comments too. :)

    Daniel

    Daniel Richard´s last blog post..How To: Transfer Files After A Nasty MS Vista Crash

  22. I answer all comments, but I do close comments to some of my posts. It’s the only way for me to avoid spending way too much time blogging and not enough time doing other stuff.

    Vered – MomGrindv´s last blog post..Women And Body Image: Ten Disturbing Facts

  23. SpaceAgeSage -- LoriNo Gravatar says:

    I wait a day or so and then batch responses, replying to each person. I always valued that kind of personal touch when I first read blogs like Barbara’s.

  24. PatriciaNo Gravatar says:

    Thank you for the good post Alex and Barbara,
    I am working and getting a discussion going on my posts so I respond to comments in individual style and in batch style. I have the comments come into a special email system and then I don’t miss many, and I approve the new commenters
    I thought everyone did that?

    I use the persons name and a comma – then drop down a space to reply, because I want it more like a letter – a real conversation.

    Not having a consistent internet connection meant I had to use a more batch approach the past few weeks -so I wrote my replies in Word and dropped them in when I had a connection. this was actually a more thoughtful way to respond.

    I am one of those folks who stopped commenting on your posts Alex because you never commented back or answered my questions. Glad you are now doing that because I think it is an important process in communications.

    Thank you good job and I see the class is behaving well :)

    Patricia´s last blog post..Mug vs. Heart

  25. I repond to all comments, in mixed patterns, as my schedule permits. I admit the bloggers I feel I know better than perhaps newer ones to my blog, I often write longer resposes to, and I hope the newcomers won’t be intimidated by this.

    Sometimes I also wonder about comments I’ve left on others’ blogs, should I go back and re-respond to their respose? Once in a while I do, depending on the depth of topic, but usually I do not – it could certainly get into a never-ending commenting session.

    Thanks for the guest post, Alex. And thanks, Barbara for hosting.

    Jannie Funster´s last blog post..Taking Blog Stock

  26. @Ajith
    Good point about the later additions to the blog. I too follow up one-on-one.

    @Ribbon
    If you’re courteous and mindful, then you certainly won’t go wrong!

    @Mike
    I so hear you on that, although for me it tends to be about commenting on other blogs rather than responding to comments on my own.

    @JD
    My whole life is patterns, strange ones at times. My parents also taught us to see all viewpoints. Usually it’s good, but sometimes it causes problems… ;)

    @Daniel
    I always wondered why people use DISQUIS on their blogs – now I know! thanks!

    @Vered
    I can understand after a certain time that you’d want to close comments, or you’d feel like you were doing nothing but responding to them. And if people know that after a certain amount of time the comments close, they don’t get annoyed coming ‘late’ to the party. ;)

    @SpaceAgeSage
    It’s amazing the number of people who have picked up from Barbara’s example, eh?

    @Patricia
    I have often thought of doing it your way – writing the responses off line and then posting them. Unfortunately that would take more time than I have at the moment, but you’re right, it’s a great way to build trust in the readers. (And now that I’m responding consciously, I hope to see you back on the Someday blog) ,)

    @Janine
    It really does depend on the schedule, doesn’t it? I think it’s only natural to respond in more depth with those you know already because you have a history. Also I only respond to responses when it feels natural. I don’t force conversations.

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog post..The choice of too much

  27. John HoffNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Alex. Nice batch response ;)

    I’m a batcher myself. The only problem I see with this method though is often times people will skim through those and only read the comment where their name is.

    Nothing wrong with it, just some people might miss interesting responses from the author. When I see 12 names with the @ sign before them, I usually skim to read just mine.

    John Hoff´s last blog post..Understanding The Psychology Of Your Website Visitors

  28. I do a mixture of batch and individual responses. I really appreciate people taking time to comment. There have been a couple of blogs where I felt like my comments were never acknowledged and had a very cliquey feel in general. Eventually I stopped commenting and then gradually stopped reading.

    On the other hand, I don’t feel terribly put out if my comments aren’t universally answered. It’s hard to put my finger on why, but some blogging communities feel more closed to outsiders than others. That’s something I’ve enjoyed about Blogging Without a Blog, it has a very open, welcoming feel to it.

    Tracy O’Connor´s last blog post..Just call me Tracy’s Mom, Jr.

  29. Evelyn LimNo Gravatar says:

    I prefer a mix of #4 and #5. You are right to say that it will not be a wise policy not to respond to comments especially if your site is new.

    Evelyn Lim´s last blog post..101 Negative Money Beliefs

  30. RobinNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Alex – I remember when I started, someone responded to my comment on their own blog, but didn’t write one on mine – I was really put out, and thought it was really off! I understand better now.

    I have always felt that individual replies to each comment looks like the owner is trying to inflate their comment numbers – many times I have thought “that person has lots of comments”, then I go in and look and half of them are by the blogger. For this reason I’m a batch girl.

    It’s different when single comments come in at a later date.

    Robin´s last blog post..Guy Finley Followed By An Illustrated Meme.

  31. FriarNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t care how popular someone is…if they close their comments, I’m not interested, and I don’t stick around.

    To me, that’s like a door being closed in my face. Sorry, Life is too short. I’ll just move on to somewhere else, where there IS open discussion.

    I understand that someone might not be able to answer their 600 comments a day. Fine. But at least let the readers add their OWN comments, and start their OWN discussion.

    (Sometimes those comment threads are the best…the ones where the author isn’t even involved!) You know…the blogs that get Hijacked! :-)

    Friar´s last blog post..Double-standards you shouldn’t even bother TRYING to argue against…

  32. TumblemooseNo Gravatar says:

    How you respond absolutely makes a difference in how your blog is perceived. For the longest time I would respond to every comment, every time, individually.

    At some point I got kinda lazy or too big for my britches or something and gave up responding to every one. Guess what. Yup, the average number of comments for each post plummeted. It’s taken me a bit to bring things back to near normal.

    I’ve also decided that I LIKE responding to the comments on my blog. Often times there are chances to engage that otherwise would be lost.

    Cheers!

    George

    Tumblemoose´s last blog post..This little piggy went to market

  33. I rarely leave comments on a blog that doesn’t respond to the commenters. Unless it is a really good blog that really holds my attention on a particular subject, I rarely return to a blog without comments.

    I respond individually to each comment but I have the time since I don’t have a job outside of my home. I spend a lot of time on the computer so I catch a lot of comments shortly after they are made on my blog.

    I am enjoying your lessons from guest bloggers and from Barbara too. Thanks.

    Patricia – Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker´s last blog post..Fear Is My Friend

  34. helenNo Gravatar says:

    very interesting, I try to answer comments on my page, I am not that sure if people come back and read them though.

    helen´s last blog post..Nearly the weekend

  35. LanceNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Alex,
    I try to reply to all comments, and typically do that in batch responses. For me, it’s important, if someone has visited and took the time to comment, that I reply back. On a rare occassion, I’ll do one mass reply to everyone thanking them. This is rare, though, really when I just can’t make the time to reply to everyone individually. Which I usually can find that time. That said, I will leave replies on some blogs without the expectation of a response back. Most I visit, though, I usually get some response. Great thoughts here Alex!

    Lance´s last blog post..Going Round In Circles

  36. I tend to do more batch comments because I make the time once a day. I’m not at the computer most of the day and I don’t have an iphone/blackberry. However, I don’t consider it a policy, that sounds so rigid! It’s what works for me now and in the future that might change.

  37. Dennis EdellNo Gravatar says:

    Before I installed threaded comments, I responded individually 99% of the time, with a few batches of simple responses thrown in.

    It ended up getting readers confused because even though they were individualized, they weren’t always right after the initial comment. I’d have 10 individual @name comments below and in between.

    Since installing the threaded comments plugin, it has not only boosted my already high comment count, but readers themselves are responding to each other a LOT more often…creating an even better community feel. :)

    I love others that think this way; awesome post! My own “respond to comments” post (basically bashing bloggers over the head with it lol) has been in my popular posts list for 7 months. ;)

    Dennis Edell´s last blog post..Both Contests End Tonight! Important Info…

  38. [...] BloggingWithoutABlog uses something similar. When submitting comments there you see this text: “Don’t risk missing another lesson, link or observation – Subscribe for free in a reader. Catch them all, and come back to share your thoughts. Have a question? Feel free to leave it in the comment section. I’ll do my best to help.” [...]

  39. The difference between talking to yourself (no comments to speak of) and having great ongoing conversations in your blog can be ONE great commentator. Answering comments thoughtfully is well worth the time and effort!

    Internet Strategist´s last blog post..http://www.growmap.com/blog-reviews/

  40. I’m going to be a bit of a contrarian here. Honestly, batching comments just did not work well for me. It took about an hour each day, and for the type of comments I get, it didn’t seem to foster more than surface-level conversation. There’s a good chance that it doesn’t take this long for others folks, which is why everyone’s got to find their own rhythm. I keep trying new strategies. :)

    Right now, I just hop in occasionally and address my comments to the readership as a whole, not to specific commenters. I’m not sure how others view it, but for me, it feels more like a group conversation instead of a few dozen individual conversations. I don’t think there’s a solution that will please 100 percent of readers, so we’ve all just got to do what works for us.

    Sara at On Simplicity´s last blog post..Does Decluttering Make Sense in Hard Economic Times?

  41. Will LowreyNo Gravatar says:

    I really enjoyed this particular lesson. I really enjoy commenting back on people’s comments. I have included a threaded-comments plugin that promotes conversation that is easier to follow if people find the article/conversation later. It is easier than scrolling up and down to find the question/answer combo.

    I also am curious as to how things will go in the comment arena with my newly added ‘DoFollow’ plugin. Anyone have any experience? I would assume that an active involvement in commenting will be required to keep the spam to a minimum. We shall see!

    Will Lowrey´s last blog post..Secrets Of Success – Screw Affirmation

  42. @John
    I hadn’t thought about that re skimming the responses. I too tend to skim to my name rather than read the whole thing. Then again when I comment on other blogs, I don’t actually look for conversation – interaction yes, but conversation no – that I get from other sources (like Twitter).

    @Tracy
    I agree that it’s really difficult to pinpoint what is a missed response and an ignored response. I think the difference is in the whole aura of the blog itself.

    @Evelyn
    It seems that most people are a mix of batch and individual. It’s the most natural, I think.

    @Robin
    I’m with you on the inflated comments concept. For me it depends, however, on how the blogger responds individually. If it’s with just a few words, then yeah it feels inflated, but if it’s an conversational way (more or less in real time) then I don’t of inflated numbers. Oh how tricky it all is! It’s a bit like golf – get a whole bunch of rules in your head then don’t think about them and let it happen naturally.

    @Friar
    Hijacking? Are you subtly promoting yours and Brett’s potential new Blog Hijacking service?

    @George
    It’s amazing how quickly the numbers fall eh? The only time for me that they didn’t was when I was away for three weeks and had automated posts going up – no one expected me to comment, so the readers took up the slack and continued the conversation on their own.

    @Patricia
    It does take a lot of time to respond individually which is why I think many people respond in batches, but you are in a lucky position where you have the opportunity to commit to the blog and comments in real time.

    @Helen
    I only remember to go back and visit when people have the “subscribe to comments” plugin on their blog (mainly used in WordPress).

    @Lance
    I too will do an occasional @everyone – when the conversation has continued on its own (see comment above about Friar hijacking blogs) and when I’ve announced something and the comments are support and/or encouragement more or less repeating the same idea.

    @Stacy
    I don’t really have a policy either – more like a guideline. I’m conscious about it to make sure I don’t forget and let the responses slide when I’m busy with other stuff.

    @Dennis
    Good to hear that you’ve had success with the threaded comments. Several people I talked to prepping this post said how little they like threaded comments. I don’t have a preference one way or another. Threaded comments would make it easier to make sure I don’t miss anyone, but it also disrupts the flow of the comments I think.

    @Strategist
    I’ve learned so much from my commenters. I don’t think I’d ever shut them off.

    @Sara
    I like how you see @everyone type responses as a group conversation. I might give it a try and see what sort of response I get.

    @Will
    Another pro-threaded comments person. When I upgrade to WordPress 2.7, I might have to give it a try and see how it changes the environment.

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog post..The choice of too much

  43. EvitaNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Alex!

    This was a very beneficial post! I have always wondered what “most” people do, ie. is there a better, worse way to go…etc.

    I do mix it up I find between batch and individual comments, depending on how popular the post is. I find this works great for me, I hope it does for those who comment too. But I still always wonder how the change over happens for bloggers who evolve from small to big blogs where it is almost impossible to comment back to everyone. I guess it is just a learning process, one day at a time!

    Thanks for the great info!

    Evita´s last blog post..Depth Seeker

  44. I use the batch method and try to only batch 2-4 comments at a time. Instead of using @ in front of people’s names, I bold names when I respond to people on my blog.

    Stacey / Create a Balance´s last blog post..Celebrate Your Life Friday! 1.30.09 (winners, online retreat, and more)

  45. Mike GoadNo Gravatar says:

    Since this post was first published, I’ve changed the way that my e-mail notifications of comments are handled. Now each notification is starred and labeled with comments to respond to…, and I don’t delete the email until I’ve responded to it.

    Hopefully this will help me avoid my procrastination of dealing with email comments.

    Thanks Alex and Barbara for this post and everyone else for the comments. I see better now the importance of timely response to comments.

    Mike Goad´s last blog post..The Sun Has Lost Its Spots

  46. GennaroNo Gravatar says:

    I tend to mix it up depending on the topic of the post and the response of the readers. I move in more quickly to respond if there are specific questions about the topic. If not, I’d prefer the commenters to let their opinions out before I jump in and respond to their thoughts.

    Gennaro´s last blog post..Groundhog Day In Punxsutawney: A Travel Guide

  47. Hi Alex

    For me it is important to reply to comments. People have taken the time to connect and, for me, it feels rude not to respond. I don’t consider them “readers”, but more friends or guests.

    I do the “batch” reply as I feel lot’s of individual replies clutter the comments.

    Juliet

    LifeMadeGreat | Juliet´s last blog post..Overcoming The Barriers Of Introversion: Starting The Process

  48. @Evita
    I too wonder where the transition is. I think when the numbers reach a point that responding would just eat up too much of the day – that’s when you quit and let the conversation happen around you.

    @Stacey
    That’s a good way to do it. Amy over at http://www.write-from-home tends to work the same way.

    @Mike
    Yay to setting up a system! Since researching this post, I’ve started going to my last comment and working forward from there, making sure I miss nothing, even on older posts.

    @Gennaro
    Yes, waiting for the opinions of others is something I do too.

    @Juliet
    I too consider the people who comment friends and those who don’t as readers.

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog post..Getting through it on your own: The Deep Friar interview

  49. KellyNo Gravatar says:

    Alex,

    Hey, that’s me up there! Thanks for the mention!

    Well, I do batch-comment when I’m working, and folks get ahead of me (mornings, especially, here in North America), but you’re right, my personal style is to flit around at the party and say hi individually if/when I can. I read *all* the customer experience blogs, and what many miss, to me, is that their own blogs should be an experience, and our readers are our customers!

    I want the Experience to be something worth talking about, and worth coming back for. At MCE, I think the comment section is what does that. I’m all happy that you noticed. :)

    You sure got the comment section swinging here!

    Regards,

    Kelly

    Kelly´s last blog post..But Can It Protect Me From Whale-Attacks?

  50. I try to respond to all my comments too. I think it’s important to do so, especially when it’s still possible, ie I don’t have thousands to respond to…yet!!! :-)

    I live in Australia, while most of my readers are in the US, so I tend to batch reply, but it just depends, sometimes I reply individually.

    Melanie Thomassian´s last blog post..10 Ways to Live Longer and Feel Better

  51. WereBearNo Gravatar says:

    I think it depends on the style of the comments. Often, a post will have readers chiming in with tips of their own, and it’s a Thanks! type of comment I put in at the end.

    Other times, it turns into a conversation which develops, which is great too.

    I like the way my blogging platform (WordPress) puts all the most recent comments into a section with a reply option; I can reply to any and all comments that way. Since my blog is organized as a learning experience, people can comment on a post from months ago, and these accumulate to add value to that post.

    WereBear´s last blog post..Cat Affection Move: The Shift

  52. @Kelly
    How strange that customer service blogs don’t focus on their own customer service. That would be like me not working on my own procrastination issues…

    @Melanie
    Sometimes it’s a real challenge to stay on top of them all, eh? But as I’m discovering, answering every comment creates more comments, which is great for the blog.

    @WereBear
    Another great feature in the WordPress 2.7 update, eh? It certainly makes sure you know which comments you’ve replied to.

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog post..Get out of that hole: Someday-busting lessons from Take That

  53. Joanna YoungNo Gravatar says:

    Just wanted to say thanks to Stacey for the suggestion about using bold to highlight names. I’ve been using that all week and I think it looks a lot better – clearer, and easier to read, plus a nice affirmation of someone’s identity!

    Thanks to everyone who’s chipped in to this conversation – I’ve learned a lot from it

    Joanna Young´s last blog post..How Do You Get Past Your Writing Road Blocks?

  54. [...] points to a post by Alex Fayle on different types of comment response by blog owners. Fayle concludes with: Do you have a comment response policy? If so, which one do you [...]

  55. [...] Syndrome, home of the human “lab rats” experiments. In his previous lesson Alex taught, How Your Comment Response Policy Can Change The Dynamics Of Your Community, and got a huge [...]

  56. jan geronimoNo Gravatar says:

    When I was just a blog reader, I kept coming back to this particular blog. The irresistible force behind it is that the writer keeps on replying to my every comment. Oh boy, this dude has time for me. My views matter to him. We’ve become friends eventually.

    He was instrumental in making me blog myself. And guess what. That’s the first lesson I learned from him – to value every comment left on my blog by readers. It’s a time-suck sure. But I enjoy every minute of it.

    If this gets unmanageable I just hope I will have by then created a culture wherein other readers will take the initiative to talk among themselves when I’d not be available.