So, if you’re someone who leaves comments (as you should,) this post is for you. Treat this as a guide to commenting etiquette.
In this post:
A Brief Intro to Commenting on Blog Posts
First, a little about my experience with commenting.
As someone who receives their fair share of comments and leaves them on other people’s blog posts, I’d say that mostly, I love comments.
I have received amazing comments, and to the best of my ability, when I leave comments, I am sincere. I never leave a comment just for the sake of leaving a comment. Ideally, if I’ve shared something, it’s because I actually liked reading the blog post/article, and it made me think, which in turn prompted me to comment on it.
But comments aren’t always for when you agree with the writer. As a writer, you don’t want to be told that you’re wrong. But at times, a contrarian point of view has helped me think from a different POV.
The difference is in knowing how to write such comments. You can hold a different POV from the author, but that’s not ground for being disrespectful or attacking them. After all, you’re in someone else house, at someone else’s party. Just, you know, don’t shit on someone else’s living room in front of all the other guests. It’s rude. (The only exception to this is if the blogger is spreading false and harmful information, but even then, do it in a way that is constructive, and not demeaning.)
A well-structured comment, on the other hand, can be meaningful and valuable. Understand the point of commenting. By leaving a comment, you’re adding to the dialogue. This isn’t Twitter; you don’t get to be shitty (speaking of, be a nice person, and don’t be shitty anywhere! Shittiness doesn’t change minds. Unless of course, someone else was shitty with you first 😉 After all, you’re not a doormat.)
Benefits of leaving awesome comments
Here’s a story:
I once wrote a blog post on how much I hated the concept of guest blogging (because to me free guest blogging was akin to free labor, and I hated it as much as I hate free internships; they’re systematically set up for wealthy people, often young people with wealthy parents, who can afford to give away precious time in exchange for no monetary compensation.)
Most of the comments on that blog post were positive, and my readers shared my sentiment.
Except for one.
Rachel left a thoughtful comment on how she thought guest posting could be beneficial in terms of networking with other bloggers, improving domain authority, etc. She was so cordial in her comment even though she held an opposing view to mine, that she forced me to consider the other side of the debate. I was so impressed that I commissioned her for a post about guest blogging.
Rachel wasn’t disrespectful. She didn’t say, Maliha, you’re an idiot for saying guest blogging sucks. No, instead, she acknowledged that people are allowed to have their different opinions and that as someone who guest posts a lot, she has seen positive results which have convinced her to keep guest blogging.
Another example comes from Kevin J. Duncan. Kevin is the editor-in-chief of Smart Blogger. He once shared that he loved Smart Blogger so much that he kept leaving meaningful comments. Which lead to the then editor of Smart Blogger reaching out to Kevin and asking for a guest post. And now, of course, Kevin is the editor-in-chief of SM himself!
So yeah, great comments can lead to amazing opportunities. They’re not a guarantee, of course, but they’re a possibility!
Benefits of leaving comments on Medium posts
If you write on Medium, commenting can help you get followers.
As many of you may know, Medium is a blogging platform that pays you to write (payment is based on reading time by other [paid] Medium members.) But to be eligible for payments, you need to join their “Partner Program,” and one of the criteria for being able to join this program is to have at least 100 followers.
Leaving comments on other writers’ stories and interacting with them can help you get to those 100 followers faster.
12 Tips for Writing an Awesome Comment
If you search for “how to write a comment,” you’ll see a ton of articles with all kinds of dos and don’ts. Personally, I don’t think it’s fair to lay down so many damn rules for something like a comment. We’re all busy as it is.
Do you need to use your real name in a comment? Hell no! If you leave a funny comment and use “popsicle” as your name, hey, you won’t get any eye-rolls from me! I might even chuckle and say something funny back to you! I might… don’t hold your horses though.
Must you have an avatar with your actual face on it? Do you need to tell me how you’re going to share my blog post with the world? Do you have to butter me real slick to get a response from me? Not at all, my friend.
What really matters, in my humble opinion, is that you leave a thoughtful response in the comments section that adds to the conversation or value to the existing content. And that you share them respectfully, even if you do not always agree with what I’m saying.
That said, I’ll try to share with you what I think you should and should not do in the comments section. And also, how to tackle comments if you’re the blogger.
Only the essentials 😉
Use this as a checklist for when you’re writing a comment on someone else’s blog.
1. Read the blog post before commenting
As a blogger, I spend a lot of time painstakingly planning and writing a blog post. So, when a commenter asks me a question I have already answered in the blog post, it tells me that the person didn’t bother reading it, and expects me to serve them beyond all the work I’ve already put into writing the post. Don’t do this, please.
2. Read the other comments before asking a question
Another good habit for readers is to read the other comments before asking a question. Often, chances are that someone has asked the question already, and it has been answered. A quick search for the keywords of your question (using Ctrl+F on Windows or Cmd + F on a Mac) is easy. It saves your time and the blogger’s time.
Exception: If a blog post has so many comments that there are multiple pages for comments alone and it seems a bit silly to go over them all (or the post is old and you’re wondering if things have changed) then yes, please feel free to ask away.
In the screenshot below, the reader is asking a follow-up question (asking for clarification) to what another reader had already asked. This proves that they had done their part by looking at the comments section to see if their question has been answered already. Love it when readers are thoughtful like that <3
Hi Maliha, I too have the same question as Nicole… just a little confused with your answer above sorry… so is that a yes, you can sell final designs as a completed pdf? Or no, you need to sell as an editable template? Thanks heaps for your time! I have found your blog so helpful =)
3. Don’t leave spammy links
Back in the day, all commenters’ names were automatically hyperlinked on my blog. But I was getting so many spammy links that I turned off automatic linking. But I’m not the only blogger who does it; I’ve come across others who’ve done the same, likely because of the same reason: to avoid spammy links.
Essentially, it’s not in good practice to promote yourself or your client, or your own affiliate links on someone else’s blog.
That said, I (and many other bloggers) would be OK with you sharing a link to your website in the comments as long as it doesn’t come off as spammy or promotional.
4. Don’t share a link to a blog post on the exact topic
Here’s another downer.
“This is a lovely post, I enjoyed it very much. I just wrote a blog post on the same topic, you can check it out here: [link]”
I mean, why???
Here’s an alternative: If you read a blog post and you think that the blogger has missed a crucial point or two, instead of linking to your or someone else’s blog post on the same topic, share what they’ve missed instead, with your words. Recall that comments exist primarily to add to the conversation. Do it the right way; don’t just come and drop a link and leave. That’s just spammy and what did I say about spamming?
5. Use one-liners sparsely
You’ve just read a blog post and you really liked it. So you drop a comment saying, “excellent post!” and leave.
This is fine, but not very constructive, is it?
Many comments aficionados will tell you that one-liners like that don’t add to the convo and you should spend another 10 minutes coming up with a very smart comment instead.
Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, per se, and who am I to complain when I get to show off a high comment count?
However, be mindful that if you’re not making the effort, the blogger may not either. For example, if I see a five-words-or-less comment, I may not even bother responding to it. And if you’re that reader who left that comment, please don’t take it as us (the bloggers) being rude or unkind. We’re simply reciprocating.
6. You don’t need to write a novella in the comments
Super short comments are not as much fun as well-thought-out ones, but that doesn’t mean you should be writing novels in the comments section either.
That’s not what comments are for.
OK fine, sometimes it’s unavoidable; I get it. Sometimes you may end up writing long comments, and if you’re feeling particularly excited about something you just read on the blog, then you may forget to keep the commentary short. And that’s alright. Heck, recently I ended up writing a long-ass comment on someone’s blog post because I wanted to share a relevant story with the author.
Going by their response, they enjoyed reading it too.
So yeah, it’s a case-by-case thing, but don’t write a ton just for the sake of writing a ton.
7. Try to be specific in your comments
I always like it when a commenter has something specific to add to their comment. For example, instead of saying, “I really loved your blog post, it was so informative and I learned so much from you,” say instead, “I hadn’t thought about this particular thing you pointed out, and it’d help me in doing so and so.”
You could also add to the conversation too. Maybe say something like, “I loved this, I was also thinking, have you considered ___?”
To give you an example, I once write a blog post about a certain writing app. One of my readers then added a comment and shared another writing and note-taking app that I had never even heard of before! This added value to my original post and was also super helpful not only to me but also to other readers. Here’s what they said:
Hey Maliha, I’ve heard of Reedsy before, but I have never given it a try! Like you, I am constantly in search of the best and most conducive writing app. Especially after writing on Medium, nothing else seems to match up!
That is, until last month when my friend finally convinced me to give Notion a try. It was rather complicated at first because of how customizable it is. It is a productivity and note-taking app after all. And it turned out to be everything I asked for and more!
I enjoyed reading your review of Reedsy, and if I hadn’t found Notion, I probably would have given Reedsy a try after reading this blog post. Thanks for sharing, Maliha!
8. Address the writer by their name
You don’t have to, but I like it when people start a comment with my name (or just share it anywhere in the comment.) It feels personal.
Now, if you’re using my name to yell at me, that’s a different story. But in general, assuming you’re adding to the conversation, feel free to use the blogger’s name in your comment. It’s a small gesture, but mighty nonetheless. Whenever someone uses my name in their comments, I feel compelled to respond to them.
9. Make sure your comment actually makes sense
And then there are those comments that look like they were generated with an AI writing tool — one that’s not very good at that. These comments make no sense at all. They’re neither centered around any relevant topic nor related to the blog post they’re commenting on. It’s just another type of spam. Don’t!
10. Be respectful when sharing an opposing point of view
Let’s say that you don’t agree with what the blogger is saying. It’s OK to share that in the comments, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do that.
The wrong way is to attack, disrespect, and make something that was meant for the bloggers’ audience at large about yourself.
Always remind yourself that the writer on the other side is a human being and possibly someone you do not know personally. And then ask yourself, will you say the things you’re about to write were you sitting with this person in the same room? Face to face? If your answer is no, then don’t type it either.
The correct way to share an opposite POV is by being polite and sharing with example.
As an example, here’s what one reader shared with me on my Medium blog, in response to a blog post about SEO:
Ranking #1 on Google is simple.
Write the best piece of content around a topic. Make it comprehensive and longer than of your competitors. Wait for a couple of months and see your page ranking. Use common sense not to pick too competitive topic.
No SEO or backlink building is ever needed. All you need to pay for is domain + web hosting plan.
This is the strategy I’ve used to grow my blog from 0 to 200,000 views in less than a year.
If you haven’t figured it out already, it’s just a bad comment. I wrote a blog post about SEO, and here this person is saying oh, you don’t need SEO. What for?
Let me break it down a bit further:
Why it’s a bad comment: You’re coming to my party, and telling me what I’m saying is meaningless to my guests. As I’ve said before, don’t shit on someone else’s living room!
It’s not only bad, but it’s also borderline incorrect: Notice how they’re saying things like: “Make it comprehensive and longer than your competitors,” and “use common sense and not to pick too competitive topic.” I mean… does this person realize that he is, indeed, using SEO lingo? How is a newbie to know which topics are competitive and which are not? By using common sense? Give me a break. Also, how is a newbie to know that they have to write comprehensive and “longer than your competitors” blog posts? That’s an on-page SEO tactic right there!!!
It’s off-topic: What if I do want to write about a competitive topic??? Understand that each blogger has their own unique audience. I don’t teach “oh just pick an easy-to-rank topic and forego all SEO tactics.” Instead, I teach how to write things you’re passionate about and make money from it. See the difference?
How they could’ve made it better: Instead of trying to question my knowledge and authority on my damn blog post, they could’ve instead done what Rachel did (refer to the story I shared at the beginning of this post.) They could have, very simply, shared their own story and said that there’s another way to rank on Google without using SEO (but then again, this person does use SEO because they’ve apparently done enough research to figure out what is or isn’t a competitive topic, and they know they need to write more comprehensive and longer than competitors’ blog posts, which are all on-page SEO parameters.)
So yes, feel free to share your opposing POV but do it respectfully. A better way to start such a comment would have been:
“I appreciate your blog post, Maliha. I, however, have a unique experience that’s very different from yours. I wanted to share with you my own journey going from 0 – 200,000 views within a year without SEO or backlinks. Here’s how I’ve done it: [story]”
This would have been such an amazing comment! It would have added to the conversation and I would have happily offered my own input too, perhaps, to keep the dialogue moving forward.
11. Personal stories are always a nice touch
I love comments where the reader leaves a personal touch. It helps me connect with them, imagine what they’re going through or what their lives may be like, and appreciate what they’re saying. For example, recently one reader left this comment:
Your posts are inspiring and encouraging. I’ve had my vintage fashion blog pertaining to fashion history, tips on vintage styling and clothing care for over a decade now. It is thanks to your insightful articles on making money from blogging that I started (very recently) treating my website as a business.
Notice how they’ve addressed me by name, shared a bit about their own blogging journey, and instantly made me form a picture of this person in my head. All of a sudden, I have an image of one of my readers who’s enthusiastic about vintage clothing, possibly wears them in their day-to-day life, cares for them, and is passionate enough to have kept a blog for years even though they only recently started treating it as a business!
Now that’s one cool reader I’m glad to have as part of my community 😉
12. Consider starting with a compliment
I don’t necessarily care if someone compliments me or not, but I’ll be honest, I do appreciate them very much. Because let’s face it, unless you’re actually buying something from the blogger, you’re getting all that awesome info for free, so the least you can do — especially if you’ve benefited from their content — is to share something nice in your comments. And if you’re asking a question in the comment expecting an answer? Definitely give them a compliment! It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate; something simple like, “I really liked this part of your blog post,” or “this point you made was something I hadn’t thought of before,” would be sufficient.
And also, yes, it does help to say something specific, as opposed to saying something generic like “awesome post!”
When you point out specific parts of the blog post or certain talking points, it proves that you’ve actually read the blog post and that in and of itself is a huge compliment for the blogger!
The screenshot above shows a comment in one of my Medium stories: It says:
Good discussion, thanks for sharing. How do you use Medium in conjunction with your own blog/website?
The comment itself could have been better (consider this checklist!) However, because they complimented me for the article I wrote before asking me a question, I felt like giving them a proper response, as shown in the screenshot below:
Medium is sometimes a hobby and other times an experiment. For now, at least, it remains an outlet separate from my main blog (even though I do link to my blog inside Medium stories, and even have a publication here named after The Side Blogger.) If anything changes in the future, I’ll write something about it here I’m sure. But that remains to be seen 😉
How to Tackle Negative/Disrespectful Comments on Your Blog
Well, there’s always the tit-for-tat or an-eye-for-an-eye approach, which, to be honest, isn’t helpful.
Leave the hater be.
That doesn’t mean you cannot take measures to counter the bad stuff.
Consider these methods:
- If your blog is on self-hosted WordPress, install a comment moderation plugin like Antispam Bee. It holds all comments for approval. If you see a comment you don’t like, don’t approve it and trash it instead (or mark it as spam.)
- Even if you’re not on WordPress, most other blogging platforms have some kind of comments moderation system (I know Squarespace has it.)
- If you’re on Medium, you can easily hide a comment. The caveat is that you cannot moderate it; the comments get published automatically, which you can then hide if you so choose to. (Click the three dots next to the comment, and choose “Hide this response” from the dropdown.)
- Also on Medium, if a certain person targets you and leaves nasty comments a little too many times (because Medium is part a blogging platform and part a social media platform, there are some very Twitter-like behavior among its users,) you’re allowed to block the user too. That way, they won’t see your content or be able to interact with them, and you won’t see their stuff either.
And that is all 🙂
Thoughts or comments on comments? Feel free to leave them in the comments below! Meta or what? LOL.
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