7 Tips for Better Comment Etiquette

by Katelyn Block on October 11, 2012 · 48 comments

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We’ve all been there. You read (or don’t read) a blog post, and want to say something at the end, because talking and being heard is fun.

Blogging is all about the conversation and the ideas it generates; in the post, in the comments section, and along the “ripple effect” as I like to call it — feedback through Twitter, Facebook, e-mails — all coming from YOU.

The readers. The bloggers. The content creators. We all play an important role in this big conversation called Social Media. Today we’re going to talk about how to make your contribution more effective.

1. Before you even think about clicking into that comment box, read the entire post. You heard me. Read it. The whole thing. Or, for God’s sake, at least read a couple of paragraphs that make you feel something. Bloggers (and commenters too!) are always looking to be heard, and knowing that someone has spent the time to read what we have to say means the world.

2. Think about what you want to say. Does the blogger’s sense of humor make you LOL at your desk? Did they make you mad by telling you not to eat cookies? Did you learn something about yourself that you didn’t know before? Use that as a talking point and create (or join) a conversation.

3. Don’t simply answer questions asked at the end of a post. As tempting as it is to join the conversation and leave a comment, please don’t just answer questions at the end of a post. This is something that (without many people realizing it) is often hurtful for bloggers. Creating content takes work. At the very least, skim a post and (back to #1 and #2), create a talking point on something in the body of the post before answering questions. The reasons bloggers ask these is to stimulate more conversation, but we don’t want that to be the only conversation. Ya hear?

4. Keep your emotions in check. With some topics, it’s hard to restrain emotion (with controversial topics, especially, when we are compelled to let all hell break loose), but for the most part, remember that your comment will be read by the blog author as someone speaking directly to them. As bloggers (and content creators), we recognize that we open ourselves up to criticism and negative feedback, but we also expect a level of respect that we would owe a coworker or friend. As we respect you, we hope that you return the same level of respect, not as just a reader or a blogger, but as a person. We are all people. With that being said, when a controversial topic arises, aim to address the issue at hand, rather than using the content creator as a point of reference. The conversation will be kept much more interesting and beneficial for all parties when this level of respect is maintained. Just like when you are arguing with a partner or friend, directing the conversation away from “you ____” language is most beneficial.

5. Try not to link-drop in your reply. Bloggers and commenters love to meet new people and explore new blogs. Who doesn’t love fresh content? But when it comes to comment etiquette, it is most polite (and best) to leave the link-ups when you fill in your information. Name, e-mail, and website. If you have a particular blog post that you want given more attention, use that as your URL, but leave it out of your comment. This avoids clutter, the obvious “Look at me, please click on my link!” advertisement-type vibe, and creates a bit of allure. Ooh, the mystery of clicking on someone’s name.

6. Try to stay somewhat professional. This is something I, personally, have struggled with in the past. Some bloggers I love so much that I drop hearts and OMG’s and “hahahaha’s” all over the place. This is fine if you’re tight buddies. Are you best girlfriends? Go crazy banana sandwich all over the place. But for the most part, keep it clean, simple, and sane.

7. If you have more to say, send an e-mail. Rather than leave a long, personal comment, send an email directly to the blogger. It is understood that some things you might want to share with the rest of the blog community (for example, an inspiring story that might move others), but if you have a direct concern or bit of excitement, or would like some advice, sending an e-mail is your best bet to get a personal, direct response from the content creator.

What are your tips for good commenting?
Any points on etiquette I missed?
What is your experience with blog comments and the “big conversation”? 

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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Kammie @ Sensual Appeal October 11, 2012 at 5:07 PM

It definitely is slightly hurtful when I post about a topic that is close to my heart and personal and someone only answers the question that I ask on the bottom of the post. Or when the commentor obviously doesn’t read the post and goes only by photos and says something that I have already addressed in the post, except I have said very negative things about it and the person who comments goes “ohhhhh these look good, I wanna try that”. Really, you do? I just said they suck and you wanna try them still? Well they obviously didn’t read it. Sigh.

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Ed October 11, 2012 at 5:08 PM

I hear-by nominate these 7 tips to be officially recorded as the 7 rules of Comment Etiquette for all bloggers. Anyone second me?

Seriously though, should someone start a Blogger Etiquette blog? Somewhere we can post suggestions like this, nominations can be made, and then official rules could be voted into legislation. Now of course enforcing such rules would be hard…but it would generate some amazing discussions!

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table October 12, 2012 at 12:03 PM

I second you!!!

It drive me nuts when people violate these. Especially #5… it almost feels like getting “used.”

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Ed October 13, 2012 at 3:26 PM

I am not a fan of being used either!

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Katelyn Block October 14, 2012 at 4:04 PM

Haha thank you! Maybe we should!

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Marissa October 11, 2012 at 5:11 PM

I absolutely love when you do blog posts that are different form your norm. Don’t get me wrong… I adore reading your posts about Crossfit and various recipes, but it always makes me excited when you post something different. Keeps us readers on our toes! You are a great writer Katelyn and your personality and warmth definitely shines through on your blog!

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Katelyn Block October 14, 2012 at 4:05 PM

Thank you!! No that means a lot! It’s FUN for me to do these kinds of posts. I love them because it does switch it up, and it proves that I’m about more than just what goes in my belly ;)

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Melanie @ Nutritious Eats October 11, 2012 at 5:40 PM

Well said…and I read the whole thing! ;) Ok here are my thoughts….I don’t get a ton of comments and I try not to worry about it. I only started commenting on blogs when I became a blogger because I learned how important it was to us. Of course if someone decided to just tweet my content instead of leaving a comment am I going to be sad? Heck no! We do what we can. It takes a LOT of time to read entire posts and comment on everyone’s blog. I have 3 kids ages 5 and under so it’s a miracle that I even get to my computer at all.
My tips (which I recently started doing): 1) comment back to all your readers who comment. My opinion is that if they take the time to say something, I like to comment back. I see bloggers that either do this all the time or not. I am trying to do it all the time but I am sure it gets harder with bloggers that get tons of comments. To me it shows that you care and that you are trying to encourage a conversation. 2) Go visit the blog’s of people that comment on yours and leave a comment for them (at some point- not always the same day or even week).
I don’t mind if comments are short, or if readers only say “that looks good” or whatever…the point is they are leaving a comment which I find nice. I don’t try to get picky on what type of comment people leave.
You made some REALLY good points though and hopefully it will make it easier for those phantom readers to feel comfortable leaving comments. P.S. This is my first time on your blog! Love the FFL community!

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Katelyn Block October 14, 2012 at 4:07 PM

Oh my gosh it takes SO much time! It’s hard for me to even respond to my own comments with training and schoolwork… I can’t even imagine what it’s like to have three little nuggets to be a Mommy for. You’re a CHAMP.

And second — that is also SO true! It IS nice to know that someone took the time to stop by and say “hey”. I’m so glad YOU stopped by, and I hope you come back! <3 xo lady :)

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Andrea October 14, 2012 at 8:50 PM

Melanie, I agree with you 100%!! I am a fairly new blogger, and I get so excited when anyone comments!! I am not picky haha! If someone tweeted my link, I would LOVE it! Comment or not! I think it’s super important to comment back to people and like Katelyn says, start a conversation!

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maria @ lift love life October 11, 2012 at 5:41 PM

Great tips! And number 3 is why I don’t normally ask questions ;) HAHAHAHAHAHAH <—Just kidding. Keeping it sane from now on ;)

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Katelyn Block October 14, 2012 at 4:09 PM

Hahaha wait that cracked me up. That’s kind of smart. Except I love picking people’s brains and asking relevant (and totally non-relevant) questions! ;)

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Caroline October 11, 2012 at 6:46 PM

Great tips! This topic is new and refreshing. I hate asking questions at the end of my posts for that reason you mentioned, but I usually do it anyways..
That being said, I love when readers comment- even if I can tell they didn’t read the entire post or they write a tons of “hahaha”s everywhere. I appreciate that they came to my blog, were respectful and made even a slight effort : )

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Katelyn Block October 14, 2012 at 4:13 PM

That is very true!! It goes both (and all) ways. I love it when readers ENJOY being here. Haha’s and everything. There’s always an exception to the rule, no? ;)

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Jen October 11, 2012 at 6:46 PM

Great tips and I agree with them all! My pet peeve is when someone comments and it makes no sense and is clear they read one sentence and commented! As the blogger I think it is important to try to also check out the blogs of those who take the time to comment on mine and leave them a comment as well, but on these same lines I can find your blog through your comment, no need to advertise it!

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Sarah October 11, 2012 at 7:06 PM

This is good stuff Katelyn. Real good stuff. I like that you took the time to write this post because honestly it is something that bloggers and readers should be more conscious of. Personally I find enjoyment from reading what other people write and post. It submerges me into a whole different world, “blog world” if you will. It’s neat to view others opinions – controversial or not. As for the controversial ones and your tip #4, so true that it is important to realize what your saying is being directly read by the author and to pay attention to word use. Most of the time too, bloggers will write a post with something possibly controversial and state right up in the open that it’s controversial or if something’s triggering/could upset someone there is usually a warning which I think is great many bloggers will do that. I think my main tips are really word choice, be respectful, and be genuinely interested :)

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Katelyn Block October 14, 2012 at 4:18 PM

I love the way you said this! It’s so true — it’s all about word choice, on the part of both the blogger and the commenter. Because it’s FASCINATING and INVIGORATING to read about and discuss something that not everyone agrees on. It’s what moves people to form their own opinions and DO something about it. Movers and shakers.

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Sarah October 14, 2012 at 7:56 PM

LOVE that. “It’s what moves people to form their own opinions and DO something about it.” So true. Without seeing the opinions and beliefs of others, how are we supposed to form our own thoughts and views on a particular subject? Having exposure to different ideas, concepts, and opinions is crucial for both developing our thoughts and honestly it just creates a healthy balance.

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Amanda @RunToTheFinish October 11, 2012 at 7:18 PM

my only disagreement is keep it professional. I like saying amazeballs and OMG and holy heck in my comments because my day is serious business and blogs are fun…they shouldn’t be so serious

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Katelyn Block October 14, 2012 at 4:21 PM

That’s VERY true too! I personally think it’s most about word choice — not “serious”, but respectful. And still having fun! ;)

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Carissa October 11, 2012 at 8:17 PM

Great post and I’m happy you’re encouraging quality communication. However, sometimes I leave rather short comments. It’s not that the post wasn’t great, but it’s typically just to let the writer know “Hey, I was here. Your stuff is engaging. Love ya. Mean it.” I feel like it’s a courtesy to people I have developed “relationships” with through blogging. Does that make sense?

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Katelyn Block October 14, 2012 at 4:22 PM

I think that’s ALSO super important. Maintaining that relationship. Good point!

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Irina @ Chocolatea Time October 11, 2012 at 8:25 PM

Perfectly said. What I find most hurtful is when I write a jam-packed post, especially one that I spent a lot of time on, and someone just bluntly ignores the content. We’re all part of this great community and yes we need to support each other, but the best way to do that is to actively read and participate in each other’s blogs! Does that make sense? I think it does :)

Anyway, thanks for an awesome post. These rules need to be printed out and posted everywhere!

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Katelyn Block October 14, 2012 at 4:24 PM

Amen, lady. It takes hard work! It’s all about supporting one another and, when we can, taking the time to read what came of that hard work. xo!

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Chelsie @ Balance, Not Scale October 11, 2012 at 8:49 PM

I definitely agree Katelyn!!
Actually, to be honest, I half expected you to put something random in the middle of your post to see if everyone was reading it through … I don’t know if you’ve ever read of the psych experiment where study participants were asked to count how many times a basketball was passed back and forth and so many missed the giant man in the monkey suit walking by in the background…? I don’t know why that came to mind, but it seems to emphasize your point — People who are too focused on a primary goal (looking to get their name out there and who don’t really read the content) are bound to miss out on the bigger picture (of the healthy living blogging world). That bigger picture: to share ideas and build a stronger and healthier world from within the community outwards.

(Ps. I’m feeling very self-conscious of the length and content of this comment now … At least you’ve got me thinking twice before I hit ‘submit’!!)

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Katelyn Block October 14, 2012 at 4:35 PM

Hahahah don’t worry lady!!! This comment isn’t too long at all! I LOVE the way you worded everything. It’s the distraction of going after a certain “goal” versus seeing the “bigger picture”. This was an AWESOME comment! ;)

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jenna October 11, 2012 at 8:53 PM

i enjoyed all of your etiquette tips and enjoyed looking through what everyone else had to say too! personally, i enjoy commenting (whether wordy or just a short hi!) just to show the reader that i took the time to read the blog and appreciate their thoughts! spa love! <3

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Laura @ Mommy Run Fast October 11, 2012 at 10:34 PM

Great post! And I love these comments- especially the one with the suggestion to put something random in the middle to see if anyone had caught it, too funny. :) I also agree with Melanie- I try hard to go back and hit blogs of people who comment as a courtesy to say thank you for stopping by… but it definitely gets tricky on popular posts. Respect is key- glad you through that in there!

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KymberlyFunFit October 11, 2012 at 11:10 PM

While I always applaud good manners and kind etiquette, I am not too worried about a few of the issues you bring up. If someone simply wants to reply to my reader question, I am fine with that. As for URLs from other bloggers, I am also fine if they leave their link in the comment box. If it is a company trying to sneak in a commercial link, then I get peeved. But a hardworking blogger deserves as much link love as possible and if my blog/ comment area provides help, it does not hurt me at all and helps that person. I have often gone to read links left in comment boxes if the comment is an interesting, intelligent one that makes me think the blogger might write similarly good posts.

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Chuck October 12, 2012 at 1:34 AM

I love these. I try to avoid them all. I don’t usually get them on my blog, but I love reading other peoples blog and see the first comment is something about the very first sentence of the post lol

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Eating 4 Balance October 12, 2012 at 7:34 AM

These are such great tips. Thanks for posting. I leave questions at the bottom of my posts to spark discussion, but ya, it hurts when someone leaves just one sentence saying: What did I eat today? I ate an apple and some grapes. Okay. Good for you! :D

While I am not a direct offender of any of these points, I will definitely keep them in mind and be much more careful of how I comment on other people’s blogs. Thanks so much.

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Katie @ KatieEnPursuit October 12, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Thanks for getting this post out there! I feel so many bloggers (myself included) share their lives as a way of self expression & the negative commenters can be so hurtful & non-constructive! I often wonder if people would make the same comments if they were face-to-face; I believe that’s a decent rule to live by when commenting on blogs. Thanks again Katelyn for the tips!

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DTS October 12, 2012 at 11:42 AM

This is amazing! I always commented on the content of the post but seemed everyone was answering the question so I stopped commenting. Glad to know I got it right. If I feel strongly about something in a post and feel it is too long or maybe not appropriate for all readers I definitely send an email. Sad when the blogger does not even respond. I know they are busy but that is a pet peeve of mind. Especially if you specifically ask a question. What is the proper etiquette for bloggers in that respect? First time here and look forward to delving in the archives.

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Allie October 12, 2012 at 12:12 PM

YES to all of this (and YUP, I did read all of it :D ). I know I’m sometimes guilty of being a bit short in my comments, but sometimes I just have one short and to the point thing to say! I’ll still do more than answer the questions, though. I sometimes think “Why did they even bother?” when I put time and effort into a post and someone comments with something like “looks good” or “me too.” I mean, if you have nothing to say, you DON’T have to leave a comment! Nothing wrong with that!

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Sarah October 12, 2012 at 12:21 PM

Great post! I’m just coming back to blogging after leaving mine dusty for awhile, and I’m realizing that I have to build my relationships back…and it’s HARD. I want that sense of community that blogging provides, knowing others who are experiencing similar challenges and triumphs is awesome. These guidelines are great suggestions to remember.

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Hillary October 12, 2012 at 9:37 PM

Thanks for the reminders love bug! :)

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Tracey English October 13, 2012 at 10:56 AM

These are great tips, Katelyn. I, like many bloggers, put a lot of effort into my posts and there are some that are especially close to my heart, so I take to heart the comments that are left. As someone who doesn’t get nearly as many responses on her blog as you, personally, I am trying to build my audience, so I’m happy when I get anything…is that sad? ;)

That being said, I think your tips are spot on and I try my best to keep my comments professional and constructive. :) Thanks!

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Cortney October 13, 2012 at 12:53 PM

I might be reading the wrong blogs, but I find the opposite problem- it seems on a lot of blogs everyone is interested in only talking with the blogger, whereas I enjoy a discussion within the comment section with other commenters. It drives me nuts to read a blog post with 150+ comments and they’re all just gushing over how great the author is a person, or how cool they are, or how great their fashion sense it, etc. I’m sure this is frustrating for the author, too, because if she/he is trying to stimulate conversation that’s not happening in the context of excessive personal praise that also ignores the content.

That’s why I like the point you make about being professional- I would say it’s also about being mature, and not just fangrrrrrling all over a popular blogger. Now that I think about it, I bet it just goes back to trying to promote one’s own blog by buttering up a popular blogger and leaving fluffy comments. On a lot of lifestyle/fashion blogs it’s just comment after comment of “OMG, cutest family ever!” or “Girl, you are seriously beautiful” followed by a link to the blog. If I were those bloggers, that would drive me nuts.

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Alex (@alexbridgeforth) October 13, 2012 at 7:57 PM

My first comment tip, it COMMENT! I ask questions at the end of my blog and would be happy just having people answer them. I’m still at the stage where any comment is a good comment. However, I usually like to talk on Twitter rather than in a comment section.

I think you did hit most of the points, but I find that many bloggers don’t reply to questions in my comment. I have started answering the questions they pose and trying to incite more conversation by asking questions myself.

I haven’t had too much experience with too many comments type stuff. I find people move past blog posts pretty quick. Almost, like how a newspaper is old hat one day later, that seems to be how people are with blogs.

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Tania October 13, 2012 at 10:31 PM

Interesting post. I personally think its okay for people to just answer the question at the end of the post. That still counts as reader participation! I do however come across many, many blogs where the people posting are commenting simply to be “seen” on a bigger bloggers site. And it is during these instances where you get the most insincere (and inaccurate) of comments, where you can practically visualize the smoke being blown up the bloggers’ ass. Which is why I never read the comments made at larger blogs. Sad but true.

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Kate October 14, 2012 at 7:54 AM

These are great and I’m definitely going to store these in the back of my mind somewhere. I find no 6 interesting – sometimes I think this depends on the vibe of the blog itself. A lot of bloggers seem to want a chatty environment with a lot of ‘instant best buds’ language (or maybe that’s just me…?).

PS – love that everyone has given quite a lengthy response to this. I think we’re all checking ourselves against the criteria just a little!

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Kristen October 15, 2012 at 8:24 AM

Well Said! I have SOOOO SOOO many comments that are borderline ” Spamish” from other bloggers. I wish everyone would read this!

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Calee October 15, 2012 at 10:35 AM

Ooh .. I like the tip about link dropping. Sometimes I add a link in the comment if I have a post that seems like it would help somebody else’s problem, OR if I have one that’s similar to the one that they’ve posted. I never thought about it sounding super spammy because I’ve typically only done it with bloggers I know fairly well and am only interested in THEM reading it (for their enjoyment, not to get my site out there!).

Nice set of tips. PINNING.

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Joey April 4, 2013 at 3:40 PM

I’ve only recently started blogging and came across your tips. Definitely liked it the most out of all the similar top ‘x tip’ versions online, especially your intro.

Ripples is a perfect word to describe that effect. So much so, I can’t get it out of my head for my own next post. Might have to steal, hope you don’t mind.

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Katelyn Block April 5, 2013 at 8:47 PM

Thank you! Of course. Ideas are worth spreading.

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