This post on good commenting etiquette is from 2012, but the advice is timeless:
- Read thoroughly. Before commenting, make sure you’ve read the entire post and the other comments before yours. Your comment should never make the writer (or the other readers) wonder if you actually read the material. When you’re sharing a personal story, you want to make sure yours is relevant — otherwise, it can look like like you’re trying to grab attention away from the blogger. (Also, someone might have left a similar story – in which case you can reply to that person’s comment!)
- Contribute something of value. Every post can be the start of a conversation. Try to add something substantial to move that conversation forward. Don’t get me wrong – most bloggers appreciate every comment, even if it’s just a simple ‘enjoyed this post.’ But a meatier response is more likely to result in visits to your own site. Explain why you’re moved to share your story, and how your experience connects to the original post.
- Mind your manners. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it in their comment thread. Criticism is fine, but there’s no need to be hateful. And remember, only a blog author can delete a comment, so if you comment in haste you might repent at leisure. Share your own experience, but don’t disparage another’s.
- Be yourself. I’ve discovered many favorite blogs by becoming a fan of a certain commenter. Rather than any one comment, it’s the style and personality of a commenter that really makes me want to read more of their work. Whether you are smart, witty, or just plain bizarre – be you! No matter your perspective, a unique voice will get attention.
- Keep your comment comment-sized. If you have a lot to say on a certain subject, leave two or three representative sentences in the comment section, then link to a post on your own blog where you have expanded on the topic. This is a clever way to engage readers who share your interests.
Sharing a link can be a nice way to flesh out a comment — but a caveat! There’s one surefire way to get your comment ignored or worse, deleted, and that’s leaving a shameless plug. If you’re going to take the time to visit others’ blogs and press the “comment” button, avoid this basic mistake.
A shameless plug is a comment that exists simply to provide a link back to your own blog. It says little — or nothing — other than your URL. Things like:
Really informative, I look forward to reading more.
What a good post! If you want, come visit my new blog: ijuststartedblogging.com.
Sometimes the shameless plug comment includes content, like “Nice post!” or “Good job!” Sometimes it’s nothing but a URL. Either way, the best case scenario is that it gets ignored. The worst is that it gets deleted, and you look like a spammer.
We all love comments and we love being told how great, interesting, awesome, informative, and funny we are, so why are these comments counterproductive? Two big reasons:
- The plug is too obvious. When you leave a comment, your name links to your blog. This happens automatically if you’re logged in to WordPress.com; if you’re not logged in, you’ll be asked for your name and URL when submitting the comment. When you put your URL in the comment itself, you’re saying, “I’ll take any opportunity to put my blog in front of you!”
- It looks like you’re not paying attention. Engagement is a two-way street: I share a post, you share a relevant comment, and that deepens the conversation and creates a relationship. If you leave a comment that indicates you haven’t paid attention to my post, I know you’re interested in promotion, not engagement.
The overall impression you leave? Someone who’s only interested in traffic, with nothing of value to say. Maybe that’s true, but maybe it’s not; it takes time to understand and develop good blog etiquette, so you may not realize the negative impact of your comments.
Disagreeing in a Comment
This post on how to rant without looking like a big stupid jerk is chock-full of advice for writing comments that challenge a blogger’s ideas. Here are the most relevant bits:
Don’t comment while angry.
There’s a big difference between writing about something you disagree passionately with, and writing while in the throes of rage. Don’t publish your comment in the heat of the moment. You can write in the moment, but take a time-out before clicking “submit” to let it sit — go take a bubble bath, return to it, and see if it really communicates what you’re trying to say or if it’s just vitriol.
Check your facts.
Nothing undermines an argument faster than misinformation.If you’re going to poke holes in someone else’s boat, make sure your own vessel is seaworthy. Know the facts behind your position, and be honest about them; picking and choosing only the convenient facts is as damaging to an argument as a lie or error.
Talk about ideas and actions, not people.
You can disagree with an idea without insulting specific people. Personal insults give the impression that you’re more interested in tearing someone down than finding the solution to a problem.
Offer a solution, too.
It’s easy to point out the flaws in something, but harder to offer useful solutions for addressing them. Any argument is made stronger when it presents workable solutions.
Lighten the load with a laugh.
Laughter also endears people to you and helps you guide them into your corner, so pave the way to consensus with a few yuks.
Check other tips here.