The Art Of Commenting

Your comment shouldn’t be a commercial.

This past week I deleted about 15 comments that were nothing more than thinly veiled commercials for products and or other blogs.  It is not the first time I have done this, nor is it likely to be the last.

Some of the experts encourage bloggers to post a comment policy that delineates what commenters can and cannot do on their blogs, but I am not one of those people.

I don’t have one because I don’t like them and because I see it as establishing guidelines that are frequently adjusted so it seems like a waste of time.

Welcome To My Cyberhome- Our Clubhouse

My blog is my cyberhome. Unlike my brick-and-mortar home this joint is left unlocked and open for business 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

It is a place to share thoughts and ideas. Some of those are professional in nature and some are personal. When this works as designed it is like a good backyard barbecue or cocktail party.

We’ll wander through the yard with a drink in hand and enjoy the company of those who are here. Maybe that will mean we swap stories or exchange business cards. Or maybe it will just be a chance to sit quietly and listen to someone teach us about something interesting.

It will rarely be a place where a salesman can wander in and start hawking their wares uninvited. You probably won’t find it to be a place you can come push certain views upon others uninvited either.

That is not what it is about.

Sometimes these rules may be broken and or adjusted. It might not be based upon logic you can follow. It might be completely arbitrary and that is fine with me, this is my house and I make the rules here.

There Is An Art To Commenting

I am not the kind of blogger who measures his success upon how many comments my posts receive. That is not a good metric to use, it is flawed. Many comments don’t add to or advance the conversation.

Conversation is what I want to see happen here. I am looking for engagement and mental stimulation for us all. We’re building a community here and that is worth something.

I understand that other bloggers comment here and hope that we go visit their blogs. It is part of why I have CommentLuv installed here. When you comment you receive a link back to your blog.

Most of us are very busy and sometimes that link isn’t enough to encourage people to visit which is part of why some people come through here and try to add several more links to their comments.

I expect sometimes it also happens because people are unfamiliar with CommentLuv and or are unfamiliar with blogger etiquette.

There is an art to commenting and when you learn how to do it well good things come out of it.

No Free Advertising

My professional experience includes a significant amount of time in online sales/marketing. Some of that experience includes selling online advertising to multiple size businesses. IBM, Intel, HP and a bunch of smaller companies you might not have heard of have all been clients of mine.

The point is I understand how the ad business works and the value of eyeballs. Sponsors are always looking for ways to engage directly with their target demographic and a blog is a great way to do that.

I don’t give away my inventory without prior approval. Free advertising is unlikely to be found here.

It doesn’t mean I won’t run any sort of advertising or sponsored posts. Nor does it mean I want suggest you sign up for products/services that have me as part of their affiliate program either.

However if I choose to do so I will disclose my relationship to you. You’ll know when you are clicking on affiliate links or if I have been given product/service to review.

Thank You

Those of you who know me well are aware that I will write regardless of whether people comment or not. I don’t require the validation to continue writing, the words give back enough.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want or like comments. There is no community in I.

I am grateful to those who visit and share their thoughts as well as those who don’t. Thank you for your time, I know you could be spending it elsewhere too.

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16 Comments

  1. Nina December 10, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    This post is so spot on, Josh. It sort of reminds me of something that drives me crazy on Twitter and it’s tweets like this:

    “Today I’m writing about the art of characterization http://blahblahblah @NinaBadzin.”

    That tagging of me at the end drives me CRAZY. If you’re going to tweet my name, it ought to be about a post I WROTE, not a way to trick me into reading your post, right? In the same way, commenting HERE should be about YOUR post, not a way to trick people into clicking away from your blog. Rude!

    • Josh December 11, 2012 at 12:16 pm

      Hi Nina,

      The funny thing to me about some of these comments disguised as ads is that they don’t seem to understand that if they build a relationship I’ll probably let them link to their site.

      As long as it is not obnoxious or something offensive/repulsive they’ll get a little love back in return. It is not all that different from real life. Treat people well and you’ll be treated well in return.

      Hope you are having a good chag.

  2. Adrienne December 4, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Ah Josh, I had to put some commenting rules in place. Mainly because I’ve always told people that if you comment on my blog then I’ll definitely visit yours. And I do still to this day but I have found that a lot of the blogs I’m visiting, there’s no way I’m leaving a comment there.

    As more and more people started to visit my blog there were some comments I just wouldn’t approve. I would actually get an email asking me why which is when I decided it was time for some rules over at my place.

    Sure, they’ll change over time and as they do I’ll change them but this way when someone asks all I have to do is point them in the right direction. You know, some people have to be told what’s right and what’s wrong and I think by implementing those rules you’re sharing with people how to act when they come to your home.

    It’s really a shame that you would even have to but from the comments you deleted you know it’s a fact.

    There is an art to commenting, I agree. It’s the same as having a conversation. Put your heart and soul into it and there will never be another issue.

    Great post and one that everyone should read. That is if you’d like to be seen everywhere and you enjoy commenting so much.

    Great job!

    ~Adrienne

    • Josh December 11, 2012 at 12:14 pm

      Hi Adrienne,

      I have to apologize because for being so late. I was certain that I had already responded but clearly I hadn’t. It is one of the issues that bothers me about other bloggers- I never have understood why people have comments that they don’t respond to.

      If you come to my house, I will talk with you.

      Anyway I think we are on the same page here. Some people just don’t get it and one of the things we need to do is help them understand what is expected. Most people seem to be pretty good about it as long as you share it in a nice way.

  3. Kristen December 3, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Commenting is a tricky business indeed. When I first started blogging, I commented like a mad woman, dropping breadcrumbs all over the place, hoping people would follow me back home. But, as Kaarina said, there are only so many hours in a day – and so many words. (I’m sure I’m not alone in having the experience of reading a great post, but having nothing to add to the conversation.) Over time, I’ve arrived at my current habit of commenting only when I think I have something to say, but that choice isn’t without guilt. I know how grateful I am for the conversation that comes from my own comments section and so I do feel some obligation to help support other bloggers’ communities.

    • Josh December 3, 2012 at 10:36 pm

      Hi Kristen,

      You are one of the thoughtful writers so I am not surprised to see you pay attention to what you share within the comment section.

      I don’t think there is one way to write posts or to comment. Much of it is contingent upon what is comfortable for us and that is ok.

  4. Mary Stephenson December 3, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Hi Josh

    Totally agree on your view. I have seen so many people on other sites promoting themselves in the comment section. This would be like if I had a house party selling a product and invited people to join and someone comes and tries to sell their stuff at my party…! Get to be friends with my guests and if they like you and visit you then invite them to your house party. Okay I am not into house parties…but it does kind of remind me of such things.

    Had someone go to my YouTube and put their link on the comment section, delete and block. Some people have so much nerve. Of course they would never actually do that in person…well maybe they might if you actually had a storefront. I have seen people go into a store and hand the clerk a business card. That is pretty tacky if it adds no value to the business.

    I come here because you usually have something I enjoy reading. Nothing I agree is worse than wasting your time on something that is not interesting or fun to read. Like you say it is your place and you rule!

    Mary

    • Josh December 3, 2012 at 10:34 pm

      Hi Mary,

      I am a bit jaded from having done this forever, but it is hard for me to understand how people can be so obtuse. I really don’t understand why some people have such a hard time recognizing how egregious their behavior is.

      It is not like setting up shop in a mall or a swap meet where you can be more aggressive in promoting your shop. Maybe some people just don’t care who they upset, don’t know.

      I appreciate your time. I figure those who come on a regular basis do so because they enjoy the writing and the community. If that changes they’ll head elsewhere, it is just part of the package.

  5. Kaarina Dillabough December 3, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Commenting can be such a tricky thing. There are so many people whose blogs I enjoy, but on the other hand, only so many hours in the day. I’ve found my commenting has been reduced, not for lack of interest, but because I need to spend more time on producing, and a little less on following, chasing or “being there” for others. Don’t get me wrong: I’d love to be everywhere, commenting, engaging and chatting. But real life’s not like that, so why would we put that expectation on ourselves online?

    I comment when I have something I believe is of value to say, not just to the writer of the blog, but to their community. I sometimes breeze by with a short but sincere little comment. Some days I share, but don’t comment. And other days, the world continues to spin without me partaking on line as much. Cheers! Kaarina

    • Josh December 3, 2012 at 10:28 pm

      Hi Kaarina,

      Time is finite and precious so you have to pick and choose where you go and what you do. When I first started blogging I remember hearing from another blogger about how she was fired because she spent all day commenting on blogs with the hope that they would visit hers at night.

      Sometimes the best comment is the short one that lets the author know that someone appreciated their work.

      Always good to see you here.

  6. Gina December 3, 2012 at 7:39 am

    You’re welcome. This may not advance the conversation but I do like the idea that we are all building our own little communities. I actually learned that from you way back last January. I answer all comments left on a post because I have some friends that come back and re-respond. That’s fun. Sometimes, I leave a little inside joke or some kind of hook to see if they are indeed returning. It’s all fun and sometimes games. Have a great week!

    • Josh December 3, 2012 at 10:26 pm

      Hi Gina,

      I don’t care or need every comment to advance the conversation. More importantly, when relationships are established it changes the dynamic in a positive way.

      It changes the equation so that we don’t feel like the person is visiting our blog for link juice and or solely to promote themselves.

      Social media isn’t much different from the real world, treat people well and it is reciprocated. Those jokes in the comments are always fun.

  7. Sapna December 3, 2012 at 5:55 am

    HI Joshua

    Very well said, this Blog is your cyberhome, and this applies to everyone who are trying to form a community or helping others to build one.

    There are many unwarranted personalities who will want to peep in through and I also don’t like them to be part of our community. The decision is completely arbitrary and at times can be biased as well but again this is OUR CYBERHOME. I fully endorse your viewpoint.

    Your writing speaks volume about you, so keep on writing.

    Thanks
    Sapna

    • Josh December 3, 2012 at 5:56 pm

      Hi Sapna,

      It is a part of blogging dealing with these characters, but I wrote this more for those are new or unfamiliar than for the jokers who think anything goes.

      And I like to acknowledge the people like yourself who choose to spend time here, it is appreciated.

  8. Lori Gosselin December 3, 2012 at 5:51 am

    Tell ’em Josh! I have to chuckle at “We’ll wander through the yard with a drink in hand” 🙂 At my place we sit on the porch and drink – tea or coffee, though maybe over the holidays I’ll offer something stronger and if the snow comes, we can go sliding out back, or maybe just walk around the yard!
    I don’t get a lot of ad comments, though maybe some of the software my guy installed have been catching them, or maybe my porch is not as well-known as your yard 😉
    Keep it up Josh, you’re a true community-builder. Now about the book The Different Drum…..
    Lori

    • Josh December 3, 2012 at 5:54 pm

      Hi Lori,

      I am big on wandering, got so much energy burning up inside that I just have to get it out. 😉

      Sliding out back sounds like it could be fun, but only with a heavy jacket. Some of us have thin blood, only been in the snow a handful of times.

      I think LF is pretty good at weeding out the spam like comments. You really have to be intent on posting them to make it happen.

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