… from the bungalow

Tips for Bloggers: 5 ways to add finesse to your blog comments

23 Comments

I read several blogs, and I make an effort to leave meaningful comments on each post that strikes me. If I can’t  compose a good comment just then, I generally don’t leave any comment at all.* Yes, I said “compose.” You’re a writer. That should extend to everything you write, not just your posts. A strong, well thought out comment is not only a great way to connect with other bloggers, it also improves traffic and builds a sense of community. Who doesn’t want that?

Now, then. I’ve noticed some very flat and–worse–clunky replies. Here are a few ways to add finesse to your comments.

  1. Read the post fully. Skimming is OK, but every one likes to feel like they’ve been heard. Getting details wrong or missing the point of the post just demonstrates what a bad reader you are. Tsk tsk.
  2. Relate without comparing. Talk about what stood out to you the most, trying not to go off on some tangent about how your Aunt Tilly did something similar. Nobody likes a one-upper.
  3. Compliment the blogger. You read that entire post for a reason; you liked it. Tell them why. Remember: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.*
  4. When appropriate, link back to yourself. Don’t overdo it. Shameless self-promotion is generally frowned upon, whereas a little humility is a good thing. Some sites use comment services such as DISQUS or comluv, which make linking back easy. (Note: These use script which is not allowed on a WordPress.com site. If you are self-hosted or use pretty much any other free blogging site, you should be OK.) Alternatively, use HTML tags.
  5. Use HTML tags.Most blogs allow simple HTML tags in comments. Again, this is something you should use sparingly. Among the list of typically permitted tags:
    1. Italics: <i>italics</i> or <em>emphasis</em>
    2. Bold: <b>bold</b> or <strong>strong</strong>
    3. Block quote: <blockquote>This is an example of a quoted block of text.</blockquote>

      This is an example of a quoted block of text.

    4. Anchors: <a href=”URL” target=”_blank”>Anchor: hypertext reference</a> or, simply, a link. Typing your link directly in the comment will be converted to a link, but then who wants to see all of that?
      Hide it in an anchor tag, and type the title between the open (<a>) and close (</a>) tags. Much cleaner. (The target=”_blank” bit just ensures the link opens in a new window or tab, so as not to direct the reader away from the blogger’s page. It’s just good manners.)

Thanks for the Comment Love!

I hope this has been helpful to you. Happy blogging! Now go leave some stellar comments!

*None of this is to discourage you from leaving a comment. If all you have time for is “great post!” well don’t be shy. This post is specifically about writing stronger posts, and should not be taken as an “all or nothing” approach.

P.S. Do you already use any of these tips? What other tips can you recommend?

P.P.S. Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing! Don’t forget to join me on Facebook and Twitter!

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Author: Chris

A dad with a self-evaluation complex. Also a music therapist, college enrollment administrator, and hippie-nerd.

23 thoughts on “Tips for Bloggers: 5 ways to add finesse to your blog comments

  1. Very informative, thoughtful post. I agree on the topic of leaving meaningful comments, and only when I have something to say, genuinely.

    I liked hearing your thoughts on linkbacks in comments. I’ve always wondered what the general blogiverse consensus is on this. When is it shameless self-promotion, when is it acceptable? Personally, I usually just leave links if I’ve written something on a similar topic that I think would add to or correlate with the discussion. Otherwise, I trust that if someone wants to know more about me, they will come find me and my blog. Would you agree with that?

    Thanks for the post…I got it in my email inbox and the first few lines made me want to read more so I came here to read the whole thing.

    • Hey, thanks for your stellar comment! 😉

      I do think that if you write a good comment, others will want to check out your blog. That said, I also think linking to a related post can be helpful, especially if you use a catchy title. I don’t think it’s cool to try to steer people away from the blog they’re already reading, but if it seems like they could benefit from visiting one of my posts, I might include a link to help that connection along a little. KWIM?

      • Yes, I agree! I’m glad to hear that you do as well. Sometimes we need “permission” from others to be shameless, humble, self-promoters. 🙂 And glad my comment got a “Stellar” Smiley grade from you! LOL!

        • Sure. As a general rule of thumb, I wouldn’t link back to one of my posts in most comments. The comment usually links back to the person commenting person’s blog, anyway (via their name).

  2. I’ve been told that you shouldn’t link back to your own blog. In what circumstance would that be appropriate? Thanks, FTB!

    • Jay, I was in the midst of addressing that when you submitted your comment. See above, but I’ll add this. I did over-share my own links early on, but I’ve really slowed that practice down. It’s pretty transparent when a blogger leaves a one-line comment not specific to the actual post, then links to themselves. But if you have something that’s related, I think it’s OK to share, particularly if they use comluv.

      When in doubt, leave it out!

  3. I should maybe explain HTML briefly. It stands for “hypertext markup language” and it’s the code that makes web pages readable by browsers. The basic tags (code) I listed in #5 can be used in comment submission boxes for added literary effect.

    If you have something you’d like to emphasize, use the “em” tag. Want to quote the author? Try using “blockquote”. It helps your comment stand out just a little bit!

  4. I appreciate this post. I am sometimes torn between feeling “obligated” to leave a comment on every post of every blogger I read. I appreciate the work they put in to their posts and want them to know it. But sometimes I just don’t have “anything” to say. I read a post, like it, but it doesn’t strike a deep thought. So I often “like” a post because, well, I liked it. Is over using “like” button giving the wrong message? What are your thoughts on that?

    • I understand that. I sometimes feel that pressure, too, but if I can’t muster the beginnings of a decent comment in about 10 seconds, I move along. Sometimes posts do stir a feeling, but it’s one that doesn’t always bear conveying. Sometimes a simple “great post!” is sufficient!

      I appreciate it when someone “likes” a post, even if they don’t leave a comment. Especially if they don’t leave a comment. It lets me know that they took the time to read it, even if they don’t have anything to say about it. 🙂

  5. After reading I post, I sometimes sit for a long time before being able to compose a worthwhile reply. If I can’t think of one, I let the author know what I think by “liking” their post. That way they know I spent some time with them.

    • Exactly. I sometime spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about my reply, and sometimes I can just spit it out. How much time I “sit” with a post kind of depends on the relationship I have with that blogger.

  6. I’m guilty of not reading thoroughly more often than I’d like to admit. Sometimes I get so excited about something that I have trouble slowing my brain down to read the rest carefully. I usually try to come back to those posts to comment after I’m able to reread, but lack of time often means that the posts I love don’t get comments. Sigh.

    Thanks for sharing the tip about block quotes! I was wondering how to do that and hadn’t gotten a chance to look into it.

    • I know exactly what you mean, Jess! If I had to put a number on it, I’d guess that I only leave a comment on about 62% of the blog posts I read. (That number is completely arbitrary. I don’t know what it is.)

      Glad you found it helpful!

  7. Yes, commenting is definitely a skill, now I have to try and master it!
    Very helpful post.

  8. Always good to have tips, tricks and reminders. Thanks for the post Chris!

  9. Great tips. Definitely a blog post I need to review. Frequently!

    • Thanks, Natalie. My next trick is to find balance between writing a really great comment and not commenting at all because I don’t have time to write a really great comment! Maybe this will get easier with practice.

  10. Thanks for the guidance. I often wonder what to write beyond Great Post!

  11. I’m big on commenting, and try to leave a focused, coherent comment that interacts with what I’ve just read. Occasionally I’ll leave a “great post” comment as an alternative to nothing at all, because hey, everyone likes to know someone enjoyed what they spent their time on. 🙂

    For me point 2, “relate without comparing” is a big one, especially when you move into “bubble bursters” who not only one-up you, but make you feel worse as a result.

    Great post with some great tips, thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks, Christopher! I realize that a “Great post!” is better than nothing, but for some reason, I will sometimes not say anything at all if I don’t have time to really write a strong comment. And that’s silly. Any encouraging comment is good. Hopefully these tips will help with making strong, encouraging comments.

      I haven’t had a lot of issues with “bubble bursters” (yet), but I am aware of the risk of that happening, which is part of the reason I try to carry out my thoughts to the fullest extent in my own mind first, just so I know I’ve addressed as many possible angles as I can first.

      Thanks for the comment, and thanks for reading.

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