Good comment - the best guide how to write one | The Commenting Club

The best guide ever on how to write a good comment

good comment

It's becoming increasingly difficult to find a good comment in the social digital world nowadays.

You may immediately think: "Hey, I know how to write a good comment!" – and I'm sure you probably do, in your own eyes. Everybody thinks they're brilliant at writing comments. But are you really?

I receive a reasonable amount of comments on this and my other blogs. Not all of them are publishable. Why? Because they do not come up to par. In other words, most of them are inadequate.

Hang on, this is another wild claim to make! But I've found since the transgression of commenting over to social media in 2014, the standard of interaction and engagement has declined quite considerably.

So people need to be shown, nay taught, how to comment properly again.

But commenting is a natural response, surely?

You would think so, but this doesn't necessarily guarantee the outcome always being suitable.

It's actually quite easy to write a good comment. And yet there are some people who find this difficult, or in some cases, almost impossible.

Maybe it's because they're too busy and don't have the time. They lack both writing and social (!) skills. Or fail to understand the true reasons for interaction and how engaging with friends, followers or even your customers can be beneficial.

And yet all is needed are a few rules. Guidelines, if you prefer. Methods of how and what to do and where. Tips and tricks to make your life easier.

Hey, you went to school to learn how to write, didn't you? But how many of your teachers taught you how to comment? And if they did, could you assure they did this regularly enough themselves and for the right reasons?

What are the elements of a good comment?

Let's start with what needs to go into your comment. Obviously there needs to be a beginning, middle and end. And yet so many comments fail to contain this! Why?

Commenting is a spontaneous act. It is a result of a spur of the moment, and usually done in a hurry and with little thought. Comments are a reaction to what's been read. They are a result of inspiration which comes into the brain at that moment.

Very rarely does a commenter stop, think and consider what needs to be said. This process hinders instantaneous responses. And actually reflecting the impact of the comment, on others and on the contributor, very rarely enters the mind.

This results in an inadequate comment. If it did contain these five sections demonstrated in the infographic below, the outcome would be far more satisfactory for all concerned:

5 sections of a good comment

And here's some code you could paste into your own posts (via the text mode) if you want to share this Infographic with your readers.

Say hello

If you saw someone in the street you wanted to talk to, but you hadn't seen them for quite a while, would you go over to them and launch straight into what you wanted to say?

And yet why is this considered acceptable within commenting? Have we forgotten our social graces just because we are online? Does hiding behind a screen make us instantly recognisable, noticeable and likeable? Hardly!

The sweetest word in any language is your name. It immediately springs out of a sea of words. This is why marketers use merging systems to pepper their content with your name to get and maintain your attention.

Remember to greet the author of the post you are commenting on with their real name. Get them on your side. Show you have bothered to find out who they are, and prove they aren't just another faceless web writer.

Make the author feel special, wanted and needed. This is the first big step towards getting your comment read, noticed and appreciated. And ultimately this leads onto it being accepted, published and even replied to.

Say something nice

The person who you accosted in the street would also benefit from a kindly word, such as how well they look, or what a nice tie they are wearing. This is a recognisable form of ingratiation to prevent yourself from being ignored.

However, this process is sometimes taken to extremes on the web. Spammers are particularly good at this. Their comments are laced with so many appreciative phrases, there is little space for anything else. If there is nothing of value in their content in relation to the post, the comment is completely useless.

Another common and lazy contribution found worldwide is the phrase "Nice post". The simple alternative for this are the like and social sharing buttons.  Single words or one-line phrases are not helpful if placed in isolation. But if used (with added content) within the second section of a good comment, then the purpose becomes more applicable.

A simple example could be: "Thank you for such a great post, it certainly opened my eyes regarding [the subject]." This could be a most acceptable way of launching your comment.

Jacqueline's comment below shows both a greeting and a suitable complimentary introduction:

appreciative comment

Show you understand

Every writer appreciates receiving a comment which is relevant to their post. They naturally assume the commenter has thoroughly read through the content, and has attempted to fully interpret everything in it before delivering their contribution.

Well, this is the ideal. But it doesn't always happen like that.

We live in a time-poor world. The majority of online content is gleaned, glossed over or skim-read by people too busy to sit down to properly read a post from beginning to end.

As a result so much information is lost, misconstrued or even neglected. The main point is missed, assumptions are rife, selfish perceptions abound and opportunities disappear before they get a chance to get off the ground.

All because in today's world people don't take the necessary time-out to focus on what is important. Reading a post thoroughly to fully understand it. This is a common courtesy to the writer which is passed over, forgotten and abandoned in their hurry to move onto the next thing.

So the third section of a good comment should acknowledge the subject of the post. This proves you have read and understood it, and are therefore eligible to have your say.

Cindy merely mentions the main subject of the post to show she's read it:

showing comprehension

And Rachael has noted one of the elements I mentioned in my post, which also proves she has read it properly:

showing comprehension 2

A good comment provides value

Now we come to the "meat and two veg" of the comment. The principle reason why you wanted to have your say in the first place.

Trouble is, all this faffing about with greetings, compliments and confirmations of the subject could have caused your inspiration to dry up. After all, as I said earlier, commenting is a spontaneous affair. You have to be in the correct frame of mind to leave a response. And worrying about the first three sections could have scuppered all of this.

If this is the case, why not jot down what motivated you to contribute. Get this right before adding in the finer details. Focus on how relevant your thoughts are in relation to the post's subject. What value could you add which could make a difference to whoever reads it?

The fourth and main section of a good comment should be as inspirational as the post which stimulated it. If there is a question, answer it. Is there is a problem? You could provide the solution. Offer a correction (in a helpful manner) to any information which may be wrong.

Comments should always enhance the post to which they are attributed, and continue the conversation started by the writer. They should be a valuable addition to what is already there, to improve upon the existing content for other readers to enjoy.

Gene is most willing to offer his insight:

added value comment

Promise an action

It's always nice to leave with a parting gesture whenever you quit a meeting, rather than going out without saying anything. However, this is probably the most difficult and neglected section of a good comment.

In a letter you might write "Yours sincerely", but is this suitable for a comment? Other missives might end with "Lots of love and kisses" but this may not be appropriate for the style and subject for what you are writing about. But even merely signing off with your name could make a difference.

You could thank the writer for their post, or for having the chance to contribute. Appreciation is always acceptable. Or you could wrap up the main points mentioned and say which were the most inspirational, or what benefit you managed to gain from the post.

If you have learned something from reading the post, say so. Tell the writer what you are going to do with your new knowledge, and how this will improve your life, business or whatever. It is always good to know which information is useful, enjoyed and even acted upon.

Melina finished her comment by telling me what had inspired her from reading my post:

parting comment 2

Good commenting techniques

Now we have got the five sections of writing a good comment under our belt, it's time to move on to more sophisticated stuff.

Here are six techniques you could take into consideration whenever you have the desire to write a good comment. These are explained in the infographic below:

6 techniques for writing a good comment

And here's some code you could paste into your own posts (via the text mode) if you want to share this Infographic with your readers.

Have you actually read it?

The third section for writing a good comment emphasises the importance of properly reading the post before replying. This is so vital, I have mentioned it a second time here.

In fact, it's not just the post, but the other comments as well. These could contain a lot of information which needs to be absorbed and understood before any attempt is made to write a response.

People who fail to do this are really shown up by the inferiority of their comment. It's obvious they haven't grasped the basic concept, missed critical points, made irrelevant assumptions and even repeated what's already been said. Not adding any value will make your comment useless and not worth reading.

I know it can be time-consuming to read every post before commenting. Skim-reading can be useful to glean which posts are worthy of a response. But then you must go back and focus on your chosen posts before taking on the task of contributing your point of view.

Simplicity is key

It's a good idea to know who you are writing for. This isn't only reserved for the post's writer, who will be focusing on their readers. A commenter will have to take everybody who reads the post into consideration: author, readers, commenters, critics, trolls and all.

In fact, it's your job to win them round to your way of thinking. Which elements of the post are they interested in? Is this subject always popular? Do the commenters use the same words as the writer? Is everybody in agreement, or is there some juicy conflict you could join in?

Whatever contribution you offer, it needs to fit in with the source of the content. If what you write is too complicated, it runs the risk of being ignored because nobody understands it. Assess the intellectual capacity of the general audience, and adapt your comment accordingly.

Also, avoid writing too much. This is a far cry from most comments, which tend to be too short. Consider who would concentrate enough to read all of your contribution? The art of writing a good comment is being clear, concise and succinct in getting your message across.

timely comment

Add a personal element

Everybody loves a story, and have done since the mists of time. A great technique to get your comment read is to adapt it into something entertaining. This will allow people to connect with it. And this is made more believable if you are able to show off your lively personality.

People relate better to personal experiences. It is the human element which is so attractive. If they feel an affinity with what you are saying, they will compare it to their own lives or their friends'. This increases the comfort factor which helps towards instant approval of your comment.

Difficult concepts can be explained better through anecdotes or jokes. Humour and laughter are very good at breaking down barriers. Combine your message with imagery such as cartoons, memes and gifs to make it easier to understand.

Emotion can be a powerful force in commenting. Emojis help to fill in the gaps words cannot complete, especially when you are constricted for space. Empathy is always appreciated, trust is gained by providing value, and recognition is obtained by always showing up.

My good friend Phil's comments always display his personality, and are a delight to receive:

personality comment

If in doubt, ask

Questions are a very powerful tool in commenting. Many a good comment has been written purely based around a query. In fact I love to reply with a question to entice the commenter to reply back (this does depend whether they're monitoring their comments after they've written them).

Questions are a good ploy to use if you know nothing about the subject, are intrigued and what to find out more, or want the writer to explain themselves so you understand it better. Handled correctly, and this can easily develop into a full blown discussion through continued questioning.

A good writer will ask a series of questions as a call to action at the bottom of their posts to encourage comments. There is no reason why you can't also do this within your comments. It's a bit like batting the ball back into the writer's court.

Rather than writing something benign which shows your ignorance, save face by firing off a series of questions. Also if you can't think of anything decent to write, a question will also help restore the situation and retain your reputation.

Tracey-Jane was intrigued by something I had mentioned, and asked a question to find out more:

comment with a question 1

Phil's question is an extension to the subject he had brought up. It actually resulted in another blog post from me:

comment with a question 2

Has it been said before?

Relevance is an extremely important factor in commenting. I cannot stress this enough. So many bad commenters, in particular spammers and trolls, are notorious for not keeping to the subject, and only going on about what they want to write about.

Remember you have been invited to comment on this post, so the best thing you can do is to respect this. Focus on the topic, be courteous, and consider other people's point of view. Avoid mentioning your own blog, business or whatever unless it is extremely relevant.

I mentioned before the importance of reading the other comments as well as the post. This is so you know exactly what has been said by other people. Your job is to provide an alternative viewpoint, a different slant to the subject or additional material which hasn't been mentioned yet.

Repeating what other people have written, even in your own words, cannot be classed as writing a good comment. It shows you haven't checked out the competition, you don't have any original thoughts, and you won't have any added value to enhance the quality of the post.

Get in there first!

One aspect of writing a good comment is to get noticed. This may be to raise awareness of qualities within the post, share your knowledge to benefit others, or highlight the qualities of you as a writer.

Another consideration is to set the scene. Being the first to comment on a post means you have carte blanche in what you can say, without anybody else hindering you. This also means your contribution will have the author's full and undivided attention.

You are now able to start a discussion, or offer an alternative point of view. You could add suggestions to enhance the post, or ask a question to clarify particular points within the post. The caliber of your comment should encourage similar responses in the same vein.

Other commenters are forced to take their lead from your first comment. Unless they want to look stupid repeating what you've already said, they will have to work hard to think of something different or look at the subject from another side.

Gordon's question in his comment (below) was most pertinent, as adding in a comment, or getting a friend to write one for you, will break the commenting duck which can be so off-putting for many would-be commenters.

Comments suggest both a popular blog or social platform, as well as content which appears to be worth reading. And a first comment relieves the tension and paves the way for others to join in.

commenting first

What will never contribute towards a good comment?

Yes, there are some things you shouldn't do when writing a comment, good, bad or ugly.

People who do commit these atrocities usually have little understanding about commenting. So I have created an infographic to show you what to avoid:

What you shouldn’t do when commenting on a post

And here's some code you could paste into your own posts (via the text mode) if you want to share this Infographic with your readers.

A good comment never promotes

The commenting box is not a vehicle for self-promotion. This isn't an opportunity for you to leave a link back to your blog or website within your comment. And yet so many commenters do do this, which is actually spamming and has a tendency to be caught by the moderation systems.

Commenting should be used purely for relationship building. Here you are able to communicate directly to the post's writer, to get noticed by them, win their approval and ask questions from them to find out more. If you are successful, they may visit your blog to check out what else you have written.

Yet I receive many comments containing external links. The link is usually totally irrelevant to the post's subject. So I assess the worthiness of the content within the comment, and if it is good enough, I edit it to delete the link before publishing and answering it (see below). All other contributions are demoted into the spam folder.

A good comment has no need to include a visible link within its content. Its quality should provide the necessary information, and be influential enough to encourage its readers to find out more. The relevant link is the URL you use when you submit your comment. You then suggest interested visitors could click on your name to visit your chosen post.

Link removal

And here is a spam comment with a link which would go straight in the bin:

spam comment with link

And another comment which I know is spam because he repeated it several time on my site, showing all he really wants is to get his link published:

spammer example

Stop getting ahead of yourself

As a commenter, you need to remember you are invited to do so, so it's important you focus on writing a good comment. This means taking into account the post's writer, their readers, other commenters, and any undesirables like arguers and trolls who are lurking around to cause trouble.

Social media is an open house for commenting, with limited moderation (checking). This isn't necessarily a good thing. Every Tom, Dick and Harriet is given free rein to say what they want, and much is published with little consideration for whoever reads it.

But this doesn't necessarily give you permission to write War and Peace in the commenting space. The area you write in is made to look small, however much it expands. It could be construed as rude to write more than the actual post, especially if doing so undermines the original writer.

A good comment fares best if it manages to say exactly what it needs to as succinctly as possible. You need to learn how to summarise your message into a few words, and still get its meaning across. This is an art which is well worth practising, even with the five sections mentioned at the beginning of this post.

Paul from SideGains understands this perfectly:

long comments

Remember to stick to the subject

Spammers and trolls don't care about the subject of the post they comment on. They have absolutely no interest in it whatsoever. Spammers are only want to get their links published, and trolls focus on the desired effect of upsetting or angering someone.

And yet both of these unfortunates have little chance of their comments being accepted. And you would wonder why they do it. But there are plenty of people who use commenting with the same tactics as above to spread their message, regardless of whether it's relevant.

A good commenter would be mindful of what they say, where their contribution is placed, who reads it (both author and other readers), and that it keeps to the original subject. This is not an opportunity to have a rant about their terrible day, or blurb on about how brilliant their business is.

All comments need to respect the main topic. This doesn't mean it can be twisted to suit your own ends, or ignored because the commenter hasn't read the post properly. Surely it is obvious comments which go off at a tangent aren't going to be accepted or published? You'd think so, wouldn't you.

This is a spam comment which bangs on about their business with no relation to the original post's subject. Of course I didn't accept it, and these assignment companies usually produce extremely poor articles anyway:

business rubbish

Politeness and respect at all times

There will always be posts which you think contain false information, may upset you, or even make you angry. This is a natural reaction to opposition, as nobody is expected to accept everything which is written on the web.

But there are expected standards of behaviour in expressing your opposing thoughts. It's OK to say you don't agree, and post authors will acknowledge a well-written and fully considered argument. This could, when responded to, develop into a most interesting discussion.

What is not tolerable are deliberate affronts to undermine people. You may think the other person is stupid, they have very little knowledge about the subject, or what they are saying is just plain wrong. But do you have the right to inflict a tirade of abuse at them?

Trolling is not cool, and your similar reaction could appear just as foolish. You could even be party to this without realising it, as we are so used to being negative nowadays. The answer is to stop, think, write a first draft of your response and take time-out.  Then return to thoroughly edit it if you still feel compelled to comment.

Who are you? We can't tell

If you look at the comment example above, you will notice they use their business and not an individual's name. If you look at the AlbertDavid comment above that, you'll see he uses his logo and not even a proper name. What does this say to you about who is commenting? Not much.

When you write a good comment, you must properly own it. Be transparent about who you are, what you talk about, and what you represent. If you are just a person, use your real name, like Gordon did (in the section about being first to comment).

But you probably noticed Gordon didn't have a picture of himself, unlike me in my reply to him. This is because I have signed up for a gravatar. This is a universal picture of myself which accompanies all my comments throughout the web, including my profiles in social media and blogging platforms.

Every good commenter needs to be recognisable, especially if you comment to get noticed. You will gain far more respect if you use a good portrait, show your full name (not a pseudonym or nickname) and are willing to be as sincere in revealing who you are as much as in what you say.

As you can see, Lisa ticks all the boxes for a good comment:

name comment

Are you ready to write a good comment?

Re-read this post again (properly) and then set aside some time in your diary to do some commenting. This activity shouldn't be done on the fly, but with due consideration to focus on an end goal.

There should always be a purpose behind your commenting. Is your wish to get noticed by the blog author? Are you vying for guest post opportunities? Will you be wanting the writer's help as an influencer? Or are you merely focusing on extending your blogging contacts?

Remember commenting is about building relationships rather than promoting your business. Getting other writers on your side through commenting opens doors for many other opportunities and joint ventures. Friends are much more likely to help you than people who don't know you.

And excellence always wins over shoddy, inexperienced and directionless commenting. Writing a good comment will get you and your writing noticed. And as a result your reputation will soon grow towards success.

Let us know in the comments below any experiences you may have had after you wrote a good comment. We would love to hear from you.

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