Commenting: ultimate guide to effective interaction | The Commenting Club

The ultimate guide to mastering commenting revealed

the ultimate guide to mastering commenting revealed

Everybody knows about commenting – or so they think! 

What is there not to know? Well, actually, quite a lot. This ultimate guide will reveal to you a huge amount of information about commenting that could transform your life, business and outlook on everything. 

Just take a look at the table of contents below. Click on any one of those titles to be transported to that chapter. Feast on the goodies before you. And if you want to over-indulge, why not read the whole post? It may take you a while, but it will be worth it!

Table of contents

what happened to commenting?

What happened to commenting?

Back in 2014 something devastating happened.

Some eminent bloggers started to close their comments on their blogs and move their commenting activities onto social media.

This left many other lesser mortal bloggers in a quandary.  They were confused as to whether they should do the same.

A lot of them did. And because of this, the art of blog commenting became a neglected and forgotten activity.

Moving onto social media

Commenting continued on social media, and began to evolve into something else. Because social media is in real-time, it could encompass discussion really easily.

Replies were instant. As a result, conversations became fragmented, sentences shorter and the overall content less meaningful.

This suited today's users who could only be gratified with immediate responses. It fuelled short attention spans, and could easily be accommodated on small screen devices.

Unfortunately this was something that could not happen on a blog.

Why were comments closed?

These eminent bloggers closed their comments because of spam. It was engulfing the commenting queues and undermining any serious comments on blogs.

Spammers started to get clever. Spam was delivered by humans to supersede technology designed to prevent robotic spam. As a result comment moderation became a complete nightmare.

This has resulted in moderation software being revised and revamped to combat against human spammers, and certainly since 2014 spam has become less of an issue.

However, some bloggers still use moderation systems that act as a barrier, hindering the spontaneous reaction commenting used to be.

Recovering its former glory

A proper comment should stick out like a sore thumb above spam. It deserves a chance to be noticed, published and appreciated again.

Just like back in the old days when readers regularly contributed noteworthy comments that meant something to the blogger and their post. Comments that compelled other readers to leave one of their own.

So this post is designed to instruct, entertain and inspire you to start commenting properly again.

Meanwhile read more about why you should turn your blog comments back on.

what is a comment?

What is a comment?

A comment is a response, or reaction, to what you have just read. It gives you a chance for you to express how you feel, or what you thought about, during or after reading the post.

Commenting is the opposite of acknowledging silently, smiling to yourself, nodding in agreement or frowning in discontent. The author will never know about these reactions, because they cannot see or hear them.

Comments on social media are essentially ‘verbal hugs’ or ‘written nods’.

You could consider comments as ‘verbal hugs’ or ‘written nods’. This is certainly true on social media, where commenting is quick fire, short and uncommitted. Sometimes it's merely a noise for the sake of it, just to let the author know someone has seen their post.

However, certainly in the past, a blog comment tended to represent a ‘responsive mini-post’ or a ‘post review’, providing more content than just a few positive words.

What goes into a comment?

Readers have opportunity to contribute their own point of view, offer an observation or opinion, provide criticism or include additional material to enhance the post. Not only does it communicate with the author, but with fellow readers and commenters too.

Posts that allows comments have an editable area below them where you can leave a response. Blogs were one of the first platforms to allow comments. Here readers could type in their feedback there and then, and see it published underneath the same content that inspired it.

Unlike on social media, blog comments are not blessed with real-time publishing. This means you need to include everything you need to say in one go. Contributors also need to be aware some time may pass before their comment is moderated, published and responded to by the author.

Commenting versus spam

The style and technique used within social media commenting is not suitable for blogs. Short, snappy comments are not tolerated, as this is usually what a spammer does.

Good writing, spelling and grammar sets a comment apart from spam. Badly written comments that make no sense or say nothing are definitely viewed as spam. It is important to know how to write comments that get published and not caught by the spam moderators.

Commenting is extremely important to any blogger. It is similar to interacting on social media, but in a more sedate, considered, long-term way. Also blog comments have more staying power, and contain natural links back to the commenter’s blog or website.

Find a blog with lots of comments. Consider which you would deem ‘good’, ‘bad’ or ‘indifferent’. Which did you prefer, and which annoyed you? If you read widely, you’ll soon come across a huge variety of comments.

kind of comments

What kind of comments are there?

The ability to comment empowers the reader to join in the conversation. Authors welcome feedback that is constructive, supportive and positive, and provides interesting additional information.

No comment is ever the same; there are plenty of good and bad examples. Here are some versions of good comments:

  • Showing appreciation: being enthusiastic, polite and forthcoming about the post.
  • Adding value: providing additional useful content that enhances the post.
  • Adding information: filling in the knowledge gaps to be helpful and constructive.
  • Forming an opinion: taking the chance to have a say on the subject.
  • Disagreeing: opposing an opinion while justifying the argument with evidence.
  • Confirming: agreeing with the points raised, but clarified with relevant pointers.
  • Setting a discussion: providing suggestions that encourages others to join in.
  • Telling a story: relatable anecdotes to get a point across in a non-threatening way.

Bad commenting examples

However, many people see commenting as a vehicle to freely express an opinion, all of which are deemed qualified, regardless of what anyone else thinks. Some couldn't care less what impact their comments have on others.

Those who fail to understand about commenting can be annoying, useless and destructive. These comments are usually directionless, inexplicable and even detrimental.

Here are some examples of bad comments to look out for:

  • Long-winded: too many words, and rambling on without direction or reason.
  • Lacking: not enough words, usually meaningless, nonsensical or irrelevant.
  • Non-reader: hasn’t read the post and only responds to the title or headline.
  • Unrelated subject: using a comment to connect an anecdote to another preference.
  • Repeating: replicating what’s already been said in the post and other comments.
  • Finding fault: criticising the subject or the author in order to trash the post.
  • Need to be heard: vehemently stating an opinion in an attempt to attract attention.
  • Self-promotion: writing about a product with links back to an irrelevant website.

 Go find some comments and compare them to the criteria above. Something to note: you’re more likely to find good comments in older posts, and not so good comments in more recent ones.

a good thing to do

Why commenting is a good thing to do

It’s a lonely experience writing content without any interaction. It's like having a one-sided conversation, as if you’re ‘talking’ to yourself.

This is very demoralising, with little encouragement to continue. Also you have no idea if what you are writing is good, relevant or readable.

Comments give you valuable feedback. Ask your readers to tell you what they think. They will soon let you know about its quality, and what could be improved or changed.

Your readers can also guide you to write what they want to read. Remember a good readership is vital for success, so you need to know your readers’ preferences and the subjects that interest them the most.

Commenters with benefits

A good comment adds value to the post's subject. It provides more content for your readers' enjoyment, and may even influence them to leave a comment themselves.

If you want to increase your popularity, encourage more comments. More interaction provides the social proof your readers appreciate you and what you write. This has the same effect as a long queue outside an excellent restaurant or vibrant nightclub.

Inspire you regular readership to become commenters. Culture a friendly environment where your readers are comfortable enough to express their opinions and feelings. And remember to reply and interact in return to show your appreciation.

However, it's worth noting not every reader will comment. It’s as little as 10% of your readership, and of those only 1% will do so regularly. All the more important to keep encouraging your commenters to continue contributing.

Consider how your blog could be made more reader friendly. Alternatively look at other popular blogs and work out what kind of readers they have and why they leave so many comments.

why commenting is good for you

Why commenting is good for you

I mentioned before that writing online content (including blogging) can be a lonely experience. Sitting looking at the four walls of your office is not a suitable environment to find inspiration and ideas to write about.

Make an effort to find other blogs to read. You needn’t comment at this stage (unless you are compelled to do so!), but do what I call ‘looking and lurking’. Get a feel for the blog's subject and the author’s writing style. You could call it ‘checking out the competition’, but I see it more as doing social outreach and gathering information.

Think of commenting as interactive currency

If you appreciate the benefit of receiving feedback, why not spread some of your own? It’s like giving a little before you expect to receive. 

If you come across a good post, nodding in silence won’t let the author know what you're thinking. Become ‘an e-Citizen of the Blogosphere’, and spread some acknowledgement and praise, even criticism and corrections, or just a bit of general conversation. 

Commenting could be seen as ‘interactive small talk’. This is very common on social media, but blog commenting requires you to write a bit more.

Continue the conversation

Learn to write in a conversational style to share your points of view, or even spark a debate or discussion. Being helpful, forthcoming and respectful means your comment is more likely to be accepted and published.

The only acceptable link back to your blog is via the details given when you submit your comment. If you create a good enough impression, the author or readers will click on your name to read what else you have written. Many times have I received a comment from a new reader telling me that’s how they came across my blog.

If you want reciprocal comments, leave comments on other blogs first. You could have an agreement with your friends to comment on each other's new posts, to start the commentary ball rolling in order to break the ice. This altruistic action will encourage other readers to join in too.

What do you want to gain?

Think how you could benefit from commenting on other blogs. Consider what you want to gain from it, and create a tentative strategy for future commenting.

Once you have sorted out your commenting purpose, the process will become more meaningful and much easier to do. Now you will start to understand better the power of commenting

commenting ebook cover

Are you sure you have enough time to read all of this?

conversations and communities

How commenting benefits from conversations and communities

You need to change your mindset to succeed with conversational commenting. It's time to stop thinking about yourself, and start focusing on others. Create more awareness by giving first before you expect to receive.

Show a healthy interest in others and their content. Open up a dialogue through your comments. Ask questions, request advice and offer suggestions to stimulate a reply. 

Try being more helpful, forthcoming and appreciative to draw the right kind of attention to yourself. Provide relevant expertise where it is due, support other points of view, and set a good example by being polite and respectful.

Responding to blog comments

Make sure you are on top of moderating (checking and publishing) your comments, so you can respond to them promptly. This is important, as this is part of the continuing the conversation, and persuading the reader to become a regular commenter.

Blogging conversations aren't quite the same as on social media. The wait between replies, due to the need for moderation, isn't as satisfying as in real-time. However, this form of conversing tends to be more meaningful and fuller in content.

Think of your blog as a community for your readers, who you would like to convert into regular commenters. Encourage interesting and readable discussion 'threads' through consistent replying. This is a great way to get your posts noticed, and a popular blog is always a good reader draw.

Change your writing style

Write in a more approachable and friendly style. A reader who feels comfortable with you and your blog is more likely to leave a comment. Especially if you write about a subject they can relate to.

Even including a simple call to action asking for a comment may be enough to get a response. Give your readers a reason to comment too, and provide suggestions to make the process simpler and more convenient for them.

expertise and knowledge

How commenting benefits from showing expertise and knowledge

If you blog about your business, or you are an entrepreneur looking for clients, commenting on other blogs can be used to your advantage.

Use commenting to start a conversation. Research relevant blogs and find out the author’s name. Use this to greet them in your comment to draw attention to you, so they are more receptive to what you say.

Only use your knowledge to help someone. What value can you add that makes a difference to the readers' lives? How can you enhance the post by adding information that benefits everybody? Get recognised for both your expertise and your altruism.

Make a difference

When approaching the blog of an influencer, strike up a relationship with the main editor for a chance to win a guest blogging opportunity. Wow them with your writing skills. At the very least this should encourage them to click on your name in your comment to read what else you’ve written on your blog.

Start a healthy discussion with the author by exploring their subject on another level. Tactfully agree or disagree where necessary, and where appropriate expand the topic with your knowledge or expertise. Showcase what you know, as long as how it is delivered is helpful to other readers.

When sharing your skills, make sure it doesn’t appear to be bragging, or undermining the author’s subject knowledge. Your contribution should be a helpful addition, a mere continuation of the topic to increase the experience of other readers.

Restrain yourself

Avoid writing too much. Remember as a commenter you are only a guest. Edit your comment to make it succinct and pertinent, a perfect summary of what you want to say. If you are inspired to write more, use your own blog for this purpose.

Be aware commenting is not a vehicle to promote your business or services. This will not be tolerated. Your comment will more than likely be treated as spam, and deleted accordingly.

search engines

How commenting attracts the search engines

There are three main ways of attracting the search engines to optimise your blog: content, popularity and links.

Keyword rich content

Well written comments consisting of relevant content are instantly attractive to the search engines. This relevancy will probably have generated similar keywords to the post, which enhances its chances of getting matched with a suitable search request.

Search engine spiders are ‘algorithmic robots’ programmed to search for new web content. They are unable to differentiate between a post’s content and comments. Therefore quality comments are deemed suitable to be ‘crawled’ ready for indexing, and this can process also includes the post as well. 

Reader generated popularity

A post with a lot of quality comments has a high chance of being indexed, because it is considered popular. Search engine spiders are designed to reward popularity. Apparently a blog with a lot of readers who regularly engage must contain good quality content, which is therefore is worth indexing. 

Pay attention when you comment on someone’s blog. Does it already have many good quality comments? Is your comment extremely relevant to the post? If a search engine spider approves this post, it could easily visit your blog to index it as well.

Relevant links

Using links is a process that has been taken over by spammers, which they have used to excess. If you find a comment in your moderation queue that is full of links, this is definitely spam and you should delete it.

If you are tempted to include a link back to a post for information purposes in a comment, be very wary. It needs to be extremely relevant to be accepted. In fact the only link that is tolerated is the one entered with your details when you submit your comment.

This is the same for posts, especially guest posts. Links back to your website should be confined to the bio box. In some cases only one or two highly relevant links will be allowed within the content.

purpose and style

Purpose and style in good comments

There are two purposes for writing a comment: to have your say, and to get it published so others can read it.

Only first class comments can get past blog spam checkers and then satisfy the author. This needs to be something they would be pleased to receive and publish. Something suitable, relevant and worthy, an excellent accompaniment to the original post.

And it needs to be acceptable to other readers and commenters who also read your comment. It should be seen as a continuation of the post, and inspire others to comment themselves. This is a great way of starting a community in your blog.

Continue the conversation

Ideally a comment should be a response to a conversation. It prevents the post from being a one-sided dialogue with its readers. It provides the necessary feedback to let the author know there are people who read their posts, and care enough to respond.

Comments prevent the post from being a one-sided dialogue with its readers.

Imagine listening to a very good seminar and then they open up the floor to questions. The microphone is passed over for you to have your say. This is your chance to safely steal the show for a couple of minutes to get your point of view across.

Being courteous and polite, forthcoming and helpful, coherent and concise, will save you from being ignored or thrown out of the hall. A correctly phrased comment could even get a reply from the stage. If you’re canny, you might stimulate a debate with the rest of the audience, or a lively repartee with the author.

Getting your point across

Having your say on social media is much easier due to the lack of moderation. However, this means your discussion may be subjected to all sorts of unwanted comments from undesirable people, even when you don't want them to.

Blogs have moderation to maintain the equilibrium in conversation. Unwelcome comments are barred and deleted. Readers and commenters are not tainted by malicious attempts to destroy everything. Every submission is at the mercy of the author's discretion.

Comments that are more substantial other than the minimal responses usually found on social media have a better chance of being accepted. More content is required for reasoned arguments or information that adds value. A blog comment needs to be a complete statement or a properly constructed question to qualify.

how to construct a good comment

How to construct a good comment

The first thing to do is to read the post thoroughly so that you understand it properly. Next you acknowledge its content by validating it within a single sentence. It also shows you aren’t someone who just skims a post and its comments for the sake of it.

Find out the name of the author and greet them naturally within the first paragraph of your comment. Do the same to your commenters when you reply back. Proper appreciation of the author shows you are polite and respectful, and worth listening to.

Write a reasonable amount, at least three sentences. This should be enough to clarify your opinion and satisfy the moderation systems. Too little and you could be caught as spam, too much and you could undermine the author by being seen to take over.

Focus on value and relevance

Don't bother commenting if you can’t think of anything to say. It's not worth vaguely skirting around the subject just for the sake of writing something. Ask a question to find out more, or to clarify a point made in the post. This is more likely to get a response from the author, which could be then developed into a proper conversation.

Don't bother commenting if you can’t think of anything to say. It's not worth vaguely skirting around the subject just for the sake of writing something. 

Present any point you refer to from the post as a quotation within your comment. This is easier to acknowledge, and avoids any misunderstanding or confusion. Never assume the author or other readers will always know to what you are alluding to.

Remember to be as relevant by not going off topic. Add value that both enhances the post and helps other readers. Personal anecdotes can explain your point better if the readers can relate to it. Capture attention by using emotion in your language.

Show thought and consideration

Focus on your spelling, grammar and sentence construction. A properly written comment sets you apart from spammers. Think carefully about what you want to say before you start writing, and edit it to make it succinct, concise and relevant.

Finally bring the comment to a close by drawing the point back to the bigger picture. You wouldn’t leave a post hanging in mid air, so why do so in a comment? Leave it open to allow other commenters to contribute to the conversation, and to encourage a suitable dialogue or discussion.

Good commenting can be used in social media and other platforms as well as in blogs. All that is required is more focus, thought and desire to succeed.

how to disagree within a comment

How to disagree within a comment

Sometimes you will come across a post that you don’t agree with. This is only natural. It may be because the author doesn’t really understand the subject, they’ve got the wrong end of the stick, or they have an opinion that isn’t the same as yours.

There is nothing wrong with disagreeing, everybody is entitled to have an alternative point of view. However, you should only ‘attack’ the subject, not the author personally or for the quality of their writing. 

Be purposeful with justification

First offer a suitable acknowledgement to the argument before your launch into your opposition. Have a proper purpose with a valid point which contributes towards the conversation, rather than merely putting the post's content down.

Whenever you oppose a subject or opinion, it’s wise if you can justify yourself. Have references to examples or statistics to hand. A series of accusations with nothing to back up your argument has less of a chance of being accepted.

Be reasonable when expressing an alternative opinion, and be mindful of others and what they think. Avoid upsetting anyone for the sake of it. Present your views in a tactful and insightful manner, and preferably in such a way that they could provoke further discussion from others who read them.

Beware the other readers

If you are challenged, avoid continuing the argument for the sake of it. This won’t be helpful to anyone, and you may get viewed as a troll. Regular commenters sometimes police inappropriate comments from anyone they consider is ruining the conversation, so it’s not worth rocking the boat.

Any social contribution you make is like a window to you and what you represent. Make sure what you say is suitable, especially if it links back to your blog or website. It is important to be aware that whatever you write should be for the right reasons.

Two more points: if you come across an opportunity to put the world to rights, don't be afraid to go for it if you can back up your argument. However, avoid writing a comment in anger or frustration, or you may live to regret it. 

personality

How to include your personality in a comment

Because of real-time responses in social media, people have become lazy in their approach to commenting. This appears to be natural commenting, since this style was developed through mobile devices, but the result is bitty and disjointed conversations.

For blog commenting, this is another matter. More thought is required to present your ideas, pose a considered argument or provide value or helpful advice. 

Everything that is necessary needs to be included, and delivered with a recognisable beginning and end. Your comment requires a reasonable amount of weight, or it may not be considered acceptable.

Say what you think

Commenting thrives from self-confidence and a desire to express what you think. However, before you gush out all your opinions in one go, it is probably wise to stop, think and edit what you have just written. Check you haven’t repeated what other commenters have said, or mentioned anything that might cause offence.

It’s important to acknowledge authors as well as the subject, so include a greeting in your comment. Focus on being totally relevant, avoid going off at a tangent, and keep to one point at a time. Present contrary motives as a question rather than a statement to lessen negative reactions.

Be authentic

Revealing your personality is all about being strong. Are you able to reveal your vulnerabilities to get people to relate to you? Focus on the same perspective as the other readers to encourage an inclusive and friendly response. However, only refer to yourself through anecdotes and stories, and by being honest and upfront. 

Use a conversational style using the same words as the author and commenters to effectively get your point across. Identify yourself with the readers, think like they do, match their mood and connect with them through sharing a similar view on life.

Be aware of the boundaries and know where the limits are. Understand the underlying context in the post before leaving a comment. This means avoiding any misinterpretation which could make you look stupid, or cause aggravation.

Focus on your writing style

Pay attention to your spelling and grammar; in other words, write well to set you apart from spammers. Use short sentences, small words and leave out any jargon. Remember communication is better than preaching, so avoid writing too much, and leave the subject open to generate discussion amongst the other commenters.

Be one of the first people to leave a comment. This is a good way to attract attention to yourself,  prevents your feedback from being swamped, and gets your point across before the others.  You may find that the other commenters follow on from your lead.

how to write a respectful comment

How to write a respectful comment

Respect, politeness and consideration go a long way in commenting. Remember you’ve been invited to leave your feedback, so using appropriate manners will never go amiss.

Avoid getting too emotional or upset; this could result in uncompromising or unkind language. Think twice before commenting in anger. However, it's important to let off steam, so write your comment elsewhere, sleep on it, and then return to edit it before submitting it. Otherwise you will publish something you may regret later.

Think twice before commenting in anger ... otherwise you will publish something you may regret later.

Always consider the other person’s feelings or point of view. Everybody's entitled to have different ideas, standards, preferences or peculiarities. Just because you don’t agree with it, or they write something that offends you, avoid spitting out your spite and vitriol in a comment to make yourself feel better. 

Opposition is OK

If you want to disagree with a post, provide clear reasoning with justified evidence. Clarifying your argument will strengthen your opinion; this is much better than raising hackles or aggravating resentment. Never undermine the author or anyone else’s authority with offensive language, as this is bound to go against you.

It's important your point of view is fully understood, so consider how your words could be interpreted. Never assume everyone will be in tune with your way of thinking. And remember it's impossible to re-edit a blog comment once it’s published, like you can on Facebook.

Try to be helpful

Offering feedback that goes against a post’s subject or reason for posting will fare better if presented in a helpful or constructive manner. Explain why you are providing this information, and how it can change or improve the situation. Once the other party understands the benefits you are sharing, they will be much more likely to accept it.

Showing respect isn’t about being over ingratiating; spammers do this to get their comments published. Certainly show enthusiasm and appreciation, but not so it becomes smarmy and makes people feel uncomfortable. Blog authors expect more than a load of empty, useless words, however nice they appear to be.

how to write a conversational comment

How to write a conversational comment

You write a comment to be a) accepted by the author, and b) read by the readers. If either does not appreciate your comment, you will have wasted your time.

In other words, your comment needs to be worth reading. It should be interesting, entertaining, relevant, add value, extend the conversation, and above all, written well. Then your point of view be taken seriously, your knowledge or expertise recognised, and you will draw the right kind of attention to you and what you have written.

The well-known adage "people buy from people" can be adapted for online writing. You are much more likely to have your comment read if your readers feel they have an empathy with you, or that they can relate to what you are saying.

Continue the conversation

You need to write in a conversational style. Readers find this much more engaging and readable than dry, preaching posts. Use a simple, easy to understand vocabulary which is much more likely to be absorbed and appreciated with the minimum of thought.

Writing conversationally is not easy at first, especially if you are used to writing corporate reports or articles. Imagine how you would respond to someone sitting next to you in the pub or in a bus queue. The idea is to then ‘transcribe’ that conversation into your comment.

Conversation helps to make connections. All you need is a relatable topic, to feel comfortable with the situation and find a common denominator. It's a good way of forming a working relationship with authors to encourage better future reactions.

Comments are meant to be a spontaneous reaction. So say why the post captured your interest in the first place. I'm sure the author will love to know. And if you can progress this into a discussion, then that’s an added bonus.

How to benefit

Commenting allows you to express your thoughts and observations where they will be most appreciated. This is somewhere you can ask questions, receive clarifications, offer explanations, provide advice or accept help without feeling stupid, threatened or even alienated. This is particularly so if the blog has a loyal community of commenters.

Getting a response to your conversation is imperative.  A return dialogue from the author or readers can be a great boost to stimulating more conversation. It needs also to be substantial, worthwhile and interesting enough to develop into a discussion.

Social networking sites have programmed their algorithms to favour worthy and meaningful conversations. It seems the bitty interaction most commonly found on Facebook is not encouraged, as it has no use or fails to contain indexable content. LinkedIn is following fast on Facebook's heels regarding this.

how not to write a comment

How not to write a comment

There are plenty of reasons why bad comments exist: readers don’t know what to say, they have forgotten how to write a good comment, or have picked up ‘bad habits’ from social media's style of commenting.

We also live in a time-poor world. This results in excuses of lack of time or inclination to comment. Also we read posts on the move via mobile devices that aren’t geared up to make commenting easy and practical.

Writing a worthless comment is a wasted opportunity to showcase your knowledge, make a connection or even show appreciation. A single worded comment or one that only says ‘Nice post!’ is not helpful, doesn’t continue the conversation, and is more than likely going to be caught by the spam filters.

Bad habits

Avoid repeating what’s already been said in the post and other comments. This shows you haven't bothered to read the post properly. Offer something different or valuable to stop being seen as just another idiot who just wants to make a noise.

Rambling on about something that has nothing to do with the subject is just plain rude. Commenting is not an opportunity to announce your important news, or take over the comments to promote your business. This spammy behaviour is not tolerated.

Being super nice to get your comment published is another spammer's trait. Writing in a smarmy and over-ingratiating style, combined with bad spelling and atrocious sentence construction, are all indicators of spam.

Authors do not appreciate meaningless and empty compliments as comments.

Inappropriate behaviour

Authors do not appreciate a flurry of empty compliments that are meaningless and are a waste of time. It can be quite demoralising to only receive these kinds of comments. They would prefer constructive, relevant content that adds to the conversation, and contains something significant that is worthy of being read. 

Also it isn’t worth being boring, pompous and condescending to the blogger, readers or other commenters, or you will be ignored or even ‘policed’ by the blog’s readers as a troll. A popular blog will have loyal fans who will be happy to self-moderate a ‘rogue’ commenter who they think doesn’t fall into line.

how much should you write in a comment

How much should you write in a comment?

The amount you write in a comment does affect your validity as a contributor. Write not enough and you could be seen as a spammer, offer too much and you could be seen as ‘taking over’ the blog.

Avoid getting caught in the trap of writing too little. You may be new to commenting without the self-confidence to fully have your say. You may be short of time, and feel you need to say something just for the sake of it. Or you just couldn’t think of anything worthy to say – in this case it would be better not to comment at all!

It is important to provide satisfactorily valuable information in your comment to make it worthy of publication. Avoid contributing a clever one liner, even if you are seriously impressed by it. This can aggravate the blog’s moderation system, and your moment of glory could be lost forever.

Make your comment worthwhile

Every author will be pleased to receive a comment, so give them something they will really appreciate. However, this is not an opportunity for you to write a massive amount. Focus on only one point at a time, and if you have a lot to say, either provide separate comments or reserve your inspiration for a blog post of your own.

Commenters that contribute too much can be seen as a threat to a blogger. You may not have that intention, but realistically comments should not be longer than the post itself. Commenters should see this as an opportunity for succinct summary of their opinions, gap-filling knowledge and constructive discussion points.

If you want a guide towards providing something acceptable, I would say write at least three sentences, and try and include a noticeable beginning and end. I showed you earlier how to construct a good comment.

Viable alternatives

Now there may be a time when you are unable to write a comment, or can’t think of anything worthy to say. Thankfully there are alternatives that could save the day.

Clicking the ‘like’ button at least will show the author you have read and appreciated the post. This may be considered a lazy method of showing approval, but this is more acceptable than writing ‘Nice post’ or some equally unhelpful contribution.

Liking a post is more acceptable than merely writing 'Nice post' as a comment.

Another method of appreciation is the ‘reblog’ button, which suitably republishes the post on your own blog. Or you could take advantage of the social sharing buttons and share the post on your social media profiles, combined with a short introduction or description that could draw attention to it from your friends and followers.

Commenting is a much quicker option than writing your own post on your blog, especially if you are short of time. You don't have to worry about doing research, optimising your content, writing a suitable headline, or even finding a suitable subject to write about!  

Comment writing takes time and practice, so there’s no need to feel despondent if you aren’t sure about the quality of your comments. The best thing is to keep contributing, as the world will be a poorer place without them, and the more you do it, the better you will become.

moderating your comments

Moderating your comments

Whenever anyone first creates their blog, they are so excited about what it looks like and getting their first post published, they tend not to spare a thought for what goes on behind the scenes.

However, one of the first things you really should do is to investigate your blog’s commenting system, in particular how each comment is moderated. Moderation allows you to vet or inspect the comments you receive and to decide whether they should be published or not.

This is important, not only because some may be unsuitable or even spam, it also gives you the chance to read them and compose a response in your head, so if you decide to publish them you can also leave a reply at the same time.

Take control of spam

Moderation is the best way of keeping your blog ‘clean’ from spam. The majority of commenting is done by ‘bots’, and these non-human contributions can be a real nuisance. You will need spam filters in place to help you to cope, and it is important to set your moderation systems correctly as well.

Also moderation protects your blog from unwittingly publishing spam, which could be detrimental to how your blog performs. Too much spam on a blog causes disapproval and even penalties from the search engines, hindering how it is indexed and presented to potential readers. 

If you go into the Settings and then Discussion, look through the settings until you see this:

manually approved moderation

If the tick is not in the top option, change it immediately. If the bottom option is ticked, this means any previously accepted commenter will by-pass moderation, and if they are a spammer, this gives them full access to populate your blog without you knowing.

Spammers, whether they are bots or humans, are becoming increasingly devious to get through the moderation net. Later I will give you some guidelines so you can learn to spot spam and not unwittingly accept it.

The downside of moderation is that it delays the publication of any comments you get. This is totally different from social media, where there is no moderation. However, it is extremely necessary to preserve your blog’s integrity within the blogosphere and to enhance the enjoyment of your readers without having it tainted by spam.

cope with spam

How to cope with spam

One of the reasons why popular blogs closed their comments was because spam was such a nuisance. They were getting such a huge amount it was difficult to recognise real comments, as well as the time taken to delete them all.

Spam destroyed the reason why blogs came into existence – the ability to instantly write a comment after reading a post. Bloggers and readers could now communicate with each other directly underneath the source of their discussion.

Many bloggers were overwhelmed with the plague of unwanted and irrelevant comments that clogged up their inboxes. This was  made worse with the constant notifications of a new comment, even though this option can be turned off.

How a spam moderator works

Akismet.com is a popular and most used spam-blocker in the majority of blogs.

Various methods are available to combat spam, such as spam blockers like Akismet which assist with recognising and obliterating  spam in advance. Sometimes comments are ‘marked’ as spam to allow authors to decide what to do with them. And good job too, as many times have I rescued a good comment from a loyal reader just in time!

Place any comments you think are spam into your spam folder.  Akismet will be alerted to the content, links and IP address.  Once the spam folder contents are deleted, these details go into Akismet’s databases. Akismet compares these details with other potential spam, to prevents this spam being deposited on other blogs.

However, some spammers keep changing their IP addresses. You can ‘blacklist’ certain IP addresses in your Discussion Settings, which recognises and stops them from commenting, especially if Akismet isn’t quick enough to catch them first.

Comment blacklist

Paste the IP address of the unwanted comment into the Comment Blacklist section. Once saved, anybody sending a comment from that computer will be prevented from doing so. But make sure they are really a spammer first before you do this!

how to recognise obvious spam

How to recognise obvious spam

New bloggers are much more likely to get caught out by spam, especially if they haven’t come across it before. This is because it is carefully constructed to get past the moderation systems. However, there are always obvious examples of spam, which makes you wonder why the spammer bothered to leave it in the first place.

The most obvious spam contains gobbledegook:

gobbledegook

Or an unrecognisable language:

chinese spam

Or comments that are littered with links to totally unrelated destinations:

Links in spam

In fact any comment that has no connection with the original post or other comments is spam. Even if it is contributed by a proper reader. This may sound cruel, but publishing unrelated comments will confuse readers and discourage them from commenting themselves.

However, a comment that disagrees or conflicts with what you have written, but is still relevant to the subject or discussion, is not spam. It is merely another point of view, and has every right to be published.

And it is a good idea to include comments that oppose your post, because this could generate discussion from other readers who may be inspired to add their penny’s worth. You might get some interesting conversations as a result, which increases the interest factor and is more likely to attract the attention of the search engines.

devious spam

How to recognise devious spam

Spammers are constantly trying to bamboozle the blogger to accept their comments, so they can get past the moderation systems. Here are some ploys to watch out for.

Avoid the super nice. Flattery and being ingratiatingly over-friendly comments are spam, because they usually contribute nothing to the post’s subject:

Flattery spam

Comments that are limited in what they write about, invariably thanking you for writing the post, and mentioning about being successful in the future are spam:

Limited spam

Or any that mention a member of family are spam:

family spam

Spammers are usually not very good at English, so spam will probably look like it’s been through Google Translate a few times. If the contribution contains weird sentence construction, terrible spelling and generally doesn’t make sense, it is spam.

Sometimes you will get a comment not saying very much:

useless spam

This comment may not seem to be spam, but avoid publishing something that contributes nothing towards your post. These readers need to learn how to write a proper comment if they want it to be accepted. Quite a lot of moderators also mark this kind of comment as spam.

If you’re not sure about a particular comment, mouse over the web-link to see a preview of its website, to check whether it is a suitable or not.

check out links

Also spammers are unlikely to have a gravatar, or provide a recognisable name. Their email may be equally unrecognisable or consists of a load of letters and numbers, as they won’t bother to have a proper identity on the web.

Take a proper look at your comments. If they make you squirm or feel uneasy, mark them as spam. If you have any doubt about them, avoid publishing them.  

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