Any activity, both off- and online, will benefit from having a set of rules, so here are my 10 rules for commenting on blogs.
There are basically a form of etiquette, which allow the commenter to be a better person, be useful to the blog's author, and be interesting to the other readers. Otherwise comments become boring, inadequate, irrelevant or a nuisance.
This is the last thing I want commenting to become, so it is imperative you all know the rules of commenting on blogs before you start on your commenting journeys. Here is an infographic which outlines them for you:
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.
Did you read every word?
Every blog author would like their readers to read their post thoroughly, but they all know this doesn't happen. In this time-poor world, most people skim-read a post first to see if it is relevant to them and whether it is worth commenting on or not.
If you are going to succeed as a good commenter, you need to break the habit of a lifetime. Sit down with a cup of coffee and actually read the post properly, digesting every word so that you really understand what it is trying to say.
Only then will you be eligible to write a comment. Remember you have been invited by the blog's author to respond, so this should be respected before providing your contribution.
What is the post's author's name?
It is worth doing a bit of housekeeping on a blog before you start to contribute. Read the About page of the blog, to find out more about the author, why they write this blog and anything else which might be useful to you to fully understand the motives behind these posts.
Who is the person who wrote the post? This many not necessarily be the blog's owner, as sometimes guest bloggers are allowed in. If there is a biography attached next to their photo, make the effort to read it to find out more about them.
Then, having established the name of the post's author, use it to greet them in the first line of your comment. Not only is this common courtesy, but it helps to draw their attention to you for the right reasons.
Have you acknowledged the post?
This may sound obvious, but you'd be surprised how many commenters do not do this. The author needs to be satisfied you have read the post, you fully understand it's message and you are now in a suitable position to leave a comment.
This means writing a very brief summary proving your comprehension, along with your appreciation for the information gained. This makes you more eligible to continue further with more content which is relevant to the subject.
And remember this feedback is not only a reassurance to the author they have written a good post, but that you are interested in it. Its subject has resonated with you enough to make you want to offer your response to it.
What was the subject?
You'd be amazed how many commenters blurt on about something completely different to the post's subject matter. This is particularly so for spammers, desperate businessmen trying to gain backlinks to their websites, and commenting bots.
Commenting is not an opportunity to have your say on whatever you like. The comment needs to match the post's topic, otherwise it will not get published. If you have a query which is different, contact the author via the Contact page, not through the comment box.
If comments are written on a totally different subject to the post, not only will this confuse other readers and commenters, but the search engines as well. All keywords matter to a search engine spider, and they would prefer them to match up correctly.
Is there something you could add?
One of the reasons why people comment is because they are compelled to have their say. However this can be enhanced by adding value to your comment, to improve upon the content within the post.
Can you offer some extra information which could expand the topic, fill in any knowledge gaps or answer any questions posed in the post? Part of the rules of commenting on blogs is that authors love having their posts extended by well-meaning expert commenters.
Focusing on writing comments stuffed with added value will set you apart as a go-to person within your industry or niche. It will help to increase your reputation in your chosen field, and your comments will be welcomed by all who read them.
What do you want to say?
There is nothing more disappointing than seeing a comment which comprises of only a few words. It is as if the commenter just couldn't be bothered to write something worthwhile, and just dashed off anything to fill the void.
This instantly marks you as a spammer or a commenting bot. It is highly unlikely your comment would get past the moderators. Nobody is going to enjoy reading such a comment, let alone how this insults the author for all the hard work they put into writing the post.
You have been given the opportunity to express yourself, offer an opinion or state your point of view. Why are you squandering your chance to have your say in such a desultory fashion? Commenting is so much more than a like or a share.
Got anything different to say?
Then there are those commenters who go the opposite way, and write loads of absolute rubbish! Such as spammers clogging up the moderation queue with total drivel, or nutters who have to have their say on whatever is troubling them at that moment.
This is particularly apt for people who have been enraged by what someone has said. Never comment in anger. You will instantly regret it. The best policy is to vent your feelings elsewhere rather than in the comments, and then revisit it later once you've calmed down.
Some commenters are compelled to repeat what has been already stated in the post. Usually these are over-enthusiastic people who have to impart all their knowledge on a subject to make themselves look more important. Why not save all this for your own blog posts instead?!
Remember it's not about you
There are always those who think commenting is a vehicle for self-promotion. Somewhere to write anything as long as you can include a link back to your website. And it doesn't need to be relevant to the post's subject either.
These people have totally missed the point of the rules for commenting on blogs. Here is an opportunity for you to communicate with the post's author, and let them know what you think about their post. Let them know your appreciation for the information you have learned and what you are going to do with it.
Commenting allows feedback between author and reader. The commenter lets the author know if their post is worthy or not, and could even suggest what other content they would like to read. The author takes note of this, and delivers accordingly.
Are you completely ready to press send?
Many a commenter has rued the day they posted a comment, only to regret what they wrote later. This is probably because they didn't take the necessary time to stop and think before pressing the publish button.
This is not only regarding avoiding cringing episodes, but to consider whether your comment is applicable, relevant or useful. Would you be happy for your grandmother to read it? Does it contain everything you need to say? Or have you even said to much?
Taking the time to check your comment for spelling and grammar, let alone its suitability, may pay dividends for you in the future. Remember it's not just the author who reads it, but other readers and commenters as well – not to mention the search engines!
Are there more rules for commenting on blogs?
I have only listed 10 rules for commenting on blogs, but you may well have some more up your sleeve. Here's an excellent opportunity to use my commenting box to tell us about them! We would love to hear from you.