5 Commenting Courtesies

First, I want to thank everyone who’s ever left a comment here. Second, I want to congratulate anyone who’s ever left a comment on any blogs. Third, I want to say that I offer what’s following this paragraph with love… well, sort of… lol And fourth… except for those phonies who are leaving comments to get links that, later on, you ask me and others to remove because you got a “slap” letter from Google and you think it’s our problem to now remove your stupid links. Huff, huff… lol

Hef and the Icon Shot
Christina Saint Marche
via Compfight

I’m big on courtesy; always have been. If two people are already talking I won’t interrupt unless it’s extremely important. If people are following me towards a door I’m compelled to hold it open. I was raised that way, and even though there are some people who don’t deserve it, I’ll often say hi or hello to people who seem to be looking my way, even if deep down I know they’re not going to respond… and most of the time they don’t; sigh…

It’s for that reason that I’m glad to have my own blog, where I can put out my missives on blogging and writing and Bigfoot and behavior and… commenting.

Yup, this is a post specifically on commenting. I thought “Hey, I’ve written lots of posts on commenting” and then I decided to take a look back through the archives to find out it’s not true. I’ve mentioned commenting lots of times but out of all my articles I’ve only addressed the specific acts of commenting 7 times, with the first article coming in November 2008 and the last coming in August 2013, and neither of those are on the specifics of commenting. As a matter of fact, it seems that I’ve never really addressed commenting and courtesy in any fashion; now that’s a shame.

I thought about turning this into another 10 point article but I decided to just hit the biggies quickly and get away; y’all have seen way too many words for me and maybe a shorter post will generate better conversations… or not. 🙂 Let’s find out with these 5:

1. Address the topic of the post. This is the number one courtesy and it’s the most vital because how one comments could decide whether the owner of the blog will accept the comment or not.

Sometimes people launch into something that might be pertinent and yet it looks like they have an agenda because they didn’t even mention anything within the post. Sometimes the comment may skirt what the article was about, indirectly touching on the topic, and might not be fully understood for relevance.

2. Get a gravatar. Or, if you prefer, avatar. I gave reasons last April on why people should have a gravatar and even included a link telling people how to get one. If you’re going to be a one and done visitor maybe you don’t need one but many people won’t accept comments from people who don’t have one.

Just like readers love knowing the people who are writing the content, blog owners like to see a picture of who’s leaving comments. It’s easy to do and, if you have a business or are looking to make money in some fashion it’s also smart.

Two hints; one, don’t use the image of someone of the opposite sex from the name and two, logos and cartoons aren’t always good unless it’s what you’re known for in many places already.

3. Fake or keyword names. Nicknames are one thing but stupid fake names like “jonny’s dog” are, well, stupid. And in these scary Google days (for most folks; I don’t really care as much…) keyword names are more dangerous than you can possibly imagine, and people like me won’t accept those comments anyway so you could be wasting your time. No one wants to respond to someone’s fake name and we also feel that either you’re spam or you’re a fly by commenter who’s never coming back.

4. Don’t leave one line comments. Unless you’re a regular and the writer understands your humor (the only time it’s acceptable to leave a one-line comment) it’ll be considered a throw away comment and most people will delete it. One line means you really didn’t have anything to say. I’ll admit that some articles don’t leave a lot to say but come on, you can’t think or more than one line? I’ll offer the caveat that if that one line happens to be a well thought out and long line that it might not be as bad, but it best not start with “It was a dark and stormy night” type of language. lol

5. Try using the writer’s name in the comment. By the way, this one goes for the blog owner as well. Not only is it courteous to name the person who wrote the article but it helps people figure out if you’re a real commenter or not. You get a break if you have to go searching for the writer’s name.

If you’re the blog owner, share your name somewhere to make it easy for people to use your name. Look at my blog; go ahead, look at the thing! My name is in my About area and on my About page. It’s on the top book and in the sales area for both books. It’s in the little thing advertising my YouTube channel. And it’s at the top of every article, just under the title. Why write if you’re not going to tell people who you are? lol

There you are, 5 tips for being a courteous commenter, and something for the writers as well. So, what do you have to say about these?

50 thoughts on “5 Commenting Courtesies”

  1. It was a dark and stormy night… did I mention I’d like to win the Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest, one of these days? 🙂 It’ll be a bright, still morning when I do!

    Couldn’t resist. But of course, I had to choose between that, and a pithy one-liner. I was afraid you might think I’d developed a lisp, so I decided not to be pithy.

    And MITCH, I agree with absolutely everything you’ve said, but if my comment is at the top level, assume I’m addressing YOU (or the author of the post, in case it’s not you). If it’s a reply – well, helps if they’re nested. And if there’s any ambiguity, of course, I’d name the person I’m replying to.

    I do hope you’ll never penalize me too harshly, though, for my digressions. My indiscretions, maybe – but not my digressions, please!

    1. Holly, you kill me! lol Of course it’s me here; only 14 guest posts in 7 years and all of them a long time ago. And your a master commenter; people could learn some big lessons from you, although I’m wondering how many people you threw off with “pithy”. lol

      And I’d never penalize anyone for their digressions unless they digressed so far that they thought they could eat my piece of cake; we won’t have that kind of thing going on now…

  2. Hi Mitch,

    I treat commenting the same way I would most face to face conversations- start with a greeting, and talk about the subject, not something totally off topic.
    And like the saying goes, if you don’t have anything nice to say…
    Some sites I’d like to say something but instead I resist, shake my head and click that red X. 🙂

    I won’t accept any comments from anyone that won’t use a real name. If I met someone and they told me their name was Quality Window Coverings, Cheap Ugg Boots, or something crazy I don’t think I’d be interested in listening to them and wouldn’t have much to say to them either.

    I’m guessing that most of the visitors to your site that actually converse with you through your comment form follow most of these courtesies already. The big problem is the spammers and knuckleheads that don’t know and don’t seem to care. I have a simple commenting policy directly above my comment form. The spammers looking for links don’t read it, or don’t understand it, and judging from the comments they leave they haven’t read the blog post either.

    And one more thing I’d like to say that I probably should’ve started with is “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times on a dark and stormy night.” 🙂

    1. LOL! Aaron, you’re proving to me that there’s a lot of well read people around here. You know, I don’t expect every person who comments to write a tome, but even a paragraph is too hard for some people. I hate the fake names thing, and luckily most of those go directly to spam without my doing anything so I really don’t have a lot of work to do there. But I did have to remove one comment that snuck through today; whew, so much work and sweat…

      I not only have part of the policy written above my comment window, I have a full blown comment policy. Truthfully, no one reads it, but I mention in the policy that the rules are there and they’re more for me so if someone gripes about it later I can point them to the rules. Funny thing though, no one’s ever come back to complain… spammers! 🙂

  3. Of course Mitch, address the topic of the post, don’t be off the topic. It won’t be interesting and relevant to the post and to the readers of your comment.

    While the avatar, I have mine and all of us must have this. It is helpful for you, your identity to be recognized and that you are a real human.

    I hate using FAKE NICKNAMES it makes me look dim-witted and I bet they feel it too. 😀

    1. I tend to think the fake names in general are just automated spam metz, so I don’t worry so much about those folks. And I’m fairly lenient with the gravatar thing though I know folks who aren’t. I mean really, if you’re going to be online a lot that’s just common sense if you ask me. Still, I’m not a stickler on that one.

  4. Hi Mitch,

    I guess we all should follow certain commenting courtesies and etiquette. But sadly, a good proportion of bloggers doesn’t seem to care about such etiquette!

    They are too busy building backlinks and exposure by commenting that they forget the real purpose of commenting. I agree with the point you mentioned in the article.

    Even I hate it when some random guy leaves a one liner after reading a blog post of mine. Some guys won’t even care to read the whole post before commenting! Such is their pathetic attitude!

    I hope that such folks read this post of yours and inculcate some courtesies in their commenting habit 🙂

    Have a great day Mitch!


    1. Thanks Arun. And this is a relatively short post by my standards, easy to understand and fairly succinct, even if some of the younger readers miss the “dark and stormy night” reference; that’s a shame if they do.

      That’s the main thing about comments. We want them, but we don’t want junk; no one wants junk.

  5. As usual a very nice informative and instructive post Mitch. Once you settle down to regular blogging with the occasional new commentator coming in, courtesies are taken for granted and sometimes humourous repartees take place that can seem like discourtesy but if the commentator and the blogger have known each other for some time, it passes muster.

    1. You’re right Rummuser; familiarity has its privilege because we get to understand each other. But in general, there’s a courteous path towards breaking the barriers so people can get comfortable with each other. And hooray that you get your comment through; still so weird, this thing about browsers blocking things… makes no sense and I can’t figure out why it’s doing that…

  6. Mitch, I switched over to Chrome from Firefox and my comment has appeared without being sent off to your spam box! Aleluija.

  7. Great community you’ve built here Mitch. Congratulations!
    Regarding commenting, well… most people skim posts and those who really read and are loyal readers always leave great comments, long comments are not great comments(I can start talk off topic about something 500 words), great comments are those who add extra info(experience and opinions) to subject being shared. Kind regards!

    1. Good comment from you I.C. It’s really not about the length of the comment but its intent and what it has to offer. Buttering up the author and saying nothing else works on new bloggers and those who are a bit too vain for their own good. We blog owners are already vain enough, wanting comments on our blogs; we can’t start believing the hype! 😉

  8. Hello there, I see many have addressed your name Mitch in the comments. Well a great piece of information for me to use. I am inspired and also feeling a need to have a comment policy page on my website. Most comments seemed like a small posts. I couldn’t agree with you more.

    1. rohan, lots of comments on this particular post have seemed long and that’s always nice but it’s not always necessary. And I’m sure if you hadn’t seen everyone else addressing me by name you’d have been able to find my name all over the place here. And a comment policy will help you in weeding out those folks who don’t respect your space, so go for it.

  9. It’s getting harder to know when a comment’s genuine or not, don’t you think Mitch?

    I’ve been getting some that have included my name but are on the borderline of being spam.

    They even have a Gravatar so I tend to accept their first comment but moderate them for future ones.

    I just read that CopyBlogger are deleting all the comments on their site and then turning them off.

    They made a good point that people who leave really in depth comments might be better actually writing a blog post about it rather than leaving a comment.

    Makes sense, I guess.

    1. Tim, there are some comments that are borderline, but for the most part it’s fairly easy to tell what’s real and what’s fake. The sneakiest ones are when the comment is quoting what someone else already wrote and you don’t recognize it immediately; I hate those guys!

      As for Copyblogger, it’s not really a blog but an article site with multiple writers. Most of the writers on that site don’t respond to comments anyway, so why have them there? I never waste my time if I know I’m not going to get a response. It won’t hurt them one bit.

      1. This is a little off the beaten path, but there’s a YouTube creator who disabled both the ability to comment on his videos (which each get 400,000 – 1.5 million views) and he left a forum community that’s DEDICATED to him. His reasoning is a bit different from Copybloggers, and has more to do with people who are deliberately harassing him, as opposed to just keyword spam and what not.

        I think it’s a smart move for CopyBlogger to turn off comments from a business perspective. It lowers branding risks, while focuses community building with their products, not just articles that lead to a bounce rather than a conversion.

        For bloggers like us I think comments that “are better off as articles” are kind of like a REALLY nice way to show appreciation. But that’s just my 2c.

        And – this part probably belongs at the beginning – nice to “meet” you Mitch!

      2. Jesse, if one can’t keep up with the comments enough to get rid of the bad ones then disabling might be the way to go. It’s like a post I wrote here some time ago asking people if they were ready for success. It applies to social media as well; there are always haters out there and if you can’t get enough love from the people who like what you do to overcome the bad things people say, I guess you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

        Course, if you’re able to make money from it, like folks on YouTube do, it’s an interesting problem to have. 🙂

  10. Hey Mitch, once again you hit the nail on the head, several times actually 😉

    I’ve written on this subject many times myself. Once I actually graded the comments, including the spam ones although I removed the link from those comments. I did this so as to show people the difference between the good comments and the bad ones.

    The importance of comments cannot be stressed enough because of all the new bloggers and others entering the online SEO world. Woe to those who don’t learn from this sort of post.

    1. I remember the post where you graded people’s comments; that was funny stuff! I wonder how many people you graded average or less ever came back. lol

      I’m just surprised that I’d never written on this subject or the titles subject before. Proves that there’s always something old and new to write about. 🙂

      1. Not all that many. But then that doesn’t surprise me. Most people that leave comments these days don’t bother to come back.

      2. Well now, I wouldn’t say that. I think we figure out who the regulars are, but at the same time, as I wrote in a post some time ago, many bloggers haven’t tested their commenting system to verify that people are getting notified that their comments have been responded to. I still comment a lot but I get very few responses and don’t remember all the blogs I visit to go back to see if I was responded to.

      3. Sure, but we have it on our blogs and more often than not they don’t come back to continue the conversation, even though I’ve asked them a direct question.

        I should take note of those comments so I can remove the link.

  11. I love how you used a number in the title. Din’t we talk about this just the other day? LOL
    What do you think MITCH about people not using their full name? I know I am just kidding myself but I like to think there is still a little privacy and security on these Interwebs. Obviously you have my contact info and can figure out who I am / where I live and work etc etc but I am not comfortable putting my full name, rank and social security number in a comment form. Sure, using “Mick K. Mouse’ is just plane silly.

    1. Troy, using a full name or just the first name is no big deal in the normal case. However, I always use my full name for two reasons. One, there are lots of Mitch’s out there, and two, I’m looking to spread my sphere of influence by using my full name and I’m battling the guy who used to play drums for Jimi Hendrix and this reporter for the Fort Worth TX newspaper. My blog posts always used to just say “Mitch” as well but I’m intentionally trying to get the full name out there and have more people recognize it as me. 🙂

      1. Cool. Cool. I see what you are saying and agree. For my personal blog I would not use TroyX.com it is TroySwezey.com but I maintain a little privacy here by just putting Troy or Troy S.
        Uh, hey wait a minute…. LOL!!!

  12. Every system get abused badly. In my 15 years as SEO, I have seen it all. It started with link directories, after that it was social bookmarks, after that article directories, blog commenting and right now the most abused system is guest blogging. There is nothing wrong with this, but unfortunately many people simply lack common sense, Mitch.

    1. And then you didn’t address the topic Carl; now that’s funny! lol Well, in your own way you did. I think you’re right in the guest posting thing, seeing what Google’s been doing to some sites this week, including yours, and blog commenting, from the phonies, tries to achieve the same type of thing. Remember when you used to comment but use all those other sites you were writing for? Almost all of those sites are now gone and I’ve had to remove the links because they were dead; that’s a reason why commenting for someone else can hurt them in the long run.

  13. Mitchel you know a lot of commenters so not know the benefits of quality blog commenting. Blog commenting can be a perfect strategy to building a quality brand and authority.

    Apart from the exposure you can give your blog via commenting on others blogs, you can actually add quality to the contents you comment on. That way you can build relationships with a wider audience and can expose your blog to them.

    You can drive much traffic and links from blog commenting but just as you said the rules must be followed and the comment’s quality must be good enough to make other visitors want to check you out.

    1. Desmond, I agree that many comments can add value, but I also know that it’s sometimes hard to comment on a blog when someone feels they can’t offer anything new. I’ve read where some people think that a complete blog post is a bad idea because it leaves nothing for people to comment on; what’s a perfect blog post anyway? Either people can find something to comment on or they can’t; just look at the comments this post has received. Good stuff!

  14. You are right about the comment stuff, every blogger should explore himself in his/her comment section. It’s good to build contacts in blogging world. As you have described your policies above to use real name and many else, it would be my pleasure to be real. If any blogger wants to get success then there is no space for fakers. Being real is what I like to prefer. The post is worth reading. I hope I will get many other useful posts which can help me. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Ravi. I know some people are worried about their privacy but as soon as one steps online privacy is almost totally gone. Identity becomes a big key in building relationships, which is why I have that rule. I may not remember a name the first time, but if I see it over and over I’m going to be good, and so are they.

  15. Well, I would just like to say that CommentLuv will get you quantity, but not quality in the comments. Therefore, enforcing a comment policy is a wonderful solution. Personally, I prefer Facebook commenting system in blogs. Although it seems unregulated, I really can connect to the social feel it can offer.

    1. Jake, it’s precisely the unrelatedness of the Facebook commenting system as to why I dislike it immensely, along with the Google Plus system. If that stuff started showing up in my stream I’d freak, which is why I’m glad I added the plugin to block those types of things. And I think quality of comments happens when one makes sure to look at the comments they’re getting and only keeps those that are at least passable.

  16. I agree on all the points you have here Mitch. before I utilized a quality Captcha, I was inundated with gratuitous comments that said nothing pertinent to the subject of the article…googlebots crawling around trying to chalk up links. Very irritating.

    1. Joe, I still won’t use Captcha for that. Instead, I log IP addresses and those folks never show up here again. And I have other things I do via the GASP plugin.

  17. Dear Mitch, please forgive me Sir as I am pretty sure you have answered this. Still I can not seem to locate the answer and I really to to fix my problem. At the bottom of your posts you have “Notify me of followup comments via e-mail” Is that built into the paid version of CommentLuv or are you using a different service? I am on WordPress. Do you or any of your fine readers have a suggestion as to a way my commentors can be notified of replies?
    On one site I have Subscribe To Comments plugin Version 2.1.2 | By Mark Jaquith but not sure if that is the way you think I should go.
    Thank you.

    1. Hey Troy, the paid version of CommentLuv does have a replied me built into it. I’m sure Mitch would avail himself of its service.

      1. Thank you thank you for the input. I think for the mean time I am gonna stick with the Subscribe To Comments plugin as it is free and seems to work fine.

  18. Hi Mitch,
    Commenting is a topic that is always good to touch upon. Your tips are timeless and yet not everyone follows them.

    I noticed that you ended your post with a question. That’s a great tip for bloggers. I think lots of times, readers sincerely want to leave a comment but they may not know how to add value. By asking a question, it may give them an idea of what to write.

    One tip that I have shared before is if you’d like to comment and can’t think of what to say, you can always make it personal. As a blogger, I appreciate knowing how someone found me. So, readers (especially first time readers) can let us know in the comments where they learned about our blog. (For example, they may have found us from a tweet by another reader.) Sometimes, info like that can give us insight that we may never know otherwise.

    1. Great stuff Sherryl, and I learned that questioning thing a couple of years ago, though I’m not always great at doing it. But I like your suggestion about adding a personal anecdote when there’s not much else to say.

  19. Mitch, or anyone else here who actually reads the comments, is thee a way using CommentLuv (free) to auto approve comments? There are people like You and Sire and Barb and Adrienne who I do not have to monitor. I know you are good people and do not spam. I do like the fact however to be notified that you commented, ever so kindly I might add, so that I can be alerted and respond to your comments as soon as I can.
    Any thoughts here? Thank you.

    1. Hey Troy, I’m not even sure if the paid version has that option. If you go to your dashboard, then settings, then discussion and tick the “Comment author must have a previously approved comment” field. I usually find that if they have one approved comment they’re usually OK. Thats all I have.

    2. I think Peter covered it; if you’re moderating any comments at all you’re moderating them for everyone. The only way to get around it is to use a plugin that allows free passage after so many comments, which he also stated.

  20. As usual a very nice informative and instructive post Mitch. And I agree on all the points you have here Mitch.Once you settle down to regular blogging with the occasional new commentator coming in, courtesies are taken for granted.
    Thank you thank you for the input Mitch.

    1. First Sharad, you don’t have to use my name so many times in the comment; after the first time I’ll figure you’re talking to me. lol Second, I take blog commenting seriously, and I do agree that it can be time consuming. That’s why if you’re going to do it I recommend you do it right and leave a pretty good comment so the writer will respond appreciatively and others might decide to check your space out.

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