Fake And Lousy Comments

I didn’t write anything last week; well, that’s kind of a misnomer. I wrote an article for my accountant’s blog, but that’s it. I decided to take a week off to get my mind straight and come to grips with a problem many of us bloggers have… that being some of the comments on our blogs. To better describe it… I’m going to start with a little story.

I played piano from the age of 10 until the age of 40. It was a pretty interesting 30 years that started inauspiciously enough and ended with a standing ovation.

In the early years when I played piano, nobody wanted to hear it other than myself. Even my piano teacher (lousy as she was) didn’t want to hear me play. My mother forced me to practice at least an hour a day, but she would go upstairs and turn the TV up really loud so she didn’t have to hear me play.

That was okay with me because it left me alone to play things I wanted to play rather than my lessons, and Mom rarely paid attention. I could play Beethoven all day if I wanted to, since it’s the only music I wanted to play at the time. These were the years before I discovered pop music other than the Jackson Five; I was so far behind in my musical knowledge.

What I didn’t like was that whenever my parents had people over to the house, Mom would always want me to play for them. But when I started playing, she would talk over my playing throughout the entire song I would be performing, getting louder as I tried playing louder. Sometimes I’d stop in the middle of a song to see if anyone noticed. They’d applaud politely and I’d finally get to go upstairs and resume my teenage life.

I always hated that, because I wondered why someone would want me to play and then not sit there and listen to it. It’s the major reason I never wanted to be a full-time performer, because that happens most of the time and my ego couldn’t really handle it. I’ve met a lot of professional musicians in my life (I worked at a music store & used to know a lot of local musicians in my early 20’s) and talked to them about it. They said they got paid whether people listened or not and they were good with it.

I wasn’t good with it. I performed in one talent show in college where no one noticed I’d forgotten the chorus (until they watched it on TV; ugh), and I played in a couple of recitals where people had to listen, but most of my early life I played for no one but me, writing my songs and singing to my hearts content. I never performed in public until I accidentally became a wedding singer.

Talk about a life changing event. I sang for couples during church ceremonies, although I wasn’t close to being religious. I sang love songs and religious songs. Sometimes I sang 2 or 3 songs, and once I sang 11 songs (Catholic service; I was surprised they let me sing a few secular songs as that wasn’t the norm).

Because I sang during the ceremony, people pretty much had to listen to me. It might seem a bit egotistical, but forcing people to listen to you means they appreciate the time and effort you spent rehearsing just to be able to perform in front of them.

After 14 years, and just after my 40th birthday, I decided I would be singing at my last wedding. The best part of it was that I was going to be performing a song I’d always said I wanted sang at my own wedding. I’d written it in the early 80’s (titled We Are Love) and it was based on Beethoven’s Pathétique Sonata, the 2nd movement. It was going to be the last song I ever performed and I wanted it to be special.

I rehearsed all the songs I was going to be performing quite a bit for two weeks. It was hard to do because I was working a full time job which took me an hour’s drive each way every day, and I was in two bowling leagues. I also had to find the time to go see a friend of mine who was a voice coach because I also performed All I Ask Of You from Phantom of the Opera and needed some help in figuring out how to hit the high notes.

The big day came and I was fully prepared for my last performance. It would also be the first time my wife heard me sing and play at a wedding. Even though the wedding was for someone else, I felt like people had come to see and hear me also.

I did my four songs, which included hitting every note in that Phantom song, and felt my energy level rise when I was playing my final song, the one I wrote. It felt pretty magical and when I was done I actually felt a sense of relief that it was all over…

And then… the pastor started applauding. No one had ever applauded a song I did in a wedding. Then everyone else in the church started applauding. Then they all stood up and kept applauding. I stood up myself, smiled, bowed, then looked at my wife, whose face was beaming.

That turned out not to only be the last time I performed in public, but for all intents and purposes it was the last time I played piano. I knew I’d never feel like that again and I knew I’d never have an audience like that again.

How does this relate to blogging? Let me tell you how…

Most bloggers write because we have something to say and we’re hoping people will listen, aka read what were writing. Whether we’re teaching something, offering our opinions, or just trying to be entertaining, we write for ourselves but we hope people will appreciate what we do.

Some people spend a lot more time than I normally do putting their articles together, whether they’re putting them on their own blogs or writing for someone else. We all have the same initial goal in mind, that being to have readers appreciate what we’re doing and offer up some kind of provocative comment.

Almost all of us want blog comments (not Seth Godin lol). We want to know that we’ve touched somebody, positively or negatively, and that they not only appreciate what we have to say, but understand it. The acknowledgement that we did something special, putting our hearts and energy into it and inspired you to write a comment on our topics gives us the catalyst to keep writing and producing new content for our readers and fans.

That’s why we get disenchanted when we either get a lot of spam or a lot of comments that aren’t quite up to snuff. Spam is bad enough; lousy comments are demoralizing.

By that, I mean something like a one-line comment to an article that’s over a 1500 words. Another gripe is a slightly longer comment that never mentions anything that was written in the article. Both of those things are not only frustrating, but a bit insulting.

My last post about the readability of one’s blog actually got a lot of comments. The problem is that many of them were fake and lousy comments. Half of the comments were one liners that somehow passed my spam filter and didn’t mention anything showing they even knew what the article was about. The other half were longer but were general comments about the topic and nothing about the article… it’s fairly easy to tell.

There were also a few comments that I allowed to stay that were pretty borderline. Something I do that I’m not sure everyone does is to check out the links to see the type of writing there is on either the blog or website at the link they’ve shared. If it’s written at a higher quality than the comment that’s been left I immediately assume someone was paid to leave the comment and delete it. If the quality matches the comment I leave it be, with the understanding that not everyone knows how to write but they gave it the ol’ college try.

I’m one of those people who ends up deleting a lot of comments from every article I write; sometimes I just remove the link they’ve left, knowing they’re never coming back (they never do). It’s almost too easy to know they weren’t interested in the article as much as to improve their search engine status by granting themselves a backlink. I figure it’s not my role as a content provider, aka blogger, to help promote them when they are not really interested in what I have to say.

I like to think I’m a pretty good commenter. If I’m going to take the time to comment it means there was something in the article that compelled me to say something. I never leave a one line comment unless I’m leaving a return comment to a question or comment from the person who wrote the article; my first comments are usually pretty good… sometimes overly good, as the last blog comment I left ended up being more than a thousand words (I’m going to eventually turn that comment into a blog post on one of my other blogs lol).

No one wants fake or lousy comments on their blog. Yet, lots of people leave them because they believe other visitors will judge their content by how many comments it has. I understand that; I just don’t live it. My policy is, and always will be, that I will evaluate comments to see if they pass the fake and lousy test. If not… they’re gone, even if it means my articles might not have many, or any comments whatsoever.

This post is a test. It took 863 words to tell my musical story, and when I’m done here I’ll have written a comparable number of words talking about blog comments. The test is to see how many comments I get that talks only about the music and not the commenting, since that’s what the post is actually about. I’m not even worried about all the comments I’ll get that’ll say “nice post; you covered this topic well, I can’t wait to see what you write next” or something to that effect. Y’all won’t see any of those comments; you can thank me later. 🙂

30 thoughts on “Fake And Lousy Comments”

  1. Great post, Mitch!! Very informative. I look forward to reading your next posts!!…

    Just kidding, Mitch. I completely understand. It’s unfortunate because a lot of productive and meaningful conversations could be had if those leaving comments would just read the article. Backlinks are cool and all that but without a connection to the blogger what’s the real value in it?

    1. You kidder you! lol That’s my feeling; if a comment is warranted then at least have something to say. That’s why so many comments feel fake; I can’t believe people are inspired to comment and they say pretty much nothing.

  2. Your piano story reminded me of a musician friend I have. He used to chide his audiences and mope around if he felt nobody was listening to him. Since he mostly played in bars and restaurants a lot of people were not listening but talking instead. It was the nature of the places where he was playing. He could never exactly accept that.

    But I understand your point. If I take the time to write a comment I want it to be worthwhile and say something meaningful. I don’t have to have every comment left on my blog to be profound or anything like that, but it’s nice to know when someone has actually read what I wrote and thought about it to some extent.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the story Lee, and that you saw the connection. I certainly don’t expect people to write tomes (like I did on your blog lol) but I always hope someone addresses the topic… instead of something like “you talked about xxxxxx and it was good”. lol That’s a common comment that I delete all the time.

  3. I did not play the piano but was fairly good at playing the harmonica and shared your experience of the mortification of playing for visiting guests. I quit when smoking got the better of me.

    I hope that you do not consider my comments as being fake or lousy. I only comment on those posts where there is something that I can say.

    1. Rummuser, your comments would never be considered fake; it’s just amazing you’re still reading my blog after almost a decade! lol

      Now, this is a comment I got just before yours that shows just what I was talking about (I’ve deleted it BTW, so the person won’t get a link) that did just as I said fake comments did… missed the entire point and totally ignored the 2nd half of the post:

      Your 30 years of “Piano Journey” is quite an inspiration for me which culminated with people giving you a standing tribute. You started playing piano from the age 10 and how you showcased your skills in front of guests and in school , but the moment of reckon was how your performance in the wedding made you a “figure” to feel proud of, not just amongst masses, but also in front of your wife.

  4. Hi Mitch,

    I had to play the piano, too. I hated the lessons, but I loved making stuff up. I don’t like comments, as I have no energy to devote to authenticating them. I write for my own enjoyment and those who stumble upon my blog.

    I enjoyed your story. I forgot you were a wedding singer and I never knew you were a songwriter!!



    1. I’m a copyrighted songwriter who once placed in the top 600 out of 25,000 in a song contest. lol

      As for comments, I love them when they’re real, and I’ll admit that most of the time I like when I figure out they’re fake. Kind of like the two comments I got on this post earlier today. Both of them had different opening paragraphs that talked about the first half of this post and then both had the exact same words in the next paragraph:

      You have good experience on how people use the comment section of another person’s blog. Some people are just looking for links without giving their opinions on the post.

      That was sneaky; I almost missed it! lol

  5. Mitch, firstly I found one of your very rare typos at the end of your 6th paragraph.

    Man, I wish I was there when you played that song. Too bad you didn’t record it for posterity.

    As to commenting, the quality is going backwards instead of forwards. Perhaps that’s because as bloggers we’re not concentrating on teaching newbies the way we used to.

    Like you, I’m deleting a lot of comments on a daily basis. What’s sad is that I’m deleting more comments than accepting them.

    1. At least it wasn’t a misspelling! lol

      I think the problem with many comment is that they’re not genuine. For instance, once again today I got a comment that started out like it was new, then the second one-line paragraph was a direct copy of some bad comments I’d already moved to spam and deleted. This is another new change on technology that works to make it hard to figure out what’s real and what’s not. I can’t even go by the old rule of seeing if my name is in the comment because the new software can figure out who the author is, and if it’s in our name that’s that.

      Still, I’d rather deal with those comments than get rid of comments altogether. It brings the comment count down, but if it’s a spam comment does it really count in the first place? Nope! lol

  6. Spam comments definitely do not count whereas good comments do count. Good comments actually add to the quality content of the post, sometimes by adding relevant content to it, other times by adding another viewpoint.

    Unlike those good post type of comment which I nearly always delete. I do not need any ego pampering 😀

  7. Hey, Mitch,
    You have given a perfect example by providing piano play story. A real story combined with an example, great work man. I read the full post and totally agree with you. I even don’t want a number of comments, but i want spammy free comments. Great post and its a kind of you to share the true fact with people.

    1. Thanks Antor. I try to share stories to get a point across, and I work on leaving good comments whenever I visit another person’s blog. For me, honoring someone who’s compelled me to write something is an honor and not a chore. I wish more people saw it like that.

  8. Very few people are able to explain the concept/logic using example. And you one of them. Your piano story is good one to go.

    Commenting on a site should only be done when one has opinion/suggestion to share. Simply coming and leaving one liner comment is just a waste of time. I agree with you!

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Shiv. I think most of the people doing the one line thing are paid to do it and spread links for others. Maybe 10 years ago people thought it was the right thing to do but these days anyone into blogging has to know how irritating it is.

  9. This blog post made me chuckle a few times as I can relate to it so well. On my main blog, I actually do get a lot of comments (and thank goodness for Akismet doing the first filter).

    I have a whole bunch of borderline comments. The one liners and spammy ones are pretty obvious. But, from time to time, I get these comments that sound real…like a real customer agreeing…and then, I look at the email and website and it’s a competitor of mine acting like a customer, and it’s so obvious and annoying to see what they’re trying to do. It may in fact be their web company writing the comment, but it’s not like I was born yesterday. Delete.

    BTW, excellent job on the piano and singing. Very impressive. I would never have the guts to do the solo (although ironically, I was part of an accapella group. I was great on duets, but not solos.

    1. LOL, thanks Lucia. I’m pretty good at vetting comments, but sometimes you get one that’s kind of borderline. These days I’ll delete them for the most part just to see if they’ll come back for more… which they never have. Really; if the best you have is one line that you make reach my minimum word count then you were never really interested in the article to begin with.

  10. Oh yes, I see those generic comments all the time, and they annoy me as well. Sometimes, it’s those “people” telling me that I composed something so great and they will pass it along to their friends or I should get more recognition or something.

    Sometimes, it’s something like a fake question asking me about what platform I use or what I recommend to speed up their site or something similar that has to do w/ blogging but not about the article nor my site.

    Other times, it looks like it has a word purposely misspelled so that they can search them out later on google to keep spamming or something.

    Any way you slice it, it’s annoying and obvious what they’re doing.

    1. Rich, they do and don’t know what they’re doing. They know that a lot of bloggers aren’t that experienced, so leaving a complimentary message is going to make a lot of those folks think they’re getting legitimate comments. Where they’re failing is that the blogs that keep those comments are usually very low ranked so they’re getting little benefit from those links. It’s irritating as a blogger to have to deal with it but in a way it’s better than being totally ignored.

  11. You’re definitely right.. I get such comments every day. I honestly do not know what to do. These comments make me very uncomfortable

  12. Hey Mitch,

    Such great and insightful post, There are lot of articles about blog comments on the web, but these kinda article i saw first time witch is totally different and useful.
    Blog comments are the great source as it increase engagement with other peoples but it should be relevant to the post give some great values to the article and to the writer as well.
    Thanks for sharing with us.


    1. Thanks Maria. Commenting on blogs is beneficial in so many more ways than just earning a link back to one’s blog or website. Good comments impress others and that encourages them to decide to stop by your blog to see what else you’ve got to say.

  13. Hey Mitch, what you have pointed out is absolutely right. What I have learned from my career as a blogger is that the most important thing you need if you want to be successful is building relationships. Nowadays people comment just to get some backlinks. Comment backlinks are great but it is also an opportunity to build a connection with a fellow blogger in your niche. Everyone should utilize it. That’s my take on the subject.

    Thank You

    1. Great stuff Sunil. Yes, that’s what good commenting does, helps build relationships. Online networking is a great thing when it works, and blog commenting can go a long way towards establishing great connections with others. I know that the blogs I comment on most are those whose owners I’ve known for a long time, who’ve also participated here.

  14. Hiya Mitch!

    I was just gonna comment on the music part and skip the commenting part but you called me out! Haha!

    You’re a wonderful storyteller. Seems like the story warrants some kind of blockbuster title (My First, My Final: The Only Ovation That Matters) or some such.

    Too bad the telling of it was a precursor to our old (and your ongoing) nemesis. I remember the nasty battle of keeping lousy and fake comments in check on my Local Business Coach blog.

    You are so right about the feelings and expectations that go into putting forth blog posts. The biggest part of giving those articles/posts to the world (readers, customers, etc.) is knowing they make some kind of difference … and we’d rather not be insulted by the foolishness of spam or taken advantage of by fakers.

    Keep telling it like it is, brother!

    1. Thanks Vernessa. Maybe I should be thankful for the amount of spam I get because… maybe… it means my reach is better than I think it is. Nah! lol It’s nice having real comments, and it’s nice when people share the articles with others. I hate the spam with a passion, but if it’s the only bad with the good I can live with it.

      Thanks for the words on the storytelling; I try to make them at least interesting, if not overly funny 😉

  15. Oh, you DID upgrade CommentLuv! Yay! (I’m just happy I don’t have to pretend I DON’T have a secure site!)

    I don’t understand why parents ask their kids to perform, then talk over and around them. I used to get furious if my children were performing and people were ignoring them. I was a little ham, before I turned 10. Totally unselfconscious, and I’m not sure if I cared whether anyone was actually paying attention or not, honestly. I was just having fun, singing or acting or playing pretend – it was all the same to me. I actually hated “piano recitals” because I knew I wasn’t very good at piano, and although I own a piano and like to plunk around on it occasionally, I never bothered to GET good. My daughter can play, but it’s not her instrument, either.

    You and I are so old-school about this. We want comments because we write for humans. We don’t “manufacture content” for “content marketing.” We don’t offer “valuable backlinks” without valuable conversation being offered, first. Not a nod in passing, not a smile that doesn’t reach the eyes. Not a “hi, how are you?” without any interest in the answer.

    Hi, Mitch. How are you?

    1. LOL! We talked about my changing CommentLuv on Slack; I thought you’d remember that.

      I can’t imagine putting my child on the spot to perform in front of anyone unless the child asked me ahead of time. Maybe it’s because of what I went through, but it wouldn’t happen. Back then I wasn’t good across the board, but I did have a number of songs I was pretty good at playing, but all were classical and none matched the party atmosphere that brought people to the house in the first place.

      If I thought I could drive people here with content marketing and make a lot of money doing it, I’d do it in a heartbeat; not gonna lie about that. However, I’ve made my peace with what I am as far as this blog’s concerned; I just don’t want to deal with fakery and spam anymore.

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