Responding To Comments… Sigh…

Sometimes it seems like I spend a lot of time writing about the importance of two things regarding blogs; writing good comments and responding to comments. Sometimes it seems like a great cause; sometimes it seems like a lost cause.

Good comments help everyone. They help the writer because the writer knows you understood their words. It helps other people who see your comments because it gives them something to think about as well, and encourages them to comment. And it helps you, the commenter, because you not only show people you have something to say, but of course there’s that all important link back to your site.

Responding to comments helps as well. It shows you’re engaged in the process with others. It shows you honor what they have to say. It shows that you didn’t just pop something up and move on to the next story. And it helps to show that you also know what you’re talking about, in case someone thinks you had another person writing your content; not that there’s anything wrong with that. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sadly, it seems the lessons aren’t taking very well. It seems that myself and Sire are beating our heads against the wall. I mean, even on posts where we talk about the importance of leaving good comments we get horrible comments. That’s just a shame.

Every once in awhile you have an epiphany, of sorts. I’ve got one now; actually, I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of days. I’ve decided that I’m not responding to every comment anymore. I have a comment policy that I thought would handle everything; seems that was a wishful panacea.

Maybe the problem is just that some people really don’t understand the concept of what a good or bad comment is. Maybe they don’t understand that punctuation is a big part of writing a good comment. Capitalization, spacing between sentences after a period, not forgetting to include words to finish a thought in a sentence… what, they don’t teach grammar anywhere anymore?

So it’s time to make a stand; actually, three stands.

One, if your comment is borderline and doesn’t help advance the topic, I won’t be responding to it. Most probably you don’t care if that’s the type of comment you’ve left, but I’m stating it for the world.

Two, from this point on, if I see that the image and name and email address somehow don’t fit, I’m either removing the comment or the link. If your name is “Sue” and your avatar is a pretty woman but your email name says “John”, that’s a red flag; not having it. For that matter, if I see a “John” but your email address says “Bob”, or something like that, I’m doing the same thing. That is, unless I know you or at some point you prove to me you’re real and have a reason for doing it (because I know a lot of folks in other countries will give you a different name than their own because of translation issues).

And three, if I see multiple messages from the same website under different names, all of them will be pulled from this point on. Not specifically picking on them, but there’s some site called that may or may not be legit that sometimes leaves multiple messages on different blog posts but each one has a different person’s name and a different person’s email address. Some comments look legit, some don’t, but often they come at the same time so I’m treating them as spam. They’re not the only one, only the most recent.

Of course, once I know you and we’ve established a rapport of sorts, I go more lenient. After all, I know that some posts don’t offer up a good opportunity for a great comment. But I think I give a lot here; not only a lot of pretty good information but everyone gets a dofollow link, and I don’t make anyone register so you get your 10 choices for CommentLuv.

I have time issues as well but I think it’s more important to work towards having a good community standard; am I wrong on this?

37 thoughts on “Responding To Comments… Sigh…”

  1. Hi Mitch,

    The whole topic of commenting has become a personal bugaboo. I think there are three types of commenters:
    1. Conversationalists
    2. Backlinkers
    3. Spammers

    I find that segmenting commenters this way allows me to more effectively address the pros and cons of responding.

    I ALWAYS respond to conversationalists. These are people who don’t have to leave earth-shattering comments to get my attention. I have established a rapport with them.

    As an aside, conversationalists get to stuff keywords, drop links and do whatever they feel helps them as well as my readers.

    I USUALLY respond to backlinkers. We can’t know which backlinkers are going to become great conversationalists until we at least reply to their comments ๐Ÿ™‚

    As an aside, links from this group should be limited to CommentLuv and whatever they can get away with in the website field. By “get away with”, it had better not link to something I object to!

    The spammer group, ironically, get the most attention, as I have to manually trash them and add their IP address to my Options – Discussions – Comment Moderation Text field.

    As an aside, it’s becoming very tricky to spot spammers that are not foolish enough to drop 17 comments in one go. I like point Two of your stand, and try to be diligent in that regard.



    1. Thanks Mitch. You know, it used to be relatively easy, but things like better software and Fivrr has created an industry where we all end up having to do more. And yet, I still would rather do this than moderate, which means I put some folks on hold waiting for me to get around to their comments when those comments might be good enough for someone else to have already responded to them.

  2. Mitch I think Mitch made a good point. I personally try to be a conversationalist while scoring a back link or two. Of course it takes 4 times as long to do, but I refuse to be a spammer, yet hope I can get some backlinks. We are all fighting the spammers on our blogs, I just hope that I can add a tiny little value to articles such as this one with my comment.

    1. But you see Donnie, yours was a very nice comment. Not overly long but you commented on what I wrote about; that’s what I’m talking about. Length isn’t the idea, but quality is, and your comment was quality; heck, you even got both Mitch’s in it. lol And in reality, at least for me, it doesn’t take any more time to write the comment, even if it takes time to read the original post.

  3. Mitch, I think you know which category I fall under. I almost always have something to say (which my husband routinely complains about, but that’s another post). I think you are completely within reason to police the commenting on your blog. This is your house and we are your guests. You have a right to decide what you are going to let stay on your blog.

    1. Thanks DeAnna. True, it’s my “house” but it’s open for everyone. I had set a specific criteria for myself but it seemed like it wasn’t forthcoming from everyone else. In the end, my sanity will be kept, I’ll continue to enjoy the blogging process, and the regulars will still hear from me. Now, whether that’s what they want… lol

  4. Hi Mitch,

    I’ve had this problem before about how to evaluate comments and I’ve decided the same. I respond to comments if the comment is genuine and add something to the topic. I need still to add a comment policy on my blog.

    Spammers enter in the equation and I try to delete them when they put only keywords or the typical “great post”. I was further and I wrote a deeper post why spammers target you, exactly, if you check your stats.

    About grammar this can be my case and I know several people can have this issue. English is my second language (mine is Spanish) and I can have some errors, no matter the word processors or translator online. Anyway, I’m improving ๐Ÿ™‚



    1. Gera, it’s not the grammar so much as it is, well… grammar! lol By grammar, I mean that in my day we were taught punctuation, which meant periods, commas, semicolons (which almost no one uses anymore except me) and the like. We were also taught that after a period you went two spaces before writing another sentence. I’ve found that blogging software sometimes removes the extra space, but at least it allows for a space after the period. When I don’t see that I start to wonder about the person writing the comment. Also, when one starts a new sentence, the first word is supposed to be capitalized; at least that’s how I was taught, and that seems to be standard in every language that I’ve seen (well, I don’t know if Asian character languages have capitals; I wonder who’ll answer that one).

      That’s what I mean by grammar. Goodness, I write way different than how I speak, and there are plenty of people who will say “you’re talking about grammar?” lol

  5. During the last week, I’ve had more spam on my network of blogs than ever before. The main reason is that spamming software is getting better and better and spam filters are not going anywhere. Regarding punctuation, the previous sentence emphasize the reason, regarding grammar, many commenter are not native English speakers, including me. You are a true hero, trying to respond to all comments, I don’t think that this is necessary.

    1. Thanks Carl. That’s a point I made elsewhere, that the people creating spam and viruses and the like are so smart and always updating everything while everyone else is always in catch-up mode trying to overcome what these people are doing. As for the grammar, I think I’ve stated what I meant in a comment already about that; I don’t hold anyone to a standard I don’t believe they can reach but there are some things that will just make you question some people.

      1. Today some of the members of my community were playing on my nerves, asking question, requesting thing which require only ability to read. World is going into wrong direction, common sense is completely missing.

      2. Carl, as some of us say over here, you ain’t said nothing but a thang! You’re right, just a bit of reading could answer so many questions that people have, especially in a post they’ve just commented on. That’s another way I can tell people aren’t really reading or paying attention to a post.

  6. Well answering comment is a part of a bloggers life then why be tired of it. That is the only way to evaluate what you write through comments.

  7. A timely post, Mitch. Thank you. Some of these things are on my own mind lately, too.

    I answer all comments except for a few. Some overwhelm me – they’re too intense or I just can’t concentrate on them, or I just don’t know what to say. But the sort of problem comments you get just go into trash when I get them in my blog because it adds nothing to the post.

    Actually, I had someone do that recently. And d’you know, this person had just read my comment policy (as I could see from the external stats I use) before posting and still posted a crap comment! It makes me wonder why I bother with a comment policy in the first place. My usual response is to re-write the part of the policy that didn’t work, but then it happens again.

    I think one of the main differences in comments that stay on topic and add something and comments that don’t is that the latter commenters don’t have time for ones posts… they’re fly-bys who can’t interrupt a moment in their time to concentrate on one’s post rather than hold the thought they had before they read any of it. I can do without fly-bys. They can fly off to someone else’s blog. The one I mentioned above posted a one-liner comment talking ‘at’ another commenter and didn’t bother to comment on the content of my post at all. Well, I’m sorry if it upsets a few people but I’m not having that.

    One thing that’s just occurred to me is that while I’ve been writing this comment (in notepad as I knew I wanted to say more than usual!) I’ve been going to and from your post to check that what I’m commenting on is actually in context with your post as my memory isn’t good enough to remember all you’ve written for the whole time I’m commenting! So you could say that I do read your posts, lol!

    As for the grammar, I’m mostly with you on this, though my main beef is with textspeak, everything in lower case and lack of paragraphing. It doesn’t bother me if it’s because people are dyslexic or if English isn’t their mother tongue, however I think it’s possible to tell when someone’s just doing it because they can’t be bothered and that just tries my patience.

    Apropos different name in email… a few people share their email addresses with someone else, for instance their husband or wife, but this is much less likely to be the case here as you mostly attract business bloggers and in these circumstances I’d be wary of it myself, too.

    I’m glad you’ve made this decision Mitch, I think it will help you to feel easier in your mind when you’re posting. People don’t change unless they want to. They’re not going to change just because you or I say we’d like them to behave in a particular way. So we have to adapt our own behaviour in some way and make it clear to people what we’re going to do and why. Over the years I’ve had a lot of stick for supposedly ‘having’ to explain myself, but the way I see it is if I’m going to be doing something that other people might not like, then I feel it’s only fair that I say why. Just as you have done. Except that of course then, the people we’re trying to reach, won’t be listening. I don’t know what the solution is, really.

    1. This was a wonderful comment Val. You know, sometimes I come around slowly to the concept that not everyone cares about blogging or commenting like I do. And I’m not looking for perfection or anything long. Just show that the post was read and that you have something to offer; that’s all I ask.

      Now, one of the problems with some posts, and I’ll admit it, is that the reader might be left agreeing with everything I’ve said, and because some of my posts are long they have nothing extra to offer, or that they so totally disagree and are so upset that they don’t want to say anything for fear of losing control. I’m doubting the second happens all that often and even the first might be a bit extreme, but if I sometimes don’t give someone enough to respond to… well, you just never know.

      I think we’re stuck with our comment policies having a limit, and then we have to address ourselves. I’m now to that point where I’m just not going to try to respond to everyone and every comment that’s not up to, well, standard. We all know them when we see them. At least we do respond to comments in general though, and I think that’s the most important thing amongst those of us who pick on people that don’t respond to anyone.

  8. Hey Mitch, you are far too lenient my friend. Unless I know the blogger I delete most borderline comments because to me they just are not trying, especially if the comment is unrelated to the post.

    I get those guys using different names but linking to the same site. What’s with that anyway? Don’t they realise we can see their IP address? I’ve actually taken the time to go through my comments deleting them when I come across them.

    Good on you for writing this post mate. Too bad those who leave crappy comments probably don’t even read the posts though, but those that do may learn a thing or two.

    1. Thanks Sire. I hadn’t thought about myself being lenient but maybe I am. Actually, you do leave a lot of borderline comments on your blog, but I’ve noticed you will sometimes tell a commenter that their comment doesn’t seem to be addressing the post; I don’t do that often enough probably. You know the comments I didn’t mention was when you see a comment that seems familiar and then realize that you actually did have that comment before, but someone scrapped it in some fashion and added their own email address to it. Overall, you can feel the frustration to a degree; I’m not going to worry about it anymore.

  9. Hi there, Mitch!
    I always read the whole post before leaving a comment, as I understand it shows appreciation to the owner of the blog. That is the exact reason why commenting drains so much time for me, although I believe it is a time well spent, especially because I choose those blogs where I enjoy reading posts, try having fun or learning something new and of interest.
    As for the punctuation part, I am sorry if I don’t do grammar sometimes correctly, but English is not my native language (I speak five more other languages), and I believe there are many visitors with good intentions who add value to the post, but are from other countries and so their English can be broken or a little bit “Tarzan” alike. I would never exclude them from leaving comments, if their heart is at the right place and they are showing they’ve read the post.
    As for the travel.wisconsin spamming site, I’ve never heard for it before, but I appreciate your warning.
    Take care

    1. Thanks Kristina. As I wrote in a comment, great grammar isn’t what I’m asking for. What I’m saying is that if there’s a period then there needs to be a space before the next sentence, and the first word of a sentence is supposed to be capitalized. When you don’t see that you start to question whether you’ve gotten a real comment or a fake; anyone that’s learned English, Spanish, French, etc knows that rule.

  10. I imagine we all deal with these issues and wrestle with this decision. I know I have. It seems the spammers have caught on to the fact that a truly generic comment is a waste of their time because weโ€™ll kill it. So now they are leaving minimally acceptable comments that are so poorly written I wonder if they graduated from the 5th grade. Some people are just in a big hurry (usually to comment on as many blogs as they can in the time they have) and donโ€™t bother to check their work before punching SUBMIT (or Add Comment, in your case).

    Deciding where to draw the line on what gets in and what doesnโ€™t is tough. But deciding which deserve a thoughtful reply (or any reply) seems a little easier. I agree that most of those folks donโ€™t care whether I reply, they just want a back-link. Iโ€™ll reserve my on-line time for discussing things with people who actually care about the topic at hand.

    Thanks for standing up and shaking your fist, and being an innovator.

    1. Thanks Allan. It’s too bad it had to finally come to this point, but really, we both see comments that we probably scratch our heads on and wonder “what the heck should I say here?” Since I started this blog I’ve felt that every comment I approve should be responded to. It’s taken me more than 3 years to come to realize that policy just doesn’t work anymore. It doesn’t mean that just anything is going to be allowed to stay, but I think the proof has been shown that there are some folks that just don’t care, and if they don’t care then why should I? Well, at least to those folks.

      That’s why I appreciate the rest of you so much. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. Of course having not spam comments its only decent. And after all its your right to accept whatever comments you like. I always use my real name and real e-mail address, because that is what I want to see from people commenting on my blogs. Not some stupid usernames and e-mail addresses made specially for commenting.

    1. I think that’s the better way to go, Cristian, unless you’re known by another name for some reason. And it does happen, and I have no problem with that.

  12. Mitch, I’m glad I’m not the only one who caught the travel wisconsin folk. I’d let a few of those few until I encountered a situation similar to what you mentioned. All your points are well taken.

    Speaking of education, maybe they’re not teaching grammar any more … I read recently that scientists can’t agree on whether we have 6 continents, or 7 — and then can’t agree on what the 6 or 7 are.

    1. Vernessa, that’s actually more geography than grammar, and I understand the discussion because it pertains to Antarctica and the North Pole. The discussion is why Antarctica might be a continent when no one’s ever said that the North Pole is a continent, mainly because it’s been determined that there is some land at Antarctica but they haven’t totally established it at the North Pole, although I think there’s definitely land there.

      I have learned something in the last couple of days regarding the use of IP addresses, but the Wisconsin folks all use different ones. Still, you just never know.

  13. Hi Mitch,

    I know this post is nearly a month old, but I didn’t have anything to say about it until today.

    Today, I de-emphasized comments on one of my blogs, and depending upon the outcome of the test, I will probably do the same thing on my other blogs in January.

    I disabled the CommentLuv and dofollow plug-ins today.

    I want to see if readership and commenting will decline with those turned off. Are my visitors there for the backlinks, or do they truly care about the conversations.

    I know that I’d comment on your posts — at least some — when I have something to say about what you’ve written. You write thought-provoking posts and I like to get my two cents’ worth into the discussion, sometimes.

    While I have enjoyed the links from your site as the result of my comments, it is not the primary reason I read your blog and comment.

    I think, however, that most people comment only for the backlinks. So, today I started testing that theory.

    I may have just shot that blog in the foot. I’ll know in a few months.

    (I unchecked CommentLuv before adding my comment here.)

    Act on your dream!


    1. John, you know I’m going to have my say. ๐Ÿ™‚

      You might not believe this, but I didn’t add CommentLuv for anyone else. I added CommentLuv for myself because I had started getting more comments and I wanted a way to weed out those whose blogs I might want to visit from those whose sites I visited and realized they were only selling things. That it turned out to also be a benefit for everyone else was a nice little bonus.

      Some folks really do only visit for the love, or for the rankings, or to drive traffic elsewhere. You can usually tell in the quality, or lack thereof, of the comment. Anyway, I think your experiment will be an interesting one, and I hope you don’t reduce comments, but I don’t think you’ll be shooting yourself in the foot. I think if you decided you were going to still be an active blogger and commenter nothing would change as far as the number of visitors you’d get to your blog. Truthfully, if traffic abates, I’m not sure it’ll be directly related to CommentLuv as much as related to your lessened activity in commenting; that would give you a skewed result.

      Still, experiments are experiments, and I’ve just recently done one that will be coming out in a couple of days. That’s one of the things I live for, so let’s see what happens with yours.

      1. You bring up a good point about whether number of visitors (if it changes) may be caused by lack of comments or lack of activity on my part.

        I’m planning to continue blogging two or three times per week until the end of the year.

        I already know that it won’t be a rigidly controlled test. I couldn’t think of a way to do that, but I hope the results will be of some value.

        I’m looking forward to the results of your test.

    2. Hi JD,

      Your comment here makes me want to see what you’re up to. For bloggers who are also members of the protected class of “thinkers,” getting a backlink is not the only reason they comment on a site. Wanting to “have their say” is quite an incentive to go through the hoops and impatiently fill in the required information just to get to the comment box!

      Like Mitch, in his comment below, I added CommentLuv as much for myself as for my commenters (though I did very much have in mind how to give them some little gift for coming around). When I see someone’s CL link on my own site, it gives me an easy entry point into their site … and I’m glad they’ve directed me to a place of importance so I don’t have to hit the front page and hunt around too much.

      Look forward to your experiment; heading over (for the first time) to check out your article(s).

      1. And after reading this I was wondering where your CommentLuv link is. How strange all this stuff can be sometimes.

      2. Mine? Well, since John is doing his no-CommentLuv experiment, I unchecked it ๐Ÿ™‚ Then, too, I didn’t see any others in this thread.

      3. (grin)

        I’m not trying to start something over here!

        I’m not on a crusade, just running another test to see what works for my business and what doesn’t.

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