A Decluttering Update & Problems With Some Comments

Back in January I wrote a post titled Decluttering My Online Life (Kim, now you don’t have to search for the link lol). In it I made some declarations as to what I wasn’t going to do to anymore as it pertained to helping to speed up my life online.

via Flickr

I’m one of those people who visits a lot of blogs. If I were a spammer, someone who writes horrible comments, that probably means nothing to anyone. But in general I tend to write comments that show I actually read the article, and sometimes mention some of the other comments as well. They’re not all super long, thank goodness, but there’s no impression left that I didn’t really read the post and that I didn’t attempt to offer some value. That is, unless it’s a funny post that I only have a one liner for; that’s rare, though, and most of the people know me already so they’re cool with it.

I’ve noticed that there seems to be even more people moderating comments than I would have ever imagined. Many of these people seem to be accomplished bloggers who you think would know better; obviously not. Some of them are people that were listed in my post last Friday on 21 of the Top Black Social Media Influencers.

That’s disappointing because I want to be supportive to this group and I want to help promote this group, but some of them have set their blogs up to be, I have to say, irritating. That just won’t do for long term comfort, at least for me. So, I didn’t subscribe to some of those blogs and probably won’t be going back either; it seems duplicitous but my reasons for highlighting someone and for then not going back are different; my conscience is clear.

One thing that helps decluttering is to have a plan and your own rules of engagement. This is the same in your offline life. I have certain rules for how I live my life, and I stick by those rules wholeheartedly. On my business blog the other day I wrote a post on race where I basically indicated that if there’s a racial issue that needs addressing, I’m going to do it. You don’t get away with racial slurs, or slurs about any other group, without my saying something to you about it, even in public. I just can’t let stuff like that go.

My decluttering has helped me to stay true to myself. I could still be following around 250 blogs if I hadn’t given myself some criteria. True, a few people get to slip under the radar because I know them and knew them before my declaration, but anyone new, nope, not doing it. So much simpler life.

When one thing gets simple, something else gets harder. In my case, it’s some of the comments I get on this blog. I have a comment policy that I thought would be sufficient enough but it seems it’s not. Oh sure, it’s made some things much simpler because I can exclude a few comments and not worry all that much about it. But then there are a lot of comments that are borderline passing; those are giving me consternation.

What’s the issue? I know these are people who have actually stopped by the blog. I know they know what the topic is because they address it in the comment. But the comment doesn’t really say anything. Something like “I have that and it happened to me as well” isn’t quite a developed comment is it? Writing a comment without separating the 2 or 3 shot sentences doesn’t give one pause that it’s overly legit either; even people who learn English as a second language are taught to put a space after the period.

And then there are those commenters that have missed the part of the policy that says I don’t allow fake commenter names unless I have a real name as well. Now, in my policy I state that I’ll change the name to only initials but I think I’m going to modify that to state that I will be deleting those comments from this point on. After all, I’ve noticed that no one ever comes back to check on a comment I’ve written back to them. Then again, most of the people doing that aren’t writing great comments anyway my responses back aren’t all that enthralling either.

What to do, what to do… I’ll put it out to some of you. What would you do if you were in this position? This one should be interesting for more than one reason. Those who actually read the post will probably give me something good. Those that are the types of commenters I’ve talked about either won’t comment here or will comment only on the declutter part because it’s easy. Let’s see what happens. 🙂

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell

49 thoughts on “A Decluttering Update & Problems With Some Comments”

  1. Good article Mitch. (That’s it, that is my whole comment)… okay, seriously. I’ve had the same thoughts as you along these lines. Now when I do get feedback that is short and undeveloped (such as a comment that says something simple like “yeah I agree, etc. etc.” I accept it, on the basis that the individual is simply casting a vote for the article. In essence this is there way of saying “I support you”. Perhaps they don’t have a whole lot to say, perhaps they are out of time? In any case, though developed and thought provoking comments that require response are great, they are a rarity in the fast paced blogging world where too many people are after backlinks instead of meaningful engagement.

    1. Thanks Daniel. I don’t even accept those comments that say “I agree” or something to that effect. I see too many drive by comments like that, and frankly, those don’t do blogs any favors. Now, let me qualify that by saying if I’ve had good comments from those people in the past and I get something like that, then it’s a different story. Those folks have proven that most of the time they have something to share or say. I don’t expect every comment to end up as a tome, but if a comment doesn’t address the topic in some fashion, it’s kind of meaningless & I see it as them only looking to build links. If that’s the case, they can do that off someone else.

  2. Hi Mitch,

    I once heard statistics that approximately 60 percent of traffic coming to blogs is from Twitter and Facebook and those people tend to be much more engaged. They tend to write comments on blogs. And perhaps most important to get: when somebody takes the time to interact with a blogger–to click on a link, to write a comment, they are 10 times more likely to take that next step to become a client.

    I do not take the time to respond to comments without substance; however, I think that sometimes readers just wanted to let me know that they were there.

    1. Hi Rachel. It’s possible, as Daniel said the same thing, but I think there’s a difference in getting a one or two line comment that could pertain to almost anything and one that at least addresses what you’ve just written. “I agree” or “nice post” is meaningless; something along the lines of “I’ve had success by following ___________, which you’ve talked about here, and it’s made my life much better because _____________________.” One line, but it says something, shows you that person read your post & understood your post and wants to share a little something about your post. I really believe that much effort isn’t much effort at all.

  3. Hi Mitch

    I think you are being very reasonable. You engage on this blog and on the blogs you visit. So wanting the same from your commenters isn’t asking too much imo

    I delete what I think is spam or just sites wanting to promote their affiliate sites.

    Even when people put commenting policies up on their sites, many people don’t bother to read and then react when their comment is deleted!

    And another problem as I see it is some people are just obsessed with getting heaps of comments so allow some of these people’s comments on their site. Then when they are deleted from sites that don’t allow them they react lol

    Patricia Perth Australia

    1. Thanks for your comment, Pat, and I know you’re someone that definitely gets where I’m coming from. I’m going to the method of holding some comments in reserve until I see what happens over a couple of days, and if nothing then I’ll move the comments to spam & kill them. As I said, I’m not looking for massively long comments; I just want to know that someone actually read the thing.

  4. I struggle with some of the same issues. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately I don’t struggle that much becuase I get so few comments.

    I want to engage my readers, so like you I reply to almost everyone I approve.

    But I often wonder is it worth the trouble when I rely to a questionable comment where the commenter is not likely to come back to read or respond to my comment. For what it is worth Mitch, I always read your responses to my comments here whether I respond or not.

    I often go the commenters site and see it is not a blog in the traditional sense. So it is difficult to build a conversation that way.

    1. Ned, I used to visit the sites of those folks way more often than I do now. I worry about those sites as to whether they might have malware or not. And you know, it’s not even necessarily about people writing comments so I can engage with them as much as those other people using my site to help further their agenda, which is just link building without caring one way or another about the time we put into writing our posts. I figure I pay for this, and thus I get to decide what seems appropriate and what doesn’t. As you’ve seen, I never remove content where people disagree with me because I’m not that way. I tend to think it’s fair.

      1. I think it’s great when someone disagrees with me, that can start an intelligent debate. This is a way to engage your readers and keep them coming back.

        I do worry about giving a link to a spammy site that Google doesn’t like

      2. Ned, don’t worry about Google when it comes to that stuff. A bad link here or there won’t matter to them. However, it seems to matter to the people leaving the bad comments so worry about messing with their heads instead. 😉

  5. Hi, Mitch.

    Thanks for providing the link for me, even if I did cringe with some of the points you made on your first Decluttering post and then on this one. 😉 But, I still love you and your blog and will continue going out of my way to send you some virtual chocolate cake. 🙂

    Anyway, first off, I cringed because I moderate all the comments that come into my blog. I did ask my boss if we can do away with the moderation, but he prefers it that way, so I follow what he says. And, I have actually gotten rid a lot of spammy comments because of that moderation thingie. There were the two-liners with like only 8 words in them and there were the seemingly valid comments, but when you read them really, they just lack that element you are looking for from a genuine comment. They try to make it sound nice but somehow it comes away lacking, like this one:

    “This is a nice blog. Good clean UI and nice informative blogs. I will be coming back in a bit, thanks for the great post. I admire what you have done here. I love the part where you say you are doing this to give back but I would assume by all the comments that is working for you as well. Do you have any more info on this?”

    That was a comment on my post, Smiles and Shaping Lives through Home Renderings. You know what I mean, right, Mitch?

    Another thing that made me cringe was that I have a really good online friend (Bill Dorman) who has a WordPress.com blog. He is really one cool super social guy with great posts. I also have other friends who are using Disqus and Livefyre who are brilliant in their own rights like I told you yesterday.

    So, while I greatly admire you, Mitch and I am all for decluttering, I just want to say that it doesn’t matter to me if you have a WordPress.com website or if you are using a commenting system that I am not aware about, I will still follow you and love you anyway. I hate pop-ups, too, by the way, but I guess I made one or two exceptions for my friends for that. 🙂 Just goes to show that I’d forgive my friends for just about anything, huh?

    This is definitely another piece of chocolate cake for you, Mitch. Enjoy your weekend!

    1. Kim, here’s the thing. I also have friends that are on platforms I don’t like. I stick with them, but I won’t subscribe to anything new from anyone else. It’s a policy I selected going forward. Popups, it’s a policy I went both forwards and backwards with. For me it’s both a time and irritation factor. I comment on a lot of blogs… trust me, lots of them. lol Having to go through sign in processes and the like is irritating and I’m just not doing it.

      Writing a nice comment and suddenly realizing that it’s being moderated is irritating because I don’t know what the author is going to do with it or their reason for moderating. That can be characterized as censorship. Okay fine, censor if you wish; I just won’t be a part of it. And no one has to do anything for me; they have their reasons and we’ll just mutually agree that those reasons aren’t what I want to put up with.

      And those fake comments like what you showed above are a major part of what I’m talking about, so yes I know what you mean. Used to be those bad comments didn’t use your name and they were easy to get rid of. Now some people pay others little bits of money to leave a comment on as many blogs as they can and they tell them to use your name because it looks more legitimate. Human spam is hard to filter up front. Still, unless I was getting 5,000 comments a day (fat chance), I wouldn’t go the moderation route.

  6. The only thing that I can do on the blogs that moderate my comments is that I don’t comment there anymore. On the other side of comment spamming, policies are not very useful, spammers even don’t see your website, they scrape web results and they fire the comment, using proxy server. I can’t give you an answer, but spam plugins does not do 100% of the work. There is no such algorithm that can say what is real or not.

    1. I’m with you on both of these, Carl. Hate moderation, yet at the same time I know there’s no 100% solution to stopping spam. But at 98%, I’m not worrying so much about it.

      1. The problem is global for every webmaters, nothing can be done until there is a solution which is working at least 50%, but for now we have to wait.

  7. If I were a blogger and that I had many “spammer comments”, I think I would only keep the interesting ones. Whether the person’s name is a product, a brand or a person.

    For short, almost “useless” comments, I don’t think deleting it makes you a bad person. If people want to comment on blogs for SEO, they can at least make the effort to write something interesting!

    Nice post by the way. I find it interesting that you ask this question openly, because I think many bloggers wonder about that!

    1. Thanks Mathilde. I state these things openly because I know I’m not the only one thinking about them or dealing with the issues. I think it’s healthy to open things up for a dialogue, to see what the other side “might” have to say and debate whether it’s valid or not.

  8. I don’t moderate comments but Akismet does a great job of nabbing spam which inevitably I trash. Some of the kind of comments that you mention do escape, and for a while I let them pass without responding to them, but I found that kindness was being mistaken for weakness and now I have started manually spamming them. My blog is not monetised, and so, I like to respond to intelligent comments and those that banter with me there. I do not comment on all your posts because if the subject is of no interest to me, I do not know what to comment. I do comment wherever I can and I like it that you respond. I respond too.

    1. Rummuser, I do the same for your blog, I only comment when I have something to share. And I used to let those comments go without a thought but now I’m more apt to pull them and at least sit on them for a day or two before making a final decision. I’m holding onto 4 comments right now matter of fact; I have a feeling that at least 3 of them will be disappearing forever.

  9. hello again Mitch. I understand your frustration with incoherent comments, and unsubstantial tidbits of comments. Some folks just don’t GET the etiquette to blogging. Perhaps you could create a list of Blog commenting etiquette for us newbies?

    Also, when folks comment on my personal blog I love it! However irrelevant and off topic. This is because I’m am NOT a good blogger. No time for it, and mine is less than novice at the moment. Being a big blogger as you are, your professionalism may blind a little of the accuracies of personal thoughts and opinions. I wonder then, (beinz’ I’m totally NOT a pro) what others think they are contributing to a conversation when they only have a few lines of nothing just to get a link, or put in little time to read the subject at hand.

    All this being said, your personality is reflected in your blog, and it is unique and necessary in the blogging community. Many bloggers can be push overs, basically begging for clicks and promising false products and the like. These blogs are annoying, and a waste of time (especially if they don’t offer anything to a commenter for leaving a comment.)

    Some folks pretend to read an article because they just want a blogger to THINK they are interested, and like the blog itself. This what I call….Naive. They are just new, and perceive their comment as acceptable. The beauty of it all is that we have the option to delete, and edit. This is where we find solace in running a blog. (as tedious as it may be.)

    Thank you for pointing out this topic which may otherwise be left untouched!

    1. Hi Jasmine,

      I have all sorts of stuff on this blog on blog commenting, blog writing, blog motivation and such. Not that I expect those who don’t really care about comments to read any of it because they’re probably being paid to do what they do.

      It’s an interesting conundrum because I commented on a different blog post where the author was going on about comments he didn’t like as well. I see what he was saying and what I was saying as somewhat different. He felt a person should put as much work into their blog commenting as they do in what they write on their own blog. I just want someone to prove in their comment that they read what I wrote and offer something to that point that’s not, well, “spammy.”

      And I’m starting to see it from some people who have blogged for a long time as well; that’s when you start to wonder if they’ve checked out of the game to a degree. So sad, but I guess we all do what we do right?

  10. Okay Mitch, here I go.

    First I have to say I like the pic you included. Yeah, thought that was a good one and pretty appropriate for part of your topic.

    Ah, the age old question of those comments. I agree with Daniel when he mentioned that he’ll let a few one liners slip through. Sure, I can usually tell by their links that they are just searching for some link juice but I also don’t want to be that person that just deletes them if they honestly did want to give me a thumbs up, even if it was short.

    But this is your blog and it’s your choice on what you will or will not accept. I’m sure that the majority of us always would prefer that people much forth the effort to leave a relevant comment and even something that we can jump into but that’s not always the case. If you can believe this, I have brain farts every once in awhile and my thoughts just escape me. Okay, not often but it’s been known to happen.

    I admit some of these newer commenting programs that some people have included on their blogs now I just do not like at all. But like you, some of the people I’ve been visiting for awhile and I want to continue to support them. I have noticed that just a few have slipped back to the older versions. Maybe they found out too that they weren’t all they were cracked up to be.

    Okay so there you have it. My view on this topic!!! That’s all I’ve got. I’ve rambled again… 🙂

    Thanks Mitch now enjoy your afternoon.


    1. Thanks for your comment Adrienne. I don’t understand why people want to set up systems that they know will exclude some people that don’t want to be bothered. Comments definitely drop; Sire did a survey & it proved that. The same with popups; the post I wrote on Ileane’s blog pretty much had every person that commented say how much they hate them, yet these people continue using them. I’m thinking about starting a list of sites that have popups so people can avoid them. lol

      As for the inane comments… it’s a tough call, to be sure. I think overt junk is easy to figure out; the other stuff… not so easy. I don’t blame anyone that has that stuff there, but on occasion when I know it’s spam I’ll tell the writer it’s there.

  11. Hey Mitch, regarding people who use fake names, like you, I used to change them to the initials or to the name in their email. Now, unless it’s a really good comment I just delete it.

    I’m surprised at some of the comments others, even some of the experienced bloggers, leave on their blogs. It’s as if all they’re interested in is building their comment numbers. Not me, as far as my comments are concerned I am more interested in quality than numbers and so I delete at least 10 – 20 a day. These comments can’t really be classified as spam, they just failed to put enough effort into it.

    As for those people that leave a one liner praising a post, you can’t be sure if they really liked it or are just saying so just to get the link. I usually delete those, especially the ones that say they gave it a tweet and never did so.

    1. We’re in total agreement here, Sire, and you and I have talked about it often enough. I mean, it doesn’t take much effort to make a legitimate comment on a post, even if you’re being paid to post on multiple blogs. That’s just laziness, and it irks me to no end. Quality rather than numbers; I’m with you on that one, especially since this is a dofollow blog.

      1. Yes and when you consider bloggers put so much time into writing quality posts I don’t think it’s too much to expect people to make a bit of effort in the comments they leave. Especially considering what they get in return.

  12. As of this moment, spam comments can be seen everywhere, even up to the most moderated blog. Why? its because, spam commentators or the bots they are using are just getting better and better. Some bots are now using some sort of generalized comments so for the blog owner, he/she can’t figure out whether it is a spam comment or just an honest and true opinionated comment.

    About the one or two liners sort of comments, they are pretty hard to deal with. Why? Some of it are pretty honest comment. I mean, some one or two liners comments can be full of honest thought or opinion right?

    1. Ron, I think the people with the manual spam are being paid to post that stuff. As for the other stuff, the GASP Anti Spybot plugin works well at stopping the automated stuff, and I still work on getting the word out to people about it.

  13. I occasionally let one liners slip. I always will for my regular visitors because I feel like it’s a “Hello I was here” kind of thing. I know sometimes I just want to let my friends know I’m here and still reading and enjoyed the post but I don’t have much to add. I never comment with the intent of a backink but because I know how much work it takes writing, and even little comments are confirmation there is someone out there. 🙂 I approach comment approval on a case by case basis and just do the best I can deciding which are worthless. It’s all we can do 😉

    1. Melinda, you’ve just called it. I do it for people I know that have come back often and that’s fair, especially when we write a lighter than normal post that really doesn’t need a long response. But I’m talking about that other group that you know doesn’t care what you wrote, they’re just looking for that link and probably aren’t even writing for themselves.

  14. I don’t mind occasional short comments from people who normally write meaningful ones in my blog, those are ones I publish. It’s the ones that – as you point out – really add nothing to the post and don’t seem to have read it at all. I think “why bother to comment at all?” Like you, I like to have a kind of relationship with the people who comment in my blog, and short one-liners are not going to allow me to get to know the person and they sure as heck are telling me that they haven’t got to know anything about me!

    I’m sure, Mitch, that you’ll find a way through (or round, or over, or under) this problem… you usually do! And I will follow this with interest to see what happens!

    By the way, a couple of questions. You say “I’ve noticed that no one ever comes back to check on a comment I’ve written back to them” firstly, how do you know that nobody is checking on comments you’ve written to them? They don’t actually need to come to your blog to do that if they are subscribed to comments either via email or via RSS feed. I read all the replies you post to my comments (and your replies to many other people’s too) in Google Reader. The other thing is – do you want people to come back and say ‘I read your reply’ and take it a stage further? Because if you do maybe people aren’t aware of that.

    1. Val, I’ll answer your question first just to clear it up. When I talk about people not coming back, I’m talking about the folks who are leaving the one line drive-by comments and moving on. People who leave good comments are most probably looking to see if what they wrote has been responded to in some fashion, although a few people have lately acknowledged that they didn’t notice the little tick box at the bottom telling them to subscribe to comments if they want responses., and it’s always been there. And did you know that I know who subscribes to my RSS feeds? 🙂

      As to those other “fake” commenters, it turns into a game trying to figure out which ones are legit and which aren’t here and there. Right now those are the comments that I’m unapproving and holding for a short while to see if they leave a better comment on another post or even come back to see why their previous post isn’t showing. Like you probably do, I tend to read comments on some blog posts, and when you see that a bunch of them are nonsensical comments that have been left there, it gives you the feeling that the person writing the blog just doesn’t care. Either that or doesn’t know, which is common with newer blogs.

      1. Eek! How d’you know who subs to your feeds? I wanna know who subs to mine!

        Usually if I can’t suss out if a blog is genuine or not I google it and look at what is below the heading (I don’t click on it) – the rubbish is usually very clear.

      2. If you use a Feedburner feed it tells you who subscribes to your feeds by going to their site then looking… well, can’t remember off the top of my head, but it’s there.

      3. Val, the only thing I know about in general is Feedburner. I will say this, though, that most feeds are created only to be followed and not tracked. Feedburner allows you to create feeds that they then give you ways to track. If you look at my feed, you know it comes from Feedburner; yours is just a general feed, and if there’s a service that can track general feeds as to who’s connected I don’t know of one. So, it probably has to be either a Feedburner feed or another company that allows you to create a feed through their service.

  15. Every SEO needs to drop links to push the sites. Many of them use tools to drop generic phrases like “Great Article! I will bookmark this.” and so on. They should realize, that blogs which are filtering the comments are better for SEO purposes, since there are less links on the page you taking the link juice. I better spend some time to write a related comment which has some value to the site and earn more link juice.

    1. Great stuff Marc, and you’ve got it correct. Bad comments do no one any good because they reduce the value of the website or blog they’ve popped that link on. Good comments help everyone.

  16. Hi Mitch!!Thanks for the update that you have shared to us…How nice of you to make this post…

  17. This can be very helpful to all readers and bloggers as well…Thanks a lot Mitch!!

    1. I’m going to be honest Debra, you said you read this post and yet you then leave a comment that, well, borders on comment spam because it really doesn’t say anything about what was written, which is about comments like this one. I’m leaving this one for now to see if you respond, but the spam filter caught your other post and that one I’ve gone ahead and deleted.

  18. Hi Mitch…don’t you worry because I can help you promote the group…Anyway, I will definitely do the same as you Mitch…there are a lot of fake commenter who just stopped by and just scan the post…I can’t take them anymore…

    1. Thanks Robin. Yeah, the fake comments thing… really starting to get on my nerve a bit. As for promoting the group, I thank you for that as well.

  19. I can support you with promoting the group…Anyway, thanks Mitch for the post you have shared because this can help blog owners with those fake commentators…

  20. Hello Mitch! I agree with the flow of conversation here. Sometimes, oh many time, there are these commentators who are just after for promoting their websites with out even bothering to read the blog. But sometimes, there are some who are leaving their their comments short, yet full of wisdom.

    1. Sometimes Reign, but the thing about comments is that you never really know what you’re getting until you either know someone or you see what someone’s written. But we all have to learn what to do with certain comments when we get them.

Comments are closed.