A few comments about comments

The Musing Mondays question for April 13 dovetails rather well with Task #7 for the Blog Improvement Project, I think – see if you agree:

Musing Mondays (BIG)
How do you respond to the comments on your blog? Do you try to email individually or comment on post yourself answering the comments above? What do you think is the best way to respond to comments and do you respond to all of them? Do you feel slighted if you don’t receive a response back from the blog owner? (question courtesy of Jenn)

Week #7 is going to be all about making your blog more comment friendly…it’s vital that

once you get a new reader at your blog it’s easy for them to engage with you by commenting on your posts.

Some helpful articles about making your blog comment-friendly:

“7 Reasons Why I Won’t Comment On your Blog” by Jamie Harrop.

“10 Techniques to Get More Comments on Your Blog.” by Darren Rowse at Problogger
“The art of hoisting comments” from Beatblogging.org talks about techniques that popular bloggers to highlight user comments

After you read those three articles, here’s your assignment!

  • Take an inventory of your blog comments. Write down how many comments you have as of today, then track how many comments you get per day over the next two weeks (I’m curious how well all of this is going to work).
  • Pick 3-4 of the techniques from the articles to implement over the next two weeks (or more, if you’re ambitious). Print out the posts or write down a list of techniques to leave by your computer so you’re always reminded of them while you post.
  • Spend the next two weeks trying to make your posts more comment friendly.  By Saturday, April 18, write a post about which techniques you used and how well you think they worked.

Blogger has a lot of good points as a blogging platform (no, really, it does!), but one thing it’s not particularly good at is comment tracking (although some useful widgets for comments can be found at Blogger Buster). At the time I began drafting this post on Monday, April 13, my blog had 123 comments for the month so far, and 376 in March (including 60 on a giveaway) – since I’d have to add them up manually, I’m not going back any further than that! The average is roughly 10 comments per post, and that does include my own responses to the comments I receive, so that probably skews the numbers a bit. However, I am gratified to note that there were NO posts during the period that got zero comments!

I actually do use a few of the comment-boosting techniques that these articles mention already:

  • It’s easy to comment. Blogger would like you to log in, but the blog does permit OpenID logins from other services and I don’t block anonymous comments. I’ve even taken off word verification, since spam comments really haven’t been a big problem here (and I would delete them anyway).
  • I ask questions, either within or at the end of many of my posts.
  • I interact with commenters.

I answer nearly every comment I receive on my blog, unless the comments are for giveaway entries (in which case my response is recording your entry!); sometimes I won’t reply to a reply to my reply on someone’s comment, but it depends on the conversation. I like the idea of e-mailing responses, especially since I receive e-mail notification of all comments, but I can’t usually respond to those e-mails directly; capturing the commenter’s e-mail address is another thing Blogger isn’t too good at. I’ll e-mail someone a comment response on occasion, but most of the time I just post a new comment of my own to answer right on the same post. I think answering comments in comments helps fuel the conversation, but the drawback to it is that people don’t always come back to check for responses (although there are the options of subscribing to comments via feed or e-mail, so you can find out about a reply without actually returning here).

I use TypePad for my posts on the Los Angeles Moms Blog, and I really like the way it handles comments; you can reply by e-mail, comments and responses are threaded on the blog, and it automatically e-mails notification for both new comments and replies. I’m not enamored of it enough to pay for it, though.

I’m not sure if there is a “best” way to respond to blog comments, but I do think it is very important to respond to them in some fashion – because yes, I do feel slighted when my comments on other blogs don’t get responses, and I really don’t want anyone to feel that way here!

I’d love to get your comments about comments – being comment-friendly, leaving comments, answering comments, and all that – so please share them! And on your way to the comment box, I’ve got a couple of polls for you (click the links if the widgets don’t show up – sorry, I’m new at using PollDaddy and I’m still trying to get the embedding right!):

Do you feel encouraged to leave comments on The 3 R’s?
( surveys)

<a href =”http://www.polldaddy.com” >online polls</a> – <a href =”http://www.polldaddy.com/w.aspx?p=23428″ >Take Our Poll</a>

How do you prefer to get responses to comments?
( surveys)

***Comment on the review to enter the giveaway for What to Read When! Entries are open until Wednesday, April 22!***

<a href =”http://www.polldaddy.com” >online polls</a> – <a href =”http://www.polldaddy.com/w.aspx?p=23430″ >Take Our Poll</a>

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  1. Chris – Well, it worked then! But this time around, people are welcome to take the surveys in addition to (or instead of) commenting – it’s all about the interaction, one way or another.

  2. I do different things depending on what my schedule is like on any given day. Ideally I would like to answer comments on my blog, but some days I just get the chance to post and not much else. I return a lot of comments through blog visits and I also post answers on my own blog when I get a minute.

    I don’t usually get the chance to go back and check for a comment to my comment unless I know that I left something particularly worthwhile, it’s a good conversation and I am curious about the answer/response. If I left more of a “hi, i was here”, then I don’t really look for or expect much of a response. I have moved on from some blogs where there is never any response. We all have to prioritize where we can

    Subscribing to comments is nice in theory but you get an e-mail on every other comment on left on that post, so if you multiply that by 10 comments on a post by however many blogs in the reader, yikes. It gets to be overwhelming.

    Everyone dies it differently and has such different expectations that it can be tricky to navigate.

    Ha! And yesterday you saw my award before I could “notify” you. See? I’m behind.

  3. I comment here sometimes.

    On my own blog, I try and respond to comments by email – I very rarely go back and answer in the comments, because my own behavior is that I never go back and read other comments.

  4. Nicole – Even though I respond to comments right here, I’m inconsistent about going back to other blogs to look for replies to my own comments – and I’m sure other people are too, so they may never even see my replies here!

    I agree with your point about subscribing to comments – you do get e-mailed EVERY comment that comes after yours, which is one reason I rarely do it unless I am specifically looking for a reply.

    Magpie – That’s one reason I waffle about e-mail responses to comments; I know some people don’t come back around, but replying on the post just seems more conversational. I’ve considered doubling up and e-mailing the same response I post here, but I think that might be overkill.

  5. Florinda..I’m sorry you have felt slighted on my blog because lately I’ve been a dismal failure at replying to comments. The thing is, I often can’t respond til I get home and then when there’s like 20 in-depth comments I almost mentally shut down. in this way…you and Nymeth are my heroes, because you do such a great job of giving meaningful replies to comments.

  6. Amy – Trish asked me about that on Twitter today too. It’s not you, it’s me. As I told her, I’m needy and require acknowledgment :-). But seriously, it bothers me more when a blogger only responds to some comments – and I’ve seen a few that do that; how do you choose? It bothers me more if it’s a new-to-me blog and I’m hoping to get to know the blogger better. If I already know the blogger fairly well – like you, and Trish – I’m much more likely to shrug it off and not take it personally. We all get busy. But thanks!

  7. I don’t get a whole lot of comments, but I like them and try to respond to all of them. I feel it’s the least I can do.

    If I got a ton of comments on each post, this would obviously be harder to do.

  8. Mike – You’re one of a few bloggers (Literary Feline is another) whose blogs I’ll go back to so I can look for your response to my comment, because I know that’s what you do. And knowing that I will get a response makes me more likely to comment often. Besides, I enjoy the banter :-).

    Good point, though – if a blog gets dozens, let alone hundreds, of comments on each post, it’s clearly not feasible to respond to them all. But I think that at that level, no one really expects it anyway.

  9. My personal preference is to get a return comment on my blog instead of an email response. It starts a conversation with mutual appreciation of each other’s posts. But it’s hard when you really want to address a certain question or start a conversation.

    I do agree with you that it’s nice to comment on people’s comments on your own blog, it makes it conversational.

    Often I get overwhelmed and get behind though.

  10. Vanessa (ChefDruck) – You make a good point about the return visit/comment back. I do try to comment on the blogs of those who comment here, but I don’t think I make as much use of that as I could. Sometimes I’ll link a post in the Saturday Review because it’s easier for me and faster than commenting :-), but it’s not the same thing.

    It’s all tricky, though, because there’s never enough time!