So you like visiting other blogs and participating in the comments. That’s terrific, because we love having you. Bloggers live for discussion. We enjoy hearing all the sides of the story. We don’t mind disagreement, as long as it’s respectful, and especially enjoy learning a new perspective. Sometimes though, people aren’t quite up on their comment etiquette.
Yes, there is an etiquette process.
Think of commenting at a blog as having a conversation at a party or networking event. If someone only contributes to insult a person or idea, no one really wants to talk to her. If another person turns every single discussion into a soliloquy of how great he has it, people are going to turn away.
Most people enjoy a good discussion among others who add value to that discussion.
Here are a few hints for commenting at blogs. Most of this is known comment etiquette, but as there are new visitors to the blogosphere each day, a refresher course isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
1. Comment, Not Spam
Each blog comment form has a space for “URL.” This is where you place a link to your blog. If, after filling out that box, you still post links to your blogs at the bottom of each comment, you’re now spamming. We don’t mind helping you drive traffic to your blog, we’re just not into your being so obvious about it. If every comment ends with an “I wrote an article about this the other day, check it out…” you’re spamming. The URL box is there for a reason. If folks like what you have to say and feel you added value to the discussion, they’ll click on the link at your name to learn more.
2. Don’t Make it All About You
Try not to turn every single conversation into a testimony of your awesomeness. We love a success story or a personal approach but to read about you, you, you in every single blog post is a turnoff. Try saying something new each time you comment and add something of value. Saying the same self-serving comments over and over gets a little stale. We shouldn’t all be able to recite your life story by heart.
3. Keep the Name Calling and Finger Pointing in Check
Please avoid calling names when visiting blogs. It makes the community uncomfortable and it makes the blogger uncomfortable. Name calling isn’t a comment, it’s a cop out. If you can’t add something of value, don’t bother commenting.
4. Brevity is a Talent
Comments are just that, comments. When you get into the 500 to 1000 word category, we’re talking blog posts. Do that on your own blogs. The occasional long comment to illustrate a point, is one thing. Don’t use someone else’s blog as a platform to pontificate, or to sell your services or promote your stuff. Use it to be a useful, contributing commentator.
5. Keep it On Topic
Nothing disrupts the flow of a comment stream than to have someone write something having absolutely nothing to do with the topic. Some folks do this to add in an attack on a person or idea, others just add in the topic in hopes of getting answers to a question, and still others just want to start up a conversation on a completely different topic. Stay focused on the matter at hand, nothing ruins a good, productive, discussion like commentators who throw the topic off track.
6. Say Something Useful
Add value to the discussion. “I agree” isn’t value, tell us why you agree. A snipe at a commenter isn’t value, it’s being insulting. Bringing up something someone said five years ago isn’t value, it’s being a dork. Again, think about how you can add value to the discussion and keep the flow going. Stay on topic and add points that will stimulate thought and add another facet to the chat. Be intriguing.
7. Don’t Feed the Trolls
The moderator will handle trolls so you don’t have to. Trolls feed on negativity so don’t give them the satisfaction. Ignore them and they’ll go away.
8. You’re a Guest in Someone Else’s Home
When you’re commenting on another blog, you’re essentially a guest in their home. Act as if you would act with a group of friends sitting on a couch chatting. Treat the host with respect and treat the guests with respect.
9. Name Calling is Not Disagreement
To respond to a comment with “You’re a jerk!” isn’t disagreeing in a conversation, it’s showing a lack of class. Disagreement is fine, but do be respectful. Get your point across with being insulting or using profanity. Creative, intelligent people know how to rebut without being disrespectful.
10.Go With a Comment Policy
If you find your comments are turning into a virtual free for all, feel free to create a comment policy and moderate offensive comments. It’s not censorship to want a civil blog. You wouldn’t let anyone call you or your friends abusive names in the real world and it’s fine to keep it in check in your blog.
What are some of your comment etiquette tips? What are some of your comment pet peeves?