#3 Weekly Blogging Tip: Commenting Habits

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Thoughtful comments

Last week my tip was about the risks of becoming too obsessed with the number of followers you have.

There was lots of interesting discussion, and one of the issues that came up was how else to judge the success of your blog? It was suggested (by me and some others) that comments was another way of judging whether you are achieving what you want from your blog and so it seemed appropriate that this week we talk about our commenting habits.

It's difficult to frame this discussion topic as an actual tip but here goes:

Be a thoughtful commenter.

I can hear everyone asking what I mean by 'thoughtful commenter'. Let me try and explain.

I am going to generalise and say that there are about 3 kinds of comments.

Spam comments: So far as I am concerned, these are a big 'no no'. What are spam comments? They are those comments you get from someone (usually on a meme related post) that say something along the lines of "Great post. I love your blog, check out mine". You later discover that this same comment has been copied and pasted onto a lot of other people's blogs as well. This doesn't happen to me as much anymore (although I don't really participate in memes very often anymore) but when it does, it drives me crazy.

Spam comments are never cool. The purpose of a comment shouldn't be (in my view) to get someone to come to your own blog. That might be a lovely and welcome side effect but it shouldn't be why you are leaving a comment. This is not thoughtful commenting. This is rude commenting.

I also include in this group any comments in reply to a meme post that might have some personal comment such as 'I really enjoyed that book' quickly followed by 'I hope that you will come and check out my [insert meme post name and link here] post'.

Although this is slightly better than an outright spam comment, I still don't think it's cool. Perhaps if you interacted with what the blogger was saying in their post on a more significant scale it might be acceptable, but otherwise I think it is barely distinguishable from the outright spam comment. If you are participating in a meme, then the link to your post is on the hosting blog and it shouldn't need to be spread about on every single blog you comment on. The purpose of leaving this kind of comment seems simply to be to direct people back to your own post (this is different to sharing a link to your own review on a review post which I think is actually great). That's spam in my books.

Minor comments Brief comments: What I am referring to hear are those comments that go something along the lines of "Great review, I want to read this now" or "Thanks for the reminder, I have been meaning to read this for ages" etc. I want to be very upfront and say I leave comments like this.

These comments aren't necessarily bad comments. They are polite. They show that you have read the post (or at least that you appear to have read it). Most importantly, these comments can reflect all you have to say about a particular post. I read posts sometimes where they serve to remind me that I wanted to read a particular book, but I don't necessarily have anything additional to say. In such cases, the choice is either to leave no comment at all, or leave a minor comment that reflects how you feel. We all like comments, so I tend to leave it anyway.

So, I would suggest that although these aren't the worst kind of comments, they probably aren't ideal if they are the only kind of comments you are leaving on other people's blogs.

Interactive comments: This should be fairly obvious. These are the comments that demonstrate that someone has read the post and thought about the content. It might be that you have read the book that has been reviewed and so you offer your own opinion. It might be that the blogger has said something in their post that has caught your attention and so you respond to it. It might be that you offer a different perspective to the one offered by the blogger (in a nice way of course!!) or saying that you share their perspective for certain reasons.

Even a minor brief comment, take 'Great review, I want to read that' for example, has the potential to become an interactive comment simply by adding a reason at the end: 'Great, review, I want to read that because you talked about the use of hard boiled writing which is a style I want to explore after reading The Long Goodbye recently OR I found what you said about the language used by the author to be quite compelling because I enjoy a very descriptive style of writing'.

Interactive comments can start or continue discussion. They can lead to the sharing of ideas and introduce us to new books.

So, I would argue that interactive comments are the best kind of comments because they encourage other bloggers to keep posting, they help to build community and they really get our bookish thoughts flowing.

So what's a thoughtful commenter?

I believe a thoughtful commenter is someone who participates in the blogging community by reading other blogs and leaving mainly interactive comments (with some minor brief comments as well of course so long as they are used in moderation).

We all put so much work into our blogs. Leaving a nice, interactive comment is one way of showing our appreciation to other bloggers who share our interests and are providing us with lots of interesting content for us to read and think about.

Given all this discussion about commenting, tune in next week for:
 #4 WEEKLY BLOGGING TIP: COMMENTING SYSTEMS

Just a quick reminder that these are tip based on personal taste and experience and may not be suited to everyone. Quality of content and enthusiasm are what counts most.


PAST TIPS:
#2 Obsession with Followers
#1 The Follower Gadget
An Introduction

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