Leaving comments on a blog post is often anonymous, so it’s tempting to be snarky, self-serving, or rude. “Rude” is what happens when you cross “cruel” with “can’t catch me.” We often read blog posts we don’t agree with, so letting people know how we feel seems legitimate. And it can be. In today’s digital life, leaving a comment leaves a fingerprint, and it can help (or hurt) your own blog
stats. If you want to boost your own blog stats, leaving interesting, meaningful comments is to your own advantage. Light-hearted comments are also useful, as long as you remember that the internet is global and humor is not. Some hints to keep your comments make you click worthy (people read your comments and then look up your blog).
1. Follow the basic etiquette rule of saying something nice first, even if you want to correct or criticize. You don’t have to agree, but it’s easier to take someone seriously if they say something complimentary or kind first, they point to the differences. “What were you thinking?” doesn’t encourage continued reading as much as “Your perspective on global warming is interesting, even if I don’t agree.”
2. Don’t use labels or engage in name-calling. “This is about what I would expect from a blog called ‘Heartland Living’,” paints with broad strokes, and doesn’t speak well to your own reasoning ability.
3. Agree more often than disagree. Encourage more often than correct. There is no other reason to do this than to be nice. “Nice” is not popular to give right now, but it’s secretly what everyone wants to get. If you like the post, the photos, the concept, say so. If you don’t, you can also say so as long as you use “I statements”–being plain that this is your opinion and not a
universal truth. “I don’t agree that the sky is blue” is a kinder way to disagree than “the sky, as everyone in this world knows, is gray or white most of the time.” If you leave a lot of comments, do a quick scan. If most of your comments are negative, ask yourself why this is necessary in the way you show up in the world.
4. Use your comments to build relationships, not market your own site. When you leave a comment, you have the opportunity to leave your own blog or website so the blog owner can see it. That’s plenty. Leaving your site at the bottom of a thoughtful comment makes your site available to everyone who reads the blog, and is marginally acceptable. It depends on context, which is the next issue.
5. Add to the information. If you know a lot about the topic, it’s fine to add a link that isn’t your own. But don’t just dump links into comments. Tell people what they will find there and why you think it’s worth reading. Leaving a link without context will get your link sent to the spam file. Leaving context will help people make the decision to click on it or not. If you do leave a link, make sure it is to the exact page with more information (permalink), not the home page. And please make sure it is relevant, not just something you thought of when you read the post.
6. Leave your aches, pains, angst, suffering, anger, and neediness far, far away. Reading a post about someone’s dog does not entitle you to leave a comment about your dog phobia, your story about how your child was bitten by a dog, or your sad thoughts about how many thoughtless people ignore your dog allergies. Demanding comfort or sympathy from strangers because you are needy is a reason to call a therapist, not leave a blog comment.
7. Grammar mistakes and errors of fact go in an email, not a blog post. I actually like people telling me about typos, or errors in facts, but not everyone does. Blog writers should have an easy-to-find email, but if they don’t, and you can’t bear not to point out the mistake, make it general. “I’ve always had trouble with lie and lay–I would say, ‘lie down’ to my dog, not ‘lay down.’ Do you know the rule?” is nicer than “You made a common, but irritating error in lay/lie” Again, not saying anything is the best choice, but I know the pull to fix.
8. Humor is tricky. Not everyone laughs at the same thing. Case in point: The Three Stooges. Love ’em or shrug-em-off, there are strong opinions on either side. Leaving a comment you think is funny may not bring universal agreement. Also, the internet is global, so watch idiomatic expressions. “I’m pulling your leg,” is plain to you, but not to others. In Russia, it’s “I’m putting noodles on your ears,” and in Germany it’s “I’m dragging you through the chocolate milk.”
–Quinn McDonald is a writer and creativity coach who read countless blog comments on her blog and others before writing this post. Please feel free to comment.