Should I reply to comments or not?”
Before that, there was Al Diaz, otherwise known as Father Dragon, who brought up the topic during the A-Z Challenge, and whether you’ve discussed it on your site or merely tossed it around your noggin, it’s a subject worth examining.
Although Livia’s question concerned responding to those who have commented on her blog, let’s take a look at the commenting process in general.
To comment, or not to comment: that is the question. This may be oversimplifying, but the reasons I remark basically fall into two categories:
- To voice an opinion about the post’s content.
- To make my presence known to the writer (or guest author) of the blog, as well as the other commenters.
Essentially, I’m doing both whenever I comment, and if you think about it, so are you.
No…I comment to give support to an author, or a cover reveal, or a book tour, or to participate in IWSG/W4W/PBC/some other group.”
To cut to the chase, that’s making your presence known. You are commenting to support—and to be seen supporting. You are commenting to attend—and to be seen attending. After all, if you don’t comment, how will they ever realize you came by (and therefore, return a visit to your blog or support your book launch)?
Beautiful cover!…Good post!…Yay! Go you!…I enjoyed this.”
There’s nothing wrong with those comments, especially if involved in a blogfest where you’re visiting many sites. That’s how people come to know you, however, they don’t reveal the commenter’s reasons for enjoyment or delight, just that it was “good.” Making thoughtful comments that mention specifics (followed up by your own insightful posts) is how people come to follow you.
I comment in hopes of participating in lively discussion.”
Truth be told, that’s my main reason for commenting (which falls into voicing an opinion and making presence known). I want to meet others with the same interests, engage in a little banter, and hopefully find another colleague to trudge along with me.
Commenting is Networking
When I started blogging, I didn’t know a soul, save Julie, who I met in a creative writing group. She was relatively new to the blogging world, too, but knew of a few large sites to suggest. She also had an IWSG badge on her site that I clicked and discovered 300+ other writers to join in fellowship.
In both venues—the large sites and the support group—I commented. I didn’t tread lightly, but jumped in the deep end. I read the posts thoroughly, voiced my opinions, and showed a little of who I was and what I was about. I made myself known, and in turn, met many of you fine folks.
I also perused the other commenters’ remarks, or at least the ones who posted before me, so I wouldn’t duplicate their thoughts. I wanted to point out something new or different, and in the process, learned who people were. Many of the people I follow I met in the comment section. I liked what they had to say enough to check out their blogs, but I didn’t do this with the people who merely wrote, “Good post,” because they didn’t give me any insight to their thought processes.
Responding to Comments
In my opinion, responding to comments is simply good form—common courtesy. A follower took the time to post a comment; take the time to acknowledge. I usually respond to the same degree as they commented: “Good post” gets a “Thanks!” More involved comments receive more involved replies, which can make for that stimulating discussion mentioned above. Take a look at the comments on my First Impressions post—they were quite engaging.
I usually don’t comment back, but give a return visit.”
That’s great, and probably what most people prefer, especially if they didn’t ask a question or write a comment that warrants a response. I try to comment and visit, which isn’t always easy.
I understand that many of you receive comments in the hundreds, which of course, changes things. I look at Alex J. Cavanaugh in complete astonishment because he responds to everyone and makes those visits! Man…he’s good.
If ever I encounter that “problem,” I doubt I’ll be able to do the same. How I plan to handle it is by addressing those comments with some meat on them and passing over the others—and “meat” doesn’t necessarily mean length. Livia’s post on this topic was only about four sentences long, but look what it spurred in me.
I think bloggers ask about responding to comments—and I may be taking some liberties here—because they wonder if the commenter ever returns to read their reply. Why answer back if they won’t see it? Because other people see it who may have the same question or thought, and unless the commenter left a benign statement (“Good post!”), most people do indeed return. Who’s to know whether a specific person will come back, but if they do, you have a reply waiting for them.
The Various Ways to Comment
There are several ways to voice your thoughts, other than a statement in the comment section.
- “Like” the post. All WordPress.com blogs have a “Like” button in the upper-left corner of the navbar. Also, if the blog owner wishes, he/she can put “share” and “like” buttons at the bottom of each post. If you don’t have time to invest in a comment, simply “Like” the post. This is equivalent to “Good post,” but it also increases the blogger’s stats, clout, and SEO results. Writers who use Blogger can add a “Like” widget (or gadget) to their posts, if I’m not mistaken.
- Reblog the post. WordPress also allows other WP users to reblog the post on their own sites, and they can also add their thoughts to the post. This is an excellent way to show support. I don’t believe Blogger has this option.
- Tweet the post. Tweeting the post shows that you endorse it. You like and believe in what it has to say enough to share to all your followers. I’m thrilled when people do this (again, for stats, clout, and SEO), because it reaches a new group of people who I may not know. And it’s all about branching out.
- Share the post on Facebook and Google+. Sharing is caring. All my tweets automatically post on my Facebook, which is purposeful, because I only have to share once and be done with it. A little introductory blurb is commenting, only in a place other than the comment section of your blog. Make sure to acknowledge these with a thank-you, too, if you are connected to the sites.
In closing, I’ll tell you a little story of what comments can do.
I had been rather down for obvious reasons…tired, cranky, sad. Doubts set in and I wondered if anybody even liked me or what I had to post. Yes, we all have those insecurities from time to time, especially if other areas in your life are less than favorable. And then I received these two comments:
I love how I can feel your heart in your posts. It’s such a beautiful thing.” (Morgan Shamy)
Well, whether I agree with your theory about covers and first lines or not, one thing is for sure: I think you are a dang good writer. I was sucked into your post and didn’t feel like I had to make any effort to read—that is my kind of reading. I hope you continue writing and—by the way—I do agree with your theory about covers and first lines.” (Angie Bodine)
Comments are like mini-book reviews. Generic responses tell the author nothing. Reasons the post appealed (or didn’t appeal) to you are much more appreciated and only take a little more time and thought.
And a little flattery never hurts.