On Commenting

During the last IWSG meeting, I visited Livia Peterson, who posed a question that has kicked around the rooms a while:

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.

Why Comment?

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.


ML Swift


67 thoughts on “On Commenting

  1. I so agree with you on this. There have been times I’ve been having a bad day or struggling with something and then I look at the comments I’ve received and always get a lift. To me it means a great deal that someone took the time to leave a comment and it’s really the primary way I’ve made friends in the blog world. And I agree with you about the common courtesy, I feel like it is only courteous to respond to a comment but I admit I never go back to check to see if a blogger I’ve visited has responded to my comment. It wouldn’t bother me if they hadn’t. I think it’s just something I like to do and it’s right for me.

    Enjoyed this post, Michael.

    1. Just kidding. You know I can’t just leave it at that. But I made myself giggle.

      I don’t know if I have quite the same thorough comment ethics that you do, but I do try to always respond in a comment to something in the post that interested me. Or, if the post wasn’t very comment-oriented (some aren’t), I at least try to let the person know I was there.

      As far as my blog,I always respond to comments and try to address the specific comment. If it was, as you said a “hey, great post” I also respond with a “thanks”.

      If I know the author of the blog responds with thought to their comments, I do indeed check back to read their response.

      Okay, NOW, in all seriousness, GREAT post– thought provoking, well-written and nicely stated.

      1. I somehow knew you’d do that! You must have been leaving this when I responded. It gave me quite a chuckle, too.

        I really do think that comments are important and reveal so much. They also are an extension of the post, where I’ve added things I forgot to mention in the post (like that sentence).

        I don’t think I’ve ever used a word so much in a post. Comment. LOL.

        Off to the doctor.

        Thanks for commenting! 😀

  2. I would love to be able to respond to every single comment but it’s getting harder and harder especially in the summer when the kids are at home. I don’t have a lot of time to spend online and what little I do have I’d like to spend it reading and catching up on my blogging buddies blogs and commenting there. Does that make any sense?

    Great post, thanks for sharing! 😛

    1. Your babbling makes perfect sense, Elise. 🙂

      You know, we all have things (life) that creep in, and that’s okay if the blogging/commenting has to take a hit because of it. I recently went through stuff that took me away for a couple of months and am only now able to continue on. I’m not able to visit everyone as often as I’d like, but I do try to do the things I listed in the post…respond to comments, tweet, share on FB, “Like,” reblog, etc.

      In today’s new-improved (?) publishing world, there are so many things for the writer to keep track of. They’re all important. I say, do what you can and be content in the knowledge that you’ve done your best for the day.

      Thanks for stopping Elise. Always good to see you.

  3. Comments are wonderful! They definitely encourage and support, as well as engage us in thought and discussion. However, there are days when replying to comments and visiting seems like a monumental task (even when I have 5-10 comments – especially if my server is being cranky) so I just try my best, and if I have to cut one, I just visit . . . but I’m not always sure that’s the best choice.
    Thanks for your thoughts on this!

    1. Tyrean…I agree whole-heartedly. These are the days when, with everything that the writer has to do, is quite the monumental undertaking, and I just cannot do it all! So whatever I do, I try to do thoroughly and with excellence. I’d rather read (and digest) and make thought-provoking comments on a few good posts than try to do more than I can truly handle and do a half-assed job at them all.

      I’ve learned not to stress over any of it. Thanks!

  4. I think just about all of my writerly connections began with commenting. In a thoughtful way. I started on WU and branched out from there. I was a longtime lurker. I wouldn’t be where I am as a writer if I hadn’t taken a chance, typed in a comment box, and hit the ‘publish’ button.

    As far as replying to comments on my own blog and my guest posts, I just enjoy it. I love a lively discussion.

    The first time you showed up in my comments, Mike, I already knew you… (wait for it)… by reading your comments on WU. And Julie, too. See? It works. Nice analysis of something we sort of take for granted.

    1. Vaughn,

      It is so good to see you here! Yes, WU was my starting point, too. I lurked for two articles and then made my first comment. And yes, it was intimidating! I sometimes feel like an undergrad hanging with grad students and professors when I’m over there.

      I love commenting and discussing on my blog. Many times it leads to other things I forgot to mention, and can be an extension of the article itself. Many times it can spur another topic to write in the future. And like I said, I meet most people in the comment section. I “met” you in the comment section of WU, liked your views, and clicked on your link. Sorry I haven’t been over in a while, but I’m getting back into the groove. It’s a slow process, but one that is improving. You’ve been a busy boy! Congrats on finishing your trilogy!

      Thanks for swinging by and…wait for it…making a comment! 🙂

  5. Excellent post. Commenting on blogs is one of the best way to raise your SEO and get noticed by the search engines. Commenting is not only polite, it’s good for your career!

    1. Anne,

      What a nice surprise to find you here. LOVE your site. If people only realized the importance of commenting as networking. I have met so many wonderful (and talented, and knowledgeable) people through the process of commenting. People have met me in the same way. You’re right—it’s good for your career! Thanks for taking the time to come over (and comment). 🙂

  6. This has been something I still ponder even though, as you said, I brought up the question during the challenge. There are many factors. First, the time. I sometimes do not have time to answer to every comment people kindly leave me. And sometimes I don’t have time to go visit all those who visited me. I do feel awful about it to the point of permanent guilt. On the other hand, there are posts I’ve read that are very compelling for one to make a comment and there are some posts that have left me blinking, totally clueless about what to say except those frown upon “good post, great pictures, have a nice day.”

    I have always believed if one has nothing good to say, then one should say nothing. In the case of the comments, I wonder if what’s better in the cases I don’t have any better to say than “have a nice day” and let people know I was there and I read it. More often than not, I often chose to say nothing and leave. Sometimes I feel commenting is becoming a sort of art that should meet certain standards to be accepted.

    1. You know, I thought of you many times when writing this.

      Don’t be so hard on yourself. Leave the guilt behind. I used to feel the same (mainly about visiting), because I wanted to visit, read, comment on them all and couldn’t do it. Or I’d do it half-assed. So, I calmed down, took my time and if I hit two-three blogs a day, then that’s fine. I’d rather do a thorough and thoughtful job.

      And you’re right. Sometimes the article doesn’t stimulate a desire to respond. However, I do not want my visit wasted (part of making an appearance), and I do always want to support. That’s where “liking” a post comes in handy. Also, many times I read the post in my email and wish to come to it later and respond, but forget.

      I love when an article stimulates me so much that I’m biting at the bit to make a response. Those are the best!

      Thanks for coming by, Al.

      1. My most sincere advice to you Al, is to be you.

        I watched you come in like gangbusters, and you made a wonderful impression on everyone, but no one can run at that speed without burnout.

        Although I wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic as you, I did have my own kinks to work out (and still do). I’ve had theme days that didn’t pan out, I used to post three days a week…down to one. I needed to take more baby steps in the beginning. Through trial and error, I’ve learned how to bring a balance.

        Of course, this was all thrown out the window this summer and now I’m grabbing an errant root and pulling myself out of a hole, and hopefully the world won’t have changed too much. I realized through this latest trial, to do what you can do, but give it your all. Even if it’s only one thing that day. One blog visited. One article written. One pastel brought to life.

        There is more to writing than blogging (unless you want to be a blogger, and there are markets out there), and if I fill up my time blogging, then I’ll never get the books written that are in my planned future.

        So I take the main aspects of blogging, consolidate them and go from there. Eh. I do what I can. As long as we know we’re doing our best…screw the guilt if others think differently.


      2. Geez, Mike, I think you nailed it so much that I feel like giving you a dragon hug. Yes, I started at the top of my energy and fire but I couldn’t hold it steady. Life and trials have made it flicker even. Not because of lack of enthusiasm, it’s just that I’m needing that energy and fire to handle life more than internet. I’ve faced more than one storm and the water levels went dangerously high. On those moments, blogging falls in the Can Wait Category. I’ve been dragging it lately and each time I come up with a new strategy, I change my mind within the next day. I’ve come to the conclusion I’ll post when I have something good to say and not any fixed day. I’ll visit whenever I can and…let’s see what happens. I can’t keep distressing over losing friends. I’m having enough distress already. As Mother Dragon says, “He who does what he can, does what he must.”

  7. Swifty,

    I am like you in that I always reply to a comment. In fact there is very little I value more on my blog than comments. In many ways they are the only feedback that we might get. I probably go overboard in my replies, but my goal is to reward the person who had something to say, I want to reach a deeper connection to them via the comments, and when I make multiple points in a post I learn what they are focused on in my writing.

    I also get to know people via their comments. My last post, Julie revealed that her father was an airman in the Navy. One of his last act before he passed away, was to stop into an aviation museum to look at the aircraft. That gives me so much information into who her father was on some levels. He and I have a bond that even though I never met him, I understand it.

    As I browse through WordPress, I am like everyone else. I look for topics that interest me. When I find a post, I read it. If I agree or disagree, I always leave a comment. It is a way of saying hi. But, I only follow bloggers that have small of very limited number of followers. A writer with 5,000 followers may have something to say, but will I be able to connect with them on a personal level? Usually not.

    A writer with 50 followers is the person I want to support and encourage. Especially when they have something interesting to say. I have met some wonderful writers by following this process. I think of it like going to the local hardware store verses Lowe’s or Home Depot. I prefer to keep my money in the local economy and I prefer to support those who are most likely to appreciate it.

    Finally, I understand that many people don’t reply to comments. That is fine and I don’t hold a grudge. I frequent several blogs where my comments sit alone. But I think the writer is missing a valuable opportunity to improve their content and connect with people who have a similar interest.

    1. Rob, you’re always good for a thoughtful comment!

      You know…essentially I comment because it seems like I always have something to say, especially if it’s about a topic that interests me. Also…it’s the only way to really get to know people. They may write a good post, but that’s them talking to you. Until you comment back, you’ve not met, you’ve not exchanged dialogue, and they don’t even know you exist. Just like any meeting of the minds (or in developing friendships/camaraderie) when you do “meet,” you’re not instant friends. It builds over time. The same goes for the online world.

      Writer Unboxed is a large site for writers (and my favorite). They have a staff that is able to provide excellent insight into a number of topics. There is usually a different writer everyday of the week sharing their experience. I learn a lot from them and comment, and they’re getting to know me. When I had a glitch with a log-in problem, they gave me personal attention that was second-to-none. So, large sites are not to be nay-sayed so quickly. I support the “little guys” and the “big guys” and learn from both.

      I’ll tell you the truth, Rob…I follow you because we go back a ways…to the early days when we were all newbies in this world. I grew up during Vietnam and had a strict military rearing—to the point of having a crew cut for many years of my young life. The “Old Corps” was quite different than what I see today. I had a very disciplined youth. Being a pacifist, war stories do not interest me. But, that being said, YOU interest me. I like you. I like the work you’re doing and your patriotism. I like the way you tell a story. And that’s why I follow you. I appreciate all your stories, especially the shorter ones with a little humor attached. I realize that War is Hell and not fun and games, but your personality makes even the worst of it bearable. You do an excellent job in that niche. Keep it up, buddy. And thanks for coming by.

      1. Swifty,

        I am so disappointed. I was waiting for the short, sweet “thanks” or the equally short “no comment.” response. I kept laughing as I was writing thinking that is what I might say. You are a man of honor and dignity. I appreciate you.

        Thank you got getting what I try to say in my posts. It is never my point to glamorize or depict my Iraq/Afghanistan experience in any way other than the truth. These stories are for my children so in the future they will know who their dad was at some point. I hope it gives context and character to who I was at one point in life. Today, I see the world differently, I am an anti-war, anti-authority, semi-liberal democrat who is for free love, long hair and the pursuit of happiness free from government intervention. On top of that I have never looked good with a crew cut. My head is round like a rock, and as thick as one too.

        I have never heard of Writer’s Unboxed. I will check them out. I live a sheltered life. Well I am sitting in a Starbuck’s thinking about going to Wal-Mart and Home Depot later on today. I guess I do frequent the big boys more than I let on. Ha ha.

        I am still waiting on some Monte updates by the way. See Ya!

      2. Monty has been shelved until I can get my office back…it’s been a storage spot for two other people’s stuff, and I can’t even get in it anymore. Working on giving them a gentle shove out the door. I really need my office to spread that story out. I’ve revisited it several times, even changed much of the concept, but really want to board it and outline/board the subsequent ones. I need space! I’ve tried to do it from my new office…aka, my bed. Just isn’t working out.

        Oh, and it’s Writer Unboxed, without the apostrophe “S.” I highly recommend it for all your writerly needs.

      3. I totally understand when life gets in the way of writing. And you have had enough life lately to fill a novel. I also know what it fills like to scrap part of your work and to re-shape the remaining parts together.

        I am still making it fit together and hopefully your changes will make for a better storyline.

  8. I get asked this question a lot, especially by bloggers who are either struggling to build their online presence, or attract readership. My answer is always the same: “Of course you should reply to comments.”

    The way I look at it, if someone took the time to read my blog and comment on a particular post, their comment is the beginning of a dialogue exchange. I like to keep the dialogue going, even if it’s just one or two comments. Additionally, when someone posts a comment, they’re signaling that something about what I’ve written has impacted them, significantly or not, and that’s important to me.

    As long as a blogger continues this process, they’ll have a blog that people will continue to read and comment on, and that’s simple formula for success. And that’s why I reply to comments.

    1. GUS! Good to see you over here. All I really need to add to your comment is “Ditto.” But, knowing me the way I do, I can’t stop there. I’ve always loved our exchanges on your blog and this one, and feel like we’ve built somewhat of a rapport.

      Your comment essentially summarized my post in a nutshell. Yes, comment. Yes, answer comments. All of them. Nutshell. Thanks for your words, and I’ll be seeing you around.

  9. I’m so glad you’re addressing issues like this Mike, in a post-awe-of-the-internet way it’s important to peel back the curtain of blogging and show the works underneath. Like you, I’m stepping it up and taking my blogging to a serious level (or at least, I aiming to).

    My thoughts on comments have changed back and forth many times and right now I’m in a new transitional phase and not 100% how I feel about this element of blogs. I’m exploring different theories and looking for my own approach – I’ll know after I experiment with a few different approaches.

    Right now, I think there’s no right or wrong way, but you have to find the way that suits you and your readers. Seth Godin removed comments from his blog, and yet the content is so helpful and inspiring, it still attracts many readers and gets retweeted a lot.

    I like the idea that articles are for reading and dropping the expectation that readers will comment. Often I feel like browsing articles and moving on, even if I love the article I don’t really want to stop by and comment on every one. Maybe it comes from the days of reading magazines – you wouldn’t write a letter to the editor for every article. Having said that, I am making more of an effort to respond to all my comments (except the spam – although I’m tempted).

    Well obviously your post is inspiring because I’ve left a blog post length comment! Great approach, you are one of the bloggers I look to as an example.

    1. Charmaine…yes, this is becoming quite the little cocktail party down here in the comment section, isn’t it? It’s where all the fun folks hang out. And I’m lovin’ every minute of it.

      For me, everything has been trial and error. I see what works on other blogs, and sometimes those things just don’t fit into mine. Or into the way I want to do things (and it’s all about ME). But comments spawn relationships. Picture being at that cocktail party in real life. Stand and stare at the person (stranger) in front of you, but say nothing. Keep doing this for about ten minutes and walk away. Do you know that person? Does he/she know you? No. You were both at the same place, same time, but just two passing ships.

      You have tons on your plate, and are doing a most excellent job at them all.

      I may do the same as Seth, if that day ever comes. Of course I don’t have to worry about that for a long time, but I have already taken comment ability off my Welcome page and About M.L. Swift page. There’s no need for comments there. Oh, and thank you for showing me how to do that.

      Loved your analogy about magazine articles. But you know what? I make comments to them, too. Just in my head (or sometimes out loud). No, I wouldn’t write something each time, because there is no venue for it. Blogs offer that venue.

      The reasons that commenting is so important to me is that right now, without my first book completed, I need to build a recognition and reputation of who I am. I’m doing the footwork. I’ve also skipped over many posts without making comment. A quick skim, nothing spurred in me, moved on. That’s not to say it wasn’t a good post, but one that didn’t strike a nerve or make me feel compelled that “if I don’t make a comment, I’ll DIE…I’ll…I’ll just DIE.” No, none of that.

      Thanks for your last sentence, and the feelings are mutual!

  10. Awwwww… I was quoted! I suddenly feel important! 😉

    Swift, I always love your posts. I do. They’re “real.” And I’ve been thinking about this topic lately. I always return a comment with a comment on their blog–and if I want to respond to a comment I get, I comment via email–though some people have that “no-reply” thing set up and I can’t! I don’t respond on my blog because I doubt anyone would come back, LOL…

    Though commenting is the fun of it. It’s *fun* to spark conversation and to find out what people have to say about different topics. It’s how we find support and get to know each other. This business is hard enough… we have to lift each other up and support one another.

    1. You are important, whether your last name is Shamy or not!

      I love how you call me Swift…takes me back to my 20’s, except for a short period in my frat days when, after a blunder, it changed to “Not So Swift.”

      There is a “realness” to what you write, too, Shamy. A realness to you and a familiarity like we’ve known each other for years. You are an easy person to be around. I thank you for your support and friendship.

      Here’s a hug if you need one. I know times are difficult right now.

      1. Ohhhhh… thank you, Swift! (LOL. It seems natural to call you that!)

        And THANK YOU for your kind words on my blog today. They mean so much. Life *is* hard right now. But we both just have to keep forging. Keep pushing. Because there’s magic to be found and we need to tap into that.

        Your thoughts about your mother totally made me cry. *Huge hugs*

  11. Thank you for touching on this topic, Mike. I comment to share my thoughts and perhaps, start a conversation on blogs. I don’t reply to comments on my blog because I think people won’t come back to read them. I also met most of my bloggy friends through the comment section. Now I’m realizing many of my comments don’t have “meat”, but then again, I don’t have much to say.

    1. Everything you say has a nice morsel or two on it, Livia. Don’t forget that. Remember it was your original post, comment length in itself, that spawned this sequel.

      There really are NO rules to follow. I do what appeals to me and what I believe will benefit my writing career. I’m an extrovert, so commenting is natural.

      You do what feels best and appeals to you and your personality. As we all should.

      Thanks for coming by. You’re such a sweetie.

  12. Really well organized and neat article about commenting.It has been always an issue for me Should I comment?What to comment?How to comment?
    Well you cleared lots of doubts about this.I am thankful of you.

    1. Thanks for the kind words and for stopping by, Sakib. An engineer/writer. Sounds like me. I studied engineering, but found it didn’t stir any passion, so moved on.

      I swung by your blog and saw that you were mainly just setting up. I’m here to lend a hand if needed. I see you’re from India…wow! Technology still astounds me with the ability to talk to someone halfway around the world. One suggestion: I don’t know how they write in India, but a space after all punctuation allows for better ability to read, and is standard over here.

      Keep coming back and I’ll swing by to see how things are developing. Thanks!

      1. Thank you! I have just started blogging. Writing my first article on the social media but It is full of mistakes and don’t know what to do. As you know I am technical student so it is hard to put thoughts on paper.But I’ll keep trying.

      2. Sakib, the best way to start is to take the technical side out of yourself, put it away on the shelf, and write from your heart. When it’s time to go to class, pull that technical side off the shelves and throw it in the backpack with all the other books. Or sometimes (and this is difficult, but it’s what I try to do) you can integrate the two sides of the brain equally, giving an intelligent, yet heart-felt post.

  13. If I read a post, I comment. If someone comments at my house, I go to their house, read and leave a comment. If the comment had a question, I answer by email if the option is available. Most of the time, I also email reply to comments, if the person has said something that sounds like the start of a conversation. I like to get a connection going, and an email gets that started best for me, I’ve found. I’m a kidder whose superpower is sarcasm and my side-kick is smart-ass, so a lot of conversations start that way.
    I also comment because frankly, I want comments.
    When you say “respond to comments” I don’t think we all have the same definition of that. Some people, like you, respond in their own comment section. That’s great, and it certainly can get a conversation going, but I rarely have time to return to a blog I’ve visited already, and I can’t subscribe to too many comment chains by email or I get a clogged inbox. I get a lot of email as it is since I do try to start conversations, as I was saying. When I say “respond to comments” I mean the email and visiting thing.
    What’s important to me I guess is for visitors to know that I appreciate them taking the time to come, read, and comment so I acknowledge that in some way. It’s funny though, I don’t think much about how MY comments are responded to…and maybe that’s a little weird now that I DO think about it…

    Tina @ Life is Good

    1. Thank you Tina, for coming by and making such a thoughtful comment. My post also mentioned the other ways of “commenting,” which you reiterated.

      I guess, through the various ways (email, visit to their blog, sharing the link), what I’m really saying is acknowledge the comment. I don’t care where it is that you do it. Just let the person know that what they wrote wasn’t glossed over.

      We’re all busy. Writing and building a platform is 24/7, and it includes commenting.

      Thanks again for stopping by. It’s a pleasure to see you.

  14. Greetings Mr. Swift,

    Yes, finally after you posting actually getting posted, I now return. Firstly, I do hope you are feeling better.

    Now then, when it comes to comments, a number of factors are most certainly involved. I personally believe it’s common courtesy to reply to each person who so kindly left a comment on my site. It creates a rapport and the interaction, the banter, from the feedback I get, is greatly appreciated. I might say that the comments section are better than my postings.

    I’m blessed with a lot of comments and the replies to each person is most time consuming. This causes a dilemma. I could perhaps spend less time commenting on my site and more time commenting on other sites. Logistics dictate that some of the very popular bloggers cannot give a detailed response to each commenter. Some do a group thank you, which is better than nothing. Of course, some respond via a personal email. Those who do not acknowledge at all, I consider to be arrogant.

    I also resent the “drive-by” bloggers. You know the type. The “Great post! Thanks for sharing”, kind. Cynically, I would say they haven’t read the post and are just trying to accumulate followers. That’s very sad.

    Great post! Thanks for sharing! 🙂


    1. Gary…You do indeed comment back, and it makes all the difference. Right now I’m blessed to be able to address all who come here, but if (when) my following increases, individualized comments may be impossible. But since there are so many other options (that I listed above) to let the person know they were heard, I’ll be replying to them one way or another.

      Drive by Likes. Love it. Yeah, I can tell the drive bys. WP has their own reader and some people must keep that pulled up. It has the option to Like. Sometimes when I make a post, I’ll immediately get a few likes. There was no way in hell that anybody could have read the post that quickly…but by gosh, they liked it!

      One time I made a singular reference to something—it really had nothing to do with the rest of the post, just an aside—and a “skimmer” honed in on it and commented as if the whole post were about that one sentence. You could tell they didn’t read it, but heck…at least they commented!

      I guess we all do what we can do. I choose to do my best and if things have to fall by the wayside, well, they do.

      Thanks for stopping, and as always, leaving a comment.

  15. Swifty, may I call you Swifty? I saw someone else refer to you that way and until another nickname inspires me, I think Swifty has a nice ring to it.

    What a fabulous introduction to your site. I’m glad Gus’ comments led us to each other. Proof to your post, comments bring friends together.

    Being raised in the South, my first words were “yes ma’am,” “no sir,” “please,” and “thank you.” It’s in my blood to acknowledge the nicety of another. And that’s what any comment is–a nicety. Even a simple comment deserves a simple thank you. Granted, others have different ways of expressing their appreciation, maybe a mutual follow, a return visit, or a blanket thank-you type of post “you guys rock” if you are Jenny the Bloggess or something.

    But in addition to gratitude, the comments are just plain fun. They’re often where the magic happen, where you can kick off your shoes, put your feet up, have a beer (or tea in my case) and use all the exclamation and poor grammar and acronyms one desires. Friendships are forged in comments, as is community.

    Wish I could “love” this post, but a like and a lengthy comment must suffice.

    Happy to meet you, looking forward to sharing with you,

    1. Christy,

      See? This is where commenting plays into the scheme of things. I’ve actually seen you a few times over at Gus’s (and loved your blog name), so it was nice to get some interaction going.

      Took a look at your blog. I hate how people haphazardly throw around the word “love,” but you know what? I LOVE your blog. Truly. You write excellently. I don’t think I made a comment—just liked and followed—but that speaks volumes. Your site is going in the top category of my reader (I try to hit ALL of those first before continuing to batch #2). So many blogs…so little time. Tough decisions to make.

      This is what I meant when I wrote, “most of the people I follow I met in the comment section.” As a matter of fact, I’ve built relationships with some of them and don’t even frequent the blog where we originally met anymore. And, if I know the blog owner well and know how they do things, I many times comment to commenters on the post. Sometimes it feels like I’ve hi-jacked the thread without meaning to.

      You are more than welcome to call me Swifty. It’s a generational nickname that I’m proud to wear. My uncle was the first Swifty (my grandfather was an immigrant and changed our surname to Swift), and in high school it fell to me. People just started calling me that, like you said, naturally. I guess I look like a Swifty (or sound like one). It pretty much stuck through college and the navy, but migrated back to Mike somewhere along the way. I think Swifty is the name of my inner, younger self. Or at least I feel vibrant and more alive when I hear it.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a thoughtful comment. Great to meet you.

      1. Hi Swifty,
        Too many blogs (and books), so little time. Eureka, I have found my epithat!
        I’m honored to be in Group One, that’s a splendid compliment given that time is such a commodity. Thank you so much.
        I’ll be browsing and clicking around this weekend. I really like the feel of your place. Oh and your intro? Brilliant. I don’t know why I thought of Poe and Tell Tale Heart, but I did. I’m pretty sure that’s a compliment, even if Poe was loony tunes.
        Happy Friday, C

      2. Hi C! (Remember that flavored drink?…don’t know if they even make it anymore)

        I’m heading out the door to my Saturday morning men’s prayer group, but wanted to dash a reply to you.

        You know…now that you’ve said it, the “Welcome” does have a Poe-etic feel to it, doesn’t it? And I appreciate the compliment—yes, compliment. It was totally unintentional (I didn’t sit there with a candle and a Ouija board trying to channel Edgar), but I guess it shows the influence Poe had on me. He is one of my ALL-TIME FAVORITES. I have read and re-read everything he’s ever written and thrived on his work as a teen through adulthood.

        I went back and read it again; it’s been awhile. And I agree. I can even picture Vincent Price as Butler!

        Oh…and I have a little crazy in me, too. Okay, a lot.

        Happy Saturday, and have a great weekend!

  16. Hey Mike,

    Sending you greetings and aloha from a distance of about 6,000 miles away – but probably along the lines of the same weather:)

    This was a (quick, muse I need another word than “good” …. OK, thanks…) *great* post:)

    No, it was.

    Why is he rolling his eyes?

    No, it was and let me explain.

    A. I am a terrible return commenter and am starting a 12-step program to comment better.

    B. When I do comment, I always comment late, like for example, now 🙂 so I must do better.

    You did do, and I’m being serious now, a great job explaining your thought processes and giving examples, which were, in some cases, a little eye-opening for me:)

    The only thing I would disagree with you is on the reading of other comments. I once wrote something for IWSG about *never* reading the comments above me – and I explained why… basically it’s because I don’t want my opinion to be influenced by the other commenters… Once I post the reply, then I go back – and that can be fun 🙂

    Anyhooo, Happy Weekend in Fla., and I’ll raise a Blue Hawaiian to your good health.

    (I promise to lower him back to the ground soon after. 🙂

    1. Enjoy the Blue Hawaiian!

      I read once that it’s a good idea to read comments that have already been made, so you may pick a different aspect of the post to discuss. Of course, at sites like Alex’s, I don’t because I’m usually late to the game and there are hundreds. But it is fun to do, and sometimes I may disagree with a comment and remark on that in my own comment. It’s like on Facebook…somebody posts something and there’s a witty comment that follows. LOL. We all laugh. But then the thread gets going, the newer commenters haven’t read the previous responses and you see that same witty comment over and over and over again. Gets old. I like to be original.

      However, when I was a regular at a prompt board, I never read or critiqued any of the other writers’ stories until after I wrote and posted my own, so I understand your philosophy.

      Thanks for coming over, Mark! Aloha!

  17. Oddly, Mike, this is the first time I’ve read a post solely about commenting, and frankly I love it. I also totally agree with how you handle comments because I, too, handle them the same as you. We must have graduated from Comment University together. This was a very nice topic to touch.

    1. Demetria Foster Gray! What a pleasure to see you! I dashed over to see if you were off hiatus, but alas…not yet. So it’s an honor that you made a trip to see me. It feels like Sunday afternoon visiting all the kinfolk after church.

      Yeah…I remember seeing you across campus at CU…I think we even had Witticisms 101 together. I majored in Comments, with a minor in Good Manners. 🙂

      Again, it’s so good to see you.

  18. If I visit a blog, I’ll leave a comment–most times. I won’t leave a comment if the post was on a subject I don’t agree with for some reason.

    As for responding to comments. I used to respond to every comment, but found few people returned to read them anyway, and I was starting to sound like a broken record with thanks! so many times. It takes up a lot of time. I do read all the comments and appreciate all the comments, but I no longer respond to all of them.

    1. It does indeed take a lot of time, Lyn. Right now I can fit it in. As with everything, things may change as I grow into this life.

      Thanks for coming by! It’s always good to see you (and yes, I always go back to see if you’ve written back to me. I appreciate your words).

  19. Phew, I finally made it to the bottom of the comments section. What a chatty bunch your most excellent readers are. Yeah, good post, by the way.

    1. It was a bottomless pit to get here, wasn’t it? Good to see you Erica. I’m getting back into the groove and back to my old self. There are still days, though. I’ll be by your place soon. 🙂

      1. Great to hear you’re bouncing back. It must be tough going. I’m not posting, so save your visit for one of your other fans. You’re a popular guy (and rightfully so).

  20. I actually read this post last week, when it was written, but then in my defense I went on vacation. So I neglected to comment on the commenting post, which is ridiculous, because I’ve been thinking about this exact topic quite a bit recently, and was really happy that you tackled it.

    Apologies for being so late, but I just reread this and liked it even more the second time around. I’m relatively new to this scene, but already one of my favorite things has been getting to meet and chat with other bloggers via comments. I’m with you; I comment everywhere now (and I used to just lurk), and I try to respond to every comment, even if all I’m doing is saying ‘Thanks for visiting!!’ Most comments are un-meaty, but I still love and appreciate that someone took the time to visit, and to leave a note.

    1. You are a good blogger, Liz Blocker! Comment away! Thanks for coming back to this post. I saw in my reader that you wrote a post about your vacation, but I’ve yet to get over and comment. I just read the headline. I hope it was a good one!

  21. I appreciate this very good and intellectually honest discussion of comments. You are right–part of it is about being seen commenting. And that’s okay. I also think you made an essential point which I’ve made in some posts too–if pressed for time, I’d always advise visiting someone’s blog over responding to comments.

    1. I don’t think there’s a hard-set rule about commenting. I just do what I can. These are merely suggestions. I would rather have a visit than a comment back (unless I was seeking further info).

      I comment back to mine as I’m able, in my spare time, during commercials or something, and I usually always visit, too. But, as with everything in writing (and life), this changes as circumstances change.

      Thanks again!

  22. Thanks for the reminder to write back to commenters. I sometimes wonder if they’ll see it, but (like you said) it is great for other people to see responses from me.

    Great post!

    1. Comments show LIFE on the blog. Interaction. Activity. A whole bunch of reader comments with no blog owner comments makes one wonder, “Did he even see/read this?” A visit back tells me that he saw it, but not that he read it.

      Bottom line…do what you can. It all seems to work out. But do something! Thanks for coming by, Stacey!


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