Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Commenting 101: General Commenting Etiquette

Today marks Session #4 in my Commenting 101 blogging series. (You can start from the beginning of the series here)

Today, we'll discussing Commenting Etiquette.

"What?!" you might be wondering. "There are etiquette rules to follow in the blog world?"

There are no hard and fast rules in the blogosphere, but just as in our lives beyond the computer screen, there are guidelines that many bloggers adhere to because it just makes the blogosphere a nicer place to be!

How do I know about these guidelines?

Well, many of them are no-brainers, like the whole concept of the "Golden Rule." Beth covered this in her "Blog Unto Others" post at The Stories of A 2 Z. The simple idea of treating others the way you'd want to be treated is something many (most?!) of us naturally follow.

Other guidelines are not quite so easily discernible, but I picked them up as a new blogger, watching others interact and asking questions. I think most (if not every) blogger has unintentionally slipped up here and there. I know I have. It's okay! The important thing is that your heart is in the right place.

Some of you might disagree with me and think that etiquette is silly and antiquated, but I think that when people put forth a little effort to be gracious and kind, things just seem to go more smoothly.

I'm going to steer today's Commenting Etiquette discussion back to Good/Bad Comments. Last week, we talked about How to Leave a Good Comment, but we didn't really delve into what makes a BAD COMMENT:

1. Canned Comments
Canned comments are comments that have obviously been copied and pasted on multiple blogs by a blogger who has probably not bothered to stop and read your post or think of anything encouraging/interesting/ to say.

Most of the bloggers I've met are pretty smart people. When I visit a few blogs and see that you left the same "Cute! Nice Spring project. Visit me at 1234.com" on 15 other sites, it's a huge turnoff.

Copying and pasting the same comment on 42 blogs will get you nowhere. Bloggers can smell a canned comment from miles away, particularly when you've left the exact same comment on 100 other blogs linked to the same blog party. This happened to me several times, and I stopped visiting the offending blog because it was clear she wasn't giving me the same respect that I gave her.

We'll be discussing commenting and linky parties more in depth another day, and I'll share my views then.

2. "Follow Me"
I know there are specific blog parties built around the idea of bloggers hopping from site to site to Follow each other. To each {her} own, but it's just not my style.

I really want the readers who stop by my site and click that "Follow" button to click it because they like me, and they like what I have to say...not because I made them feel pressured. At the risk of offending some, I feel like I just need to be honest and admit that "Follow Me" comments come across as a little desperate. Sometimes you need to focus on your content and community, and not on the numbers.

Example: Just yesterday (!), I visited a new-to-me blog and left a comment. The blogger emailed me back within a few minutes and thanked me for the visit BUT proceeded with a two paragraph (likely within her email signature) "ad" for me to come to her blog, Follow, subscribe to the email newsletter, Like her on Facebook, and Follow her on Twitter. And she hadn't even bothered to click over to check out my blog! It was almost worse than receiving the "Follow Me" in actual blog comment; because had she left me a comment, at least that would have meant she'd visited my blog. She meant well, I could tell! But the "hard sell" was not appealing to me.

On the other hand, I don't see any problem with a comment like this:
This was a thoughtful comment with a polite invitation for me to visit the blog. No pressure or guilt. Let's just pretend that the person has their email enabled with their Blogger profile, and that they also link to their blog from their profile so that I can visit when I have a chance.

3. Plain old Spam, and we're not talking about canned ham:

  • Blog to Blog Salesman

I have a Sponsors section. If I wanted to leave my comments open for solicitations, I'd totally do that. It is rude to go from blog to blog plying your wares. It's also a bit too aggressive for most readers' tastes, and is a real turn-off. You're better off to save up a bit and invest in a cute blog button and an ad spot somewhere.

  • Random Commenter Giveaway
I love it when my blogging friends and regular readers let me know that they're hosting something fun at their blog. That's what friends do! I don't want to miss out. But leaving "free ads" on random blogs is not cool. (See above) Everyone is in such a rush to promote themselves that they forget about how their promotion can be perceived. It always strikes me as odd when I get one of those comments from someone out of the blue.

If you're unsure, send a polite email to the blogger in question. If you are nice enough, he/she may be willing to Facebook or Tweet your Giveaway in addition to entering!

  • Nasty, rude, ugliness
You will know these when you see them. Sometimes they are poorly spelled or worded (see above). They are almost always "Anonymous," and they are targeted to hurt your feelings. And they do. 

I received an Anonymous Comment almost two years ago, calling me a "fat, white lady." It was a very creative comment. I still remember it, and it still bothers me when I think about it.

I hit "delete."

What did Thumper say in Bambi? "If you can't say something nice...don't say nothing at all."

Some bloggers don't allow Anonymous comments because they fear the ugly words that are out there. I decided a long time ago that it's my blog, and I can delete whatever the heck I want. 

I prefer to allow Anon comments because there are readers out there who do not have Blogger profiles, and I like for them to be able to share here too.

We all love to receive feedback. Even if you don't agree with the writer, you can find tactful ways to open a dialogue. If you just can't keep from being controversial, click away quickly! Remember that tone is very hard to read into on the internet (what may be joking to you, can come across as hurtful to someone else).

*In the upcoming weeks, we'll be chatting about Commenting and Linky Parties, How/When to Reply to Comments, Technical How-Tos, and Scheduling. I'll hope you'll join me!

{Any comments or questions?}


  1. Again, another great post to go with your series. Always enjoy them. Can't wait for the next installment!

  2. I agree!! Great post!! I always try to leave sincere, unique comments for each person I stop by and visit. I never ask them to follow me back. I would want them to do so, if they really want to.

  3. Awesome post! Love the mock ups you do too :-) I had no idea there were so many crazy types of comments out there. I know in the Etsy world (forums) people are hard core on following each other's blogs or "hearting" each others shop. There are threads designed for this that are usually titled "Follow me & I'll follow you back" or something like that. I always hate that. I understand the concept of sellers helping other sellers & all but I prefer to find a shop I really like & enjoy & following their blog or hearting their shop then & I'd hope that the people following my shop too are sincerely interested in what I make or write about & not just following to have something to add to their blog roll you know?

  4. I've enjoyed reading these tips. I have had issues with Anonymous commenters in the past. Like you, I delete them. I think it's a bit cowardly for someone to criticize me personally, then not leave their name or even a suggestion as to how I can improve what they are criticizing. But again, if an Anonymous commenters leaves something that is adding something positive to a conversation, I'm all for publishing it. Again, thanks for this series.

  5. I agree with all of what you said. (And now, I am not copying and pasting this on 100 other blogs. lol!) :)

  6. Another great post in your Blogging Tips series, Amanda! I find the 'hard-sell' somewhat off-putting in life and in blogging. On the other hand, it makes my day to to read a genuine comment. Thanks again.

  7. Thanks for the blogging tips!


  8. More great tips (and reminders for those of us who may have gotten in a hurry and don't think about it much)...oh, and BTW puleez follow me and enter my giveaway....teehee!

  9. The one thing I will add (in seriousness) is that I do like to leave a comment as to where I found someone's blog if I found it through a linky party somewhere in my comments as in:

    "I really think your recipe sounds great and I am always looking for new ways to cook asaragus. Thanks for sharing and I popped over from Amanda's linky party to say hi."

    because I always think it is neat to know how new readers find me.

  10. So many great tips that I think a lot of new bloggers should read for sure! I picked up on most of the etiquette of blogging pretty quickly, but there are just some people out there that don't get it! I really dislike getting canned comments, but I think at least they are visiting some sites from the linky parties. What I really HATE are the follow me comments...and you are spot on that they sound desperate. If you have a great site, people will know it and want to come follow without you asking them too!

  11. Another great post, Amanda. This is a really good series.
    I feel like I learned a lot about commenting by reading what others wrote to me and seeing good examples on various blogs I visited. And so much of it is common sense. I really can't figure out why some people have a hard time grasping this concept. Maybe they think any comment is better than no comment???
    Thanks again. Have a great day :)

  12. Totally agree with you! I also don't like when they leave the "I'm following you so now you HAVE to follow me back" comment.

  13. Amen! Can I just say I think the same rules should apply to facebook fan pages? I hate feeling pressured when someone "likes" me to like them back right away. I feel like it makes the whole process phony.

  14. Amanda, I love your rules. I have to laugh at the rude comments. I am a makeup guru on youtube and I find that when someone leaves a rude comment they can 1. usually not spell correctly 2. don't do makeup and 3. don't have their own channel. They get blocked and deleted. I always believe, don't like me, don't follow me. I wish more people would spread the love : )
    ~ Deanna

  15. Amanda, Thank you for sharing this information. I am enjoying this series! I have not heard of canned comments and I do often see comments that request to follow them back. Most of my blog reading is done through Google Reader when I have a break from work. (like now) I do leave comments when time allows and they are always geniune. Blogging takes time and effort and I appreciate that when reading posts and I try to express that in my comments. It always brings a smile when I post a comment and they in turn stop by my blog to say hello. That's why I love the blogging community so much. There is a whole lot of sweetness to be found. For others though maybe it tends to be a popularity game and that to me is unappealing. Express yourself. That's the point. I think we are all winners at that.

  16. LOL - great post Amanda!! And so true. I love this series.

    And you are the perfect person to write it because you leave the sweetest comments. Your personality really shines through in them. I am so glad to have gotten to know you through the blogs. And for me, the relationships are what brings me joy in blogging.

    Love ya!


  17. Amanda,
    I enjoy your blog. i am new to the blogging works and have only had mine since Novemeber. All the tips and ideas you give are very helpful. I am even going to take a deep breath and try a give away this week, sometime! Thanks for helping me be more brave with the blog, leaving comments and all of the other info...oh yeah and the crafts... how can we forget the crafts!

  18. A great post. I am a stickler about comments as well. I do have a few commenters that request a follow back. I only follow blogs whose content I enjoy.

    I am in a pool of prolly a handful of black guys that blog about lifestyle, to include the home and fashion. I often get shunned when I simply comment.

    Commenting is a touchy subject, but it should be explored.

    Rashon aka Mr. Goodwill Hunting

  19. Not only did you make your point, your "fake" comments were hilarious! I have to admit that I am not a "wordy" person and have a hard time finding the words to describe just how and why I enjoyed a post at times. If you get a "Soooo Cute" or "Too True" from me, that means something! If you get more, it means you've stirred something inside me that otherwise has a hard time finding it's way out. And once that happens, sometimes I just can't stop. And by the way, your hair is super cute and I think you're a genius!

  20. Awesome Amanda, you are on a roll! I love how you break it all down, I never think about it in this detailed way, you always show me something new!

  21. I totally agree with everything you said. I still haven't received any really nasty comments on my blog yet, but I'll be ready with that "delete" button when they do come. :)

  22. I'm a dedicated reader and subscriber, and I've really been enjoying this series. As a matter of fact, I have a friend who's just launching a blog of her own, and I've been sending her links to your posts. :) I try to comment as often as I can on as many of my favorite blogs as I can, but sometimes it's very overwhelming! I've finally decided that maybe ROTATING comments among my favorite 30 blogs or so makes the most sense. Comment on 5 or 6 every day ... so no one gets a comment every single day, but everyone gets one about once a week.

  23. High I am noo tu yer blog. ;)

    Actually, no. This post was great because it was informative, corrective of bad behaviors AND funny - that is not an easy balance and I am impressed (I was an English teacher does that make my comment worth more? Ha.)

    As a "words of affirmation" love language person (if you're familiar with that) I "get" commenting and I hope your post helps others get it too.

  24. OhMyGosh Amanda you hit this one right on the head! Seriously, took the words and annoyances right out of my brain!

    Comments are wonderful when they are thoughtful and sincere, not when they are like the ones mentioned above! I can't stand those kind! I want peeps to leave me a comment because they really have something to say, not just because they want a bunch of followers, I teach 8th grade and my students do that with their twitter accounts, I hear them talking about it ALL the time, it is so annoying! We aren't in 8th grade anymore! HA!

    This was well put sista, I like your style!

    PS - hope you are having a better hair day today, I felt so bad for you yesterday!

  25. I really enjoyed this. You made some excellent points! I am currently participating in a blog party. It is not my first one, and I have found (through my own commenting, as well as, comments received) that clicking around on a site you are visiting, reading a couple of posts (other than the intro post that is linked to the party), and THEN commenting goes a long way. 1) it shows the author you really HAVE visited their blog and not just skimmed the linked post and 2) it really doesn't take the much longer to look around a bit than it does to just leave a simple comment. The whole point of blog parties is to find new blogs that you might love, so a little reading of said blogs is not a bad idea :)

    I found this post through a friend on Twitter, and I will definitely be checking out your blog more. And, I apologize for any run-on sentences or misspellings... we'll blame it on the iPhone's uncanny ability to misinterpret my typing!


  26. Great post. Those are all my pet peeves as well. Comments are always fun but a junk comment might as well be no comment.

  27. I am adoring your mini series! Some of the stuff that seems so obvious sometimes - isn't. It helps to bring it out in the open. Look forward to reading more!

  28. Hey Amanda! Great post! Thanks so much for doing this series...can't wait for the next installment!

    Oh...and your hair isn't dum! Hee hee!


  29. Amen, sister, to all of it! But I really dislike when the same person leaves the same comment on everyone's blog.

  30. Great post once again!
    I know this had nothing to do with your post,(which I read and found helpful) but I really want to see your hair! People are commenting that they think its cute. Share! If you just don't want to thats ok too :) Just thought I would ask!

  31. I guess I've been lucky. Nothing horrible ever left on mine. I once read a blog of a mother who was blogging her way through her illness while trying to be a wife and mother to small children, and appartently someone kept leaving awfull messages. So one of her blogs was telling those who didn't like her blog and felt it necessary to keep complaining might just want to stop reading her blog. I felt so bad for the women! She already had her plate and heart full enough.

  32. Oh my gosh, Amanda. You are hysterical! I couldn't agree more with everything you said! HATE that follow me back crap! I have to admit that I have left comments before that were somewhat sarcastic in nature, as sarcasm is my second language. I have to watch myself because unfortunately, not everyone is fluent in sarcasm. OOPS! My bad!

    I have to say I agree with you too on if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. Is it really that hard just to be nice?

    Great, fabulous, wonderful post, Amanda!

  33. uh oh. I know I've broken some of these rules. I am new to this and have definitely messed up on a few of these. Not the mean stuff, or not reading the actual posts. But...(yikes!) I have randomly put a post about a giveaway (my first one) at the bottom of a comment....sometimes its hard because when you only have a few followers you want there to be some new people in the mix for the giveaway and you feel like if only your followers will see your post, then you might only have 5 people in the running for the prize, lol. I am learning a lot! Thank you! I wish there was an etiquette book on starting your blog =) maybe you can make one out of these posts and sell it! xoxo Shelli

  34. These are great tips! I especially like your "examples" ("now come straight to my blog")-ha! :)

  35. Amanda-

    As usual, you are dead on. Love the Bonnie Belle lipgloss mention. Too funny. I rarely enter giveaways, and I do see those "spammed" across many a comment section.

    I remember when I first started blogging, I participated in a few blog hops. It felt like speed dating. People were just using each other for the numbers... Wasn't my thing.

    I wish there would have been this series when I started...

    But, here's a question for you, how does promotion of link parties play into this?

    I will always link up my posts to those who leave a good comment and invite me, but just a straight up spammed invite...well, it depends on my mood...LOL...

    I'd love to know your thoughts on this...

  36. Another wonderful and informative post. I was curious how you feel about leaving a link to a specific page on my blog, when I comment on someone else's. For example, if I read a recipe for French Toast on someone else's blog, and I have a really similar recipe with a few subtle changes which I'd like to share with the blogger, is it 'spam' to leave the link to my blog? I am never sure, so I never do, because I don't want to come across as getting free advertising. On the other hand, I think thoughtful and appropriate links like that can add to the conversation. Would love to know your thoughts.

  37. Awesome tips and hilarious examples, Amanda! Why is it that rude people can't seem to spell?

    The canned comments are annoying, almost just to show someone was there. But I am floored by the brash comments people leave to basically advertise their blog giveaway, shop, party etc.
    You would not do that in real life, right? I can't even think of an example of how that could translate. It would almost be like handing your business card out to everyone you met, but worse!

  38. Thanks so much for your wisdom! I am a newbie blogger, and I appreciate the tips!! I would never "fish" for followers, I just figured if or when people visited my blog, they would follow, comment, or return if they liked it!

  39. the title of your blog intrigued me while blurfing around! This post is awesome - tfs! your hair looks pretty with the hot rollers!

  40. Yes so true Amanda! In my blogfrog community forum I wrote a thread about how I hate "follow me back" comments. I posted this in September last year and it's still going very strong today! People really HATE it! I don't know what benefit it really is to these people to leave crappy comments. Because as far as I can tell, only n00bs that are being duped fall for it.. and still not too many would.
    It's so much better for the comment, the blogger etc. to take a little more time and write a REAL comment. That way someone may actually care and go to your site. :P hehe

  41. I like how you made a reference to bad haire...I know what is on your mind. It can't be that bad, you are too pretty for a silly hair cut to make you look ugly. Your personality shines through any ole haircut. I hop that the "right" people read and understand this wonderful post.

  42. I was laughing at your examples of poor posting etiquette :) The "I'm a new follower, come follow me" comments drive me crazy.

  43. Why do these examples crack me up son much? Because they are spot on?? :)

  44. Thank you for this post. I think we all made mistakes at one time or another. I had a comment not long ago from a political activist of a rebel South American group who used my comment section to go on a rant for his cause. Yep hit delete!

  45. Great post! I'm going back to read the others in your series now. I especialy loved the great examples you gave...you made me laugh~

  46. Hello! I've just found your blog but this post is fascinating so I'm off to read the rest in the series! I totally agree with all you've said, I always visit my commenter's blog - with the exception of those that say "Nice, I'd love for you to come and link to my blog party on XXX at XXX.blogspot". I feel like they're just trawling through all the links at a party and promoting their own.

  47. Very sound advice! Great post Amanda!

    The only reason I disabled anonymous comments was because I wanted to do away with "word verification" and I was getting so much spam!

    How do you avoid spam, and still allow anonymous comments?

  48. I am new to blogging and I guess I just assumed common sense and manners would come into play. I haven't had a whole lot of comments on mine yet, but so far I have had a good experience and hope I am doing the same in my comments to others.

  49. Thanks for this wonderful post! It's amazing how a thoughtful comment can make your day!

    And you are doing a great job here - I just found your site & am now following (congrats on 1,000!). Looking forward to coming back tomorrow for the link party!

    henry happened

  50. Amen sista! I blogged about comments too. I hate when all bloggers do is leave a comment to tell me to follow them. Heck no!

  51. This is a great post with really helpful info! As someone new to blogging (and commenting and others' blogs) it gave me some great tips! I'm now going to go back and check out the previous installments and look forward to the next!

  52. This has been the most insightful of all the posts made in this series- to me anyways. Mainly because I've had questions about many of the things you've covered, and the uneasy feelings I've had concerning certain ways to increase followers has been confirmed all in this post. Thank you so much for touching on this.

  53. YES, thank you thank you! I get so irritated by poorly thought-out comments that it's to the point where I'd just rather they didn't comment. Great post!

  54. Your sample comments crack me up!!!!!! I have seen many people who lack commenting etiquette. You hit the nail on the head with all of these issues. I hope people are reading and taking all of this is in. Thanks! And the rude commenters...they are just haters. They're just jealous.

  55. Thanks so much for this series. I never knew one could make the topic actually funny!! Now I'm afraid to write a comment on your blog but I'm subscribing just so I can keep up with the series and learn what not to do!


  56. I really appreciate all your commenting tips, since I'm still new to the blogosphere. I have a somewhat-related question for you...

    if someone goes posts on your Facebook fan page wall and says, "I like your page. Please like mine", do you erase it?? I do! Is that rude of me to erase their comment when it's clearly spam?

  57. ohhh.....thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for this post!!!! i really needed to hear some of my thoughts validated :) i have been receiving lots of comments lately about "follow me back" and blog hops for the sole purpose of gaining more followers. don't get me wrong, i'd love to gain more followers....but i'd rather be followed by someone who likes me or my blog rather than just to get me to follow them back! :)

  58. Thanks so much. It seems obvious to most people, but a blogging newbie like me could sure use those tips and pointers to improve my blogging ability. Have a good one!


I love to hear your feedback! Please feel free to leave comments...just don't send me spam asking me to buy stuff off your website! I've got three kids and no money to purchase your magic weight-loss pill or bust enhancement, or whatever else you might be selling. Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you! :)

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