Keeping Your Comments Saccharin-Free

by Kat on April 27, 2010 · 18 comments

On the heels of Rachel’s post about justifying struggling blogging, I want to expand on her idea of “Sweet ‘n’ Low” comments by presenting a commenting field guide for blog readers.

Now what does good commenting have to do with good blogging? Well, if you’re a blogger, you’re probably also a commenter. And how you comment is a big part of how you connect with other bloggers and get readers, so it really will affect your experience as a blogger.

Commenting should be a semi-virtuous act…don’t just give it up to any ol’ post.  Pageviews might be what pay the bills (for some lucky peeps), but good comments are what make a blogger feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  There are a few instances in which comments are always welcome and encouraged (i.e., the SWEET):

  • If you’re new to the site and want to offer a compliment: “Hey, I just found your site and I LOVE what you’re all about!  I’m definitely subscribing!”
  • If you identify with something the blogger has revealed: “I suffer from [insert rare disease here] too!  I’ve had good luck with [this therapy].”
  • If you have a question about something in the post: “How long did you bake your cookies?  What running shoes do you swear by?  How long did it take for the itching to subside?”
  • If something in the post struck you as truly amazing [note: these comments should be used sparingly]: “Holy crap, I never thought of adding THAT to my oatmeal!”
  • If you disagree with something the post states to be true AND can offer an insightful rebuttal: “I disagree with your assertion that everyone should [run a marathon/eat a raw diet/practice Bikram yoga] because [insert valid reasons here].”
  • If you’re entering a giveaway or are answering a question asked by the blogger.  There will be a buttload of comments on that entry, but hey – they asked for it.  Comment on, commenter.

If you have the urge to comment in any of the following instances (i.e., the LOW), think twice…and still don’t do it:

  • To simply plug your blog.  “Networking” is more than dropping a couple of empty words on every site you visit; a comment isn’t a business card.  And for chrissakes, don’t put your URL in the body of the comment.  That’s spam, and it’s tacky.
  • To remain relevant.  If you’re still subscribing to a blog, still giving it pageviews, and still commenting when posts deserve comments, congrats – you’re still doing a great job as a blog reader!  But not every single post warrants a comment, so if you find yourself scratching your head over what to type before finally deciding on “your salad looks yummy,” don’t waste your time.
  • To give unsolicited “holier-than-thou” advice.  If a vegan blogger has a headache, don’t tell him or her that meat is the cure.  Conversely, don’t preach vegetarianism to a carnivore unless they ask for it.  If a runner has an injury, don’t tell them they’re stupid to keep running.  Be respectful of each blogger’s autonomy; if they didn’t ask for advice, you’re probably better off keeping it to yourself.
  • To address a potentially sensitive issue.  If, for instance, you believe a blogger is showing signs of disordered eating/exercising, a comment in a public forum might only make them defensive.  A carefully constructed e-mail would be a better place for such concern.
  • To give nonconstructive criticism.  If you’re going to attack a blogger personally, at least do it in as helpful a way as possible, and definitely don’t call them names or use derogatory language.  Hurtful comments will usually only get you ignored.  If you want to have a real impact, start an intelligent conversation, not a mudslinging contest.

Of course there are other instances when commenting is okay (“damn girl, you look fine in those bike shorts”) and not okay (“nice smoothie.”), but give some consideration to these guidelines and the types of feedback you’d appreciate on your own blog to ensure your comments are always sweet and never low.

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ZenLizzie April 27, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Luckily, most of the comments on my blog are pretty awesome. I once got one from a local blogger (not a health blogger) and it seemed like he was just commenting so I would link back to his post. It was kind of irritating, so I can’t imagine having to go through a bunch of comments like that everyday.
Most of the time when I read blogs, I don’t comment because I don’t have anything to say other than like, “Oh cool!” haha which seems like a waste of everyone’s time.
I like when bloggers put questions in their entries because it helps when I want to comment and encourage, but I don’t want to have an “empty” comment.
.-= ZenLizzie´s last blog ..The Joy of Cooking (for someone else) =-.

Heather April 27, 2010 at 5:29 pm

i like to remind myself that PAGE VIEWS often pays the bills of my blends, not my comments.

Sometimes i feel guilty for not commenting “more often” on my “best blends” posts – but that doesn’t mean I’m not reading. I am trying to make it a priority to click out of reader to give the blogger I read page views, even if I don’t comment, because this is the livelihood of the blog. Comments do bring more money, but they do bring more community.

I’d like to think that I’ve done a DECENT job at not commenting for the sake of commenting, but after the last few posts on HBH, I’ve definitely been paying more attention. I have a tendency to get a bit rambly in my commenting, anyway (ahem.) and while I used to think that this may be a bit annoying (as in; Heather. just write your own blog post already) I’ve noticed in the last month or so that bloggers seem even more appreciative of my long, wordy, comments because they actually SAY something. (or are at least entertaining to some fact.) However. There are some cases when I may just write a one sentence response.

I have said it a million times, but I LIKE that blogging is a community event. I like DISCUSSION in the comment sections.

and i must say – I REALLY LIKE when bloggers ask questions ending their posts. (well, at least the blogs I read) Especially if it is in relation to what they’ve been discussing on their blog. I think this has to do with my desire for the community in blogging though – there are some blogs that I not only read the posts, but also the comment sections. I have been known to respond to numerous commenters comments in blogs, as well. Because I love the converstaion.

If a blogger who just posted on little ways to make a difference asks “how could you make a difference in someone’s life today” – and i spend an extra 10 minutes reading responses in the comments sections – than I am allowing myself to be mindcasted….allowing myself to gain knowledge of ways I could do the same.

We don’t just need to be smarter BLOGGERS…we need to be smarter READERS too. I read blogs for a variety of different reasons, but mostly I would say – to learn. If EVERYONE has a story, (and a lesson, and a voice) then I definitley don’t want to cut myself off from any spectrum of the community and miss an opportunity for MORE.

Kat April 27, 2010 at 5:58 pm

I’m a terrible commenter oftentimes because I don’t want to say “thumbs up!” or something lame, so I agree with y’all – I like when a blogger leaves a post open-ended or asks a question. It’s neat when a blogger’s content is inspiring enough to yield thoughtful comments and then a discussion gets going. The blogging/commenting/reading/writing partnership is definitely give and take; blogging and commenting should feed off one another!

Heather April 27, 2010 at 7:43 pm

I had someone tell me via comment that I needed help and should ‘stop projecting my demons onto those around me’ when I wrote about EDs being contagious! They also told me that it was clear I’ve had an ED since college. Well, yes, friend, that is why I wrote the post… so that others could understand that a lot of outside factors can influence whether or not someone develops disordered eating. AND they did it anonymously. Love that. In any case, an email (with an identified sender) would have been better received.

Anyway, awesome post, Kat! You hit the nail on the head with alllll of these (not just the one I ranted about)!

Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter April 27, 2010 at 8:24 pm

This is such a great post!

I agree with the commenters above and absolutely love when the blogger asks and open-ended question. It keeps the conversation rolling and can dive in deeper than the original post.
.-= Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter´s last blog ..Running Away from Dementia =-.

Kat April 28, 2010 at 12:14 am

Heather – I just want to respond to that commenter with, “…really?” It’s clear you’re writing ABOUT the subject, so it’s obvious you have a handle on it – what did they think they were accomplishing with that comment? Oh and “anonymous” – have the balls to put your face behind your words, you know? Ugh…some people.

Michelle – Thanks! The relationship between blogging and commenting (for both the blogger and commenter) is, and should be, symbiotic. Without good content there can’t be good comments, and both definitely feed each other.

Nicole April 28, 2010 at 1:13 am

Thanks for this post, Kat. I think all bloggers (including myself) need to punch up their comments a little bit. Appreciate this message you are sending.

Kat April 28, 2010 at 2:33 am

Thanks, Nicole! It’s nice to leave some love, but it’s even nicer to start some thoughtful dialogue!

charlotte April 28, 2010 at 11:37 am

Wow, this is the post I wish all bloggers would read! Heck, this is the post I wish I’d had when I first started blogging. Too often it feels like “making the blog rounds” commenting on everyone’s sites is a huge sycophantic burden. I hate that I “have” to do it and I hate that some others feel like they “have” to do it for me. I’m wondering if it’s possible to institute some sort of mass policy change?

At any rate, I found your blog last night and haven’t been able to stop reading it. It’s about time someone wrote about the business of being a fitblogger!! Thank you!

And, not to sound trite but… you’re in my reader now:)
.-= charlotte´s last blog ..The Flaw I Refuse to Apologize For =-.

caronae April 28, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Interesting commentary (haha, pun intended; I suck). But seriously, I often find myself wondering if I should say “wow, that dinner looks good” or say nothing at all and this post helped tip me towards the latter. My blog is very small and I love having readers and “recruiting” new readers, but I don’t like leaving super random comments. So thanks for making me feel like doing my thing and giving comments only when I WANT to is okay!

Kat April 28, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Thanks for the comments, y’all (ha!)! It does suck to feel like you *have* to say something sometimes, especially if the post’s content doesn’t particularly speak to you. There are some instances when I leave little short comments, but usually only a “good going!” if they’ve accomplished something. I think what I’m trying to say most with my list is, “what is the intent behind your comments?” If you’re truly stopping in to offer encouragement, by all means, leave some love! If you just do it to leave a breadcrumb trail in hopes that others will click over to your site, that’s the wrong reason. I’ve totally been guilty of that before, but it’s exhausting and usually an exercise in futility.

Fattie Fatterton May 3, 2010 at 12:55 am

I do have to put my blog name in the comments sometimes, only because if the blog only allows your Google ID and I am not commenting as Lawgirl but as Fattie Fatterton, I need to show who I am that way. My Google blog is now completely shut down and if they went there to see any information about me, then they would not find anything.

On that note – can we please have everyone switch from Blogger to something else? Blogger sucks big donkey balls.
.-= Fattie Fatterton´s last blog ..Go big or go home =-.

Lisa May 25, 2010 at 4:09 pm

I’ve been lucky to have pretty good comments so far (knock on wood). When I read other blogs I can usually find something in the posts that really interest me. I try not to force it though.

I like leaving encouraging compliments to people who post about their achievements. I know when I was losing my weight part of what kept me going were all the nice compliments people gave me. It may be shallow, but positive reinforcement and “Wow you look fantastic!” really do help! :)
.-= Lisa´s last blog ..Dinner and Lost Finale =-.

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