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Making Conversation: How to Think Up Good Comments

Here on The Daily Post, we’re always advising you to build blog relationships by leaving substantive comments on other people’s…

Here on The Daily Post, we’re always advising you to build blog relationships by leaving substantive comments on other people’s posts. That’s easy enough to say, but how do you think of more to say than “Great post!” when all you can think to say is, well, “Great post!”

I often have trouble coming up with things to say — both in blog commenting sections and at parties. Here are some questions I ask myself when I want to leave a comment on a post but find I’m at a loss for words: 

  • What was my reaction to the post, specifically? Did it make me laugh? Did it make me sad? Did it touch me? Did it inspire me to take action? Why did it make me feel that way?
  • If the blogger made a point or expressed an opinion, do I agree with them or disagree? If I agree, is there any additional reason why I think the same thing that the blogger didn’t mention? If I disagree, why?
  • If the blogger wrote about something that happened to them, have I ever had a similar experience that I could share?
  • If the blogger wrote about a book, a movie, or an album, have I read, watched, or listened to it? Did I enjoy it? Can I recommend anything similar that the blogger and their readers might also enjoy?
  • Does any part of the blogger’s post remind me of something that I’ve read elsewhere recently — a news article, another blogger’s post? If so, I can mention how that article relates to the post and link to it in my comment.
  • Is there any aspect of the story that I would like to hear more about? Any questions left unanswered? Any point the blogger made or conclusion they drew that I did not quite understand?
  • Did the post change my mind about anything in particular, or did it teach me something that I didn’t know before?
  • If I still can’t think of anything to say but “Great post, enjoyed it,” can I at least think of an original way to say that, that displays some personality and that lets the blogger know I actually read the entire post? For example, instead of “this was hilarious. I lol’d” maybe say something like “when I got to the part where the old man stole your shopping cart, I laughed so hard I scared my cat.”

If there are other comments on the post, you can (and should) also read through all of those. If the original post didn’t prompt you to respond, one of the other commenters might.

Finally, if you have absolutely nothing to say about the post, but you really enjoyed it and you want to reach out to the blogger, read some of their other posts! You’re bound to have something to contribute to one of them.

Do you leave a lot of comments or do you tend to lurk? Do you have any additional tips for coming up with interesting comments?

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  1. It’s lovely when someone posts a thoughtful comment – especially when it generates a ‘conversation’. There’s usually something in a post that will do that, or a question – I like questions, and have to get better at asking them. :)

  2. Thanks for your really helpful post, it came just at the right time for me! I’ve just uploaded my first post and this is my very first blog (I know, I’m a little bit late to catch on! LOL) so I really need all the extra tips and help I can get! :)

    1. Dear Lyn,

      Congratulations on your first post! We all had our first. Big things start small you know. Good you’ve all ready started something. Keep spirited in your passion for writing. Small by small you’ll carve a niche for yourself. Only remember to keep your writing positive and up-building, and, guess what? You’ll soon start recounting your astonishing adventures in blogging! Cheers.

    2. Welcome to the blogging world Lyn! I am pretty new myself and am thrilled to be part of the wp community. This post had pretty good advice- Im sure to be thinking more deeply about my reactions to posts in future. Thanks Elizabeth!

  3. I think one of the nicest things about blogging is being able to interact with others. I like to leave comments on most posts that I read, and always scan the other comments if I have enough time. I think that is why my recent problem in not being able to comment was so painful. And as Wanderlust Gene says it is always lovely to read a thoughtful comment on your own posts and enter into a conversation.

  4. There’s nothing better than getting a substantive comment on one of your posts. I try to ask questions in my posts in order to invite discussion. As for leaving comments on other people’s posts, I try to find at minimum one specific thing to comment on, whether it’s the way something was phrased or an idea that hadn’t occurred to me before. Everyone likes to hear “Great Post!” but adding something specific is much better.

  5. I love to comment. I think writers in general often work in a silo and never know if they’ve connected with their readers. Blogging has changed that. We now have the opportunity to let writers/bloggers know that their words have resonated with us in some way. We need to take advantage of that. And if it’s simply a “Great post!”, so be it. It’s nice if it’s more, but recognizing that there was a connection is what’s really important.

    1. True! The feedback from readers is what’s so much fun about blogging — and why it’s such a great way to improve your writing. :)

  6. Personally, I would rather read a comment regarding my blog. Whatever the comment, I can learn more about my readers and myself. I have pushed the LIKE button on many other blogs, but have recently been trying to leave comments as I understand the importance of thought put into the work I just read. When I am short on time; however, I become a lurker.

    1. I’m bad about just clicking that like button, too. Likes are always nice, but I’ve been trying to take the time to also leave a comment lately on posts that I “like.”

  7. Thank you for this helpful post! Sometimes I find myself struggling to put down a “Great comment” on someone’s post despite having something to say about the post. These questions help bring the mind and expression of thoughts together..Like a bridge! Woo!

  8. Great post! (ha ha ;-) Seriously, though, these are really useful tips – I will be bookmarking this post to refer to the list of questions to ask myself when a post resonates with me. I am hopeful they will help me when I respond to readers who comment on my own blog as well. I am always grateful to readers for stepping up and saying what they think, and how a post affected them, and I want to show my respect and appreciation by replying to them. Often I can’t come up with much more than “Thank you,” which isn’t much. I’d like to leave thoughtful replies, and I think this will help. Thank you.

    1. Good point – responding to comments on your own posts is also really important, and sometimes can be just as difficult to come up with something to say.

  9. Great post!

    Heart felt thanks
    Every commen
    Priceless gift
    Read think feel respond
    Beautiful wrapped
    Unwraps-emptiness
    In the sweetness
    Of good intentions

  10. Your post was clean and to the point. Quite ingenious actually. Here I am typing a comment to you. I would have to say that worked out perfectly. In fact, I liked it so much I will be putting a link to it on my own page. Thank you for taking the time to educate and lead. Very well written.

  11. Sometimes we forget the simple things… “Thank you so much, both for reading and for commenting”….and then add whatever else I can say (either before or after) re: the other’s comment. We Americans seem to have such a difficult time simply telling one another “thank you.”

    Thank you, Elizabeth, for bringing up this topic. Maybe it will help us all be a bit more gracious to those who take the time to read what we write.

  12. I always have trouble finding the right words after I read an amazing post. Thank you so much for the suggestions.

  13. Great advice! I enjoy reading other blogs but always struggle to find the perfect words. Then of course I wonder if my comments are too long or too short. These tips are also helpful when responding to comments on my own blog. I’ll keep them in mind :)

  14. Comments eh? Key to blogging on WP. I spend as much time or more on commenting on other blogs or replying to those on mine as I do on writing posts.

    I will reply to ‘great post’ or ‘supah photo dahling’ comments with a thanks, but not with a long comment.

    Most of my commenters are terrific. They write long comments, engage in discussion and address virtually every point I write about. And often go off on an interesting tangent, and engage in great discussion.

    But on commenting on others’ posts, I wouldn’t recommend thinking up good comments. If the post doesn’t inspire you, leave it. It will sound fake anyway. Either you think of something you want to say, or you don’t.

    Of the regular blogs I read I invariably find something to say. Or else I wouldn’t be reading them would I? I read a couple of new ones recently and commented on there. If they don’t visit mine/comment back I’ll not be back there either.

    Reciprocity is key. Perhaps that is the answer to what to write. If you just follow, like, write ‘great post’, you won’t get anything interesting. I read a blog today with regular comments of more than 100. (And none of those of were the blog author’s). But none of them said anything meaningful. Depends what we are all aiming for.

    Photo blogs without text are often the hardest. ‘Great photo’? So what, any better than any other? As with food blogs.

    To me, the whole issue is about being interested in the blog you are reading. That way, you will always find commenting easy. With which, I must off to reply to a comment on mine.

    1. But on commenting on others’ posts, I wouldn’t recommend thinking up good comments. If the post doesn’t inspire you, leave it. It will sound fake anyway. Either you think of something you want to say, or you don’t.

      Very true about not forcing an insincere response. But I think this also depends on your personality. Some people are naturally able to articulate how they feel and think about what they read more easily than others. For others, making conversation takes practice – in life and on the internet. Some people might really want to respond to something, but they have to work harder to find the words.

      1. Thanks Elizabeth, that’s a fair comment. But I’ve had commenters who have said they don’t feel they are good writers (is that important? no) or that they can’t live up to the discussion (! university this is not).

        Any polite comment on my blog is welcome, regular commenters also disagree with my points of view, but I don’t want anyone to feel intiimidated. One commenter said it took her a while to dip her toes in the water. People shouldn’t feel like that, rather that there will always be a warm welcome for anyone taking the time to comment. It doesn’t have to be clever or intellectual, just something that shows you have read and appreciated the post.

  15. I love these pointers. I enjoy receiving thoughtful comments and I try to leave some too. These suggestions will help me when I can’t think beyond “what a beautiful photo”.

  16. I’m always flattered that people will read my post, no matter what their comments are! They sat down, read it, then were kind enough to leave me a message. Those who write a bit more – how they found the post, how they could relate, because of a previous incident in their lives – are even MORE meaningful to me.

  17. I have not been more inspired and encouraged to not only read other people’s work but to also meaningul participate in the conversation. I think that ii the uttermost reason we write; to inform and be informed.

  18. Great post! Sorry I couldn’t help myself there:) Seriously though I really appreciate this post. These are some really excellent suggestions! We all struggle with new ways to say what we feel, especially when we are responding to multiple posts in one sitting.
    As much as I love getting “likes” and comments like “Great Post” and who doesn’t? Like most writers, I crave the quality of feedback that can only come from fellow scribes and creative types, who have been where you are, creatively speaking. Those are the useful snippets that help us hone, grow and improve our craft.

    I wish I had countless hours to browse wp and leave constructive thoughts on every post I read. Sadly though, I don’t, so instead I have to resort to a few key words to express my thoughts. Words like insightful, inspiring, amusing, thoughtful, clever, refreshing, informative.
    On behalf of all bloggers, I thank you very much for your great post :)

    1. I wish I had countless hours to browse wp and leave constructive thoughts on every post I read.

      Me too! Really, it’s more fun than writing my own posts…not to mention, easier. ;)

  19. When I started my blog earlier this year,I had no idea there was a “blogger” community, I just wanted to write. But quickly, with the urging from WordPress I understood quickly blogging is as much about reading what others have to say, and connecting with them as it is about writing. And I like that, so try to give a comment as much as I can. I have to say, I find it difficult to get responses in return, even when i ask! I tend to get many comment via email or in person but people seems more shy on the actual post….maybe it’s my topic. Anyway, I keep commenting and connecting and find I have grown and learned so much because of it….and hope eventually I can insight more discussion on my own. I’m sure it comes w/practice. Thanks for your post!

  20. Excellent topic – and succinct! Thanks for the reminders of common courtesy – not just “blogger courtesy.” As you mention, your tips apply to life and cocktail parties, not just blogs.

  21. I always do my best to avoid the “nice post” simply because I don’t care to find them. And then I slap myself for feeling that way, because really when I started blogging I would have killed for the simplest of “I liked reading this!”.

    I always try to leave a comment. Sometimes if I have nothing to say I’ll just copy and paste my fave line from what they wrote. But leaving a comment, hopefully will open the door to a discussion, then possible bloom into a blog friendship. It helps break down the walls of isolation. Which is why we blog… isn’t it? To reach out?

  22. Thanks for bringing up the topic because I am often at a loss for words, too …

    But that may owe a lot to the fact that I visit lots of picture and arts and photography blogs, and while contemplating just think, “hey these pictures are great”. Though I try to be specific about what I like or why I like it or what the pictures remind me of, I often get stuck with the positive gut feeling.

    Then I think, maybe it is all right to just say that I like the picture – an emotional response to an entity that almost always goes far beyond what we can write or speak of…

    What do you think?

  23. I haven’t had time to read many blogs recently, let alone comment on them. Your timely advice may motivate me to reconsider my commenting style. Like Robin who commented above, I started blogging without knowing about the social side, just as a place to write. I have “met” some amazing people in the last year in the “blogosphere”.

  24. Well, I blog. So, reading is part of blogging, and commenting is a result of reading. IMHO.

    What I have found it difficult on WP to enter into commenting relationships. On other platforms it came naturally.

    Here, people click they like a blog, or reblog, or make a link back to a blog without ever visiting or reading the blog they are commenting on. It seem to the blogger in me, WP reinforces an attitude that we do not need to read a blog to make a comment ….

    Wayne

    1. Here, people click they like a blog, or reblog, or make a link back to a blog without ever visiting or reading the blog they are commenting on. It seem to the blogger in me, WP reinforces an attitude that we do not need to read a blog to make a comment ….

      :( I hate to hear that. All of these features are intended to do just the opposite — to drive real engagement. Would love any feedback you might have about why you think this happens more on WordPress.com than on other platforms.

  25. Thanks for the input. Oddly enough I don’t have any trouble leaving comments on blogs or forums and stuff, but in real life I’m not the greatest conversationalist. Maybe I’m just too self-centered. Anyway, enjoyed reading this post especially the part about the cat :)

  26. I make it a point to actually read the post. Then I decide if it moved or touched me strongly enough for me to make a comment.

    There are so many ways feedback can be provided and I get frustrated when people like without a comment. Please tell me *why* you liked it. I’d like to know. Of course, I really there are bloggers who go around the blogoshpere “liking” posts to drive traffic to their own sites. While I understand the need for traffic, engaging someone in meaningful conversation is more likely to build a longer-term reader than lazily clicking like. I want quality readership not quantity.

    I vented a bit about the lack of feedback in this post http://sloword.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/chicken-longingly-computer/

  27. Thanks for the advice. I’m fairly new to WP, and I have been very impressed with blogger courtesy – all the responses to comments I’ve left, even if it is a simple thanks. And some have sparked deeper conversations and I have so appreciated that; I can really tell the thoughtfulness that went into some comments. The bloggers here seem to be very honoring of one another and genuinely interested, and I find that refreshing. Great tips for future commenting! Thanks!

  28. A lot of you are saying that, while you prefer longer or more detailed comments, any comment that lets you know people are reading and enjoying your work is very welcome, especially for new bloggers just starting out. This is an excellent point! A ‘great post’ shout out is better than nothing. We all like to know people are reading what we write.

    1. disagree. if someone thinks my post is ‘great’ I would like to know why.

      I also think age makes a difference. Many of my readers are the same age as me, so we have far more in life in which to pontificate about.

      But I do welcome comments from younger readers, who come, and go. That’s life.

  29. You’ve made some very good points about comments. One thing I do that helps is to make notes about what I think and how I feel about different points or words that are being made or used. I use my notes to write my comment.

  30. great tips, thank you! it is hard to find the words sometimes, even when one is inspired. and there’s nothing better than getting a dialogue going with one’s readers; it’s surely why we blog in the first place.. (have tweeted a link also)

  31. Here on blogger you can just hit the like button so I do not see the point in just writing nice post. You had some great suggestions..

  32. This was really helpful. A lot of times I, too, find myself with nothing more than “nice” or “awesome” which can sound so generic and not really convey that much to the writer.

  33. So here are my 2 cents – results from a bit of observation… :o I really enjoy coming over the daily prompts and/or quick WP inspirational prompts. Reading thru this post [and the comments], I was able to notice that you [Elizabeth], in replying to the comments, you kept the ‘conversation going’, which is actually, the main goal for this ‘forum’. Well done. Obviously for us, bloggers, it’s thrilling when you receive an interesting/intriguing comment. It’s definitely better than writing the post…
    As an example, following one of this week’s “inspirations”, I wrote a simple post weaving through the idea of ‘blogging & brand’ [thanks to Michelle W.!]. Surprisingly enough, one of the readers left a nice comment about coming to the blog because of its name/title. Could I’ve felt any more honored? Goal achieved, readers coming, and the best of all, comments that actually get me thinking about the post I just wrote! :o A good comment on your post is a great way not only to please the ‘blogger’, but to open doors to very interesting experiences…

    1. Ooh, thanks, that’s another good commenting tip – you can always mention in a comment how you happened to find the post. Us bloggers are a wee bit obsessed with our traffic patterns after all. ;)

  34. Another way to leave a comment is to share a link to your own blog that is relevant to what you read. This is not to be advertising for your blog, but as a way to encourage, clarify, or enjoy some laughter. For someone whose pet died, I share a post about losing my last cat. If someone’s written something funny about their dog, my dog might reply with a link to a post where he got in trouble for the same thing. Stuff like that. I’ve had some wonderful friendships develop that way.

    I find other blogger’s usually enjoy reading something specific I’ve shared with them, I think because it demonstrates that I’ve engaged with what they’ve written.

    Nancy

  35. This is really helpful. I’m a lurker, but I’ve been trying to improve on commenting. Now I have to read through all the comments for additional tips. :) Thanks for this post!

  36. I like to think of commenting as a cocktail party where you go to meet all kinds of folks, wearing a variety of hats and we have a chane to admire one another and get to know each other.