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Don’t Undermine Your Comment with a Plug

We talk a lot about commenting — why it’s important, what makes a good comment, how to moderate a vibrant…

We talk a lot about commenting — why it’s important, what makes a good comment, how to moderate a vibrant comments section.

There’s one surefire way to get your comment ignored or worse, deleted: leaving a shameless plug. If you’re going to take the time to visit others’ blogs and press the “comment” button, avoid this basic mistake.

What constitutes a shameless plug?

A shameless plug is a comment that exists simply to provide a link back to your own blog. It says little — or nothing — other than your URL. Things like:

The Faint Praise

Really informative, I look forward to reading more.
youshouldclickthislink.com

The Bait-and-Switch

What a good post! If you want, come visit my new blog: ijuststartedblogging.com.

The Drive-By Linking

nothingbutmyURL.com

The Faintest Praise

Great!
visitmyblogprettyplease.com

Sometimes the shameless plug comment includes content, like “Nice post!” or “Good job!” Sometimes it’s nothing but a URL. Either way, the best case scenario is that it gets ignored. The worst is that it gets deleted, and you look like a spammer.

Why don’t bloggers like them?

We all love comments and we love being told how great, interesting, awesome, informative, and funny we are, so why are these comments counterproductive? Two big reasons:

  1. The plug is too obvious. When you leave a comment, your name links to your blog. This happens automatically if you’re logged in to WordPress.com; if you’re not logged in, you’ll be asked for your name and URL when submitting the comment. When you put your URL in the comment itself, you’re saying, “I’ll take any opportunity to put my blog in front of you!”
  2. It looks like you’re not paying attention. Engagement is a two-way street: I share a post, you share a relevant comment, and that deepens the conversation and creates a relationship. If you leave a comment that indicates you haven’t paid attention to my post, I know you’re interested in promotion, not engagement.

The overall impression you leave? Someone who’s only interested in traffic, with nothing of value to say. Maybe that’s true, but maybe it’s not; it takes time to understand and develop good blog etiquette, so you may not realize the negative impact of your comments.

Of course, now you know — so it’s time to stop.

AC Spark Plug by , (CC BY-2.0).

There’s no way to get your superfluous plugs clean enough, even if you can cram a horse into your bathtub. (AC Spark Plug image by dok 1, (CC BY 2.0).)

What makes a good comment?

Coming up with a killer comment can be easier said than done. Lucky for us, Elizabeth, our in-house Emily Post, has written a lot about what makes a great comment and how to think of ways to contribute. A few of our favorite points:

  • Ask yourself some questions: What was my reaction to the post, specifically? Why? Is there any aspect of the story that I would like to hear more about? Did the post change my mind about anything, or teach me something?
  • Think of a creative way to say “Nice post!”: Find an original way to say it that displays personality and that lets the blogger know you read the post. Instead of “LOL!” try, “When I got to the part where the old man stole your shopping cart, I laughed so hard I scared my cat.”
  • Read thoroughly: Make sure you’ve read the entire post and the other comments. Your comment should never make the blogger (or other readers) wonder if you actually read anything.
  • Contribute something of value: Add something substantial that moves the conversation forward. We appreciate simple comments like “Enjoyed this post!” but a meatier response is more likely to result in visits to your own site.
  •  Be yourself: No matter your perspective, a unique voice will get attention. Let your personality and perspective shine through.

What do I do with all these non-comments?

Here on The Daily Post and on Hot Off the Press, we delete comments that (1) are simply links; (2) contribute nothing other than “Nice post!”; and (3) are notifications of reblogs without any substantive commentary. We don’t do it because we don’t care that people think we write nice posts, but because we’re trying to cultivate meaningful conversations.

You might notice comments like this on your blog, especially on a post that attracts more traffic than normal — one that’s passed around Facebook, or gets featured on Freshly Pressed. It’s your blog, so you decide what conversation you’ll allow and what gets nixed. You can even be completely transparent and publish your comment policy (on a new page, or in a text widget or sticky post) so readers know what to expect. Feel free to snag our guidelines as a starting point.

You’re taking the time to click over to someone’s blog and fill out the comment box, so don’t throw that away with a comment that leaves a poor impression. Spend the extra moment composing a meaningful compliment — it’ll make the blogger feel great and help build your own audience.

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    1. Honestly, I don’t understand what the big deal is about traffic. I guess I’m just an odd blogger that way. Lol What does it really matter about hits anyway? Just because you get 100 views doesn’t mean those single hits are going to produce even half the number of meaningful comments.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Shoot, I just started mine as an online journal, imagine my surprise when I was notified I had followers! I put a sailor to shame on a good day when I’m angry….. well, that’s a lie, I don’t need to be angry, I just like bad words haha! I’ve always liked to write, but some days I can’t hold a pen and make my hand work lol At least with this, I can save it as a draft for later if need be. It just works. :-)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ahahahaha! I’ve read a few research articles that state that’s a sign of genius lol It stated that when you have abominable writing, it’s because your hand can’t keep up with your brain’s stellar activity. I didn’t back it up with my own research: I just shrugged, thought, ‘that’s as good an explanation as any’ and went on with me and my wretched penmanship. :-D

        Liked by 1 person

      3. but then, what use is the ‘sharing’ part if no one gets to read them? no matter how much you say you don’t bother about traffic, you still want people to read those thoughts

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I guess it’s about adwords and all that. How many clicks will bring how much money. Which annoys me very much. A blog should be about sharing and not trying to make money. GGrrrrrr :-)

        Like

      5. No, it shouldn’t be about making money. I’m seriously against any ads, because I see them as undermining anything a person may like about themselves to prompt that consumer to buy buy buy! And right now! Ads are the enemy of the confident self, so I’m definitely not a fan of clicks for cash. It just strikes me as wrong and unproductive.

        Like

  1. This is interesting because I read another “be a good commentator” post that recommended putting my URL at the end of each comment. I will stop doing that based on your advice. I don’t leave a comment unless I have something specific to say about the post or the writer’s efforts. Thank you for all the good advice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree, but I think that if you wrote perhaps, a relevant post to whatever post you’re commenting on, it might be appropriate to link it at the end of your comment, provided that your comment has some content in it. Otherwise, what more is it than a pingback?

      Like

      1. Totally agree. Leaving a link to a post and explaining why is a lot different than just dropping your general URL and running. One shows you’ve take time to read and engage, and the other doesn’t.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You bring up a really good exception. I normally dislike it when people link drop in my comment section (and I always go in and edit the link out), but I think it’s great when someone has written on a similar topic and shares the post-specific link. Blogging, for me, is all about conversation, so if someone has put as much thought into something as I have, I’m happy to read what they’ve written and I will check out their link.

        Like

      3. I happen to agree with you guys, so while iam snggkng the posting guidlinesnfrom these liverly people, I will be making some adjustments, after all its just little old me on my blog…. which is only active when I have a muse or time. With that, I thi k allowences for comments with links back to wel, thought out posts is the only ezception I would personally allow…. now that I know what I am looking for. (I used to believe that all comments where good.) Of xourse this is because I am attempting to get my writing out there. ? But I digress and dont want to be evicted for it. :P

        Like

  2. I was tempted just to leave a URL but thought better of it :-P Great post…I have been thinking about this recently as I had someone post on one of my about pages just with their URL saying they had a low following, I deliberated deleting it, felt bad deleting it then thought shes put graffiti effectively on my nice clean homepage lol….I have 3 blogs, one I have very good relationships with some of my followers and we comment back and forth weird and wonderful chats that can go on and on forgetting other people might be listening, LOL, the other blogs seem to compromise of more sensible conversations or none at all.

    I think it is always good to be mindful when posting anything

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I struggle with this a lot because like most I want traffic. Thanks for the great tips, too. Especially the one about not just saying “great post!”

    (Is that a nice comment?:)

    Like

    1. :) It’s hard to find a balance, right? When I first started my blog I did exactly what this post criticizes left and right, but since then I have definitely toned it down and I basically only leave a link to my blog when DailyPost publishes a new Community Pool every Sunday.

      Like

  4. Oh I forgot to say, I am doing the A-Z challenge in April and one of their posts actively encourages people to leave URLs of their blogs when they comment on the rounds of visiting other A-Z ers, I was wondering about this whether a good thing to do, as like you say surely our name when we post links to our blog anyway so why need to do this at all? Or am I missing something

    Like

    1. If you’re participating in something that specifically asks you to leave links, that’s one thing — although personally, I’d still shy away from leaving a blanket URL, since your name will be that link, in favor of leaving a link directly to a post (with a comment explaining why, of course!).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. @michellew. thank you for replying, yes I agree, I think I will see what the general flow is about first.

        Can I ask you two questions, not related to this post, but related to wordpress. I bought the gridiculous template which is great, it gives you an option to leave a customized header on every post one does which i was quite excited about, however, when I have tried it, everything is pixelated, the picture size is just huge no matter what size ‘actual’ image I use. Hence I have chosen not to use this feature, but would really like to, am I doing something seriously wrong?

        Also second question, erm i scheduled something to post and it didn’t publish on the day I set it for, actually it didn’t post at all, it’s pretty setting the scheduling so I can’t see what I might have done wrong?
        :-D x

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      2. For both of those, I’d recommend heading to the forums — plenty of folks there will be able to give advice on images, and the Happiness Engineers who moderator can look into the scheduling snafu to see what might have happened.

        Like

    2. I host a monthly blogging event too, and I use Inlinkz.com as a place where all the participants can submit their links. That way, all the links are in one spot. It has worked really well for us!

      Like

  5. When I started blogging I noticed comment policies/”like” policies on some established blogs and wondered why those were there. After a bit realized why. Comments are tricky. You can always edit out the plug if you want to leave the comment.
    It’s pretty obvious when someone only reads the first sentence, then comments – makes some odd reader responses in the light of the entire post.
    Enjoyed your ideas

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t really care about traffic; I do, however, worry if my comments are enough. :-) With that being said, I’m glad to know I haven’t committed any of these faux pas. Very helpful to those starting out who don’t understand interpersonal communication, or that of written online. It’s very important to be succinct and to the point, without coming off as a rude know it all. Great post, really! :-)

    Like

  7. I may feel different. I do not care much for traffic. I am one for removing all comments with only a link or from people who are obviously posting to get more traffic without reading a word. My best example is the post I wrote about not liking beauty/fashion blogs and having fashion bloggers posting with a simple “I like” :-) How ironic!
    I don’t have many comments left but they are always meaningful, and from people who actually read my posts or clicked on the links. I think it’s important to focus less on comments because plenty of people read but don’t post by lack of time, things to say, or because they have to leave an email adress and so on. And it is important to actually go, visit and post on other blogs.

    Like

  8. I bet Shameless Pluggers will attempt to comment on this blog post from where they failed to read the post thoroughly. This appears to be a general reflection of society.

    Like

  9. So I understand completely. But let me ask this. What if you leave a very detailed comment and then suggest they look at your blog as there is something helpful there for them to see? Is that still not copacetic?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s totally fine, and very different from a drive-by link — you’re read the post, and you’re sharing something you think will contribute to the conversation.

      Like

  10. I always find it a bit spammy to see people plugging in the comments. Plus I think somebody has taken their time to plan, research and write their blog, so it’s just common courtesy to write a sentence or too if you found it interesting or thought-provoking.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Good advice and I agree with most of what has been said on this post, but I must also (as mentioned on other comments) say that on many of the challenges or Blog events, it becomes necessary for bloggers to leave their URL’s. I do ask for links to be left on my Challenge. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m glad you posted this, Michelle. One thing that really bothers me are the pingbacks, especially for the Weekly Photo Challenge. I used to go to their blog sites to check the number of links they posted for their Weekly Photo challenge. Usually there are over 100 links to other Weekly Photo Challenges. I find this offensive because seldom do the link baiters “like” or make a comment on my Weekly Photo Challenge. Most of the time they have never even looked at my Photo Challenge. I used to write a little comment on their blogs thanking them for the link, but now I delete all pingbacks. Maybe you could write a post about the annoying pingbacks we receive from the Weekly Photo challenge and how they are misused?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree and disagree.

      As far as I’m concerned, having people link to me is a convenient method of SEO enhancement and I find that I get an occasional referral from these big lists. The motivation behind such mass linking isn’t the most admirable but I can’t complain about the effect it has on my blog.

      Like

    2. Since I like to believe that people in the blogosphere are basically trying to play nice I don’t care if they hit 100 of us. Someone nice may come to visit me. I personally look at every blog I pingback, keep it to around 10, but don’t usually “like” or comment since to me a pingback is way better than a like and if I pinged you I enjoyed your photographs or you are posting from an interesting place, or you write well, but I have a life and don’t want to hang around the web all day writing chatty notes. If I did I would do a writers blog not a photo blog. Just my opinion.

      Like

  13. I quite often will just hit the like button if I enjoyed the post, but don’t have anything productive to say. Yes I could say “Great Post” or “LOL”, but what is the point. If I agree with the post or like I said, just enjoyed it, that is what the “Like” button is for.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Nice post, here’s my URL :) Seriously, I appreciate your thoughtful suggestions on this and other Daily Post writings. I believe the substantive commenters are out there, but often overshadowed by the promoters. Also many times one enjoys a post, but doesn’t really have a comment to add, but wants to convey their enjoyment somehow, hence “great post.”

    I have only found an occasional offensive comment, perhaps because I write mostly about lighthearted topics and post nature photos. I am occasionally surprised by some mean- spirited comments, usually from readers who do not understand the meaning of satire.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s sad. You’d think people that have such a well developed sense of being an @sshole would also be able to understand comedy and irony. It takes more energy to be rude than it does to be nice….just sayin’.

      Like

  15. At the risk of insulting the WordPress community, which is not my intent, I’ll express my concern about the popular “Like” option we have—especially in the Reader, where it’s very easy to skim through each post’s picture and headline and just the first few words, hit “Like,” and imply that we’ve actually read and related to the post. What do others feel about that?

    Like

    1. Thanks for the comment — in the interest of not going off-topic in this thread, I’d ask anyone interested in this discussion to take it to the forums, and we’ll note it for a future post here :)

      Like

    2. It annoyed me at first, but it’s no longer a big deal to me. I know who my regular readers are and I know when someone likes a post enough to stick around and explore. And now that my readers are no longer 100% from the WordPress community, I have to remember that part of my audience won’t even be able to use the like buttons. (Think search engine referrals.)

      Like

    3. @michelle w
      I’m so you glad published this post.

      Everything posted on a blog contributes to its brand and the blogger’s reputation either positively or negatively. Posting spam comments and/or troll comments and/or libelous comments reflects negatively on a blog’s brand, authority and page rank, deters other commenters from submitting legitimate comments, encourages the submission of more spam comments and posting libel can result in a legal suit. –

      My blogs are well established with respectable pageranks and both get spammy self promoting comments, as well as, numerous solicitation emails trying to get me to accept guest posts embedded with commercial links and requests to place advertising on my blogs. I do not approve any of those.

      I moderate all comments on my blogs and I have a published both commenting and guest posting policies on both blogs. Succinctly stated unless a comment is on topic and made for the purpose of furthering discussion it’s not likely that I will approve it. My commenting policy also sets a link limit.

      I do not approve and post comments from those who use ‘keywords’ (words or phrases they want to rank in search engines for) as their username.

      I do not approve and post comments which seem to be primarily made as advertising and promotion of the commenter’s site.

      I do not approve and post comments which seem to be primarily made as advertising for a commercial product or service.

      Blogging is my passion and I want to inform and engage readers in discussion. I won’t ever allow my blogs to become billboards for self-promoting comment spammers and that’s why I have a commenting policy and why I moderate comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I got emotional and not with good emotions. This post (read thoroughly) left me with strong impression of not something else than WordPress wanting to influence it’s own impression on people visiting blogs. Well, remember, that apart from being a host you are also privileged to have real lives shared by your presence. “We don’t do it because we don’t care that people think we write nice posts, but because we’re trying to cultivate meaningful conversations.” – well, your choice. This part was like the icing on the unpalatable cake. Personally, I don’t think a comment like “Nice post” should ever be erased. Well, I’d appreciate it a lot if I got one. Maybe I’d be found as someone in despair – well, let me tell you it’s not about despair – it’s about respect. If someone shows his own personality in this kind of comments, who am I to judge that? It’s like telling someone he’s not sophisticated enough to talk to me. Come on!

    Like

    1. To clarify, we’re all for leaving comments that compliment other bloggers :) It’s when those comments include a URL — which is already included in your name when you leave a comment — that the comment takes on a spammy appearance.

      Of course, we’ll also always encourage folks to be substantive in their comments, too — saying why you loved a post is a better compliment than just saying “nice!” — but by all means, bloggers should express their appreciation for one another.

      Like

      1. Thank you for your answer, Michelle W. Better compliment just does not mean the one and only acceptable for me. And after all “better” is a very realtive idea.

        Like

  17. An additional point, based on several comments above: this post is really just about comments that exist solely to drop your URL on someone else’s blog. If you are

    1. Participating in a blogging event that asks you to leave links to yourself in a comment, or
    2. Leaving a link to a specific post that responds to the blogger (with a note explaining why, please!)

    then that’s very different! You’re following instructions, and/or leaving a comment that shows you’ve read and engaged with the post — which is the opposite of spam.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I really dig this article. If more sites had this sort of useful info the internet would be a better place.

      You should visit my blog. http://stuphblog.com
      ;)

      I have gotten a few comments like this lately and they really irritate me. If people would comment something interesting I’d likely check out their blog, but if they basically beg me to come visit their site in a comment that’s an immediate turn off.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I always knew there was an art to commenting. Thanks for highlighting the no-no’s and the turnoffs and the tips for stimulating conversation. Sometimes it takes me longer to make a comment than it does to write a blog post.

    Like

  19. OMG! I totally loved this. Very well said :) thanks for posting. I read a few months back on someone’s blog that “leaving your url in someones comments is bad form” I must say I do agree because like you said if they have a blog its automatically linked in their name.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. For me personally, I think any comment I get is a good comment and never delete them. To get a comment like, “nice post” is an affirmation, a compliment. I would love to have more of them, not less. When I leave similar comments, I am signaling the poster that, I did more than just hit the “like” button. I read and enjoyed the post. I may not have a deep comment if I happen to agree with the poster. Also, I may not have been around long enough to get the negative posters but haven’t had that problem so far. I would definitely delete anything of a rude or negative nature. Long story, longer, “Keep those ‘nice post’ comments coming!”

    Like

    1. Totally agree! Affirmation is great… just not with a link :)

      There are folks who do that to gain traffic and folks who do it because they don’t realize how it looks, so I hope we can help the latter. And as another commenter mentioned, editing out the link but leaving the comment is also an option (and something we do here, too).

      Like