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Comment Community

As a blogger, there’s little more satisfying than getting the notification that someone commented on your post. It means that not only are people reading your work, but that they’re also moved to leave their own reflections. In addition to the personal joy of seeing comments on your posts, comments and pingbacks help to build readership and bring new readers to your site. So, how can you foster an active commenting community on your blog?

Start by making it easy to comment on your site. You can control all of your comment settings via your Settings > Discussion page on your blog’s Dashboard. Some settings to be aware of: ensure that other blogs are notified when you link to their articles (pingbacks), don’t automatically turn comments off on your posts after a short amount of time (the default is 14 days), and enable both the option to follow your blog and the comment thread when someone leaves a comment on your post. If you choose to moderate all comments on your blog, that’s a great step toward maintaining a well-curated commenting community. Just be sure that you don’t leave pending comments in your Comments folder for too long, since that detracts greatly from the experience of visitors commenting on your posts.

To keep the discussion going, it’s best to reply to all comments left on your blog within a reasonable time frame. If someone’s comment piques your curiosity, ask questions. The idea of the comments section is to generate discussion. As visitors to your blog add their point of view to your posts, it helps to enhance your story. Similarly, discussions generated on your posts can help give you new post ideas, in addition to building relationships with other bloggers and your readers. For example, if someone disagrees with your point of view, that’s a great opportunity to expand on your thoughts even more with a new post. Some bloggers even ask their readers to leave comments on their sites. For example. the Freshly Pressed blogger/musician Holley Maher inserts an image that she’s create into the bottom of all of her posts requesting that readers leave comments. If you choose to add either a line or an image requesting feedback, you can create a template and use the Copy a Post tool for your new posts so your sign-off text or image is automatically inserted into your post.

Above all, leaving comments on other blogs helps to generate comments on your own. In case you missed it, check out Erica‘s post, “Are you well-versed in comment etiquette?” The difference between blogs and websites (and the best part!) is that blogging allows for interaction between writers and readers, as well as the opportunity to build relationships. Paving the way for an active comment section on your site helps to build those relationships and to find new sources of inspiration.

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  1. Erica, I’m still not sure I understand “ping backs.” I have received some odd looking responses in my comment sections — some of them labeled “WordPress” rather than any other bloggers name — and a couple of them simply posting a link to another blog. I’ve also received some responses that included a list of links of Facebook and Twitter accounts. I’m just not sure what they are supposed to be. When I go to those sites, I don’t see anything connected with my post. So I’m not sure if that’s part of the “ping back” process or something else entirely. I guess what I need to know is what do the “ping back” notifications look like?
    Sorry to need more explanation, but this one concept just seems to have passed over my head.
    Thanks.

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    1. Sure! Pingbacks are notifications, like comments, that mean someone has linked to your site elsewhere. For example, if I reference one of your posts in my blog post, you’ll see a pingback from my blog post.

      Like comments, some pingbacks can be spammy. Anything that seems to be selling something or includes lots of links to unrelated posts is likely a spam pingback, which you can delete just like comments:
      http://en.support.wordpress.com/pingbacks/

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  2. Thanks for these great suggestions!
    I love comments and the control we have over them. I even edit them to eliminate typos I know the writers would blush to read. And I have appreciated when bloggers have done that for me, saving me some “face” more than once.
    Do wish we could control who “likes” our sites. (Or is that an available feature I haven’t discovered yet? 🙂 ) Sometimes the gravatar for a “like” will link to a pornographic site and that just disturbs everything, in my opinion. Wish I could remove those.

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  3. Very good advice. It’s always lovely when someone leaves a comment. However, I’ve been getting emails from people who used to comment who are now unable to comment due to some glitches with WP’s new sign in to comment system. Some are people who have never had WP accounts. Some are people who had a WP account but moved on to self-hosted blogs and don’t want to have to sign in to their old WP account. Several people have commented at the WP Forums but the response from WP has been a sticky post that doesn’t solve the problem. Any suggestions? I really ♥ WP, and hope to see this resolved so people can comment as and when they would like. I’m not sure why the change was made in the first place.

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    1. Thanks for asking this! Anyone who doesn’t want to sign into their WordPress.com account doesn’t have to, but they will either need to change the email connected to their WordPress.com/Gravatar account or use a different email when filling out the comment form.

      For example, if one of your commenters who’s moved to self-hosted doesn’t want to sign into his/her WordPress.com account, they may want to log into WordPress.com one time to switch out the email connected to their account. (Feel free to have them get in touch if they have any trouble.)

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  4. I never knew the default to allow comments on a post is only 14days! You live and learn.

    I think it is really important to interact with a group of bloggers and support each other. I think you first called them “blogging buddies” If a new blogger takes the time to leave a thoughtful comment on my blog I always make a point of welcoming them (unless they have just left a one word comment) and visit their blogs and have a look round.

    I follow blogs all over the world and is def a great way to learn about other cultures and interests. Even the USA is different from the UK 🙂

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  5. Well, its after reading your blog and commenting on it, I went back and read the post by Erica- “Are you well-versed in comment etiquette?”. So after reading it, I feel like I should not have left my blog link on your comments section! I did not know that my name is actually a link to my blog!!!. And like Facebook, here at WP I dont find a way to “delete’ my comment here! 😦 May be the admin can remove that for me! 🙂

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  6. A very useful input. I was already aware of this, but hopefully it will encourage more bloggers to use comments as a more effective way of interaction.

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  7. I have unchecked the “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks) ” option in my comments section because all those trackbacks and pingbacks are getting posted under my comments section. Is there any way to get them posted separately like I see in dailypost.wordpress.com and all? Is it theme specific or is it possible/not possible for all wp.com users to show pingpacks and trackbacks separately?

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  8. I love this feature of the WP community. Until recently I had no problems with my blogs, and no one complained about opening my blog to read, or leaving comments, etc. As I said, “until recently.” Lately WP bloggers have alerted me to the fact that they have trouble opening my blog to read, some have tried to leave comments but can’t (while others have no problems.) And two days ago I started having problems leaving comments on other people’s pages. I went to support page, read through everything they have re: comments, but have found nothing that helps. I even changed my theme and redid my whole page thinking that it would be easier for others to access. As I said, some folks have no problems, others do. One person that I know for sure “unsubscribed” from my blog simply because she could not open to read it. Any suggestions?

    Not to leave on a sour note, I love blogging and until now WP has made it easy for me. I have met people from around the globe and try to comment regularly on a number of blogs.

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  9. Great tips Erica. I have to admit, I have stopped following a couple blogs that did not allow comments, or had punitive rules regarding comments. A blog that does not allow comments is merely an opinion page.

    I have a wonderful group of blogging buddies who are regular readers and commentors. It always warms my heart and makes me feel incredibly lucky that they care enough to stop by and share their thoughts.

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    1. Huffygirl, I just now left a reply for you to a comment you made on my page, but the comment would not go through. I’m hoping that WP can help me get the glitches fixed. 😦 I’m not ignoring you.

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  10. That being said, WordPress has made it much more difficult to leave comments with it’s recent change. A change that is not winning a lot of fans, it appears.

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    1. I really appreciate that you’re leaving feedback about the changes and can pass this along for you.

      However, if anyone is having trouble commenting, please let me know so we can help get it sorted for you. (You can just let me know here, I’ll be in touch.) These changes do help to prevent impersonation and only affect anyone with a WordPress.com account connected to their email address. I’d recommend logging into your WordPress.com account once to change the associated email address if you’d like to continue commenting without logging in. Hope that helps!

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  11. Dear Erica V.

    After reading your last article , it seams that it does not work with me , why ?
    I will tel you why , I am always read and comment on other blogs for a while but unfortunately
    no comments made on my several blogs they all for open ideas .
    What do you think ??

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    1. Sometimes it can take a while before you get a good group of regular commenters on your site. Hang in there and keep doing what you’re doing — it looks like you post very consistently, which is great!

      I’d also recommend tagging your posts so people can find your blog in the tag pages on WordPress.com. 🙂

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    1. It looks like they’re already enabled, but you can change this via your Settings -> Discussion page. To allow pingbacks on your site, just make sure that “Allow link notifications from other blogs” is selected. 🙂

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  12. Thank you so much for your post. I’m still getting used to and learning WordPress. This was a great explanation that helped me be sure I’ve got my comment setting as I want them.

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  13. Hi Erica, another question about ping-backs. Can you tell me why we receive messages to ‘Approve’ them. A while ago I had a request to approve a ping-back and when I went to that person’s blog I found that the link from them to me already worked – without me having approved it. It was just a bit puzzling.

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    1. Thank you Erica for this timely post! Sometimes I wish I had a virtual assistant to help respond to comments and make commenting on the hundreds of posts I follow easy. We do the best we can by playing catch up… 😉
      Hi Jude,
      Approving their pingback is like completing a handshake. The other blogger extends their hand in friendship by adding your related post on their blog and sending a link to you. You shake their hand by approving their link which allows their post to appear on your blog. If you don’t approve it, their post wont appear as a pingback on your blog, your readers wont have a chance to read their blog, and the give and take feature is incomplete. 🙂

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  14. Thanks for your advice. How do I get my classmates to comment on my blog? Have also tried to leave a comment on their blog which is not word press but it has been difficult

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  15. Terrific article!! Well stated points.

    One frustration is having the time to visit all the blogs (and new ones) I want to.

    My second frustration, being a photography is wanting to comment or make a suggestion, on images posted on a blog. It would be great if folks would be open to that, but most likely don’t think about stating critiques are welcome.

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    1. Critiques in the comments can be difficult. However, since it is so easy to connect with other bloggers, I’m sure other photo bloggers would be interested in exchanging critiques if you email them privately. That way, it’s a bit more personal and both of you can benefit 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I really love the commenting aspect of blogging. I am getting to know so many people by the comments they make on my posts – and the ones I make on theirs. I enjoy being able to respond to the comments and try to create a conversation. This is what makes blogging with WordPress, in my opinion, better than either Facebook or Twitter.

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  17. A very helpful and informative post! I’ll be honest, I do not see or know how to add a pinbacks icon at the end of my blog. Would you be willing to explain it please?
    Thank you sincerely for your time and marvelous blog.
    Faithful fan, Deborah

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  18. Nice advice, Erica. I realize didn’t spend much time to visit and comment another blogger post, so I don’t get many visitors or comments for my posts 😦

    What should I do then, Erica? Thanks for sharing 🙂

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  19. I hope that people who want to respond to my blog don’t have the problems I had when I went to reply to a friend’s blog on a non-WordPress site. I typed in my message 5 different times before it finally accepted the post. After the 3rd failed attempt, I copied my message so I wouldn’t have to rewrite it. Good thing I did.
    That said. I’ve been curious why I had more than 200 viewers to my blog last week and only a few responses. This week, I changed the access and hope that will do the trick. So far this week, I have had more responses.
    Thanks for the informative post, Erica.

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  20. I’ve been wondering something about comments. What’s the etiquette about reading the other coments before posting a comment (on someone else’s blog)? It seems inconsiderate to ask a question that others may have already adressed, but if there are a lot of coments I simply can’t read through them all. Am I overthinking this??
    And, by the way, I did not skim the comments to see if someone else already asked about this 🙂

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    1. Great question! Generally, it’s best to see if your question was already asked so that you can add onto the existing discussion. But if there are a lot of comments, it’s certainly understandable to skip through some 🙂

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