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The Perfect Host: Comment Moderation

Ah, the elusive comment. All bloggers know the joy of the comment notification, the disappointment of those posts where the “Leave a Comment” prompt never changes to a number. A good comment thread can elevate a lackluster post, and a bad one – one that’s full of in-fighting or self-promotion – can turn off new readers. I read some blogs for the comments alone. Certain bloggers have built communities of loyal commenters whose insightful and entertaining conversations are almost more fun than the posts themselves.

So how do you encourage good commenting on your site, and discourage bad behavior (or silence)? Here are some ideas:

  • End with a prompt. At the end of each post, encourage comments by asking a question or requesting feedback. This lets your readers know that your blog isn’t just a monologue – you value their opinions and want to hear from them.
  • Reply to comments. Your job doesn’t end when you hit publish. When readers leave comments, keep the conversation going with a thoughtful reply. You can even reply directly from the notification email, before it has time to slip your mind.
  • But don’t reply to every comment. If you have quite a lot of comments and you reply to each with a simple ‘thanks,’ your comment thread isn’t going to be as interesting to readers. Think of your replies as a way to add something substantial that will build on the discussion.
  • Police (politely). Ok, I’ll admit that an occasional train wreck in the comment section can be luridly entertaining, but for the most part, it’s best not to encourage or allow nasty and abusive comments. They intimidate new readers, derail conversations, and distract you from good blogging. Give them a polite warning, and if they don’t shape up, give them the boot.
  • Post commenting guidelines. If you find yourself doing a lot of policing, an excellent way to be transparent about the type of comments you will and will not permit is to post some simple guidelines. This can help you attract the kind of commenters you want, and deter unwanted behavior. (For an example, check out the Daily Post’s!)
  • Don’t approve spam. Sounds like a no-brainer, but spam can be tough to recognize. While approving spam might up your comment count, it will discourage real readers from participating, and it will attract more spammers to your site.
  • Return the visit. Developing friendships with your readers is one of the best parts of blogging. If you have loyal commenters, make sure you visit and comment on their blogs, as well. If they like what you write, chances are you’ll be into their stuff, too.

Remember, you’re in complete control of who comments about what on your blog. Ultimately, the comments that appear on your blog become a part of the content you’re presenting to the world, so don’t forget to give your comment section the attention it deserves.

Does your blog have a pretty lively comment section, or do you wish there was more activity? Have you discovered any effective ways to improve the comments you receive? (See what I did there?)

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  1. i am a new blogger and it’s really very exciting when a comment or like notification appears in your mail box ๐Ÿ˜€ i keep on checking for notifications ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. Useful post, thank you. I love it when people take the time to comment and always reply, though sometimes I have to catch up quite a lot. Likes are easy, comments take time and I always appreciate what people write. I’ve made some very good blogging friends who feel really supportive. Thank you, WordPress, for your constant improving of what we can do. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. I find this very stimulating. My enormous python, which is enjoying itself in my pocket, is waiting for someone hard to wrestle it. My mother Elina can’t use my toughness properly, so please come and help me out. I live in Sweden, and if someone could empty my load, i would be very pleased. (Im waiting for you to penetrate me in the you-know-what)

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  4. I agree with all of this except the third (unless you get hundred of comments per post, in which case it’s probably not in the interests of your own health to reply to them all!) I do think all comments should receive replies – thoughtful ones. I rarely only say ‘thank you’, though some do deserve just that – for instance if a commenter continually posts the same or a similar comment to all posts, I’m not going to be bothered to say more than thank you to them.

    I feel the same way that sometimes the comments are better than the posts (in the sense of them being entertaining or interesting) and I adore receiving comments – and I enjoy responding to them. To me, blogging has become far more about community and connection than about writing. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  5. Most of my readers are my friends that press the link from Facebook, they also usually choose to comment on Facebook rather than the blog ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I have tried to change their behaviour, they are however not listening ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Any tips on how I can get them to comment on the blog instead?

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    1. To get mine to do that, I ask them to reply at the blog, and I don’t use Facebook ‘publicise’ – instead I post to each link to my blog manually. That way I can choose which image to show, too!

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  6. I have a very loyal boyfriend halfway around the world who comments on all my posts, thank goodness – you’ve got to have one! He’s just moved from a travel blog (since he’s back in Oz now) to wordpress for the first time and is on post 3! Go check him out! http://sonofabron.wordpress.com/ (Does this count as spam? haha)

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  7. Great advice. When one comments on other people’s blogs, only choose the posts that are worth commenting something meaningful. An experienced blogger can tell very easily if the person made any effort to look at the blog post. It does get down to creating casual ongoing friendships with other bloggers and offering tips on their blog post topic. You will find like-minded souls. It takes time.

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  8. I’m loving all the great comments on this post about comments! There are far more than I have been able to reply to, so I’m afraid I’m not quite practicing what I’ve preached here, but I hope you all forgive me.

    I’m particularly enjoying the debate over whether bloggers should reply to every comment to let readers know they are appreciated, or whether they should only reply when they have something substantial to add. As you know, I suggested the latter in my post, but those of you who have disagreed about this are making such good points that I’m not so convinced now.

    Also, a lot of you have said you can’t figure out how to get people to comment at all. Anyone who has ever blogged can relate! Check out Michelle’s post today for one idea.

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  9. I m really heartbroken…no comments what so ever…it seems to me that people like to press the “like” button more than commenting…huh!
    ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
    nothing helps….

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  10. I think the two posts on being a good moderator/host and being a good guest snapped folks to attention — I can’t imagine it was coincidence that my Weekly Photo Challenge: Big post (posted after the two posts on comments) had more engaged commenters than any of my prior posts! I think I struggle most with whether to respond to every comment (as I would like to but as a blog grows, unless blogging is our day job, I imagine it becomes difficult to make time for blogging, reading favorite blogs (and hopefully being a thoughtful guest!), and trying to be the perfect host! The Daily Post has been so helpful as I learn the lay of the blogging land – thank you! ~ Kat

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  11. HAHAHA! I’d tell my mom and dad about my blog, but they wouldn’t understand how to access it or comment on it! =)

    Quite often I will pose a question at the end of my blog entries to encourage comments. While some are purely hypothetical, others actually invite conversation. I can’t say it’s an effective writing technique, however. It seems that by blog entries sans questions often get more comments! o_O

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  12. I wrote a comment here before the weekend, but it didn’t appear, because someone used WordPress/Akismet to falsely mark my comments as spam, resulting in me being black-listed. (let’s say Mrs X did it).

    It doesn’t really help visit other blogs, write comments and create pingbacks, when it all ends up in people’s spam folder. The whole interactivity between the bloggers are being lost that way.

    So, if I decided to take vengeance, I could mark Mrs X comments as spam and then she would experience the same problems.

    Why does WordPress let other bloggers treat other bloggers like that?
    Is all the akismet/spam things automatic?
    Isn’t there any quality control here?

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  13. Great advice! Especially for beginner bloggers like myself. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I wish that I have more interactions at my blog, but I am constantly working on it and will be patient.

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  14. Very helpful tips and in particular, I am glad you pointed this out —

    But donโ€™t reply to every comment. If you have quite a lot of comments and you reply to each with a simple โ€˜thanks,โ€™ your comment thread isnโ€™t going to be as interesting to readers. Think of your replies as a way to add something substantial that will build on the discussion.

    Thanks,
    TSD
    http://www.thescarletredishrack.wordpress.com

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  15. Although likely to be very entertaining for all of you (not so much for me), Iโ€™m afraid of what my mother might post! Thereโ€™s just no telling! Would love to have my son post a comment โ€“ that should spark a thought provoking conversation or two.

    H…, who am I kidding, I just like to see some non-spam comments! ๐Ÿ™‚

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