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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 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. 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.

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  2. 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?

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  3. 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?

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  4. 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”.

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  5. 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

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    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.

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  6. 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 🙂

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  7. 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/

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  8. 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!

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  9. 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.

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    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.

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  10. 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.

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  11. 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)

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  12. 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..

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  13. 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.

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  14. So here are my 2 cents – results from a bit of observation… 😮 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! 😮 A good comment on your post is a great way not only to please the ‘blogger’, but to open doors to very interesting experiences…

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    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. 😉

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  15. 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

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  16. 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!

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  17. 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.

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  18. Your ideas on how to comment on posts has been enlightening. Especially encouraging one to respond to an opinion who specifically disagrees with the writer. This allows both the writer and the reader greater insight with respect to the issue. Additionally, it forces a thread of posts where we all can learn from one another. Commenting on passionate topics lending a different perspective or noting one’s likes or dislikes is a great promotion of our first amendment. I enjoy participating in debatable issues that most don’t want to speak about. Race, abortion, religion, constitutional rights, etc. I learn with every read!

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  19. I used to always feel that I had to construct my powerful, life-altering comment, sleep on it, possibly come back to it (how often does this happen)? Now I comment right when I am there, on the blog I want to comment about, and I try to worry less about repeating someone’s point of view (flattery!), being original (nothing new under the sun!) or hurting someone’s feelings (when I don’t have a leash on my sarcastic tendencies…always meant for humor and sometimes falling flatter than a an overcooked noodle). Blog on people!
    BTW thought provoking post!

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    1. Good point – it’s also possible to over-think it. Better to go ahead and comment if you want to than to lose sleep over the perfect comment and never get around to it!

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  20. “GREAT POST”! Ha-ha! I get one comments like “love it” and “looks good”. When I comment on someones page, I speak about what they talked about, or ask questions to open up further conversation.

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  21. My commenting style is very much similar to my blogging style, with a few alterations. I make a mental outline of what I have to say and make sure that I only stick to one topic. I also think that commenting shouldn’t be choc full of information all the time — it depends on the topic of the blog. Finally, if “great post” are the only words that you can type on the comment form, then so be it. A little appreciation goes a long way, at least for me. 🙂

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  22. Dear Lizzy, It’s so nice to read your piece. I’m personally touched by your candid confession that sometimes you’re lost in thought as to what to say, even so you’re undeterred. It’s certainly not peculiar to you. Truth is, our interest in other people’s blogs often leads to meaningful comments. We might mention a point of interest from a recent article read or share thoughts that we found helpful. Either way, it’s good to mention a point of mutual interest, and offer a sincere compliment.

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  23. Wow, this is the first time I spent more time in reading comments posted by others, than your very own post. Impressive writing and keep up the good works. Thanks.

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  24. Thank you for the great tips about responding to a blog. You made me understand why I have not gotten responses. Because of this, I will now reshape the writing of what is posted. I will start with just a few of your tips and those shared by others. Let’s see if I can get even 2 reactions from my next blog- and then go up from there. Whoopee!!

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