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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 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 The WordPress.com Blog, 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 Discover. 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. I so agree with this post! When people leave shameless plugs, I delete the comment or won’t approve it. That’s not what being social or blogging is about. Unless like @michelleweber stated, if challenges allow it or encourage you to do so.

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  2. For the most part people who comment on my blog are fine. I get a few of those and I do try to make sure I don’t do it. I did have one blogger who was always insistent I check out his latest reviews, it felt kind of rude. He would never comment on any of the content on my posts, just say hey check out this review I did. I had to mark him as spam, I didn’t know what else to do. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You did the right thing! He was likely doing the same thing on other blogs, and marking his comments as spam will help the spam blockers ID and prevent those kinds of comments.

      Like

  3. I agree wholeheartedly with this article – it is annoying to get those spammy comments. such a waste of my time (and theirs, as it happens). I am new, but have been spammed like the rest of us. I write for my own pleasure primarily, but feedback – meaningful feedback – is such a shot in the arm. I read a LOT of what other people write, like often (if I do), but only comment when I have something constructive or positive to add to what has already been said (which, I gotta say, makes THIS comment rather moot – ha!). I am a new blogger, but already have a few loyal followers and we read and interact with one another’s works regularly. It is what this is all about, isn’t it? Views are just views… numbers on a stat readout. But meaningful (and, I must admit, often funny) comments are always welcomed!

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  4. What a fantastic post! A fun and positive way to remind folks of common courtesy. That said, WP readers and bloggers ROCK! I started my blog to hone my writing and express myself. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that some of my dearest friends are those that I’ve met through the WP community. Somehow, I stumbled across the right crowd and I learned good manners by the examples they set. I truly do get value from the posts and exercises that sit in the DP blog. Thank you so much for taking such great care of us!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I do Comments for a Cause on my blog and ask that commenters leave “legitimate” comments in order to count towards the monthly total . I have pretty much weeded out the spammers and most folks who leave comments leave insightful comments. I hate those “please follow me” comments. They turn me off!!! Great post. Going to be sharing this one.

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  6. i actually do leave up the plugs. I get very few. If they come back and engage in a meaningful discussion that’s fine, and I may consider commenting on theirs. Most of my readers and commenters are established bloggers who wade through endless comments before making their own and I appreciate that. If any of those lovely people link back to ‘here’s one I wrote earlier’ that’s fine by me.

    I do it too. I think a decent post merits a thoughtful – and sometimes long – comment, and if I have written about the self same topic it makes sense to link back to my post rather than write a comment of 1000 words.

    Your post is really aimed at new bloggers isn’t it? The way to get readership is not to to say ‘here is my blog go read it’, it’s to read and write thoughtfully and responsively. It’s not too difficult. It is time-consuming. Blog popularity doesn’t happen overnight.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s aimed at anyone who does this thinking they’re helping themselves, when they may be shooting themselves in the foot — many new bloggers, but some not-so-new 🙂 Leaving links to related posts that explain your point is hunky-dory, as several comments above attest.

      (Sadly, the actual spammers will continue not to care, so huzzah for spam filters.)

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  7. I have never had anyone leave me a link back to their blog, but that could be because I have had very few comments left on mine (this isn’t a sob story to try and get comments, may I quickly add!), and I am so relieved to be able to say I haven’t left a link in any of my comments now that I know, rather than just suspect, that it isn’t the ‘done thing’. I really appreciate these posts, as I find myself becoming more educated in this online world that I never even knew existed until a couple of months ago! What’s a pingback, by the way? …

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      1. Thanks! That explains a pingback. Now all I’d have to do is work out how to link to another blogger’s post in my own. Would that be the same as adding media into a post by copying the address at the top of their post? (Note my lack of technical ability … my whole blog so far has been as a result of me just pressing things and seeing what happens 🙂 )

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  8. I sometimes will include a link to a similar topic or the same topic for that matter, on the post I just read. However, I only do it if I like the post and I want to join in on the conversation. If I don’t like the discussion, even if I have posts related or of the same topic, I don’t bother to link.

    I agree that self-promotion really ruins the enjoyment of comments on posts.

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  9. Personally I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. When I read an interesting comment, I like to check out the person’s blog. My problem is that I mainly use the wordpress app, where you can’t press on the name, but can on urls. For this reason, I like when people put their URL, so long as it is on the end of an interesting comment- not the faint praise etc. So if I like it should I do it myself? I’m not sure, and so haven’t done so far, but from the comments here I’m thinking I’m best sticking to not putting my URL.

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      1. The picture doesn’t come up unless I get a ‘this person has replied to your comment’ notification and then clicking the picture doesn’t do anything. Maybe it’s because of the app I’m using (meaning iOS, android etc). I think sometimes it shows more on my tablet than my phone app so maybe that’s why.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for providing The Daily Post and Hot off the Press policies/strategies. Every time I get a link-dropper, after my heart sinks and I groan, I go through this back and forth moral dilemma – do I delete or approve? Maybe they’re new and don’t know? What if I hurt their feelings? But how does their comment make me feel? (crappy, like they didn’t read my post, like they really don’t care what I or the other readers had to say). It’s a hard choice every time, so I like the idea of setting boundaries and enforcing them. Thanks Michelle!

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    1. I’m so glad someone else shares my dilemma!! I have a photography blog as well as my writing one and the link-dropper is endemic there, but somehow more acceptable in a photo community? Photo blogs are quicker to go and have a quick flick through I guess! I’ve never been good at ‘sales’ so marketing myself doesn’t come very easily, and I’m a little bit confronted when others merrily link away with seemingly no embarrassment about it 🙂

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      1. I think there is a slightly different expectation on photo blogs. Personally, I have comments turned off entirely on mine, and prefer that to content-less links, but that’s a personal choice.

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      2. ….if I ever get heavily critiqued in the comments on my photo blog I will reach for the turn off function for sure! so far, a very nice and supportive community, especially with the weekly photo challenges 🙂

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  11. I also compare single likes with shameless plugs. For me it is just the same. I consider (and so I always do while living a like) that we must specify and share what or why we like or think about a post. This, not only tells about the quality of the article, as a feedback to the author, but also tells about our knowledge or interest in the theme. Many bloggers use to like every single post they come across, but that says nothing but “hi, it’s me”!

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  12. Hi what about trackback and pingsbacks. I know how to link my post to for e.g. Daily Post. But I have been getting alot of these things myself as a result when posting but what are they and are they really even a comment? How useful are they to you? sorry for all the questions.

    – Naomi.

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  13. I spoted a blog two or three days ago which had a “comments policy”. I thought it was subtile an original. I align with the fact that we really need insightful comments. It helps us being better bloggers. My own attitude is, if I like a post but don’t have inspiring comments to add, I will just like it. In the contrary, I will take time for a proper comment, just like now. Thanks for the tips. Highly useful (and this is not me being just nice lol)

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  14. I think this is a very relevant post. I’ve seen this same type of thing happening around a number of the underground music sites I was a part of. Some people truly are just looking for more hits vs more content. I personally am writing with a different purpose. If all I’m getting are clicks on my page but no responses, I tend to feel that the particular piece that’s getting that type of response isn’t actually interesting at all. But of course, to each his own…I guess lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I try to give killer comments and I strive to make them positive. What gripes me is no response. So here I spend twenty minutes of my insignificant life and no one cares what I wrote. Why bother?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It can frustrating, but you never know when good will come of it — a random visitor to the other blog might see your comment, become a followers of yours, and end up being an amazing connection down the line.

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  16. I read somewhere (probably another blog, because I read a lot of blogs about blogging) that said a good comment should be between 50 – 75 words. That sounds to me a lot like a discussion assignment for my business class. But I like what you said better, about how a comment should be engaging and show your personality. Its better for a conversation that way and neurotic people like me don’t spent 10 minute counting words (<– that there is 76 words, so I guess I blew the maximum limit. Guess my grade drops by 10 points lol).

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Hallelujah! Finally, appropriate condemnation from the powers that be. Sic ’em, WordPress!

    Can we entice the Ubernerds to rig a program that automatically sends commenters of three words or less straight to this post? Maybe sign them up for a public flogging in a convenient town square with webcams?

    Not sure if it’s electronic asshattery, but I personally edit out the shameless links people add to their comments unless it’s to an informational site or photo that supports the initial blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. When I started reading this post, I felt guilty. But then I realized that sometimes all I really have to say is that the post was great and I want the blogger to know that as well. I guess saying a few more ‘meaningful’ things will go a long way but I don’t want to say anything off topic.

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  19. First let me say that I have never just left a link to my blog in the comment section of another blog, and I don’t have any intention of doing so in the future. Having said that, I might be annoyed to find a self-promoted link left as a comment, but if it’s a real link to a real blog, I’m okay with it, AS LONG AS THAT BLOGGER DOESN’T OVERDO IT. I assume 2 things: (1) it’s a part of the price I pay for having a public place on the world-wide web and, (2) that public place is going to attract all kinds of people. The best solution, for any blogger who feels intruded upon by another blogger’s shameless act of self-promotion, is to adjust their blog’s settings to manually approve comments.

    If you’re new to WordPress and don’t know how to do this, go to your blog’s dashboard and click ‘Settings’, in the sub menu click, “Discussion” and in that window titled, “Discussion Settings”, scroll down the list to the item “Before a comment appears” and then click to check the box next to, “comment must be manually approved”. Once you’ve made your selection make sure to click, “Save Changes” at the bottom of the Discussion Settings page. Now, no comment will appear on your blog until you “approve” it. To read and edit your post comments go to your blog’s dashboard and click “Comments” in the sidebar. As you hover your mouse over each comment you will see a number of options, “trash”, “reply”, “approve”, “edit”, etc. Alternatively, you can access some of these options via the notifications icon located on the right side of the WordPress menu bar that appears at the very top of your blog’s web page.

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  20. I am guilty of leaving “shameless plug” type comments up for the world to see. As long as they are not offensive and they make a small effort at concealment- I don’t see the harm-sort of like an accidental postcard going to the wrong address. I will admit to deleting the most blatant.
    And I must “come out” as an “over-like buttoner”….I know I have a problem and I would be O.K if WordPress limited me to a maximum of 2 or 3 “like clicks” a day. I need help! Maybe you could suggest the etiquette on like buttons in a future post?

    Like

      1. Sometimes I feel like I am on a float just throwing them out like candy to all who are lined up on the street. I just like so many posts when I troll around the blogging neighborhood. So many interesting posts and so little time—-I do admit to lowering my standards of appreciation when I come across a brand new blog that seems heartfelt but is struggling…because we all start that way and those first few likes are so important.

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      2. I’m all for the supportive Like! A Like can mean “I liked this post” or it can mean “I like that you’re here, keep it up.” The open-endedness is one of the great things about Likes 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand you Wayne. Given the chance, I would like almost every food related post I come across! I have to stop myself as I feel like it would come across as creepy.

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  21. I would really love people to comment more; When I can see that I had so and so many views, but no comments, it makes me curious as to what the people thought when reading it :s

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  22. Case in point, I just had to remove this comment from the post:

    I love this blog!! Please be sure to check out my fashion blog: addressredacted.com

    Is this a real person? Maybe. Does the comment come off as spammy? Yes. Is it kind of ironic? Definitely.

    Loving the conversation here — it’s really helpful to hear how others approach comments, and what types of feedback y’all do/do not appreciate.

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    1. I appreciate this blog too- I’ve had this happen. But I’m curious, are there non-real bloggers out there? I mean- are there comments left that have been computer generated? And if so- are they always so simple as “loved this! Come check out my blog.!” ? Or might they be more detailed such as someone asking to do a collaboration or use photos? I’ve had both of those comments, but when I respond, nothing. So maybe I’m just not responding soon enough, or could it be that they’re not real? Thanks for any further information on this- I appreciate it!
      -Jasmine

      Liked by 1 person

  23. I’m new to blogging. If others take a moment to read what I’ve written-great. If not, at least I cleared my mind for the day. For me, writing is an outlet. Sure its always great to have an audience but to comment just to drive traffic, is offensive and undermining.

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  24. When I got to the part where the old man stole your shopping cart, I laughed so hard I scared my cat.

    No, that can’t be… My cat is deaf.

    Like