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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 try to read only when I’ve devoted time, say 30-60 minutes. That way I can read thoroughly and leave thoughtful comments. Reading on the fly contributes to commenting on the fly.

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  2. I’m highly selective who I approve for pingbacks.
    When I leave a link in a comment I made which happens maybe every 50th comment I’ve made, it is directly related to the blog post content.

    Side note: This does not solve our problem with people who “like” a blog post with a gravatar, but clearly their blog is all reblogged posts, spammy, they don’t give damn about the topic based on the totally far-out blog which has zero topic focus.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m very happy to know that I am not committing some type of blogging rule crime by deleting links in the comments. When I first started blogging, I didn’t know what to do with them and most often clicked the approve button. Eventually, I got tired of bloggers who copied the long list of pingbacks from weekly challenges at the end of their posts. This, in turn, creates a comment with a link that I end up deleting.

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  4. Don’t forget the “Like” and “Follow” spammers… It’s probably subtle to most here but as many times as Iv’e had an account here with different styles of writing it was always the usual suspects “Liking” and “Following”. I know be cause I could get say like, 6 likes on an article or a few follows, yet according to my stats no one visited my blog or maybe one or two. In my opinion it’s a form of deception, they do it to “Obligate” the blogger to visit their blog. 🙂

    I know there’s people who just hit like and follow at random…

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  5. Oh…this post makes me feel way better about my own comments. I was worried they sucked, but…uh…well at least they’re real comments, where I’m at least trying to express that I enjoyed the post in some way and why. Even if I do it poorly. Usually because I’m distracted. Because I usually read at work. In any case, I’m still happy to get faint praises, but that’s probably because my blog is new and any comment excites me. I wonder if a rejection would excite me? Hm. Guess I’ll find out when I get some sort of negative comment like that.
    Anyway thanks for the post!

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  6. I never leave a link unless it is requested by the author of the blog. I think it reeks of poor taste.

    When bloggers leave a “blog post length” comment and/or a link without invitation. I call that “blog-jacking.” It cries out for attention. “Click on me!” They must not know that it looks ridiculous.
    Other times when bloggers just leave a link, they must be unaware that you can click on the blogger’s name to go to their blog from the comments.

    At the same time, I would LOVE to buy a “Latest post,” plugin. Then I would be “inviting” bloggers to use and abuse my blog!

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  7. I enjoy reading thoughtful comments on my blog, and I try to also take the time to think of something meaningful to say on other bloggers’ posts as well. I’m glad I haven’t gotten too many of the “shameless plug” comments on my blog so far.

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  8. Many thanks for typing up this post! The “unspoken rules” of online etiquette seem quite obvious to me, but I can understand how they might be difficult for a novice blogger (ok, let’s be frank, a novice INTERNET user) to understand right away. I’m very glad this post got Freshly Pressed, as everyone should read it! (Along with that one about Facebook etiquette that has made the rounds a few times). I’ve often felt that the reason younger folks get annoyed when their parents join Facebook is not as simple as, “Darn, my Dad can see what I’m doing now!” but rather said parents’ total incomprehension of the subtle rules garnering when, how, and with whom one should interact on that site.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You had me at ‘plug’ …. no just kidding. Quite early on in blogging I learnt some etiquette by reading the comments on other blogs, just to see how people positively engaged with each other. I noticed one blogger who routinely got ignored even though she left many comments, and as we both seemed to be commenting regularly on Freshly Pressed posts I soon saw a pattern emerging. Every single comment she made contained this trite little offering as a sign off: “you matter”. Now, not everyone would wince at this as a throw away line or find it anything other than a lovely compliment, but I do think personally engaging with the blogger rather than using any sort of cliché is probably the best approach in a global community. As for the ‘like’ if I see I’ve had a lot of visitors and no ‘likes’ then I take that as instant feedback that I may have written a duff post! I’d even turn a blind eye to the drive by plug as proof that someone had actually been there!!

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  10. WordPress does a good job of screening the junk however when set right and I have yet to have any spam on my comment sections. It has always caught those comments with links to nowhere. If it hadn’t it would have literally taken me hours to clear them out each week. SEO spam and other garbage. But I am glad someone talked about tacky posts with nothing to add.

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  11. Leaving posts that make other readers wonder if you’ve actually read anything? Brilliant! I’ve come across a few if these. I’m a newbie blogger and still learning the ropes, but people insert comments that are completely irrelevant or based on misunderstandings of the text seriously get my goat.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. “Great job” now go to my blog. Just kidding. I couldn’t help myself. I get what your saying. We are all learning along the way, this will help a lot of people.

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  13. I struggle with comments, mostly because I don’t have many shared experiences with the writers of a lot of the blogs I read. When I do, leaving comments is simple. Chances are I already have a post on my own blog that relates. (I should. After all, I’m pushing 150 entries!) Sometimes other writers even enjoy reading these posts. That’s rare, but it’s grand.

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  14. such pressure to write an amazing comment on here!!!!! But seriously, I agree that I cant stand it when people write ‘look at my blog’. Looks unprofessional and needy!

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  15. Interesting post. I agree with parts of it, but there are parts I don’t. I personally try not to direct the way in which people should comment, because I feel something like “great,” or “nice post,” could be anything. A lot of bloggers are writers and some writers are extremely introverted. Case in point, I have someone who reads my posts alot but who never posted. And when they finally did it was something to the effect of nice post, but I have seen her on other blogs and she neeeeeeeeever EVER posts a comment. 🙂 So I’m really grateful any of my posts have moved her enough to attempt it.

    Plus as someone said on here, people communicate in different ways.

    I also don’t mind a plug, if they’ve said something on mine. As you’ve said, sometimes people are getting a hang of the whole ‘posting,’ thing, so I just want people to feel comfy on my blog.

    To feel I am friendly and ready to embrace them, no matter what they contribute. But sure, comments where people say and gory detail what they liked, is nice too. But I’m not irked with anything else that shows up unless it’s a ‘hi’ + link. LOL. Then, it’s a little shameless.

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    1. I agree with this. I appreciate the fact someone actually read my post and wanted to tell me it’ s ‘great’ ‘nice’ or whatever. It does bother me just a bit when all that’s left is a link, but I don’t get highly upset over it and take the opportunity to check out a blog I may not otherwise have.

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      1. Yeah I don’t get highly upset with just a link and no comment relating to the post either. A little irked, Lol. But like you — it gets me over to their blog! And sometimes I follow? Lol. Social awkwardness appears in written exchange as well, not just physical (hi + link or just link lol).

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  16. Okay I confess, I used to be guilty of this when I was a newbie blogger because all the “Fastest Way To Get Traffic” articles recommended commenting on other blogs. However, what they forgot to say 9 times out of 10 was be sure to add value. They almost always neglected to point out that the owners of those other blogs wanted good quality interactions and not just to be used as link bait… Now I know much better.

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    1. Well, to be frank, I’m happy to be used as link bait. Why not? Pay it forward and all that. Akismet has bagged 51,678 comments as spam, I have 45 in my spam queue now and I would estimate about 500 have gotten through over the years and I have handled them. But If a real blogger wants to drop by, say nice post, visit me, I just don’t see the harm. Of course, I am a photo blogger who writes not a writer so maybe that is different.

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  17. Well I never leave my url on any comments I made so far. I personally leave comments because I want to be in touch with the writer.

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  18. I’m okay with someone just leaving a short comment with a link or no comment with a link. Sometimes I’ll check it out and sometimes I won’t. It’s only an annoyance if the person does it on all my post. Once is quite enough. Otherwise, I’m chill about it.

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  19. Thanks a lot for writing this post. It seems like this practice is getting worse lately. I can’t imagine posting a link to my blog in a comment. It’s obnoxious. I’d prefer that someone visit because they want to, not because they feel obligated to. I delete all such comments with no remorse. 🙂

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  20. I’m a pretty new blogger, and thankfully I haven’t had such comments in my 3 months or so of blogging. I wouldn’t be very happy if people just left their links on my articles and expect extortion of the (little) traffic I have to happen.

    However, if it were to happen to me. I guess I’ll just leave the comment right there and reply it with, “You’re so shameless.” or somewhere near the line.

    Of course, some bloggers leave links so people would visit back and share the joy of writing around the community. I appreciate that, because discovering new blogs is just a part of the adventures of blogging.

    Liked by 1 person