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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. Great post!…I mean…thanks for providing such great direction for new bloggers. I appreciate hearing etiquette rules before I break them. I look forward to reading The Daily Post articles because there is always something in them for me to learn.

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  2. It’s difficult to comment on this without the pressure to write the perfect, no green eggs and spam comment! 😉 Really great advice, thanks, especially on how to deal with shameless spamming! I’m glad to report no cats were harmed while reading it though possibly my puppy was a little startled by the chuckling!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I see this all the time. Funny how I never quite feel like I’ve done the ‘job’ of reading until I leave a little something behind. Like active listening – you listen and engage [write, ask, …].

    While a pingback from ‘higher-up’ blogs is always a good thing, it shouldn’t ever be the main drive.

    PS – I’m not sure I’d ever have the patience to read thru other comments before putting mine up. I may reply to an existing comment if I re-visit and have the time – but I always like the first comment to reflect my initial impression of the post.

    !.!.!

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  4. I to don’t get it about people wanting vast amounts of traffic to their blog. I blog because I love to put my thoughts down and when I first set up my WordPress account, I invite friends and family to view my blogs and to follow me. The fact I have picked up a few other followers is great and I hope they will stay with me and that all will give me good constructive feedback about my blogs. It’s great to start a debate or conversation and to see where it flows.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What about the “I follow you then can you follow me” kind? It’s kind of common in the internet especially with the social medias. I liked your facebook, follow your twitter, pinterest and instagram page, in exchange, you can like and follow me back on all the social medias. There are so many bogus comments and followers floating around.

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    1. I ignore such requests and send them directly to Trash. In fact I blogged on this here 7 Common Sense Social Networking Tips http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2013/12/07/7-common-sense-social-networking-tips/

      There are positives to social networking but there are negatives too. Always exercise common sense when it comes to which social media sites you are active on and what you post. Not connecting cautiously and posting appropriately can ruin your reputation, so if you want to be a successful blogger think before you act.

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  6. Since I’m not writing my blog strictly for my own amusement, the comments I receive are invaluable guides to whether I’m “hitting the nail on the head” with my posts or whether I need to go back to the drawing board and meditate there a bit. “Non-comments” whose sole purpose is to get me and my readers to click on the link they originate from, elicit a reaction from me that goes something like: “you brazen @#$%, get offa my blog!” And then I hit the “spam” button with good satisfaction.

    My faithful and much-beloved readers do not deserve to have their valued and valuable comments diluted by such garbage. Emotional, eh? You bet!

    I always do check out comment-less reblogs. Sometimes they are just from new bloggers who don’t know any better…..if so, I just leave them a comment thanking them for the reblog and welcoming their comments. If not, I delete them.

    Thanks for opening this great topic! Obviously a sensitive nerve for me.

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  7. As a newish WP blogger, I have wondered about lots of the issues expressed here, including receiving pingbacks (and reblogs, which I read recently about on WP forums); I’m so thankful you posted this, Michelle!
    I think I kind of run counter to some of this in that (I feel) my comments tend to be too wordy. Michelle, if you see this (or anyone else), do you have a rule of thumb for length of comment? I definitely don’t want to be rude and/or make others feel like I’m hijacking their comment space! Like dorannrule says up above, I often spend longer deliberating a comment, writing it, and checking it before I hit “post comment” than I do for other aspects of WordPress blogging, including a few of my photography posts. Probably never will I be accused of being succinct!
    Finally, I probably should add that I haven’t experienced many of these issues with spammers; nonetheless, I really tend to agree with the writers above who’ve said, in effect, that blogging (that is, receiving readers) for them is about the quality of the comments and the readership rather than a ginormous, nebulous quantity of readers or even likers and commenters who could not care any less about your blog, your projects, or you as a human being. My husband also chided me to not respond to every comment on my blog, the ones that say simply “good post” or the like. I do tend to respond to them all, however, out of a desire to thank them for taking time to read and comment. But is this also bad etiquette in a way?

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    1. I’ve heard different “rules” on comment length, but I don’t put much stock in them. Personally, I appreciate it when folks take the time to really engage with something I’ve written. That being said, very long comments can look like an attempt to “take over” a thread or to take focus from the original post — my (very vague) rule is that if a comment needs paragraph breaks, it’s better to leave a comment with your key point, then write your own post and share that.

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  8. Great post come check out my blog at ___________ LOL Joking!! I totally agree with this and I think people should read as a requirement before starting to blog!! It’s kinda annoying when I read other people’s comments on a really good blog post that I want to comment on and I see people advertising themselves…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m so glad that you posted this. I am new to the blogging world, but I do know the value of a good comment. My fiance would say “Hey look babe, you got three comments on your post already” but they each said “nice” “cool” and “thanks for posting.” I started a blog so that I could interact with others. I want to actually hold conversations, whether they are silly or serious, I want to CONVERSE with others.. not just comment in passing.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. So you gotta deal with a few spam comments to get featured on Freshly Pressed? Sounds worth it to me! Lol I’m new to blogging so I really appreciate The Daily Post teaching proper blog etiquette, keep it up guys.

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  11. I really enjoyed this article. I appreciate the tips given here and I intend to pass them along. Although I new to blogging, I am not new to etiquette. I try to make me comment clear, supportive, and treat it as if I am talking with someone face-to-face. I certainly wouldn’t appreciate someone who walks up to me the street, hands me their business card, and then quietly slips away. The business card will end up in the trash.
    Great guidelines for a beginning blogger. Great guidelines for anyone leaving comments anywhere!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That real-life example if a great way of thinking about it. If you wouldn’t do/say something to a person on the street, why would you do/say it in their online house?

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    1. RAE,

      I totally noticed your blog. Unfortunately that doesn’t really get you much of anything. But still I love your artwork and think you are hilarious. I am sure I have left many fluff comments. I apologize (unless you want more of those). I hope that you have a fantastic day and that you do more cat drawings. Cheers.

      -Soul Walker

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      1. Wait, I realized this post wasn’t yours. I got confused, sorry! I saw your reply and thought, “Oh shit, he has another blog I don’t know about!”

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  12. Good informative post.
    Another great example of weird posts are people you know who leave comments totally unrelated to your post, like my granny did. Asking about my day, verifying she received my post card and wishing me well. Very sweet and all but I did ask her to leave that kind of stuff for Facebook 😉

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  13. Wow, that was a really nice post…I mean, it’s pretty true when you get people that just say nice post as opposed to people that actually comment on what was meant. Though I think a lot of times people comment about things that I didn’t even mean to be the point. Maybe I should make sure my posts make sense…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thanks for this post, very valuable information.

    I recently did put the url to one of my blog posts as a comment on someone’s site, but it was for a specific post that was totally relevant to the subject and his ‘niche’. In response the lovely author emailed me directly to talk further, and we’ve been in touch ever since, and hope to meet up to chat further at some point. He may be a useful contact for a new business venture.

    So sometimes it’s ok maybe?!

    Oh, and as an added benefit, though it truly was not my objective, I got my highest number of post views that day 😉

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  15. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! Often, I ‘like’ one without commenting if I cannot think of anything truly original or clever to say. But never, ever plug! I get gobs of ’em on my WP moderation queue; generic like you describe above, mostly by people who have no concept of spelling or grammar.

    You are right; it is insulting to receive comments that not only selfishly exploit your personal creative online space for their own personal benefit, but when it is obvious they haven’t even read anything between the first and last oaragraphs, that is the real slap in the face.

    Again; THANK YOU (and an additional thanks to WP for having the decency to Freshly Press this truly important piece. It speaks to all who wish to take each other seriously).

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  16. I am a new blogger and I was really stressing on how to make a comment on this. Thank you so much for your help. New bloggers like myself, do not want to make an ASS of ourselves in the blogging world. I know I am guilty of plugging my website on a few sites, but now I know the implications of this. Oooops, my bad.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Drives by waving his url! 😉
    No but seriously, I thought it was well written and interesting. Made me stop and think about writing comments. Pretty new to blogging, and have more used it as a medium to show my own photos and thoughts than to interact with others. Perhaps it is time to start interacting with the larger community. Thank you!

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  18. This was a great article! This is the same way we feel about automate DM on twitter. Those who are successful at blogging or social media know its all about being genuine and having real conversations in virtual settings. People are not dumb and they don’t like to be treated like they are.

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      1. Yea? Do you? It seems like several others have that practice, as well. We typically don’t… yet. We monitor our feed to see what their practices are, then go from there. If they ignore us on a response or broadcast that’s when we unfollow.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Very helpful. I just started blogging again & I really could have used this post about a yea ago. Even though I learned much of this the hard way it’s still nice to see others struggling with the same shame. Thanks!

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  20. This post is super informative. I hadnt realized that not all comments where good comments. I think I maybtake you guys up on your offer of “snagging.” Those guidelines to post on a new page on my blog. I love all of your posts and I woukd love to know where you find such creative art! When I saw the picture in the fressly pressed page, I wondered for a brief moment when wordpress started subscribing to old 50’s style advertisments! Very cheeky!

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      1. I knew if I read the post AND the comments, I’d learn something useful; this was worth the effort! Now I know where to go for pics when I’m lacking a good one from my own 10,000 or so. Oh . . . and I like what CARDINAL GUZMAN said about links in posts (I noticed that on many photo challenge posts), and your suggestion about reporting spam comments (I’ve been reluctant to do that, just been deleting the comments), and the comment from 1STPEAKSTEVE about responding to comments left on one’s blog (something I was thinking about on my long drive to work yesterday, coincidentally).

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  21. I love the names you gave the different kind of Commenters. (The Drive By Linking, The Faintest Praise, etc.) It reminds me of the minor characters on Seinfeld. “The High-Talker” or “Man-Hands.” Been off the air for how many years now and I still find ways to relate things to his show. I guess I’m the “Seinfeld-Linker!” Forgive me if I come to your blog and correlate something you posted about to George Costanza. 😉

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    1. Nothing wrong with quoting Seinfeld. The show was not only groundbreaking for its time, but it is still relevant and applicable to many facets of our lives today – Not that there’s anything wrong with that 😉

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  22. Very authentic. Love it!
    When I first started blogging, I notice that a lot, bloggers to include their own links. I didn’t understand it why at first, I actually thought that’s how I’m supposed to do it.
    Anyhow, I’m just so inspired to what I read I forgot to link then later I learned I shouldn’t in the first place.
    So, sorry if I did. But thankful for the learning and giving us a reality check.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been blogging for about a month now, and I, too, made the mistake of the Drive by Linking a couple of times. It was for a specific post which I thought related to the topic, but I can see the point how it can be simply a shameless plug for one’s own blog.
      If you want to read more about this topic, please visit…. No, just kidding 🙂

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