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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’m glad you wrote this. I am new to all this and was lucky enough to be featured on Freshly Pressed. I was quite shocked when suddenly there was loads of activity and I didn’t know what to do with it. There were, as you describe, comments such as “great. Why not read my blog?” which was I thought a bit rude. The worse are those that clearly haven’t read anything at all on my blog. I had one that said. “Hahaha, brilliant. LOL”. My blog is about having breast cancer! Clearly they hadn’t even read the byline of my blog never mind any posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The worst plug is probably the endless list of links that people put (especially) in their photo challenges. They do this only to get more visitors to their post and they don’t even bother to visit or comment in most of the blogs that they link to.

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  3. This is all good, but how do you get rid of or stop those blogs that have nothing to offer or have what you believe is inappropriate content? When they show they tend to leave just a name behind.

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    1. Feel free to delete those comments and/or to report them as spam, if you think they’re inappropriate. The more you report spam, the better our spam filters become and weeding those comments out.

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  4. This irks us all.

    I have always maintained that the interaction in blogging is what separates our form of media from the old print media style. Comments are almost expected now and seen as a form of praise for the effort.

    On the flip side, my buddy has a blog with some followers and never responds to any comments. It seems just an annoying.

    Oh no! I have let out a new topic that could be featured on “Freshly Pressed”!

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  5. My favorite was someone that commented on my food site about a charity in Peru. Huh? Thanks for the rules!

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  6. Thanks for the information. But I’d take a “nice post” comment over a “like” any day. Want to talk about no engagement – there it is.
    Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the “likes” particularly if I get nothing else, but it would be nice to know what you “like” about it.
    Maybe you should also inform that it’s impolite to “follow” somebody just to get them to follow you back. Because it’s a little puzzling when your stats don’t reflect the number of followers you’re supposed to have.
    At least have the decency to visit the person’s blog now and then and make a comment. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

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    1. For me, I’d rather have likes than the “nice post.” The “nice post” is just as ambiguous, and typically, if you ask for clarification, you don’t get any further responses, so you are still in the dark as to what was “nice” about your post.

      Regarding following, if I use an RSS aggregator to get your blog feed, then I can follow you without ever officially “following” you, and you’ll never know that I’m following you. All that to say, your following stats are probably lying to you, anyway. I do agree with you, though, about those who follow just to get followers.

      As for what it’s all about? Well, for me, it’s all about writing. I do enjoy it when people follow and leave comments, but I write because I want to write. At the end of the day, comments and followers are a by-product of that purpose, not the purpose itself.

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      1. Thanks for your comments. In truth, the post kind of irked me because
        1. I had just linked a particular article from my blog when I commented on someone’s post which is something I’ve never done before. But I did it since the blogger’s post spoke to an issue I had dealt with already and I was glad that someone else saw it the same way. Luckily she didn’t take offense. And I noticed that in a follow up on the topic the DP writer noted that there were some exceptions.
        And 2. Where were they when as a new blogger I was constantly bombarded by those outfits that try to sell you on their lifestyle? I wrote a post about that by the way. Of course, we are all free to ignore and delete which I did a lot of, but it was incredibly annoying while it lasted. I haven’t seen them in a while, so I guess I’m no longer a newbie.
        Like you, I do write for the joy of it, and not the recognition, which I indicated when I wrote about deciding to leave Facebook despite its usefulness as a promotional tool, but sometimes it’s possible to lose sight of that when you’re looking at numbers.
        Again, thanks for your time.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. “I write because I want to write. At the end of the day, comments and followers are a by-product of that purpose, not the purpose itself.”
        I think this sums up really well how I feel about the whole ‘commenting’ issue too. I’ve been blogging for a few years, simply because I love to write. I think a lot of it comes down to what you want to get out of your blog. I’m always chuffed when someone comments (I always reply) but, until recently, I’ve never really appreciated the connecting’ possibilities with blogging.
        I agree that there should be a certain etiquette and we should treat other bloggers with respect, but I think we should remember that everyone has different aims and expectations from their blogging.

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  7. At the end of the day, it’s about being authentic. You wouldn’t talk to self-serving people in public so why make the internet any different. If someone does leave a lovely comment on your blog, do thank them with a return comment, just like you would in public. Let’s all keep the etiquette flowing.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I briefly considered imposing a facetious comment that would be ironic to the post. However, after a little chuckle with myself, I decided against it. I find it interesting how everyone markets themselves. I suppose there is a theory behind the blogging practice that proves popular, but I could really care less. If we care more about traffic than we do our content, as well as disrespecting each other in the process, we have missed the point and might as well just post and re-post gibberish. I for one wish only that my content be worthy of its following, if any. I mostly blog for my own betterment. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That comment deserves a “nice post&8221; comment of its own, so here it is! (Just kidding. I can’t leave it at just that.)

      I couldn’t agree with you more in regards to caring about traffic vs. content. I blog and write for the sake of blogging and writing, comments and followers be d [CENSORED] ! Those things (comments, followers, etc.) are all well and good, but you should geth those things becasuse you have good content, not because you are focused on getting comments and followers.

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      1. Your “traffic vs. content” comment is something all bloggers need to consider regularly. I started my blog for me, a diary of sorts, which I access online. Then I got a follower, then another follower, and then a like. Now, in the last couple of days, I’ve received more likes and comments than ever. Why? I’m not sure, though, it made me think: should I be posting something everyday? What do I need to be posting to keep my followers and get new followers? Humbled, I realized that in thinking this way, I’ve lost sight of my intention for maintaining this blog.

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  9. How relevant is this! thanks for posting this.
     
    Or how about NO PRAISE AT ALL, and a pingback: don’t-call-me-we’ll-call-you.wordpress.com.
     
    I once received a pingback on one of my posts, and when I clicked to reciprocate a visit to that blog, there was no visible reference or link to my blog. it appears that the blogger had included it on originally publishing it, and then edited their post to remove any reference to other blogs.
     
    apparently this had happened to others as well who had received pingbacks on their blogs and who had come looking. one blogger asked: Thanks for the pingback on my post, but I don’t see my link here? and there was only a vague non-answer as a reply to that.
     
    that one fell into the category – things that make you go hmmmm….

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    1. That has happened to me several times and it also happened to me today. I left a comment in that persons blog post where I wrote: “I got a pingback from your post, but there’s no link to my post. That’s just spamming and I’ll mark your pingback as spam.”

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  10. True true. When you write for the sake of it and sharing your thoughts, you don’t bother with traffic. Everytime I get a new follower or a like, I go “oh shit. Someone does find my poo interesting!” *grins*
    Using people’s blogs as cheap advert slots can be really annoying….in fact I am pissed on your behalf!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you for this post, I did like it and it also touched a chord because; and I’ll hold my hand up to this; I plugged my site on social media but only because it was relevant to the topic in question. I then was subtly reprimanded by someone who had plugged her blog/books repeatedly…..I found it very funny……but, now I don’t mention my site at all unless asked.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. While agreeing whole heartedly with brazen plugs being poor form – I see etiquette as a matter of common sense.There will always be good and bad manners, people consumed with “hits” and views vs those who genuinely wish to engage or share ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hello. I see I’m not the first one to discover this thread. It’s funny, if you’re a WordPress account member everyone can see your complete profile anyway, (that includes your blog link).

    There’s a time & place to shamelessly promote your own link; but what if you want to promote an organization’s URL/link? I want to be able to bring awareness to a charitable organization that I ‘virtual volunteer’ for –> [ (hint) CheerfulGivers ].

    Thank you for your moderation. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Linkbacks to one’s blog should only be used if it adds to the discussion in a meaningful and relevant way, such as a blog on the same topic which enhances the comment one is leaving- more like a info-reference.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. You mean to tell me that I didn’t have to read all those post’s? I could’ve just left a link! ARRRGGGGG!! Anyway – good advice for a new blogger like myself. I’ll take it under advisement.

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  16. sono nuova qui , e’ cosi difficile stare dietro a tutto quello che si dice. Del mio blog so solo come devo pubblicare quello che ho scritto ( a essere sincera non lo so neanche se qualcuno puo vedere quello che ho pubblicato). Spero che presto imparerò come funziona questo mondo e terrò conto dei consigli perché per me è importante potercela fare.

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  17. This is both entertaining and informative. I have people who comment on my blogs here and there and they clearly don’t take the time to read it. They will often comment on my title and the problem is I am very sarcastic and my title is often the opposite of what I am writing about.
    I don’t just want numbers, I want people who are going to read my posts and enjoy them, not lure me into a follow back. That being said, I look forward to more from you and this was a “Nice post!” 🙂

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  18. Good commenting is a great way to engage with other blogs, but the question I’m left with is more about how best to respond to comments on your own blog?

    There’s the useless “Nice post” sort or the ones where there’s some meat to it but it still seems like the commenter either sped read and missed the point or is deliberately ignoring the point of the post.

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  19. Writing a good comment isn’t rocket science, but for a novice like me it can still be a little nerve-wrecking. Call me old-fashion, but I only just started blogging! I found this post very helpful, it gave me some good insights into what I’d call responsible blogging behavior 🙂

    Liked by 1 person