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The Art of Blogosphere Conversation: Responding to Readers

Your blog is gaining traction: followers are trickling in and they’re commenting and hitting the like button on your posts. How do you respond?

All of a sudden, your growing blog is attracting likes, comments, and pingbacks, and the party is bubbling at your (blogging) house.

You think: People? Comments? Likes? Oh no, now what? How do I respond? I’m not much of a conversationalist.

There’s no need to wilt under social pressure. We’ve got some tips on how to keep the conversation real and flowing.

Let’s take things one step at a time.

Note: this piece focuses on how you might handle constructive responses to your posts. Got trolls? Here’s some great advice on how to deal with them.

Likes

Likes are a nice way to show support for another’s post. How might you respond to a like? A reciprocal visit shows you care. Clicking on a liker’s Gravatar takes you to their Gravatar profile, where you can find their site (if they list one). Visit that person’s blog and see what they have to say. You might just find something you like and if you do, recognize it with a like, follow, or comment. If you don’t find anything that moves you, that’s ok — it’s better to say / do nothing than to practice blind reciprocal liking, commenting, and following.

Comments


Comments are where a lot of the action can happen on your blog. Sometimes you’ll get thoughtful comments and sometimes perfunctory praise, such as, “awesome,” or, “great post.” In both instances, inquiring blogging minds want to know more — pose questions to suss out your readers’ deeper opinions on what you wrote or shared:

  • The “tell me more.” You said you loved “x.” Say more about that. Why did you love it?
  • Ask all about them. Have you had any similar experiences? Tell me about them.
  • Ask them to put on your moccasins. What might you have done differently, if you were me?

Other general conversation starters:

  • Ask them how they found you. What drew you to my blog?
  • Ask about their origin story. How did you get into blogging?
  • Ask about their favorite reads. Which other blogs do you love? Do you have any favorite posts you return to again and again? If so, which ones?

Pingbacks

A pingback (provided that you enable them) happens when someone links to your post.

Pingbacks may be only a few words, such as “Loved your post,” or, since commenting etiquette dictates that comments over a few paragraphs should be written on the commenter’s blog, you might get well-considered pingbacks containing much more.

You may choose not to respond to shorter pingbacks, though a “thank you” to the pingbacker and even a probing question about why they loved your post could generate some deeper discussion.

Longer pingbacks are definitely worth responding to. If someone has taken the time to write up a few paragraphs in response to something you’ve written, it’s good form to visit the pingbacker’s blog and respond to any questions they may have posed and pose any questions of your own (such as the ones we suggest above) that arise after reading their response.

And now, over to you

What tips and suggestions do you have to offer for creating a warm atmosphere and lively, constructive discussion on your site?

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  1. Your tips were wonderful and helpful. I enjoy conversing with people, and when I post things, especially in my crochet blog, I do ask questions for feedback….it seems to me…this could just be me that it is easier to hit the like button than to take the time to write something. Some people have fabulous posts and 40 likes and faces show up and 2 comments….know what I mean?

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    1. Yes I know exactly what you mean… I am a newish blogger, still finding my way around slightly different “leaving a comment” parts of blogs. Some are really easy to pop a little sentence or two, others are much more complicated, and those I have found tricky, but I shall get used to it in time and leave comments if I can, as there are some truly lovely things to read about, and are more than worthy of messages.
      Best wishes, Jay

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      1. Yes, I agree…some blogs have a security layer and those are always a bit of time, especially when your in a rush….but I manage to handle them! Lol. Would like thank you so much for taking your time to visit my blog, it means much to me. Sandy

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  2. If someone likes or follows my blog I at least go and have a look at theirs because they might have a similar blog I’d find interesting. I always try to respond promptly to comments, it’s nice when people take time to write something rather than hitting the like button

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  3. Hi Krista,
    re: pingbacks
    I check the post that generates every pingback I receive and examine the content of the site it’s on. Provided it is a quality post on a quality site I approve the pingback, and comment, and if the blog content interests me I may also subscribe.

    However, if the post adds nothing to the topic I published about and appears to have been published only to have me approve the pingback as a backhanded traffic generation device, I do not approve pingback, I do not comment, and I will not subscribe.

    If am faced with site that depicts published posts with strings of copy pasted pingbacks in the body of the posts, and/or if the site appears to be full of awards, and responses to memes, reblogs and very little else, then I will not approve the pingback or comment or subscribe.

    If the site is filled with virtually nothing but reblogs then I report it to Terms of Service Staff and request that the blog be made private.

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    1. I’m with you ! – one of the things I really loathe is a blogger’s responding to a challenge by including every single entry to it in his/her post.
      I’m also very much against awards of any kind: not only for the hypocrisy of their traffic-generating intentions, but because I don’t consider there should be even a whisper of competition within the blogosphere.

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      1. Hi M-R
        I’m so incensed about what I have seen lately I am tempted to publish a rant on the subject pingbacks.

        I have even taken a couple of bloggers on in the support forum, who were addicted to posting a string of pingbacks into the body of a single post from memes found here on The Daily Post. They were complaining about the new format for pingbacks in this blog because interfered with their ability to easily copy and paste a string of up to 91 pingbacks into the body of a single post on their blogspot blog. Yes, you read that number and that web host correctly.

        Of course, I was born yesterday (not!) because I believe (in a pig’s eye) their claims that they had that they visited every post, and that every one was a quality post, including the ones that had a single sentence with a pingback in it to the original meme and nothing else.

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    2. Of recent, I’ve received a few pingbacks that I would consider suspect. Either the responses were inappropriate, didn’t make sense, or were a sale for some random product. I reported these as spam. I hope WordPress can check into these, and hopefully weed them out before they reach us. Thank you.

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    3. I appreciate the comment you shared about the handling of pingbacks.

      Still in my first year of blogging… pingbacks have puzzled me. The only ones I’ve had are without a comment and usually link back to a long list at the end of the weekly photo challenge.

      After checking where the ping back originated, and finding the situation I just described… I send the pingback to the trash. Yeah! Glad to see that seems to be the the consensus for what to do.

      Thank you for your thoughts and the replies it generated…. very helpful.

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      1. I’m glad you found what I posted to be helpful. In my most recent post I included a link to an interesting article. Did you know that the presence of low-quality comments on an article can cause the article itself to be considered lower in quality?

        I think it’s to keep in mind that everything posted to your blog, comments and pingbacks included contribute to its brand, either positively or negatively.

        That’s why I wish we had the ability to remove spammy likes from commercial people who appear to be just looking for a traffic flow back to their own sites.

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      2. I’m more concerned about spammy “follows” than likes. I wish there was a way to block those types of follows.

        Now I’m intrigued by the concept of comment quality, and will look for your link.

        By the way, how much spam is “normal”? Sometimes it seems like the Akisment is catching awfully high numbers for a non-trending type blog like mine…

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      3. I hear you re: spammy followers.

        I’d like the ability to manage my followers list by keeping it up to date myself, so I can have some confidence in the numbers of followers reflected in my site stats.

        I do not use Publicize so determining my blog subscribers count ought to be straight forward. However, I am not convinced that my number of subscribers reflected here https://wordpress.com/my-stats/?blog_subscribers are accurate, and I know my number here https://wordpress.com/my-stats/?blog_subscribers&type=email isn’t either.

        At present if someone is subscribed and their email address changes or becomes defunct we bloggers cannot remove it or make the change so the total number of email followers is not accurate.

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    4. Well said. I take part in challenges because I’d like to improve my writing. I also like exchanging views with other bloggers, and want to soung grumpy, but it doesn’t make much sense to increase statistics if the views come from people who pingbacks to your page in the hope to gain more visitors.

      I thought the purpose of pingbacks was to establish a connection with a post that you’ve quoted from another blog. I don’t want to have a list of other responses at the bottom of my post: I feel this might puzzle my target audience, which is people interested in hiking and nature related topics, and only at secondary level other writers. It’s just not consistent with my blog. If someone wants to read other posts in the challenge, which I also do, they can access it from the challenge page or in the reader, that’s what tags are for.

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      1. Hi there,
        I hear you and agree that posting a string of pingbacks from challenges and other memes can result in reader distraction. It’s critical to keep our blog’s purpose and our target audience in mind, and to make our blogs as easy to read and as distraction free as possible, to assist visitors with remaining focused.

        When enabling widgets the wise blogger knows less is more. We want readers to focus on navigating to content that’s not on the front page, and to high quality related resources beyond the blog. That’s why wise bloggers don’t post decorative but useless tat like rows of awards and badges in their sidebar(s).

        When creating content relevance, clarity and brevity are paramount. When we tag posts we are assigning only the least number of relevant keyword tags that accurately describe post content. By extension knowing less is more and applying relevance, clarity and brevity to the selection of pingbacks we choose to approve and display makes sense.

        If any pingback does not add value to the original post content, approving will not amount to doing your audience or your blog a favor, and may even result in the opposite.

        Like

    5. Hi @timethief,

      I agree pingbacks can be a bit fraught. Every editor handles them just a little bit differently, though my approach is much like yours: approve only the pingbacks that make an effort at substantial commentary. Pingbacks with a single word or vague, weak praise are a back-handed form of shameless self promotion and I don’t approve them.

      If the site is filled with virtually nothing but reblogs then I report it to Terms of Service Staff and request that the blog be made private.

      Thank you for all that you do in not only helping our users, but also in tending the WordPress.com community.

      Like

      1. It’s reassuring to read that our approach re: pingback approval is the same.

        Thanks for the thanks re: volunteering in the support forums along with the other intrepid bloggers who I learn new things from frequently. I multitask from my business most days and I especially like providing answers to the most common repetitive questions. I can sail through many threads very quickly, knowing that what I post will be helpful.

        Like

    6. From @timethief:

      Did you know that the presence of low-quality comments on an article can cause the article itself to be considered lower in quality?

      I think it’s to keep in mind that everything posted to your blog, comments and pingbacks included contribute to its brand, either positively or negatively.

      This is excellent information and something that all bloggers should consider when they approve comments and pingbacks on their sites.

      Like

      1. Hi there,
        I’m slowly cleaning up years of comments and pingbacks on my posts and removing any that lack value.

        P.S. I do apologize for the missing word which is, of course, “important”.
        “I think it’s important to keep in mind …

        Like

  4. What’s considered a good start? I’m new to the blogger’s world. I’ve had 250 views in 3 days with 3 posts. Decent? Terrible? I’m trying to get off the ground.

    Thanks for the sound advice

    Like

    1. I would consider that a very good start, in general.

      However, personally, I would strongly caution against trying to quantify your number of posts as “good” or “bad”, especially as a beginning blogger. Getting too wrapped up in your view count usually ends up sapping your energy over time. Just look for general trends (are your views going up or down over time? what days do you get the most hits? does using social networking help you or not really?) and you should be all right.

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      1. Great points. Thanks

        Sure, I want people to read my blog, but at the end of the day, I just enjoying writing and don’t mind blogging to myself if no one else cares.

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    2. @burleywoods gives some great advice — blogging for the love of it is the best reason to blog.

      I find, that the most interesting people are those that are intensely interested in something and enjoy talking and writing about that passion.

      This idea reminds me of an article I read many years ago in an Esquire magazine, circa 1990 or so. The article was about the ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev. I care not a fig about ballet, but the author was clearly passionate about it and wrote about it in such a way that I could not put the piece down.

      Passion breeds interest, that’s my experience.

      Like

  5. I get annoyed when bloggers reply to each individual comment, in particular when they do it with “thanks for stopping by my blog” or some bla bla. That’s not a real conversation, that’s a robot response.

    Like

  6. I’ve recently induced some frustration by removing the Like icon, Krista. My reasoning is that while I would be perfectly happy to have one if the person using Like also added a comment, I really don’t appreciate the Reader’s allowing him/her to scan the opening of a post and hit Like without a second’s thought. Worse: I know there are some who don’t even scan posts but hit Like because they’re familiar with my blog … whereas once they used to actually read it, they don’t any more but want to give the impression of doing so.
    I’d rather have no knowledge of a visit of that nature than allow the Reader to encourage apparent but unreal interest. Which is why I detest the Reader !

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    1. I can definitely see your point. There is something vaguely disappointing about what I call vacuous likes.

      I will confess that I like the ability to Like from the Reader — I spend a lot of my day there and read full posts in the modal in the cases where the site owner allows full posts. This helps me keep up with my work, show some love with a like and/or a comment and staying in the flow.

      Like

      1. But you’re a professional, and are virtually OBLIGED to keep with scads of us (you poor thing). Besides, you’re not a grumpy old fart. You may become on, eventually: but you should keep your eye on me and not do what I do. [grin]

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  7. Thanks so much for these suggestions. I love getting comments (especially) on my blog, but find it difficult to get/keep a conversation going. Maybe if I try some of these tips I can encourage a bit more interaction on my blog.

    Like

  8. I am quite a new blogger and have had a few comments but not as many as I had hoped. I work hard at trying to make my blogs as interesting and different as possible… spend time nearly every day leaving comments on other blogs, but still not as much traffic as I would like…

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    1. Hang in there! I’ve had similar frustrations as you. I try to remember that I write for myself, but it can be discouraging when the view counter is lower than you’d like, and you haven’t gotten any comments in a while, and you start wondering, “Am I any good?”

      It might cheer you up to know you have a new follower. πŸ™‚ I’ve always wanted to learn how to sew, so maybe following your crafting blog will get me started!

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      1. Arrrr…. thank you for your message! Yes, you are absolutely right about the “write for myself” bit, I find I do get a buzz about thinking about different subjects, taking my photo’s and then writing my speeeeel! I shall think of it as an added bonus should some one leave me a message. I am going to continue to write my blog, and maybe in time I will have more lovely followers like yourself! I am creating a few more sewing projects at the moment, so will be blogging about them soon, still yet to finish them so I have a total photo tutorial, keep meaning to do it, but you know how it is, other stuff gets in the way at times!!!
        Thank you very much for taking the time and trouble to send me a comment, and I am thrilled and delighted that you have started to follow me…. means a lot, THANKS!
        Bye for now, Jay

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      2. No problem, Jay! And I know what you mean about the blogging “buzz”; I get it too! I’ll see a recipe, or visit somewhere in town, and before I know it I’m writing an entry in my head! πŸ™‚

        Can’t wait to see your tutorials! Take care.

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  9. I recently took an online blogging course for over 300 beginners. There was lots of discussion in the student forum about privacy. I was surprised that although all students wanted comments, they were shy about leaving comments on other’s blogs. They said it was way outside of their comfort zone. I recently reviewed Austin Kleon’s new book “Show Your Work” on my blog. His advice really helped me put the comments issue into perspective. To some people, numbers are everything — likes, comments, tags, etc. I love this advice from Kleon: “Stop worrying about how many people are following you and start worrying about the quality of people following you. Don’t waste your time reading about how people get followers, reading articles you’re not interested in, following people online because you think it’s going to get you somewhere or talk to people about stuff you’re not interested in. If you want followers, be someone worth following.”

    Anyone else read this book?

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      1. Certainly! As for me, it looks like my local library doesn’t have it yet, so I may have to purchase it in the future if I want to take advantage of the tips inside! πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks for sharing this! I was aware of Austin’s book though I haven’t read it. Sounds like some excellent advice we should be sharing for the readers of The Daily Post.

      Like

  10. I find this digital network to be totally fascinating. I can’t believe how easy it is to connect digitally with another. I think this is absolutely the upside of the internet.

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    1. Absolutely. I think now that internet access is commonplace and taken for granted (especially in the Western world), we have a tendency to focus on the negatives or downsides.

      But when you blog and are able to connect with people all over the world, you are able to see one of the greatest strengths of the internet. πŸ™‚

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  11. I get e-mails saying a certain person likes my blog or even writes something positive about it. Never any negative things. But when I click on their blogs I can’t find where to comment back. I really want to but am frustrated by not finding out how. Can you help?

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    1. Clicking on a liker’s Gravatar takes you to their Gravatar profile, where you can find their site (if they list one).

      Once you visit someone’s site, you’d need to click on one of their posts to read and comment on it. If you wanted to simply contact the blog author, I’d recommend checking to see if they have a Contact page or an About page that lists how to get in touch with them.

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  12. Wow! Great advice. I’m new to blogging (I created and been nurturing my blog for 4 months) So I’m fairly new this and i’m most definitely going to implement these suggestions =)

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  13. I guess people post for different reasons. In my case I really enjoy interacting with my readers, I am completely grateful that they are reading my blog and have enjoyed my writing enough to post a comment. I feel that it is only appropriate to at least acknowledge and respond to that comment – if someone rang you would you pick up the phone and not say anything? I feel that it is about me picking up my end of the conversation, the conversation doesn’t end when I hit publish.
    This does not mean that I don’t read non-responder blogs if I like their content, but it does mean that if I know they don’t respond I will not bother liking or commenting on their posts.

    Like

  14. I’m kind of a blogging noob, what is a ping back? Anyone else feeling slightly addicted to checking their stats?! I love seeing all the areas around the world from which people view my blog! One thing I wish we could see is who shares our posts to FB. My most recent post was shared 50 times but I can’t see who :(. Loving the blogosphere so far though – it’s even lead to writing columns for my local South Asian newspaper which is pretty awesome!

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    1. A pingback is when someone links your post to theirs. You can often see this in Daily Prompt responses: someone else writing a response to a DP might link to mine, and once I approve the link, it shows up. My post would show a link to theirs, and theirs would link to mine. Hope this helps πŸ™‚

      And yes, stats are wonderful.

      Like

    2. If you go to Site Stats in your Dashboard, and then click on Shares, you’ll see a linked number of Shares. Click on that Shares link, and you’ll be able to see a list of social networks on which your posts are shared. Clicking on the linked number next to each network tells you which posts were shared there.

      Like

  15. WordPress is great with comments, pingbacks and polls. For blogs in general, a Disquss account can handle comments very nicely, too. Blogger’s integration with their Google+ network is good, too. Zemanta is similar in that by adding related links, your blog traffic increases through exposure. Sharing via social networks seems to be the rage right now, though. Lots of free services give bloggers an easy way to share a post to their favorite social networks, adding a comment on the way.

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  16. Unless time is short, I try to leave a meaningful comment as opposed to the “nice post”, “great shot” variety. I hope that it shows I’ve read the post, digested it, and cared enough to engage further.

    I’ve made several blogging friends on WordPress with this practice, and am making an effort to meet my local blogging friends in person.

    For all the likes and comments that may or may not come, it’s truly only those meaningful discussions that get me excited about blogging.

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  17. Be genuinely interested in others posts and if you don’t agree with something or can’t say anything nice just move on…
    Most importantly believe in yourself get rid of the negative self talk and it will open you up to be genuinely open to others comments. Being less absorbed with self doubt will lead to you being more interested in others and therefore lead to a natural conversation.
    When I receive a like or a comment I make the time to look up that person and have found some great blogs that I am now following. I’m still new so still getting the hang of things.

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  18. I’m a new blogger, too, and almost all comments I have received have come into my stats as spam. They include terrible typos and sometimes I don’t see what their comment has to do with my blog. Am I suppose to respond to all these and approve them or what? Please help me understand these comments. Thanks!

    Like

    1. If the comment is in the spam folder, it is probably spam. If the commenter sounds like a spam commenter- name like “BuyCheapNike” or something- it is probably spam. If it makes no sense it is spam. If it seems to make some sense but cuts randomly, it has been copied from different sources to try to defeat the spam filter, It is spam.

      Then again, sometimes real comments end up there. They will say something about the post, though as spammers often say how wonderful the post is, only let them through if they show they have read it.

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  19. I appreciate commenters on my blog if their comments truly indicate they read something in the post. Regular conversations in blogosphere does require genuine, yet prudent give and take in dialogue.

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  20. When I was brand new to WordPress, I accidentally clicked publish on some gobblygook. No, not just a poorly written post, but one that said, “Welcome to my blag, this time I resolution and since humor is would it be my turn to book bluyuyeyooshyeuysh – – bb.” Before I could delete it, I received six Likes.

    Liked by 1 person