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Perennial Favorites: Don’t Undermine Your Comment with a Plug

Learning the art of blog commentary isn’t hard, if you follow a few easy-to-remember tenets of blogging etiquette.

Learning a bit about and practicing good commenting etiquette will help you become a thoughtful member of the community. Get the skinny on commenting dos and don’ts from Michelle, in this fun post from our archives.

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 am so glad to read this truthful article. If we allow it, our technology is making us shallow people. It’s too easy to click “like” or tweet a one liner and not take the time to have a thoughtful conversation with anyone in real life. And to comment for your own benefit is just using people to get ahead. Thank-you for your post. I hope people take it to heart. We’re going to lose our humanity and become like robots if we don’t heed this warning.

    Like

  2. May I still register for the Blogging 101 and Photography 101 challenges still today? I cannot afford to take a ‘class’ right now and think this daily effort to be good for me.

    Like

  3. I don’t know if this question is applicable to this post. I respond to anyone kind enough to comment on a post. How much time do you spend responding to posts that you get from the people you follow? I want to support these folks, but there isn’t enough hours in the day to get it all done.

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  4. Nice post! Seriously, sometimes that’s all I have the time for, so I’m hoping the fact I stopped to do that carries some weight in terms of sincerity. I mean, how many posts get read without comment? I hope it says I read it, because I wouldn’t have stopped to say anything otherwise.

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  5. I’m not sure if it’s as bad on WordPress.com, but on my self-hosted blogs, I see a lot of comments like this that don’t even make sense in the context of the post. They’re obviously copy-pasted or auto-selected from some list of generic comments. I mean, really, telling me my thoughts are interesting, but I need to support my arguments with better sources…on a photo?

    Because I see so much of that, I don’t take the time to separate out which ones are shameless plugs and which ones are flat-out spam.

    Like

  6. I gave it a think, and I might liken of a comment to a gift… I don’t necessarily like all of the gifts I get, but I can appreciate the gesture. I’d only refuse the gift if it offended me in some way (like a turd in a Tiffany box, for example).

    Liked by 2 people

  7. What it all comes down to is the community. Newbies are a;ways going to screw up and be the bane of everyone’s life until new newbies show up to replace them…

    I think that in a world of people who always seem to be at each others throats..someone leaving a note that says, “well done” is a refreshing
    change.

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  8. I see these “plugs” more often then I’d care to. It definitely undermines the comment and makes me automatically label it as spam and not read what they have to say. Comments should be about the content and community, not commercialization and self-promotion.

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  9. I find wordpress comments are basically the opposite of YouTube comments. Everyone’s trying to be nice so you will read their stuff. How about just be interesting instead? By the way, don’t read my blog, it’s stupid. STUPID GOOD.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I delete shameless plugs. In fact, every example you cite would end up in my spam bin. If the comment isn’t specific to the topic I’ve discussed, I assume it’s spam.

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  11. I’ve often wanted to comment on blog posts with a legitimate question or added content and I’ve hesitated. I’m afraid that if I add a legit comment amid a dozen other “nice job” comments I will be seen to be too critical. I don’t want to catch crap for being a troublemaker so I’ve avoided commenting. This blogpost has shown me that I need to go ahead and comment. Thank you for that!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I am so glad I do NOT fall into the bad comment group. If I liked the post but have nothing specific to comment on i click “like” and that is it. If something really grabs me I comment regarding specifically what I enjoyed. It is nice to know I am not the only one who finds “great post” a meaningless comment.

    Liked by 1 person