How do you deal with comments?

Posted May 8, 2016 by Lory in discussions / 57 Comments

DiscussionNEW

Comments! There seem to be so many ways of dealing with them in the blogging world. You might answer them religiously, ignore them, read them but respond little or not at all, subscribe to the “comment back” philosophy, or turn them off. What’s your style?

I really value the potential for interaction and community that is created through commenting, and I try to foster that with my own practices. My intention is to respond to every comment left on my own blog, though I might miss a few by accident. I want everyone who comments to know that I’ve read and appreciate their words. That said, I do have a manageable number of comments coming in; if I had more, it might get to be too much.

I don’t go and comment back on the other person’s blog for each and every comment I receive. Sometimes I do, but if I did it every time it would definitely be too much for me. With those who comment regularly on my blog, I try to do the same on theirs at least once in a while, but it’s not a one-to-one correspondence.

If I have a new commenter I try to check out their blog and see if there’s something I can comment meaningfully on. Sometimes I end up following them, so there will probably be more interaction in the future. But if I can’t find a post that is of interest or relevance to me, I don’t feel it’s necessary to strain myself.

Aside from the “what” of commenting, there’s the “how” — different systems that are available for different blogging platforms. I know many bloggers adore Disqus, and I like it a lot as a commenter, but I removed it from my own blog after installing it, for three main reasons:

  1. It unthreaded all my old comments so the connections were lost. Maybe people don’t even look at comments on old posts, but it still bothers me to see that.
  2. I read somewhere that comments from international web addresses have to be manually added. That’s way too much work for me, and I really value my followers from places like the UK and Australia.
  3.  Some people won’t even think of commenting if they see Disqus. I’m not sure why, because it seems super easy to me, but it may be difficult to use if you don’t have a Disqus account.

For me the main importance of Disqus, or of any system, is that you can receive notification of replies to your comments, and send such notification to commenters on your own blog. What is the point of replying if nobody knows you’ve done it? How can a conversation be built up that way? It seems to me vital to create a tool for this, yet most blogs don’t have it.

I have Comment Reply Notification installed for this purpose. If you have self-hosted WordPress, please consider using this plugin! It would be so helpful if more people did, and I’m actually surprised at how few do have it. Don’t worry about the message saying it hasn’t been updated in two years; my web host says it’s a very stable plugin.

For WordPress in general (.org and .com), logging into the WP interface helps, as you get notifications of all kinds of interactions — comments, replies, likes, and so on. But this only works for WordPress blogs. For Blogger, TypePad, and other platforms I’m out of luck. I know there are options to follow comments on individual posts, but that gets annoying because I don’t necessarily want emails about every single comment — just replies to my own.

In short, if someone would invent a universally useful and widely adopted commenting tool, he or she would receive my undying gratitude. But I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon. In the meantime, how do you deal with comments? How often, where, why, and how do you comment, and how do you deal with replies? I’m really interested to know.

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57 responses to “How do you deal with comments?

  1. I think Ashley at Nose Graze is a prime candidate to invent your dream tool – and I agree! I use your same tools for comments.

    I read every comment and I reply to pretty much all comments that warrant a reply (I don’t necessarily reply to “great review” or “great book – adding to my TBR” or stuff like that b/c what is there really to say?). I try to visit the blog of someone new and used to try to comment back, but that’s too overwhelming now. Now, I just follow blogs I like and comment on those through Bloglovin. Obviously, those overlap a lot with my commenters, but sometimes they don’t.

    Love your discussion posts!

    • I’m sure Ashley could invent an awesome commenting tool – the thing is how to get everyone to adopt it, across different platforms. Highly unlikely, but I can dream.

      You’re right, some comments are hard to respond to. I usually just say “thank you” to acknowledge that I read them.

      • Yeah I think the problem is that people have already tried to create this tool (that’s literally what Disqus was trying to do!), but it doesn’t really work unless EVERYONE is using it, and not everyone is going to. 😛

  2. I definitely read every comment since if people comment on my blog I always got an email. When I first start blogging, I often try to reply to every comment and commenting back (as long as there’s a post that interest me, otherwise I’m not going to leave a comment), but I think I fail at that lately since I keep getting busier. Now I just try to leave a comment on posts that interest me. Anyway, great post! 🙂

    • Yes, I also depend on email to help me keep up with comments. I made a filter so they go into their own folder – if they got mixed into my regular inbox I’m sure I would miss some.

      I think it’s important for genuine interest to be behind comments. That’s more important to me than quantity, or a one-to-one correspondence.

  3. I try to reply to every comment on my site as well. I think it is a good idea and a good way to show your readers that you pay attention to what they say and acknowledge them. I do this b/c I like when other bloggers do this to my comments.

    • That’s exactly why I try to respond to every comment. It’s important to me that readers know I value their interaction.

      The “liking” feature is also helpful on WordPress, for posts and comments, if one doesn’t have anything particular to say. Again, unfortunately not available on all platforms.

  4. I love comments and I try to answer them all. I also think that interaction is major part of blogging.

    I will occasionally blog about controversial subjects. I welcome disagreement in my comments section. I have found that some of my regular commenters will disagree with me in a respectful and reasoned way that has led to some great conversations in my comments section.

    The reason that I have not switched to Disqus is that I fear losing my old comments.

    • When I switched to Disqus (I was on Blogger at the time), I did not seem to lose any comments, but the threading (sequence of original comments and replies) got lost so they were just in chronological order, which was confusing. However, your comments are seemingly not threaded so maybe that would not be a problem for you.

      I agree that it’s wonderful when a real conversation can develop, including respectful disagreement.

  5. My commenting and visiting style is very much like yours. I have a regular “round” of blogs I visit weekly or bi-weekly, depending on travel, to see what’s going on. Often I do this using the blogroll on my own blog, but sometimes I just read the email, because I subscribe to a ton of blogs by email. It helps that I have a personal (or blog) email separate from my work email.

  6. Very interesting discussion! I like your policy of commenting and I think it’s very middle of the road and probably very doable for you too, which is important. I have Disqus on my blog, mainly because I was SO SICK of the constant spamming. Even with Akismet, I still had to spend time every day deleting spam. I couldn’t take it anymore and installed Disqus. It didn’t do anything bad to my old comments and it continues to work for people overseas with no problems. I’m not sure what happened with your blog, and it’s possible that people who are using Disqus and not getting international comments are using it wrong somehow.

    My own policy is to answer back at least 80% of my comments and check out new people who happen to drop by. I don’t get as many comments on my blog as I do when I post the link on FB. Sigh. I wish more people would come through and comment there instead of on FB! Such is life!

    • Oh, I forgot to say that I stopped reading blogs that don’t have good commenting systems or deleted commenting altogether. Nope. The discussion is usually the best part!

    • Hm, I have not had any spam comments (or maybe one) since I started with WordPress and Akismet. Weird that you were getting so many. I do hear that Disqus is great for spam, which is a definite plus.

      Maybe the overseas thing is something they fixed – it’s really good to know it works for you.

  7. My blog is on Booklikes, and apparently their comments aren’t super easy to use for people who aren’t registered with the site. So I installed Facebooks comments, but some people don’t know how to change it so they are commenting as their page (rather than their personal profile) and thus won’t leave comments; and Facebook REALLY doesn’t make that easy to figure out.

    As for commenting back, I am VERY new and thus have so few comments that I can both reply and visit the site of everyone who leaves one. But, like you, if I can’t find anything I am interested in then I don’t force myself.

    • I didn’t know about Booklikes — interesting that there is a dedicated platform for book blogging. Having to log in/register seems to be people’s main gripe with commenting systems, so that is a little problematic. And the Facebook thing does sound confusing. Hope you get it sorted out!

  8. Huh, well, I do check the blogs from people who comment on my own, searching for something interesting to comment on. Also, if it seems promising and cool, I follow them on Twitter, or Bloglovin. I also try to comment on each of their comments, although some are just… I wouldn’t know what to say. I use WordPress’ comment system because it was just easier and I can customize how it looks, although I’ve been tempted to use Disqus several times.

    • WordPress comments have been fine as far as I know. I don’t know of anyone who complains about them or refuses to use them, which to me is the main thing.

  9. I try to respond to each comment I got and I do visit the blog’s commentator, if any to leave comments, as well. If the blogs interest me, I always end up following them. I like having various blogs on my feed, it’s like subscribing to many magazine, but for free.

    I value everyone who takes their time to let me know what they have to say on my blog. Out of millions blogs out there, and they choose to land on mine, that alone is enough to be thankful for 🙂

    Great post as always, Lory!

  10. I’ve got Disqus but I don’t love it, and I will check out the plug-in you suggest, just to see. I’ve definitely had blog-followers say that they’ve had problems with Disqus, and God knows the last thing I want is to make commenting harder.

    Shannon from River City Reading said in a post recently that she makes herself respond to all her morning comments before she can share that day’s post for a second time on social media. I thought that was such a great idea, and it’s been working well for me lately!

  11. I try to reply to all comments on my blog – I don’t get a lot of comments and I don’t post a lot, so it’s not too hard. I may not be punctual about it though!

    If I really want to comment on someone’s blog, I will usually forge through whatever hoops are thrown at me – proving I’m not a robot, logging into whatever I need to (I think I have a shell Blogger account because of this) but sometimes I’ve hit a buggy comment system and have to throw in the towel. (Can’t remember which comment system that has given me the most trouble. Not Disqus. Not WordPress.)

    As far as seeing replies to my own comments on other blogs, that’s of course easy with fellow WordPress blogs. I’ll subscribe to replies to my comment as well, if available. Also, in my Feedly, I bookmark any blog I commented on and if I usually circle back at some point just in case I got a reply. I’m not put out if there is no reply, but I want to make sure and read any replies there are.

    • I have a similar system as you but I use Bloglovin’ instead of Feedly. I put posts into a folder called “comments” and then I can check back on them later.

  12. I try to visit and comment back when people comment, but sometimes their blog is just not a good fit for me and I can’t come up with anything meaningful to say.

    There are so many comment systems and some of them are a real pain to use. I don’t mind captcha if it’s not too difficult. I really dislike the Google Plus comment system, because I don’t have a Google Plus profile and I don’t really want one. There’s some other system out there that is really buggy and does not let me log in or comment at all, even as a guest—I try, but nothing happens. I am not sure which one it is.

    On my own blog, I use the WordPress comment system, along with the CommentLuv and Comment Reply Notification plugins. So far I haven’t had any complaints!

    Great discussion!

    • Having to log in seems to be the main problem with any system. There are also those that eat your comments, or seem to eat them and then you comment repeatedly and feel dumb when they all show up suddenly.

      CommentLuv is another thing I could have asked about. I was using it but then took it off because it added clutter, seemed often buggy and I wondered if anyone really uses it.

      • I don’t use CommentLuv specifically, but I coded my own plugin that works the same way (you have it available if you want, Lory – NG Comment Love). As the blog owner, I really like it, because it allows me to super quickly and easily see the title of the commenter’s most recent blog post. That quickly helps me decide if I want to swing over and read their post (and comment).

  13. I do my best to respond to all of the comments on my blog, but I don’t comment back on one of their blog posts all the time. Same as you, whenever a regular commenter comments on my blog, I try to visit them from time to time and comment back on one of their own posts. But if a new commenter pops up, I always end up stalking them and sometimes commenting back on one of their posts too. xD (Not all the time, because some blogs I find aren’t really in my line of interest, so I don’t really have anything to say to them.)

    I use Disqus for my blog and I find it really easy to use! I didn’t know other people wouldn’t comment on a blog if it uses Disqus. I’m pretty sure there’s a “Comment as Guest” option there, so even if you don’t have a Disqus account, you can still comment.

    Whenever I have email notifications about new comments, I label them on my email account as “To Respond,” and every weekend I scroll through there and reply to every single one of the comments. 🙂 Great post, Lory!

  14. Great post and so many things to think about! I’m on blogger so I know people commenting don’t get notification if I reply and I have seriously considered a new format so that I can do that. I think you are right and it can be so important for a commenter to get notification of a reply!! I do try to check out every blog of every person I receive a comment from although I do not reply to every comment — some just don’t necessitate a response and I would rather spend my time checking out their blog and commenting there.

    • It’s really a drag that Blogger does not include this feature. It was a major reason I switched to WordPress.

      Good point that you can visit the other blog and find something to say there instead of replying to comments that don’t really need a response. That does seem a better way to spend one’s time.

  15. I aim to respond to them though sometimes I’m a bit behind and I skip some posts if they were too long ago. I do so in one big comment rather than threadded – I love the idea of threaded comments but am uncomfortable with the way it inflates numbers (I’m weird, yes). I’ll always visit a new commenter’s blog as I like finding new blogs, and will comment back if, like you, I’ve something to say.

    • It would be kind of cool if the numbers could say “15 comments, 10 replies” etc, so that the number of original comments wasn’t inflated…

  16. My strategy is very similar to yours. I try to respond to all the comments on my blog and for the most part, this is manageable. I also try to comment back every time I have a new or infrequent commentor, but if someone whose blog I regularly visit comments, I’ll just comment when I feel moved to do so as I read their blog 🙂

  17. I use Disqus on my blog and I’ve had ZERO problems with it. If someone was deterred from commenting on my blog because of it… well. Since you can sign into it with Twitter and Facebook (and 2 other options, I think), I see no problem with using it. I also love that I get comment reply notifications, so I can see if a blogger responded to my comment, which is very important to me. And on my own blog, people often come back to comment on my reply because they got the notification and a debate can form in a way it can’t on other blogs that don’t have this notification option.

    I know WordPress users “like” your comment when they reply so you know there’s been some action.

    But the Blogger comment system is the worst, I think. No way of notifying people about replies.

    I try to reply to comments on my blog within a couple of days, it seems polite to do so, but sometimes life gets in the way and people have to wait longer. I TRY to comment back on their blogs if their comments were meaningful (not like “great review!”) but I often lack the time to do it properly.

    • Glad to know Disqus works for you too!

      The main thing I wish for is that everybody else had a way to tell me when they’ve replied to my comments so I don’t have to keep going back and checking (yes, I do that), and also so that they would be motivated to get a conversation going. Disqus does seem really good for that.

  18. What a well thought out and considerate discussion, Lory. I agree. I value the time readers give to Finding Wonderland, and for me, replying to comments is a small way I can “thank” them for spending time reading what I write. Added to that, I also REALLY enjoy meeting new bloggers and chatting about various bookish things. It’s a fun community.

    Like you, if someone new comments on my site, I visit their blogs or make a genuine effort to. 🙂

    I’ve been thinking about Disqus off and on because it seems so easy to reply to comments and for readers to see when they’re comment earns a reply, but I haven’t. Now, I’m glad for that. Maybe I’ll think on it more before taking that step. Thanks for sharing!

    • A lot of people love Disqus, so it might be worth a try. Maybe ask on your blog what your regular readers think about it. If they are fine with it, I think it has a lot of positive points.

  19. I try hard to respond to every comment. I used to also try to always comment back (even if it wasn’t necessarily a 1:1 ratio), but I have to admit that it’s gotten too overwhelming. Instead, I’ve prioritized commenting on every discussion post my highest priority with commenting back a secondary priority. I still do it when I can. As you can see, this month, I’m way behind on discussion posts even, so …

    • As you know I am in awe of your dedication to discussions and commenting back! It’s totally understandable that it gets too much for you. I think that even visiting the discussion participants on a regular basis, if not for every post, would be absolutely fine.

  20. I always do something with the commenter. I either reply to the comment they left on my blog or comment on their blog, or sometimes I do both. I agree with what you said about not necessarily commenting on their blog if I can’t find anything that interests me or if I don’t have an actual opinion to comment; I don’t like leaving meaningless comments. The same goes for replying to comments people have left on my blog, though. If they didn’t really give me an opportunity to reply meaningfully, then I will just leave it and try to find something of interest on their blog to comment on. I usually try to do at least one, if not both! 🙂

  21. Really interesting topic – I feel I’m really bad at handling comments. I schedule posts and then wander off for a few days getting on with my Real Life and then suddenly there’s a back-log. I don’t use Disqus because as a user, I find it irritating have to sign up and don’t want to do that to people but I do try to respond to each one. As for commenting back on other sites, that’s something that I’m still trying to work on!

    • I mostly have to keep up with comments every day or else I lose track of what I’ve done and what I haven’t. It’s gotten to be a habit (not to say an obsession) — but I can stop if I want to, really I can…

  22. Great posts.

    I am on Blogger and I don’t want to install Disqus as like you say it does put some people off but myself as a commenter on other blogs I don’t mind it as it is easy to see when they reply.

    What I would like as a Blogger user is something like commentluv, I know it can be done somehow with immense tweaking but it would be great to have an easy box to tick so I can see my commenters posts.

    • Blogger comments could definitely use some upgrading. I know, free platform, but still — how hard can it be?

  23. Grace

    Great post! I generally prefer commenting on WordPress blogs. I mean, I’ll comment on any blogs, but with WordPress I’m much more likely to follow up because I get the notifications.

    I try to follow up to all comments I receive, and also to visit commenters’ blogs (depending on time, of course). But irl stuff sometimes gets in the way of my best intentions.

    • I’ve only recently started using the WordPress reader, and it does make me more likely to comment on WP blogs (or those with Disqus). Come on Blogger, get with the program!

  24. I make an effort to respond to every single comment that I can offer a substantial reply to. So if the comment is:

    “This is such a wonderful post! It helped me so much. Thank you!”

    There’s no question here so the only thing I’d really say in return is, “You’re welcome. :)” or “I’m so glad you found it useful!”

    So in that case, I may or may not reply, just depending on my mood and level of business at the time.

    But if someone asks a question or their comment merits a reply with some real substance, then I always reply. As a commenter, I HATE it when I ask a question in my comment and never hear back.

    I don’t always “comment back”. I only comment back on their blog if they have a post that truly interests me AND I have something to say. I don’t believe in commenting out of “obligation”. I don’t want people to feel obligated to comment on my site, and I don’t want to feel obligated to comment on theirs.

    As for commenting systems, IMO, there’s only ONE thing Disqus has on the WordPress system, and that’s the ability to login to Disqus once and then be logged into all other Disqus-powered blogs (eliminating the need to type in your name/email each time) and have that cross-site connection. But every other feature can be replicated in WordPress if you find a plugin for it or code it yourself (anti-spam, appearance, reply notifications, etc.).

    You can literally do anything you want with the WordPress commenting system and that’s why I love it. (Plus I like being able to blend the form in with the rest of my site.)

    • I have the same feeling about commenting back – I don’t want people to comment on my posts out of obligation either.

      And I agree about the need to respond to comments that include a question or otherwise invite conversation. I also don’t understand it when a question is asked in the post, commenters answer in a substantive way, and then the original blogger doesn’t make any response. It looks like he or she does the post and then walks away, not caring what happens afterward, which is just weird to me.

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