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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.