I enjoy reading Internet articles and entering into conversations with the authors and their readers. In addition, I receive comments on my own blogs, and I respond to as many of them as possible. Throughout these experiences, I have read many excellent articles and comments as well as some poorly conceived ones.
If you have a blog or website, commenting on other writers’ articles can help you develop online credibility. Doing so effectively, however, requires adherence to some common-sense rules of behavior. Here are twelve suggestions for making comments on the Internet:
1. Read the article carefully.If you want to enter the conversation, reading the article is important. Displaying ignorance of the post’s content is embarrassing, especially if the opinion you submit contradicts that of the author. I skim dozens of articles each week, reading headings and searching for easy-to-digest information as well as links to related posts. When I decide to comment on one of them, however, I reread the entire piece to ensure that I understand it and that my remarks relate to its content.
2. Write in grammatically correct sentences.
Folks who are too busy to write and edit their comments properly are better advised not to submit them. Everything you publish on the Internet reflects on you or your website, so putting your best foot forward each and every time you write something is important.
3. Begin your comment with a positive statement about the article.
If I find no redeeming value in a post, I don’t comment. Badly written articles attract little attention anyway, so trying to set the author straight is a waste of time.
4. Add value.
Do your best to offer something of value. Leaving high quality comments on blogs and websites is a good way to gain credibility and establish a broad-reaching Internet presence.
5. Ask a question.
If you are genuinely interested in the subject matter of an article, asking a question is an excellent way to contribute to the conversation. Many bloggers respond to all of the comments and questions they receive. Other readers may also reply to your query.
6. Don’t copy text from the article into your comment.
Copying and pasting text from the article into your comment is an in-your-face approach that lacks refinement. Accurately paraphrasing the part on which you plan to comment is a smoother method. Once you’ve done that, politely make your observation.
7. Remember that what you write is permanent.Once you click on the submit button, whatever statement you make goes onto the Internet to stay. Even if you have an opportunity to edit your comment later, you can bet that the initial version is cached somewhere on the Web. Mind what you write, and read your draft several times before submitting the final version.
8. Overlook petty errors.
Bloggers are busy people, and most of them cannot afford to hire editors to review their work before publication. If you must point out a typographical error or grammatical slipup, do so privately in an email message and word it as courteously as possible.
9. Be kind.
Too many Internet surfers harbor burning desires to show the world how smart they are. Go easy on the bloggers who are working hard to create valuable content, and ignore the other ones. If you do so, your Internet experience will improve dramatically.
10. Don’t leave hyperlinks in your comments.
Embedding backlinks in your remarks is a no-no. Most comment forms have a separate space for a link to your website or blog, and that link is displayed when your comment is posted. If your observation is insightful, other readers will click on the link to find out more about you.
11. Don’t promote your own website or blog.
If, through your comment, you engage effectively with the author and other readers, you’ll find self-promotion to be unnecessary. Becoming a meaningful part of a conversation is a far better way to win respect and attract readers to your own site.
12. Don’t attack the author personally.
Railing against authors will gain you nothing but a reputation for being mean spirited. The best way to deal with inferior articles and websites is to disregard them. Without a readership, poorly crafted sites die on the vine.
If you are a serious blogger, commenting on other writers’ articles should be part of your weekly routine. I follow the rss feeds of some forty sites, and I comment on a dozen posts or so each week. Since the topics are all relevant to subjects that interest me, the effort is pleasurable as well as worthwhile. Many bloggers are more avid readers than I and spread their comments far wider. I’ve had to decide how to budget my time, because I could easily spend all of it reading and commenting.
Applying these suggestions when you submit comments will add to your effectiveness on the Internet and to your reading enjoyment. Please feel free to make additional suggestions in the comment form below.