Twelve Suggestions For Commenting On Blogs And Websites

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.

Photo of a Portuguese man reading to show that one must read carefully before commenting on a blog or website.

Photo by Pedro Ribeiro Simões

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.

Photo of Stonehenge at dawn to show the concept of permanence as applied to comments people make on the Internet.

Photo by miquitos

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.

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7 comments… add one

  • Patti DeNucci September 20, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Thank you for this helpful, on-the-money post. It’s so easy to forget that etiquette, thoughtfulness, courtesy, and other civilities are just as important, maybe more so, when we are commenting online. As a blogger myself, I appreciate a thoughtful contribution that adds value and dimension to my thoughts and perspectives. I don’t even mind a little healthy debate to enrich the discussion. Great job. I look forward to more like this.

    Reply edit
  • Jamie Northrup September 20, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    All good tips, in the end I think as long as your genuine and kind you should have no problems commenting on other blogs. Like you I follow a lot of websites through RSS feeds, and I also check commenters websites for posts to comment on.
    Jamie Northrup recently posted..Jamie Northrup’s LinkedIn Checklist of Daily TasksMy Profile

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  • Biketom September 22, 2011 at 6:11 am

    Hi, what about the problem, when you write in foreign language and you are not grammatically correct ?

    Reply edit
  • duende44 September 23, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    The suggestions made in the article still apply. The Internet is filled with posts written by non-English speakers who are trying to make an impact worldwide. Many of them post articles that are unreadable for native English speakers. Some of them write so poorly that they would be better advised to work on the market opportunities that their own languages present. At the same time, many native English speakers write poorly in English as well. To me, it comes down to value. If someone whose English is less than perfect provides valuable information, then that’s fantastic. The folks who are giving true value in their niches are fine. Thanks for your comment.

    Reply edit
  • Clint Butler November 25, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    What a great set of rules. I often have trouble articulating my words and moving it my site in coherent way. Sometimes my grammar isn’t the best or I use words in place of other’s. i.e. your v.s. you’re. Sometimes when I miss those things the commenters on blog can be pretty ruthless. But I don’t edit them out. As a matter of fact I love adding those to my blog because in my mind it shows that I am in fact just a human and I do make mistakes. If someone has that much time on their hands that they feel the need to correct my comma placement then good on them. I am already thinking about my next post.
    Clint Butler recently posted..Backlinking Plan for the Content MarketerMy Profile

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  • Akos Fintor January 9, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    When I go out and start leaving comments I usually quickly read the title of the blog posts. If I find one that sounds interesting then I already know that I’m going to be able to leave a comment that is related and it will come easy for me to write it because I’m familiar with the topic.

    I adopted the English language about 3 years ago and that would hold me back when I left comments. I’m more comfortable now!

    Great tips!
    Akos Fintor recently posted..Leave My Blog Alone! | Tips from Gary Vaynerchuk Part.2My Profile

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  • Doug Eikermann January 9, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    Thanks, Akos! What you say is true. If the visitor reads the title and the article, making a relevant comment is easy. By the way, if you started learning English only three years ago, you’re doing great! Thanks for stopping by!

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