On most WordPress blogs there exists the comments form – and on that form is a unique opportunity to hear from visitors.
Unfortunately, the percentage of good comments versus spam (the “signal to spam” ratio) is very low – because the more popular a blog gets, the more spam comes in (I won’t mention how much spam I used to clean out daily – it’s just too depressing).
However, for those of us considering a comment, here or anywhere, it’s time to explain how to comment – with a very few simple tips:
Stay on topic. I frequently get comments that have nothing to do with the post they are posting on – a sure sign that a program is ‘writing’ them.
Forget “Hi”, “I’m new here”, and other bland comments. Generic comments go – period. This is not rude – it’s a fact of life. Too many spam machines will say something like “great comment, I’ve added your blog to my list” as if we’re going to be moved with gratitude and publish it for all the world to see. If you do the same, expect to look like a machine – which WILL be the case.
Don’t ask inane questions. Further on the machine versus person aspect, don’t ask something that doesn’t fit. I get many comments about how to add my blog to their RSS feed, or how to write. That’s what blog Contact Forms are for – and if they can’t figure that out, perhaps there is NO answer you could give them that would help.
Leave links out! I know comments promote your site – and I know it’s an important part of your link strategy (and I use a ‘DoFollow’ plugin so you’ll get proper credit for it). But insert a few links into the post and don’t be surprised if it gets dumped. In fact, I actually wrote a WordPress plugin to automatically delete comments with too many links, so I don’t have to wade through so many ‘linky’ ones. You’ll get your one site link when you enter your comment – so don’t get greedy.
Please give up the conversation – eventually. I like threaded comments, and a conversational give and take. But if the person just doesn’t ‘get it’, and asks the same questions, slightly rephrased, again and again, then I have to stop accepting them. Sorry, but the blog is for everyone, not just one visitor with a particular axe to grind.
Keep slander away. A company with big pockets can sue over slander and libel – and guess who they’ll sue? The anonymous poster, or me, the blog site owner? It’s a no-brainer, so if your brain wishes to share a tasty comment or two about anyone, don’t, or this brain will be deleting them.
Be nice (or, “Do you blog to your mother with that mouth?”). Profanity is popular – and it’s a clear sign that the writer doesn’t know what a thesaurus is used for. Enjoy the swearing if you must – but if you prefer being SEEN, then express yourself with a larger (and politer) vocabulary.
Run cool. There’s something about online writing that brings out the aggressiveness. I’ve seen comments (not on my blog, thankfully) that would get people punched in real life. Don’t go there – arguing a position calmly and logically works better in the long run. And if the other side doesn’t want to play fair, walk away.
That’s just a few points – of course, YOU don’t have to worry about them, but the average commenter does. Remember that comments you make elsewhere can help promote your site, but they are first and foremost opinions destined for the other person’s site.
And just like visiting someone’s house, make sure to wipe your feet, don’t step on the cat, and keep the insults about the mother in law to a minimum – and you’ll likely be welcomed back with open arms!