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Should comment restraint be resisted when reciprocity is at stake?

Sometimes a particular comment I see when perusing around blogs sparks off a torrent from me in return.

This happened when I came across a commenter who wondered whether it was seemly to provide feedback immediately on a newly visited blog, or whether this form of reciprocation was inappropriate within such a short introduction period.

There’s no reason to be shy

There is no need to treat interaction on blogs the same as a ‘first date’, when the reputation of the reader may be at stake if too much enthusiasm was shown towards the post. It seems that British online readers are hesitant to show their appreciation or even state their mind. They are quite happy to read blog posts, but very reluctant to leave any feedback that reveal how much they have enjoyed (or not) what they have just read.

Blogs (as part of social media) thrive on interaction, which includes comments, sharing, liking, reblogging and retweeting. This is the way the author knows he has a readership, gets to know whether he is writing the right kind of stuff, what his readers think of it and from the feedback is able to improve or adapt his style, content or choices of subject matter.

If you don’t ask…

It’s not vulgar to ask for comments at the end of a post. Sometimes this may be the tipping point towards getting any interaction at all! A call to action in the form of requesting a response to what has been written is perfectly acceptable, and this form of encouragement only adds to the relationship the author is trying to cultivate with his readers, who really ought to reciprocate.

Commenting is also seen as a continuation of the conversation within a blog post, which can only become more interesting to other readers (provided it is relevant and keeps to the point). This activity is also picked up by the search engines, who view this interaction as an extension of content that can be suitably indexed. In fact comments stimulate algorithms in other social networking sites such as Facebook, resulting in a much larger reach than would be obtained otherwise from a lonely update.

It works both ways…

Reciprocation is very much in the hands of whoever gives it out, but it does show a kind of altruism from the donor. Interaction is a form of networking, and networking works best if it is based more around the process of giving rather than taking. It shouldn’t be formed on the proposition of once a certain good deed has been done, there instantly should be some sort of return. Even so, the blog’s author ought to at least acknowledge any comments or interaction he gets arising from his post in an appropriate manner. This may result in a respectable to-ing and fro-ing conversation expected within social networking practice.

A comment should provide added value to the post it refers to, giving positive, forthcoming and constructive information that contributes to the subject matter. It should not be merely a ‘Nice post’ – in fact comments with fewer than 10 words could be marked out as spam by such automated systems designed to weed out inappropriate responses.

Biting off your own nose…

Restraint due to politeness based on the idea of not coming forward on a first visit to comment is a wasted opportunity. There is no way of guaranteeing the visitor will become a regular reader of the blog, which would then ‘qualify’ him to comment on other posts. If a particular piece of writing suitably stimulates him to leave a comment, stopping himself from having his say on a particular matter that he know more about, or feel an occasion to respond to it, because it is ‘too soon’ is ludicrous. He would have missed this option to create a connection with the author and his niche, let alone the chance to link back to his own blog through the process.

It is no good being reticent in pursuit of interactive tendencies, when the opposite should be the norm. Look at our cousins on the other side of the pond, always falling over themselves to leave comments on blogs and within social media. Perhaps we should take a leaf out of their books, to make the blogosphere a more forthcoming place. After all, nothing will grind to a halt if a comment is made, whereas it most certainly could if one was not!

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Alice Elliott writes the award winning Fairy Blog Mother blog for beginner and post-beginner bloggers to “explain things really simply” about blogging and WordPress. She provides simple, easy to understand, highly visual courses and tutorials using ordinary, everyday words. Visit her new Beginner Bloggers blog to find her latest learning resources.

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  • I totally agree, Alice. I remember commenting for the first time. It felt sort of ‘presumptuous’ but, as a blogger myself, comments are exactly what you want. They bring new relationships and can often take the conversation initiated in the post to the next level. Thank you for highlighting so clearly how important comments can be, both to the reader and the blogger.

    • Thanks Lindsay. Commenting is not something that comes naturally to some people, especially if they are a bit nervous about what others think of what they write. But as with all things, practice makes perfect, and helps drive away the feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt that may prevent a perfectly good comment from being written. Believe it or not, people do like reading comments, and it may even spark them to write one of their own. The more responses a post gets, the more likely others will want to add their tuppence-worth to the discussion.

  • Michelle says:

    Asking a question at the end of a post is a great way to encourage interaction – at least then the reader has something to thing about.

    I’m making more time to go and comment myself on blogs that I read (time is lacking over here!) and like you said it works both ways – the more I interact, the more I get back.

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