For readers who comment on my posts

Dear Readers:
I love reading your comments. I read each and every one of them and enjoy thinking about them. Sometimes I revisit your comments multiple times and think about the new perspective you’ve brought to my idea in the blog post.

Since the primary audience for your comments is me, I have a question for you, reader, about how you would like me to respond. The question is very simple and comes at the very end of this post. I’d be very grateful if some of you would comment expressing your opinion about how you’d like me to respond to comments.

My reaction to comments

My first reaction on reading a comment is happiness. You liked the post enough to bother writing a comment yourself. I wish  comments had “like” buttons where I could express the fact that I read them and liked them. But unfortunately, comments don’t have “like” buttons.

Now, beyond this, comments are subjective pieces of writing. So any reaction I have after this initial feeling of happiness totally depends on the comment.

You can only imagine how glad I feel when I get a comment such as this:”your posts are very insightful. I love reading them! Please keep up the good work 🙂 )” [On the Solitary and the Social Scholar by lisarmorina]

My possible response to such a comment is a “Thank you” or a smiley face. But this platform does not let you smile too many times nor say “Thank you” more than once. You get a stern warning saying “Duplicate comment detected.” And being identified as duplicate each time I smile takes a long time after which I’m taken back to a different spot on the original page so  I have to scroll around to find the person I was responding to again.

You will have noticed that if a comment brings up a point to which I can respond by extending, refuting, clarifying or explaining something I write a lot. My response to these comments come naturally. The length of my response does not correspond to the length of the comment. Sometimes, even a one line comment might strike a chord about something I wanted to say and I write a long response.

Sometimes, there are great comments, long or short, that say it all. They are complete, they express their ideas well and I feel I have nothing to add. I am always grateful for such comments and proud that the commenter chose my page to put his/her insightful ideas on. I have sometimes thought about just doing a post on these great comments.

To such comments, I sometimes respond by simply saying “Great points!” “Thank you” :), pleasure to read etc. But I realized from the joking reaction of a commenter in my last post On the solitary and the social scholar [ I said “Good thoughts!” in response to his comment to which he replied “Do you have a two word response-limit or something? :P”] that some people might be misunderstanding by brevity as terseness or unwillingness to engage.

That made me think. Would it have been best for me to not have responded back at all? Or would commenters like a short response such as “Good points” or “Thank you” as acknowledgement of me having read their comment?

In addition to this, I realize that too many of my one-word or two-word comments might be cluttering people’s feeds. A WordPress post recently advised that it wasn’t, in fact, a good idea to respond to all comments:

But don’t reply to every comment. If you have quite a lot of comments and you reply to each with a simple ‘thanks,’ your comment thread isn’t going to be as interesting to readers. Think of your replies as a way to add something substantial that will build on the discussion..

So far, I was thinking that acknowledgement is better in a word or two than no response, but perhaps commenters would rather not get such one or two word responses?

The questions

So here are my questions for you:

If a comment has already made its point really well and I have nothing to add(if I even have the slightest bit to add, rest assured I will. You all know how garrulous I am!)

  • A. Would you like to see a thank you or a smiley as acknowledgement?
  • B. Would you rather I did not respond at all and clutter the comments section?

You can just comment by saying “A” or “B.”

I’d also be very curious to know why you would prefer one or the other so do tell me if you have time. I’ve been commenting on other people’s posts and I know what I’d like myself but don’t want to influence  people with my own likes :)!! And of course, it pleases me no end to see readers in conversation with one another in the comments section.

Thanks for all your support. It’s been great reading you all.
BW

201 thoughts on “For readers who comment on my posts”

  1. This is a great idea for a post – addressing the commenters. I’ve been thinking a lot about my commenters lately. I don’t have as large a following as you, but it’s easy to feel as if you’re posting thoughts no on will ever read or care about. Commenters keep me grounded – and going. I respond to all comments. That would be harder to to if I received hundreds of comments, but I find it annoying when bloggers don’t ever respond – to anyone. I may use this idea. Thanks.

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  2. When someone gives me an either/or choice, I’m always going to ask: what are the other options? That’s the conflict manager coming out. Should I ever write something interesting enough for this many comments on my new blog, I’d consider a collective reply. That is, after a few comments, I’d respond to them each fully in one Reply. Or, one thank you Reply naming those I was collectively thanking. Or, … what else?

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  3. If I write an extensive reply to a post, I don’t really expect a reply as the post is the invitation to comment, and the comment is the response. However if something in my responding comment makes the blogger want to respond with another point that contributes to the post discussion, that is great, but I kind of agree that the short one or two word acknowledgements aren’t really required and indeed can sometimes give the wrong message. However, if that is your personal style and preference, I wouldn’t let a few misunderstood responses stop you doing what clearly only has the best of intentions behind it.

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  4. I like comments personally. I like to make comments and I like to get them. But I understand some bloggers are busy people, or get too many comments to respond to them all. So I guess I would say it depends on the comment. If it calls for a reply then go for it, but yes, some need no response at all. Also glad you enjoyed my post. hee hee, my poor brain.

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  5. Great post with lots of good suggestions and tips to consider. I agree with you mostly in that one shouldn’t reply to a comment if something intelligent and/or compelling isn’t added to the comment made by a reader. So, let me take this opportunity to say “thanks” for visiting my blog today and clicking on the Like button. Your blog is most interesting and informative. Keep up the good work you’re doing here. I hope to hear back from you again. Cheers!

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  6. So funny that we can get ourselves so nuts over social plesantries. I cannot believe they were invented to give us these agonal fits. Although youve offered an A and a B answer, C is what I like. Perhaps every 3-4 comments, throw in a group response. Maybe like:
    Hello katy, your comment made me :). Jane you are spot on. Lulu i would like to know more about your theory. All of you thanks for taking the time.
    That would make me ❤ and 🙂 !

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I appreciate how you are reading my NaNo entries. The posts are an experiment on writing and knowing at least one person likes the posts is encouraging.
    I hadn’t given much thought to it, but replies are a bit of an art form. They are also an extension of your writing , giving readers even more insight into your style.

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  8. thanks for checking in with my blog, i’m new to the blog world and it seems to be an interesting and exciting subculture unto itself. any way you would like to respond or not, is fine with me, i’m just happy that you are reading it, but i think that humans, by their very nature, like to be heard and acknowledged.

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  9. Hey,
    I’m back. Great day on the river. Gave me some time to think about Virginia Woolf. At any rate, you appear to be into a lotta directions. To busy for my brain – but, I do like to read around. I don’t know about the “smiley” face; not sure either about the “no-comment”, I think everyone likes a bit-o-recognition for their energy. I used to try to be busy, now I just study Latin/Literature/Poetry/Fishing and what makes my dog tick (no pun intended). I used to blog a bit more than now. Life takes turns and I like to ride the rails. Good-dae to you!!
    G.

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  10. You have a lotta stuff here. I’m going fishing this morning, but when I get back … I’m gonna check your blog out.
    As the “terminator said: I’ll b back”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  11. Don’t have as many people reading my stuff as you, so it’s easier, but I try to respond to everyone – and ‘to each according to his need’. Some comments take more time and are longer, some are quite short.
    I think really you have to be you.
    We all read the blog to read you, that voice, as I’ve said before. We want the same voice back and I guess we trust that you will read what we say and comment appropriately.
    Does that answer your question or do you think it’s a cop out?

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    1. “You have to be you” is a good response. I certainly wasn’t looking for a single answer to my question. An answer like that doesn’t exist. But I thought that in case just being me might be putting off some people in case there is a netiquette somewhere I was missing, I’d better ask 🙂 BTW, I wanted to let you know that I appreciate all *your* comments and always find them insightful. Thank you.

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  12. Mine is a mostly new blog, so I usually have plenty of time to think up something more than just a thank you or a smile in response to most comments. Of course, there’s not a lot to say when the comment itself is just a “Great post!”, in which case I stick with a simple thanks myself.
    I like to acknowledge every commenter on my blog, but I don’t expect the same in return all the time. With the number of blogs that I comment on, I usually forget about the comments I’ve made. And when I get a comment reply notification, I tend to expect more than just a “Thank you for your comment!”
    I guess the point I’m making is- reply to the comments that you actually have a reply for. For the rest, I hope WordPress comes up with like buttons for comments as well.. 🙂
    While I’m here, I should tell you- I love your posts. You have so much to share, and it’s always so well written and interesting.

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  13. For my own blog, I look at is more as taking the time out to formulate at least a brief response to someone who actually took time out of their likely busy day to comment on something I wrote (as you mention earlier in this post in appreciating the comments).

    I think an entire post on it helps though too, so people know that you really do appreciate all comments and even just a few words are a genuine and visible representation of that appreciation.

    In short, responding to every comment is the way I go on my blog. I look at it more as recognizing each person that put forth effort to participate in a conversation I started, even if I don’t have much to say/add other than appreciation.

    As to when I comment on people’s blogs, I don’t really need a response, personally. If I ask specific questions, one would be appreciated, but otherwise I’d rather not be one of many taking someone away from the busy tasks of their day. I assume they read it, and they may even be thinking on it, but too busy to respond directly. I’m cool with that. I’d rather good writers be working on more good things than taking a break to appease me with a response.

    If I get a response to my comment, I’m pleased, if I get zero visible response, I assume the best and likely forget all about the comment until someone does reply or I stumble across the post again.

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  14. I respond to every comment because on the whole, I have grown to know each person that comments and consider them my friend. I would not leave a friend hanging. I am invested in their lives. It may not be that way for everyone, but it is for me. Often, before I comment, I read their blog and I am able to add something from their blog onto my comment. Oddly enough, I started blogging in order to have one more audience for my writing, but I have moved beyond that into the social element. People who comment are my friends. I like to let them know it. HF

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  15. it would be nice to see a response, the length of the reply doesn’t matter. like you said, it’s an acknowledgement that you appreciate our comments. However i wouldn’t expect a response, as there’s a lot of comments around.. and people who comment may just want to express their liking of your work, to let you know we appreciate your work too… well, at least this works like that for me… 🙂

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  16. I like to see a response, even if it’s limited to a thank you or smiley face. IMO, it’s a courteous acknowledgement of my taking time to read and post a reply. 🙂

    I’m not sure where you are, but I’m pretty sure you’re in the NY area, I’m thinking of you, hoping you fared well during Hurricane Sandy.

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  17. I like a response just so I know my comment was read. When every other comment before and after mine has a response and mine doesn’t, it makes me wonder if it was something I said, er, wrote.

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  18. i also appreciate a comment which goes beyond the, “hi, how are you?” variety. i like to know which part of the post, if not the whole post caught the respondant’s attention and why. of course, complimentary information such as a link or reference which further expounds on what i’ve written is a boon.

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  19. I’ve seen folks respond to multiple commenters in one reply, e.g.,
    @Mary ssseiijf ajkl; jkl jkl jkl jkl;
    @John ;lkj ;lijf djskkeslla
    – They’ll reply to 5 or 6 at once, just beyond those comments, drop down past another 5 or 6 and respond. I wouldn’t worry if the comment is just ‘great post’, ‘very insightful’, etc. It’s impossible to reply to everyone – you won’t have time for your writing! 🙂

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  20. Bottledworder:You had some good points and its nice to see how other bloggers feel. I try to comment when I get a thought provoking reply, once in a while, I feel the need to just say “thanks for reading and caring” , others, I just smile and feel honored that my work was read. It can be overwhelming. Sometimes, there are so many new posts on my emails, i cannot read them all, i try to read each writers work as often as I can and when someone sends me the standard comment that comes out when a blogger says they “liked” my work, I try to look at their list and read one of their blogs that i haven;t read. I have to be careful and not loose my own creativity in the process of reading and answering. I really enjoy blogging, hearing from others who read my work and reading the thoughts and words of other bloggers. Thanks for the chance to comment on these feelings. Best wishes, beebeesworld.

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  21. I prefer authentic conversation to banal smiley faces and replies. It’s nice that people leave comments, and I enjoy it when there is some sort of individuality to them. For example, “Great post” tells me nothing, and I feel no obligation – or want, for that matter – to smile, or thank them.

    It seems that you’re asking your readers what would make them feel more fuzzy inside, without saying that you, I presume, could better use your time finding inspiration and writing great posts, rather than helping others feel justified with smiley faces.

    I invite you to be more clear with what you need. You have an awesome blog with quality writing. Keep it up.

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    1. I think that this response really gets to the point. Whatever your readers would prefer, it just boils down to what you can do and still be able to write your wonderful blogs. As one of your admiring readers, I would much prefer knowing that you are not stressed out trying to respond to all comments…as you have to this particular question. I believe you should think of your own preferences and do whatever it takes to preserve your sanity. You certainly can’t continue as you have for the past two days! If my email is any indication of the time you’ve spent on this one issue, I think it’s way too much for one person to maintain over time. Take a break, breathe, get some sleep. Take care of your Self.

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      1. @ suzysomething: Thanks! Yes, this post generated an enormous number of comments. All so insightful! And you’re right, under ordinary circumstances, replying to so many would have required a few clones but I’ve been waiting out hurricane Sandy. So . . .

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    2. @tradersolstice: Thanks for asking what I would like:) I’d like to devote as much time to writing the actual blogs as possible. Then, since a blog is not an essay but a genre that traces the development of thoughts over a long period of time and is interactive to an extent by nature, I’d like to further the conversation in constructive directions through readers’ comments.

      This means readers could also come up with ideas by interacting with each other, provide links to other related articles/ blogs etc., write blogs taking off from points that come up on the original blog–whatever illuminates the subject further.

      The original blog is composed by me–the rest is a creation that ideally would emerge through reader interaction in the comments section. This means that ideally the comments section would include only meaningful comments and not comments that are just niceties from either side. But since we are people, we also need niceties and encouragement. It’s just hard to know what the right balance here should be!

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  22. I think it’s nice when bloggers respond to every comment in some fashion or other. Of course, if one has hundreds of comments, that may not be possible, but for the most part, I think commenters like to know they’re comments been read and pondered. 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I appreciate it!

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  23. Good question. What is the NET-iquette for this dilemma? I guess, we do our best to respond to readers who take the time to respond to us. It is a form of recognition and we all appreciate being recognised. If we see that you have 5894 readers, and we see a response to our ‘thanks for sharing!’ we feel pretty special. But for the writer of the blog that can become way-more-work than intended. It’s supposed to be fun, right? Respond if someone brings up a thought or question, otherwise, my internal wiring suggests, a universally recognised nod exists to ‘likes’ and simple, short appreciations. Otherwise the thank you cards can continue back and forth until we forget what we were originally thankful for! *hugs* …luv khrys

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  24. If I don’t get a response on a comment, it won’t break my heart. I know you read all the comments you get, and that’s good enough for me. If you want to add to or dispute or encourage etc the comments I make then please feel free to comment back. I feel it’s not always necessary to reply to a “I like your viewpoint,” or “interesting post” comments. I hope this helps! And you did raise some great points here on blogging etiquette.

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  25. If you really feel like the comment requires a response or has something to say, then for it. I acknowledge the polite desire to respond to each comment. (I have that myself) But recently I’ve come over to the “less is more”- side. I’m not going to be offended if you let the comment reside there as is.

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  26. In providing some rich food for thought and comment, and providing a platform to express our opinions about it, and with a pre-assembled audience that you’ve attracted … I’d say you’ve already done quite enough for us. And I thank you. That’s mighty concientious of you.

    Cheers,
    ~kp

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  27. I say “B”. Interaction is nice, but not always necessary. I would say respond when you naturally want to further the conversation. That’s the same decision we make when we click “like” and do not leave a comment.
    I do like the idea someone else suggested to do a general thanks for all comments. (This research should lead to a post on The New Rules of Etiquette!)

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  28. A) Acknowledgement is always appreciated, otherwise I would feel disregarded. However it is nice if is a bit more involving. You could ask a question of the reader that would require a response. Just a thought. 😉

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  29. I vote A, simply because i would like to know that my comment was read.
    I know it can get tough finding more responses than just “Thank you” or :-), so I try not to get upset if there is no response to my comment 🙂

    (Separate note, maybe you could have used the poll feature to collect these responses?)

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  30. When people have taken the time to comment on my blog I do like to respond – even if just with a smiley face or a thank you. I love the interaction, I think that’s why many of us started our blogs. Even though it often clogs up my in box, I cannot help myself, I have to hit the ‘notify me of follow up comments’ box. I vote for A.

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  31. Excellent question. I’ve often wondered the same thing. Perhaps it’s best to respond to the ones that engage, but not to the ones that just say “nice post” or “good job”. A batch reply works for the less engaging comments. Just put a “thanks, everyone” comment in after getting several of those works for me.

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  32. Receiving feedback for comments is lovely but time-consuming. I think we (your followers) know that you read them all, so don’t always feel obliged to comment back on mine anyway. To avoid confusion, I’ll press ‘like’ more often, so that you don’t feel obliged to comment back!

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  33. This is an interesting question. While I started following your blog not long ago, I use the same approach for all the blogs I follow; when post is likeable but it does not inspire a comment – I simply leave ‘like’. When post inspires or provokes a thought, I write a comment. Once I have commented on a post, I do like to receive some form of acknowledgment back. Accordingly my voice goes to option A. This is because, in my view, blogging is all about interactions. And for me interaction is a two way street. In other words one cannot interact if there is no response. On that note I am particularly fond of exchange when there are difference in opinions.

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  34. I’m late responding to this and I notice you responded to most comments! I like that. I’m a newbie blogger and I’ve admired how more established bloggers take the time out of their own busy lives to respond to comments made on their various posts. Readers feel appreciated, I know I do especially when you don’t expect an acknowledgement.

    I say A.

    p.s. I love your blog and look foward to reading your stuff!

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  35. Much to your credit, you don’t have to respond to my comments at all. I know you well enough already to know that you DO read them all. If I don’t pique your interest (or your need to correct/refute), then I haven’t done MY job. I’ll take the fall. So here’s my promise to you, b.w.: feel free to breeze beyond my comments without response. You won’t drive me away by ignoring me; you’re far too interesting for that. You have too much to share and teach to me to keep me from your unfailingly interesting material.

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