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Friday, May 9, 2014

To my fellow bloggers

(Yes, of course this is exactly how I look sitting in front of my computer. Heels and all. And I always type with one hand, while the other thoughtfully taps my chin. Really.)

The other day, when I ranted about readership and comments on blogs in general being down and how, many times, our attempts at initiating a discussion are largely ignored, Ronnie brought up a very important point in her comment: It's equally as discouraging and frustrating when readers do comment, and then the bloggers don't acknowledge them.

When I first started blogging years ago, I read the tips that our wonderful Bonnie had put out, and I clearly recall that one of them was along the lines of "Always comment back to your commenters, each and every one. People like to be acknowledged." I took that to heart, and I have done so. Not just to the comments I like best, not just when I feel like it, but every single comment, even if it's just a "thank you."

If you have a photoblog, then of course, comments aren't pertinent, just likes and reblogs. But if you invest the time in actually writing something, then you are writing to be read. And your readers want to know that you appreciate the time they took to read you.

Comments are not a given. People are busy. They have limited time to spend on blogs and other online stuff. So if someone purposefully signs in and shares their thoughts/opinions with you, and is then ignored, chances are they won't bother doing it again. Just like blogging without comments is like talking to yourself, commenting without acknowledgement is also like talking to yourself. Newbies and lurkers, in particular, take a risk in speaking up, and if their efforts seem to fall on blind eyes, they will most likely slip back into the shadows.

You don't have to write a book in return, for heaven's sake. A quick comment back is like a smile, an eye contact. It validates the poster. You don't even have to agree with them; just respect them and move on to the next.

(Of course, if the comment is insulting or inflammatory, then all bets are off. But I'm writing this with the assumption that the comments are polite and respectful.)

Also, for those who moderate comments: I get it. You don't want spam. You don't want flamers. You don't want your topic hijacked by cross-talkers. But with all due respect to people's time -- if you're going to use that function, then you have a responsibility to actually moderate the damn thing. Stay on top of your comments and approve them in a timely fashion. Don't let everyone's comments sit in moderation limbo for days, while the readers wonder whether or not they went through. It's like leaving your texts, voice messages and emails unchecked for days... which a lot of people do, I guess. But then why bother blogging?

To the bloggers who have been around a while and are already cognizant of all this, please know I'm not talking to you. And I know this tip has been stated before, many times. But in the onrush of so many newer blogs in recent times, I think some of the tips have fallen by the wayside. And it never hurts to restate them for the newbies, or newer-bies.

Love and acknowledge your commenters, kids. They'll love you back.

Have a great weekend, y'all. Happy Mother's Day.


  1. Very well said and thank you. Always an honor to acknowledge you Erica. Truly. Thanks for your blog.

  2. Terrific advice for all who read and write blog posts. On Fetlife recently I made a few respectful but disagreeing comments on a controversial post of a non friend. Many people commented more than once and I wonder if it was because I disputed some of the writer's commentary that he chose to blow off my comments or he really is as pompous and arrogant as his writing presented him. He did reply to people who were likely already friends of his.
    I can see why lurkers don't make the next leap into posting.

  3. sub hub -- and thank you as well. :-)

    Kelly -- it really takes a lot of courage to post something dissenting, especially to a popular writer. But if you're respectful about it, then it seems to me that you have your place as much as any other. I don't want people to feel like they have to "yes" me to death.

  4. Erica, that's exactly how I pictured you writing your books! Teehee. I would be very sad if your blog and others go away. I've hesitated to comment but I think it's time for me to quit lurking.!

    A Lifelong Spanko here (again)

  5. I don't normally get many comments, so I always reply. I LOVE comments! Now if I could just write more blog posts to GET more comments, I'd be all set. LOL

  6. ALS -- lurker no more! Yay!

    Jen -- I love them too. I can't imagine not acknowledging them. I know people get busy... but it really doesn't take that much time.

  7. Comment Comment Comment - Lol, sorry, had to be a little sassy. ;-) I blame it on coming down with a cold/sinus infection! Yuck!

    I love comments too, but being so new I don't really expect them quite yet. I can hope eventually they will come because I know what happens when they dwindle to nothing at all...

  8. Jay -- you will get comments in time, as people discover you. The best thing you can do is put your name out there. Comment on other blogs, as you're doing now. If you're on Twitter, tweet about your blog. Hope you feel better soon!

  9. I think this always bears repeating, because, even though I'm a newbie at blogging, I have already seen cases of new blogs fading into cyberspace because they didn't respond to readers' comments. When someone goes out of their way to comment on a new blog, it should absolutely be acknowledged, because, let's be honest, it is a chore commenting on blogs that are just getting started--it's hard to come up with something to say to a complete stranger who's written one or two posts. Acknowledging comments is not only an opportunity for the blogger to introduce herself and get to know a potential reader, but also a way to hook a reader and keep him/her coming back!

  10. Hi Erica -- Thank you for writing this :-) It was very helpful. I always comment on your blog :-) I want to thank you for replying to my comments, You are AWESOME :-) Much Love and hugs from naughty girl Jade

  11. Autumn -- truth! Thank you.

    Jade -- as are you. :-)

  12. Blogging etiquette! It's insightful, thank you. :)

  13. Hi Erica -
    Thanks for writing this post.
    I receive so very few comments that I can easily respond to all comments.

    Here is something I have experienced; if someone comments on one of my posts and I respond right away it almost always "kills" any future comments. Bonnie made reference to this in her Blogging Tips. It is a matter of finding the right timing to respond for those blogs that don't receive a lot of comments. When the blog owner comments sometimes it is viewed as the end to the conversation. This is why I try to wait a short time rather than responding right away.

  14. Thank you Erica. From the first day of my blog, I decided I wanted to emulate you and ronnie by acknowledging every comment made on my blog. I am happy that I took your advice.


  15. Great post and I agree if bloggers want comment from readers, then then need to actually take the time to reply back somehow to the commenter, to keep them coming back and replying to posts. I know that is what I like from blog owners that I read and follow and comment on and that is how I try to be with my vanilla blog and my spanking blog, however I tend not to get very many comments on either one :(

  16. Hi Erica. I'm just now reading the last one and this. I won't comment anywhere that I know it's not going to be responded to either. I'm sure I missed a comment here or there but I try to respond because the blog invites a conversation and nobody wants to talk to a wall. But here's the other thing - if a person doesn't feel like they have something meaningful to say they don't. It doesn't mean I don't enjoy reading here or anywhere else. It just means that I can't add to the conversation. Me especially, I don't exactly fit in anywhere and I don't share the experiences others do. So really other than sending a virtual hug or high five, I've got nothing lol. I still enjoy visiting though :-)

  17. Erica,

    I always take the time to reply to readers who have graciously left a comment (remember Bonnie's tip on that) I think it gives me a chance to get to know my readers, and vice versa.

    Thanks for the mention.

    Hope you have a great weekend.


  18. I'm sitting here thinking "I should comment, I just read the post." :) Yes, I agree and most of the time, I do comment back but there are times I don't or can't because I'm just not able to with family stuff going on - or it's a very late comment back. I agree with you - people should be acknowledged and yes, it does take effort and also for some, a certain amount of courage and it is absolutely appreciated.

  19. Brat -- welcome!

    Enzo -- really? I never thought about that. I usually stay on top of my comments pretty closely, mostly because I'd rather not have to rush through replying to a bunch of them all at once. It never occurred to me that some would consider that the end of the discussion. Believe me, as far as I'm concerned, it's not! :-)

    joey -- you definitely are a gracious responder! :-)

    Breakmydreams -- I think I've noticed a lot of the non-responding lately; that, plus Ronnie's comment, spurred me on to write this.

    Chickadee -- I do get that, honest. It's OK. I understand that if a comment feels forced, it's not much fun for anyone. I appreciate the reading, though, so thank you.

    Ronnie -- yes, you too are a perfect example of faithful responding to comments, as are joey and Hermione. We learned from the best, didn't we! (I miss Bonnie!)

    Natasha -- LOL... yeah, everyone should see how I REALLY look. Oh, wait... no, they shouldn't.

  20. I appreciate all the bloggers and leave comments a lot all over the blogosphere and I always sign my name, which is not my name but my dog's name. I am hopeful my comments are appreciated as i enjoy the work you all do. I don't lurk much as I want the bloggers to know their work and words and pictures are appreciated.

  21. I need to add for as long as I've known you I think you've been very courteous to your commenters.
    But I'm noticing many other bloggers are either not responding to comments or they're not releasing the ones passing moderation approval. WTF?
    Since I'm in a bad mood I must admit I really hate when people on Fetlife in particular actually make the statement, "There are just too many comments to respond to individually."
    This type of statement seems to come from those who deem themselves leaders or super popular scene players.
    I likely don't share in the love fest. :)

  22. Baxter -- always happy to hear from you (and your dog, too).

    Kelly -- I admit, on FetLife, I don't respond to every photo comment. I don't think most people do, but who knows. I try to post a collective "thanks, everyone" if a particular picture gets a lot of nice compliments. But yeah, with blogging, I really do think acknowledging all comments is appropriate.

  23. I'm admittedly terrible at responding to reader comments. Part of it is a lack of time, but mostly I don't know how to respond to anything other than a grievance. I've fallen back on a stock "Thanks so much!" answer for compliments, but I've written that sentiment so many times that it simply feels empty.

    Adding to the problem is that almost all of my readers find individual posts via Facebook, then return to my Facebook page and comment THERE. There's a lot happening with the website, from news to critical writing, to podcasts and publishing ... I've been lucky that my readers are pretty cool. I rarely ever have to deal with trolls, and that's made my incredibly rusty when engaging one-on-one with visitors.

    I'm not happy with the situation, but that's how it is right now.

  24. Cuz -- well, your blog is very different style. It's a niche blog (Dark Shadows/horror), and it's entertainment oriented, so people read it to find out fun tidbits, see the very cool pictures you put up and read your synopses of the shows, episode by episode. There really isn't that much to comment about (well, unless you're posting about the Travesty That Shall Not Be Named). I would bet you have lots of readers, though. Dark Shadows forever!

  25. Hi Erica,

    Enzo said, "if someone comments on one of my posts and I respond right away it almost always "kills" any future comments. Bonnie made reference to this in her Blogging Tips... When the blog owner comments sometimes it is viewed as the end to the conversation."

    I've never understood that either. I have two or three opportunities during the day to respond to comments. I'll reply to the first ones, then come back later and reply to the ones that came in since I replied. I've never noticed that all comments stop after I've joined in.

    I suppose a better approach would be to use embedded comments, so we could all reply to each person individually, but then that leaves out the folks (like Bogey) who do not allow third-party cookies.


  26. Hermione -- I don't really see it that way, myself. Perhaps it depends on the comment the author posts, if it seems to be some sort of "final statement." But I don't like to let too many comments pile up (not that they do, but you know what I mean). So I'll take my chances and keep answering them as I get them.

  27. Hermione / Erica - It is something I have noticed elsewhere as well with "less popular" blogs such as my own. Ladies, both of your blogs are vastly more popular than most if on nothing else simply based on the amount of average comments you receive per post. Perhaps that is why your comments keep coming after you have commented.

    I will give it a try on my blog and comment sooner rather than later just to see if I notice a new trend.

  28. Erica,

    Please keep bloggging. This particular lurker really loves your insight and is always in your virtual corne rooting you on.

    Anon E. Mouse

  29. Erica,
    I admit to being one of those "Lurkers"that usually never writes back or comment. It may not seem obvious but for me this is due to lack of time. I also question whom are the reader of my blog however, since my page is more of a "Tech" site, I usually don't get comments unless something I wrote about contains wrong information or the links to a helpful site may be broken.
    As far as your blog goes, I always seem to enjoy your content.
    Take care,

  30. Milt -- it's always nice to see you pop in every now and then. :-)

  31. I can't resist.

    As far as I'm concerned, don't worry about acknowledgment. It’s really not necessary. You see, urban myth has it that after I was born, my mother said two things: where's my pack of Lucky Strikes, and somebody give that damn rug rat a bottle so he’ll shut the fuck up!

    Really, I’m well adjusted, can’t you tell?