I’m back this morning with another of my Blogging Tips posts. I confess, I had no intention to write this as early as this morning but I was just bursting with excitement (can you even say that after only 3 hours sleep?) and wanted to get this one done for you all. This post is entirely my own thoughts and new policy, so please don’t use it as a carbon copy for handling comments on your own blog – unless you want to, of course!
I feel like it’s essential to have some form of a policy when it comes to handling comments on your blog. As bloggers, we can receive hundreds, if not thousands of comments every day. While many will be legitimate commenters with a valuable contribution, there will also be those pesky bots and those annoying trolls. For that reason, it helps to have something to control the flow.
The first thing I want to attribute to helping me manage is Askimet. Askimet helps to reduce those pesky bot comments that are simply inviting you to visit some spammy website that also somehow happens to exist on the internet. While I don’t fortunately see that many of those kinds of comments just yet, WordPress’ Askimet plugin helps to keep them all at bay. Thankyou Askimet, and thankyou WordPress – I wouldn’t have discovered Askimet without you!
Now that we’ve talked about spam bots and spam-bot plugins, I want to talk about those that remain – the real and legitimate commenters. While I believe that different people may have different views on managing comments, these views are entirely my own opinion.
Tidying Up My Act
Yesterday, I posted my “Is Blogging Really Worth it?” post (hint: Yes, 100%) and many of you liked it. In the comments though, I noticed that I began oversharing with one of my valued readers. It started off with a light-hearted comment and ended with a “oh sh*t” moment when I realised how many people could read those comments. Not nearly so fun!
You see, while having a discussion with one valued reader might be great and wonderful, I need to remember that the comments I leave up and the replies I make are open to everyone.
I like to think of it as being a little bit like in a public foyer. Maybe I strike up a really juicy conversation with a friend (a reader or fellow blogger) and start divulging in some really sordid details. That might be good and fun with them, but what, say, a prospective employer were to overhear my conversation? That wouldn’t be nearly so good! In many ways, my blog is much like that public foyer.
In months gone by, I wrote a lot about the adult industry and a lot of my readers have followed me over from there. While that’s great and I love that I can provide valued information to help a community to which I belong, I do also need to be a little bit careful. I want to be here to help and connect with people from all walks of life, but I do also need to be a little bit careful with how I go about it!
Spam (From Real People)
Sometimes, just very occasionally, spammy comments creep in that are actually from real people. These are actually sort of a grey area for me as they are someone who has taken the time, effort and energy to visit and comment on my blog, but is fundamentally about drawing traffic to theirs. An excellent blogging strategy if I do say so myself, but one that you also need to be wary of.
I’m not going to say that you shouldn’t comment on other blogs. Of course you should! Get out there and comment as much as you want! What I am going to say is that if you do decide to comment, do it well: Keep it polite, keep it friendly, and keep it on topic. That way, your comment is more likely to stay up, which ultimately could generate more traffic for your blog.
And as for managing these comments on your own blog, determine which is a valued contribution and which may be just about generating traffic flow. A vague comment might not be spam, or then it might be. Don’t be too hasty, but choose wisely.
Handling Criticism (And Trolls)
Believe it or not, I actually want you to criticise me. I welcome it, even if that sounds horrendous for my blog.
You see, in life there is negative criticism and constructive criticism, and only one of those is actually bad. Do you know which one?
A majority of the time, your critics aren’t there to tear you down, they’re there to help you see how you could do better. Very recently, I criticised a blogger friend and it didn’t go at all well. Now, while I’ve since apologised for my own foolish behaviour in said comment, I can honestly say with my hand on my heart that I would never set out to knowingly or intentionally tear someone down. Unfortunately, there are also those people on the internet who would.
When it comes to criticism, I believe that not all criticism is bad. One of my commenters was kind enough to point out to me that I once spelt “dojo” as “doojo”. Oh sure, the following lecture on how careless mistakes can hurt the success of your blog was definitely a kick to the stomach, but I learned from it. I sat down and painstakingly re-read more than 100 blog posts for those pesky typing errors. No blogger is perfect, we all make careless mistakes sometimes.
If the criticism just seems toxic and pointless, then I would safely go right ahead and remove it from your blog. A disagreement is one thing, but spouting toxic energy simply for the sake of something to do is quite another.
So Why Allow Comments At All?
Sometimes, I believe that enabling comments on a blog post is incredibly dangerous business. I wrote a piece once (now deleted) on how much Greta Thunberg terrifies me and I was chewed out by another blogger for not enabling comments. Fair enough, and I admit that I did so because I was terrified of the reaction.
Comments on blogs serve many purposes. They’re a great place to agree (or disagree) with the author, they’re a great place to discuss with other readers and they’re a great place to share your own opinions or knowledge on any given topic. Having a policy for moderating your comments is a good idea, but perhaps disabling them entirely is not.
What do you think? Do you allow or disallow comments on your blog? I will, ironically enough, look forward to reading your comments on comments, in my comments section!
Be Bold, Be Bright, Be Beautiful,