Are comments on your blog important?
Yes. Next question.
What do you mean “Is that it?” You want more? Blimey! You NBIers are a demanding lot!
Look, as far as I’m concerned, right after providing me with a creative outlet/hobby/platform for saying daft things to amuse myself, comments are what blogging is about. Obviously you want people to read your posts otherwise you wouldn’t have written them, but other than a few numbers on a stats page how do you know if people are reading you? Comments! That’s how! You want your readers to be so impressed that they stop whatever they are doing to actually write to you.
So for the love of all that is holy, turn your ruddy comment feature on and make sure anyone can use it (Blogger & Live Journal I’m looking at you – nothing guarantees I will never read a blog again than finding I can’t leave a comment) and reply to them!
Ahhh, replying to comments. Should you, you wonder? You’re busy after all, you have stuff to do, things to write, should you reply to all the comments you get? Well, and this is a personal choice of course, but I would say yes! yes! and double bloody yes! Look, if someone has been good enough to reach out to you, you really owe it to them to say something back, even if it’s a “Thanks for your kind comment!” or “Cheers for that!” Also, unless you are a a huge blog like Massively then the chances are you aren’t going to be inundated with comments so I wouldn’t worry about it taking over your life Looking at my stats most posts here never get a single comment and I’d call 2 or 3 on a post a success. Hell, even though I’ve been blogging here for 5 years the single highest commenter has only left a grand total of 56 comments!
If you want my honest opinion, we bloggers should be honoured that people read our scratchings (especially the drivel I offer up!) so the least we can do is say thanks when they leave us a note
But what to do when a commenter disagrees with you, or is being abusive? Well first off you need to be prepared that if you are posting opinion pieces then you will get people who disagree with your opinions and there is nothing wrong with that – I’m a great believer in allowing such comments through and then replying to them, after all an open dialogue is always a great way to spark debate and that in itself will bring readers to you blog. But if you also attract trolls and idiots who just post crap then feel free to delete it and ignore them – do not take them on because not only is that what they want, but such displays of anger will drive the intelligent readers away from your blog in droves. The golden rule is: Ignore comments at your peril but ignore trolls and idiots at all costs.
As an adjunct to that last point, even though I always advise you always turn your comments on to allow people to interact with you, you must equally always keep some form of moderation in place so that trolls, idiots and spammers can’t just post away with impunity – there is nothing worse than being unable to get online for a day only to come back and find some pillock has spammed a stack of your posts with idiocy and/or filth that has then gone out to any readers following those posts. WordPress has a very powerful but very simple set of moderation functions that help keep my blog free of crap with a combination of ensuring that someone’s first ever comment is held back for my approval as well as comment containing even a single URL is also held back – this way not only can I see that a new commenter isn’t a troll, but I can also intercept any mass Russian lolita pr0n links before they get to my readers. WordPress for the win, I say
This message was brought to you by the Newbie Blooger Initiative and Dr Burro’s Dept. of Mutual Back Scratching.