I couldn’t write a post about writing better blog content without also writing a post about comments. One of the things I love most about blogging is the comments. As we all know, it’s often in the comments where the real juicy stuff happens. For people who may not blog themselves, it’s a way for them to express their perspective on a topic, contribute to a discussion, and even meet new people. I gained a new client once because of a discussion I had with someone in the comments section of a blog post.

Online conversations are a funny thing. Because they are primarily in text, there’s a low threshold of tolerance for noise. So when I see a blog post where the comments say mostly “Great post!” or “You rock!” I tune out really quickly. I want to see the meat. I want to hear varying perspectives. I don’t want to hear a bunch of applause. I think sometimes, it can be difficult to know how or why to add to a conversation. Here are some things I’ve learned about being a better commenter.

Hold your applause.
Have you ever read a really terrific blog post, and then scrolled to the comments, only to see a list of 97 people saying “Great post!”? It’s always baffled me why people feel compelled to do this. Sure, we all want to appreciate the author of the post. But, is it really necessary to add to the cacophony of woo-hoo, yay for you, if you’re not going to add anything else? There are alternatives. For instance, you could add a few lines with some thoughts on the matter. Instead of just shouting a resounding “I agree!”, how about sharing a brief story of your own that drives home the point? Or better yet, add a different point of view altogether? You don’t have to disagree, but you could make an additional point, or even ask a question. The next time you’re ready to give the big thumbs up to a post, consider how you might add to the conversation instead. And if you want to praise the blogger, consider posting a retweet on Twitter, or linking to the post on Facebook, or your own blog. Link love means more to a blogger than 97 “great post” comments.

Keep it brief.
Nothing makes me tune out of a comment conversation faster than when someone drops in a 600 word comment. Hey, I think it’s great that it’s not a “great post” comment, but this falls into the opposite end of the spectrum. I’ve started many a comment that, after typing a couple hundred words, I realize I’ve got a lot to say on the topic. At that point, I simply hit the copy/paste function and post it to my own blog instead. If a blog post gives you a spark, and you’ve got something to say, consider creating your own post, and linking back to the original post. I do want to hear what you have to say. I just don’t want you to drown out all the other commenters.

Be nice.
One of the best things about blogs is the opportunity it provides for people to share differing points of view. I love when people disagree with me on my blog. I encourage it. But there’s a way to disagree respectfully, and a way to do it meanly. Don’t be mean. If the blogger doesn’t use foul language in their posts, then don’t use foul language in your comment. Don’t call people names. Don’t be disrespectful. Disagree, even passionately, but ultimately, be nice. And don’t take it personally and get defensive if people don’t share your point of view. There’s plenty of room out here for everyone to have an opinion and a voice.

What about you? What kinds of comments do you like best? How do you think the art of blogging can be improved through comments? Have at it…in the comments, of course. Oh, and before you leave that comment that sarcastically says, “Great post”? Ha ha ha. :)

photo credit: Ben Haldenby on Flickr