Today I'd like to talk about blog comment etiquette -- some dos and don'ts I guess you could say when it comes to commenting on others' blogs. This issue comes to mind periodically regarding over-linking, but I never considered it worth its own post. Lately though, I've been seeing more commenters on various blogs of mine getting flagged as spam by default, so maybe it's time to visit the issue.

When I say "etiquette," I'm not talking about being sweet as pie to everyone when you comment. I couldn't care less if commenters have strong words as long as they're not entirely on the attack. By all means disagree or even fight when it's called for. But blog comment etiquette isn't just about being nice. It's about respecting the platform and what amounts to the "virtual home" of another blogger. With that in mind, here are a few dos and don'ts when it comes to commenting on blogs -- at least when commenting on mine.

  1. Keep the linking to a minimum. -- The biggest reason I see people get flagged for spam when they're trying to comment is that they're putting too many links in their comment. WordPress, for example (or maybe specifially Akismet -- I can't remember), has a default setting of any more than two links being flagged as spam. If a blogger gets a lot of spam (*raises hand*) they might not always even sort through all of it comment by comment. You might just find your comments deleted. Try to stick to linking policies that are pretty widely accepted in the blogosphere -- that includes not littering your comments with links.
  2. Don't add manual link signatures. -- Adding links to the end of your comments is not a good thing. It's spammy. In fact, it's what many spammers quite blatantly do. Blog comments already come with a built-in place for your link (if and when the blog owner chooses to allow it). It's your username. Blog comments are not designed for you to stuff your anchor text links in. They're designed for conversation. If the links are solely self-promotional, they're not appropriate for the body of the comment. Keep it to your name. If they don't add something relevant within the context of your comment, they're also inappropriate. Save your signature links for forums and email where they belong, or only include them if you know for a fact that the blog owner is okay with it. I occasionally let it slide if someone actually adds value to the discussion, but it's still somewhat annoying (and readers occasionally point it out to me too, so I'm not the only one who's bothered by it).
  3. On that note, add value! -- Don't post useless drivel like "I agree," or "great post." No one cares. You might be trying to kiss the blogger's ass for some inexplicable reason, but don't. A) You look silly when you do. B) You force people interested in the real conversation to scroll through a bunch of crap to get back to business. And C) if you really want to show appreciation for a post, the blogger would quite possibly rather that you contribute than simply flatter. That's not to say that some people don't have a constant need for validation and a constant craving for the oohs and ahhs. Plenty do -- just not this blogger.
  4. Sign comments with your real name or a very recognizable handle. -- There is rarely a good excuse to comment on a blog anonymously. If you aren't willing to take credit for your words, you should probably just keep your virtual mouth shut since you clearly don't value your point that much. Stuffing the author field with a keyword phrase? That's just asking to have comments deleted or banned as spam. If you must include your site name, do it in addition to your real name.

Clearly not everyone will agree with me here. That's fine. The important thing to remember is that it doesn't matter what you personally consider appropriate and inappropriate blog comment etiquette. What matters is how the blog owners of the blogs you comment on feel about it. Don't assume that because Blogger A loves the warm and fuzzy "Oh my god, you're so great!" crap that Blogger B is going to be okay with it. Just because one person is cool with you linking all over the place, don't take it as a license to do it everywhere you go. Get to know the bloggers you follow as well as their usual community members and get a feel for the blog comment culture of that site before jumping in with any assumptions. Just my $.02.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Indie Writers, NakedPR.com, and BizAmmo.com.

Jenn has over 17 years experience writing for others, around 12 years experience in blogging, and about a decade of experience in indie e-book publishing. She is also an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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