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Overheard on #Blogchat: Spamming Yourself (@OneGiantStep)

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Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night (or Monday morning), I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This week’s theme: Blog Comments

There’s one issue relating to blog comments that I debate with people more than others – whether or not to answer comments on your own blog. A number of people brought up this topic during #blogchat this week, and this one sums up how I feel about the topic:

OneGiantStep: I worry that if I respond to EVERY comment that I’m just spamming myself

I’m firmly on the side of “not every blog comment needs a response.” Some bloggers disagree with me. A number of the comments that I highly respect respond to every comment and encourage new bloggers to do the same. I don’t, because I think it can get out of hand. Like OneGiantStep noted, it starts to look like spam on your own site.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t reply to any comment. I know bloggers who do that as well. Some are just lazy. Others are misguided (in my opinion) and believe that its best to remain silent while they let their community engage with one another. I personally believe that you need to be somewhere in the middle. As a professional blogger, it’s part of your job to respond to your community.

Here’s when I don’t respond to a comment, though:

When I Don’t have Anything to Say

What, you were expecting a long list? :-p

Sometimes, comments fall through the cracks. There are only so many hours in a day, and occasionally I miss comments that require a response. I think we all do. No one is perfect. Even if you have a VA, you’re going to miss some comments.

But just because I haven’t answered a comment doesn’t mean that i missed it. Sometimes, I just have no further comment.

Now, it’s important to not leave questions unanswered. That’s a given. Even if you don’t know the answer, acknowledge the question and try to help the reader. Leaving the question unanswered just looks like you don’t care about your readers. Email the answer? Still, leave a comment. Other commenters don’t know that you emailed the person who asked the question, so to them, it just looks like you snubbed the reader.

But what about other comments? Should you respond? It’s a judgement call. Here’s the rule of thumb I use: If someone adds something to the conversation, I should try to respond with my thoughts. If they don’t really add much, but are instead thanking you or saying what others have said, I don’t always reply. Don’t get me wrong – those comments are important to me too! I just don’t want to respond to “great article” with “thanks.” That means there are two comments now that don’t add anything for future readers.

Here’s an example of my thought process. Let’s say I write a post about my favorite kind of cake. Because I like cake. Reader #1 leaves a comment asking if anyone knows where they can find a gluten-free recipe for that kind of cake. Reader #2 leaves a comment saying that they once ate a version of that cake while on vacation that used chocolate frosting instead of peanut butter frosting and it was also really good. Reader #3 leaves a comment that thanks me for the article because they had been looking for a good cake recipe.

I would 100% reply to Reader #1 with links to some gluten-free resources. I would also reply to Reader #2, thanking them for the suggestion and noting that not only would chocolate frosting be good, but readers should try mixing and matching other recipes as well to find new flavors. I would probably not respond to Reader #3. What do I have to say? Nothing.

Of course, there are a lot of other issues to consider here as well. How do you comment in a way that doesn’t dominate the conversation? Should you respond to troll comments? What about comments left on older posts – should you answer them too or spend your time focused on comments on new posts? Is it ethical to hire someone to answer comments for you, under your name?

But for now, I hope that I’ve simply given you some food for thought about the general concept of replying to every comment. Thanks OneGiantStep and everyone at #blogchat this week for inspiring this conversation!

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