5 Ways to Handle Blog Comments Like a Pro

blog-comments-tipsDid you know that people who leave mean comments on blogs are called trolls? It’s an image that suits them.

But there’s still so much misunderstanding around social media some people don’t know what a blogger is, let alone a troll. Others don’t know the difference between a blog post and a comment.

My local paper recently wrote an article about how someone had been slammed by bloggers.

When I went to look at the site they mentioned it wasn’t the blog post which was critical, it was the commenters. They really let rip. But since none of those commenters provided a link to their blog, or even left a proper name, they weren’t bloggers, just trolls.

Stories like that scare a lot of new bloggers and when I take blogging workshops I often get asked:

“Isn’t it a nuisance getting comments from people?”
“Do I have to bother replying to my blog comments?”
“But how do I deal with spam comments?”

So that’s why I want to share more tips on how to deal with blog comments. This is what I do.

1. Install Akismet

Install the Akismet spam blocker plug-in which will filter out 99% of the spam comments on your blog. These comments mainly come from people who are pushing sex, drugs and other products. I wish I could have said rock and roll but sadly they’re not  as fun as that.

Spam comments aren’t by people who have read your blog post so the comments are generic and probably automatically generated too.

Instead of using a real name like “Jane Doe” spammers use the name of their product in the hope it will improve their search engine ranking.

To give you an idea of how bad the problem is in the last six months Successful Blogging has attracted over 1,200 comments. Thankfully Akismet has filtered and placed them in the spam folder so I don’t have to ever see those blog comments, read them or manually delete them.

I’m grateful for this because what’s in there is vile.

Very occasionally Akismet makes a mistake and puts a genuine comment from a real person in the spam folder. When this happens the commenter usually emails me saying their comment didn’t appear on the blog whereupon I go find it in the spam folder, approve it and email the commenter explaining what happened.

Too easy.

2. Set your blog comments to be approved before they go live

When someone new has left a comment I get an email telling me. Then I can read it and approve it. Once I’ve approved the first comment from a new reader all their following comments will go live immediately.

You can choose to set your blog comments so they go live immediately but I prefer to get notified when there’s a new comment so I can reply to it.

3. Reply to your blog comments

I love my commenters because:

  • Comments add value to my blog posts by sharing their tips, tricks and techniques.
  • Comments give me feedback on my blog, not only by what they say but by what they don’t say. If a blog post receives heaps of comments I know that’s a topic or blog post style that interests my readers and I should write more like that. If a post doesn’t get many comments it lets me know that topic doesn’t resonate with my readers so all comments (or lack of them) constantly help me improve my blog.
  • Comments make my blog look good. Social proof is huge and the having comments on my blog shows new readers that my blog is popular, worth reading and has a strong community.
  • My blog isn’t about me. It’s about the community of people who read it then create bonds with each other here through commenting on the blog posts.

So of course I reply to my commenters, not because I feel I have to, but because I want to.

A blog post starts a conversation then the readers who leave a comment continue that conversation. I’d never ignore my comments just as I don’t ignore clients that call or email me.

Having said that there are limits to the amount of time we have to respond to comments and not every comment on my blog has received a reply. I concentrate on replying to comments on new posts but, if an interesting comment or question comes up on an older blog post, I’ll reply to that too.

There may come a time when I can’t reply to every comment on new blog posts but even by leaving one or two replies, readers will know that I read all the comments and that I care about them and their opinions.

4. Delete mean or irrelevant blog comments

It’s your blog. If someone leaves a comment that upsets you or your readers feel free to leave it there or just delete it.

I experienced a few mean comments such as:

“You make me sick.” which I deleted because it didn’t add to the conversation.

The goal on both my blogs is to give an upbeat and inspiring place for people to hang out. Reading comments like that doesn’t uplift or inspire anyone.

Likewise I experienced one reader who had an axe to grind with a brand I’d mentioned on my blog. He left endless long comments with links to strange websites and videos.

My blog post wasn’t about that brand but I felt the need to reply and moderate. But the commenter never let up. They kept leaving more and more comments.

Replying was taking up too much time and energy so in the end I just deleted all their comments and sent them a polite email explaining why. I’m happy to say I never heard from them again.

Please understand that these are isolated cases from over two years of blogging.

5. Create a blog comments policy

I tucked mine away in the legal section mainly to make it clear that I don’t want links in my comments because:

a. I can’t get links in comments to open in a new window.

b. Some people abuse the system and add links to their blogs.

There are times when I leave the links in the comments if the link is relevant or I know the commenter is a genuine reader.

But having the comments policy in place means I can feel free to delete any links without explaining why and I exercise this right regularly. No one has ever complained.

We don’t see many trolls round here for a reason. Like the biggest goat from the Billy Goat’s Gruff they get knocked off the bridge and back into the stream where they belong.

Which leaves the way clear for all you lovely blog fairies and angels.

How do you handle your blog comments?

Photo credit: Bludgeoner86

About Annabel Candy

Comments

  1. says

    Wondered if you could tell me how to set the comment moderation to do this
    “When someone new has left a comment I get an email telling me. Then I can read it and approve it. Once I’ve approved the first comment from a new reader all their following comments will go live immediately.”

    I have blogspot and have looked through the settings- I own my.com but not sure if I am misunderstanding your post comment.
    Thanks

  2. says

    What a fab post… I think I could write a book about commenting – I love the whole topic so much!!! Akismet is my best friend, it saves me hours of sifting through products I didn’t even know existed… I have to say that I love my commentors so much – they are my blog, they raise questions, they provide endless blog topics, they encourage me, they are wonderful!!!

    It is so important to treat your commentors like the guests that they are: I am a blogger, which by definition means that I enjoy getting comments… they are like little gifts to unpack, I really appreciate them. Only a very small percentage of my readers are inspired enough by what I write to actually comment… and I will always respond and say thank-you and wish them a great day!!! I want them to feel extra-welcome for their efforts.

    I feel nothing about editing comments… removing the odd name that folk pop in or removing those that say: I know where you live!!! Often they are friends joking but that doesn’t mean everybody is joking!!! I don’t mind if folks leave links I am happy to provide traffic to and fro… but delete anything that isn’t part of the conversation… I do approve all my comments, it is so worth it for the person that thinks they can comment once and then pour generic junk onto my site.

    And commentluv is my other friend, it is getting better all the time.It really inspires some folk to comment – they know there is something (traffic) in it for them…

    I will stop now and make breakfast… before I write an entire book on your blog!!!

    • says

      Hi Se7en,

      I’ll second that:

      “I love my commentors so much – they are my blog, they raise questions, they provide endless blog topics, they encourage me, they are wonderful!!!”

      I should use CommentLuv too but I worry I have so many plug-ins already and they do slow download times.

  3. says

    Hmm. I’ve gotten lots of spam on my various blogs, and you’re right, usually Akismet takes care of it nicely. I have one really old post that seems to attract spammers for some unknown reason, so when I get a comment on that post I know right away it’s probably spam.

    Also someone once stole one of my posts, changed some of the language, and reposted it as their own on adfly! I wrote to the website and they removed it, thankfully. It was a weird enough post before that happened – it didn’t need any help. :)

    No one has ever left me a mean comment, though – may it ever be so!

    • says

      Hi Jennifer, I think some posts that rank well in search engines for obscure phrases can attract a lot of spam comments. Maybe that’s why:) Yep, we don’t need the mean comments!

  4. says

    Hi Annabel,

    I’ve been following your advice and doing these things, glad to have got all this in place. I had my first yukky comment this week, in fact, and I just deleted it, there’s no space for mindless racism on my blog. No apologies required for that!

    On one of the blog link-ups I enjoy doing, people often race around the blogs leaving very short ‘great pix’ type comments and I have decided generally not to reply to them, unless I have MASSES of time on my hands.

    I’m also fond of commentluv, what do you think Annabel?

  5. Madonna Robinson says

    Hi Annabel,

    That was a great post, really useful to someone who is starting a blog like me or anyone who already has one. I will be looking into both those ideas immediately.

    My sons are always telling me that they’re trolling me, but they never really explained it. Now I know what they mean. Being a baby boomer in this Brave New World of social media is not easy, but lately I have been able to tell my sons things about social media they did not know. Can you imagine how surprised they were.

    Madonna

  6. says

    Reinforcing #3, do more than reply, be present. There is a difference and people can feel it when they visit. I’m a pretty hard-boiled science type of guy, but there really is some sort of magic juju which happens when you are present and engaged with your commenters.

  7. Krishna says

    Hi Annabel, great post! What is your perspective on editing comments, such as in the example of unwanted links, so that you can omit the hyperlink, but keep the content. Is this ethical? Cheers, Krishna

    • says

      Hi Krishna,

      Always love seeing you here. I usually delete the link or change it so it isn’t linked but people can still copy and paste it if they like.

      That’s because links in blog comments open in the same window. If they opened in a new window I wouldn’t mind.

      If the link is really pertinent or from a trusted reader I might leave it.

      Is it ethical? I think so! I have it there in my comments policy:)

  8. says

    Thanks Annabel for your 5 tips on blog comments. I thankfully already have Askimet installed and it is so wonderful. I too love to reply to my post comments and keep the conversation going. It also helps to build a relationship.
    I feel that my blog is set up very well because I followed all the steps in YOUR book.
    Thanks for sharing.
    To health, happiness & living the life of your dreams.
    Dee :)

  9. says

    Hi Annabel. A great article and a timely reminder to me. I’d had a few comments – really good quality ones – sitting on my (new) site for a while which I hadn’t replied to. I’d been feeling guilty but still hadn’t got around to it. I left your post halfway through to go and reply, then came back to finish! I’m the last person who can afford not have a dialogue with readers – it’s a new site and I’m not exactly swamped by comments :)

    Regarding people leaving links – what is the Website field for if not to promote your website? Do you publish this field? I guess I’ll find out once I hit ‘submit’.

  10. says

    I looked into doing the comment luv and feel the same way as you Annabel. I have all kinds of widgets and gadgets and I’m not very computer literate and just worry about messing stuff all up! What I JUST decided to do (a few minutes ago!) is add a Top Commenters list to my sidebar. It is motivational for them to leave more comments because they could get a backlink to their blog on my front page! I thought that was a good balance and it was simple to do (I’m all about simple!) What do you think?

  11. says

    PS I don’t handle mean comments very well at all!!!! working on this :-) I just opened my comments to everyone instead of just people with Google accounts. (I left you a comment on another account about that) :-) hey, maybe at this rate I can become your next top commenter! ha!

  12. says

    Hey Annabel, it’s my first time on your blog and i am already liking it already and feel like not closing the page. I mean your design is pretty breathtaking and the content you share are just too awesome to be pushed aside. Kudos new friend! :)

    This are actually the sure ways to handle blog comments. Why do I think so? Well, that’s because it’s what I practice daily on my blog.

    I installed the Akismet plugin, you can’t be a blogger and not use Akismet…it’s actually one of the best spam plugins you could ever come across. Did you tell them at all?

    My commenting option is set to first time approval….so if it’s your first time on my blog (Like I know you might want to return the favor by commenting on my blog) I will need to first approve your comment and the your subsequent comments will need approval.

    I once had to approve all comments but because I get lots of comments on my three blogs, I had to employ this technique. (You know I just had to stick with works best for me). :)

    replying to comments cannot be over emphasized….it’s just very paramount if truly we wanted to be counted serious and make wave as a blogger.

    I can’t actually recount how many of those useless and generic comments i find on my blog.

    I don’t have a comment policy yet but I should be getting one soon when I am sure I am ready to go that way.

    Thanks for sharing this, Annabel and in my upcoming post, I sure will be linking to this post. :D

    Sam
    Sam Adeyinka recently posted…Why Should You Invest into Digital Media Marketing?My Profile

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