Sunday, April 25, 2010

TSS: Commenting Etiquette

Comments Encouraged!
One of the things about blogging that sometimes mildly worries me is commenting.  I don't mean that it worries me and keeps me up at night, but just in that I have a vague sense I am doing it incorrectly.  It seems like everyone has a different commenting method, and a different way of responding to comments as well.  And I don't think I am the only one who worries I am doing it wrong.  (Or maybe I am, and am blissfully unaware, which is fine by me.)  So, I thought we could all confer here and see what the best practice is!

Previously, if someone came and visited my blog and left a comment, I would then go respond to that comment on her blog, as then I would be sure she got it.  But apparently, this is not done, so I switched and now when someone comments on my blog, I just write a comment back on that particular post myself.  This can be complicated when I haven't responded in some time, and so then have ten people I am addressing in one comment (though I think that's better than artificially inflating commenting numbers by responding to each person individually).  Plus, I can never really be sure the person I am addressing knows that I have responded to her comment.  So it is a flawed and imperfect system.


When I comment on most blogs, I rarely go back and check to see if someone has responded to my comment.  This may be because I forget which blog posts I comment on.  But generally, I don't expect responses to my comments.  So it really surprises me when people say that they stop following blogs when no one responds to their comments- mostly because I rarely ever notice if people respond to me or not.  Clearly, I am perfectly happy just talking to myself all over blogosphere.

Comment on Blog
But considering how many people do care and worry about comment reciprocation, I thought I should start paying more attention to people's policies.  For example, there are many bloggers who will now email people directly in response to their comments (I wish I could do this!).  So it may look on their blogs like those people are not responding to comments, when really, they are taking extra effort to respond personally to every single one.  Other people use that "Intense Debate" function that allows them to have a... well, an intense debate with one person via embedded replies on their blogs.  Wordpress users now have the snazzy ability to respond directly to a particular comment.  Blogger users can't do that.

How do you respond to comments left on your blog?  Do you respond on your own blog?  On the commenter's blog?  Via email?


As a blog reader, do you go back and check for responses to your comments?  Do you have a preferred contact method?

69 comments:

  1. Really, you don't follow comment threads, even when you've commented?

    Sometimes that's where the real discussion is. Some of my responses end up as long as the original post. Which, come to think of it, is not exactly a measure of quality.

    It can be annoying to subscribe to a post where every comment is of the "I like it, too" and "I've never heard of this book" variety - annoying even if my comment was exactly of that nature! - but it's worth it.

    I mean, personally, my commenters really help me develop and correct my ideas, such as they are.

    None of this has anything to do with the reciprocity issue. My opinion is that there is more than one way to be polite.

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  2. I respond mostly by email and try to respond to all. Unless the comment is "great post, here's mine" I don't usually respond to those.
    Then I click on that persons blog to see if there is a post that interests me and I comment then.
    I do have concerns that it looks like I don't respond to my comments but I do state that comments will most likely be replied to by email.
    I like any questions I ask to be responded to by email but not just general comments, I don't expect anything.

    Why can't you respond by email? You have blogger, same as I do. Do you have your comments sent to your email? I do so that I don't miss any to older posts.

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  3. I'm over at Wordpress, so I respond to each comment directly, but it does artificially double my comments numbers.

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  4. Amateur Reader- I definitely follow some comment threads, but not via RSS, and not most of them. Only if it's a really big discussion post that I feel invested in. Not generally, when I comment. I agree a lot of discussion happens in comments- in fact, that's the only place discussion really CAN happen as in a post, it's really just one person talking. But I certainly don't subscribe to post comments regularly. I think it would drive me insane to get that many emails!

    bookmagic- I definitely visit other people's blogs if they comment on mine, particularly if it's someone new to my blog. However, I don't think I can respond via email. I can if the person is on blogger or Google, but often, when I hit reply, it goes to the "noreply@blogger" address, and that doesn't work at all.

    lesbrary- Yes, I LOVE that function on Wordpress but it does make it seem like posts get a lot more comments!

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  5. I respond to each comment, too - but hadn't thought about the fact that it makes look like I get more comments than I do. Before WordPress had threaded comments, I responded like you did in the above - one long comment addressing each commenter. Maybe I'll go back to doing it that way.

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  6. I think you're right that it's kind of a personal thing, without there really being an established etiquette. I personally don't usually go back to check if I have gotten responses to comments I make, unless I made an argument or something and was curious to see how others responded. But, sometimes I do get annoyed if I spend a lot of effort putting in a really thoughtful response and the blog author doesn't respond. Once or twice is okay, but I tend to stop writing comments if the blog author NEVER responds. It just feels discourteous after so much effort was expended if they don't even acknowledge it.

    On my blog, I try to respond to most comments (except for you capture challenges, which get around 20-30 comments each - then I just respond if there's a question and then give a blanket thank you to everyone else). I wish I had an option to just respond and it automatically responds on the blog and sends an email too. But I actually email a response AND copy and paste it onto my blog. It's extra work, but that way, the commenter knows I've responded, and the discussion continues on my blog (since other people might respond to my comment). The only time I don't really respond is if the comment doesn't really elicit a response. Or I'll send only the email if the response is more private.

    Sorry for the long answer, but that's basically how I do it!

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  7. On my own blog, I write my responses in the comment section. I like the e-mail idea but I think sometimes people are curious as to my thoughts on someone else's comments as well. I will occasionally send an email if there is something different I want to say in private to the commenter.

    After I comment on other people's blogs, I go back to look for a response about half of the time. Probably not coincidentally, I think that might be the percentage of time that I write interesting comments. I should up that! I have considered subscribing to comment threads again -- I used to but was getting too many emails that I didn't care about. But now I follow more blogs and forget all of the places I comment.

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  8. I love getting comments but I think it goes without saying that not all comments need a response. Comments like "I want to try this book too or sounds good," etc.. don't need an answer. I appreciate the comments because it's nice to know people read my blog and are actually taking note of the books I recommend.

    Some posts do require discussion and then I do respond to those comments. Like you, I'm not sure if those who required an answer go back to my blog so I might go to theirs and mention I got their comment and I've just answered them.

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  9. I try to check back and see if I've had a reply to a comment, but I'm sure I forget half of the time.

    I try to answer to each comment that people leave me, with both a direct reply and a look at their blog, but then again I do not get the amount of comments that you get. I would be too shy to contact people through email and I feel that people might think it's unexpected and a bit too much, although I personally wouldn't have a problem with it.

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  10. I'm one of those horrible people that NEVER responds to comments. Sometimes, I can think of responses to certain comments, but then I think that probably the person would never come back to look anyway. And to me, sending them an e-mail when they haven't asked for one means that I have to search out their e-mail address, and that seems like a weird invasion of privacy to me.
    So, I just don't respond to comments, and only occasionally do I feel badly about it.

    I've been thinking I might do what Reading With Tequila does - once a week, she has a blog post in which she responds to interesting things that have been said or asked in her comments section. It seems like the best way to me.

    For the record, I also started off like you - going to their blog to respond to the comment. I don't get why it's not proper etiquette to do that, but people think it's weird for some reason.

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  11. I figure that if a blog has comments enabled, that's where the blogger wants me to respond to the post. I always leave a comment when I visit a blog, because I think it's the polite thing to do.

    I only email someone if comments are disabled and they invite comments via email.

    I respond in my own comments section to what a commenter says, and then check out their blog and leave a comment on the topic they've blogged about.

    I think it's best to keep the discussion on a topic in one place, even if it does artificially inflate the comment count.

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  12. You've raised some interesting issues. In fact I often do both: answer comments on my blog comment form, and also check their blog out. Most blogs (Blogger ones anyway) have an option for the person to tick that they would like follow-up comments by email.
    But of course I don't know whether people have checked that box or not.
    Other blogging platforms don't make the process as easy.
    Responding to comments is an important part of the process of establishing yourself as part of a blogging community.
    I'm not sure there is a "proper" etiquette though.

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  13. I forgot to say before that it can be really frustrating not to be able to comment on Blogger blogs. I find that popup comments with all the identity options available, such as yours, allow everyone to comment. Sometimes comments are restricted to those with a G00gle account or OpenID, and as I don't have either, I can't comment.

    Sometimes really interesting blogs have 0 comments, and I think that's the reason why. If a person is not on Twitter or doesn't give an email address, I have no way of telling them. The people I have told tend to change their settings, and start getting comments. Just thought I would throw that in the mix. :)

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  14. I'm one of those bad people that doesn't respond to all comments. I probably could, but I don't like inflating my comment numbers too much and I don't think they all need responses. Plus, I almost never check to see if someone else has responded to my comment unless the discussion is interesting in itself or has potential. I tend to email a reply if I have something I want to say back since I use Wordpress, and in most cases I think I'd prefer an email back myself.

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  15. I also worry about whether I comment right too. Sometimes I read a blog post that just touches on a feeling I've had or talks about a book that means a lot to me and I just want to let them know that they've written a great post. Sometimes I have a question or a recommendation. It varies. But I always worry that my comments may be boring (although I don't think you've got that problem, your comments are always thought-provoking.) I tend to respond to comments in a variety of ways, sometimes individually or in a group reply just because it makes me happy that people have commented (and I check out their blog too). And like you, I don't always check back on the comments I've made on other blogs to see if I've got a reply. Everyone seems to do it differently, so I'll try different ways until I find one that is comfortable.

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  16. On my blog - I respond to comments on the same post, as a rule. But I also make a point to visit (and generally comment) on anyone's blog who took the trouble to 'pay a call' on me. If I've said something interesting, I'll follow the comment in RSS, but usually, I have to admit, my comments aren't anything that needs a response so I'm not terribly upset if I don't get one :).

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  17. I respond much as you do - to several comments at a time in my own comments section. It does inflate comments number, but I like it better than responding by e-mail because part of the fun of blog comments is that the discussion is public. Possibly a third person will be interesting in what the post author and a commenter, or even two commenters, are saying to one another.

    I notice that in book blogs, commenters won't talk to each other in comment sections much, and sometimes apologise when they do so. I know I've been apologetic about it too, but in fact I wish it'd happened more! Conversations are always welcome.

    I sometimes check back to see if the blogger responded to my comment, sometimes not. I never take offense when they don't, though - I know that people have busy lives, and sometimes there just isn't much to say. I'm guilty of responding even when comments don't merit a response, but it's just that I want people to feel welcomed and acknowledged. Not that there's anything wrong with doing this in different ways, of course!

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  18. I always respond to my comments. I guess I could do the blogger thing but then always?
    Cos sometimes they just say something short, and should I then respond with a "oh, how nice, I think so too." And kind of unfair not to respond to those. But if I did people would get really short emails, so I do it in my comment section.

    I have the same problem with commenting, sometimes I just forget what I said where, sometimes I remember to go back. Emails are fun to get, but then sometimes I get just that smiley. It is so hard to know what to do.

    So I guessed that if someone really wants an answerer to something they said they will come back.

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  19. This was a great post Aarti. I am one of those bloggers who is "guilty" of not responding to every comment. I tend to respond if someone asks a question, but I find that many comments IMO do not really require a response.

    I comment on many blogs where the blogger never comments on mine, and that is OK with me. If I have something to say, I comment, if not I don't.

    Commenting, and tracking who comments and who responds to my comments or questions is not the reason I blog.

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  20. I don't think there's a right way or a wrong way to respond to comments - everyone should do what they're comfortable with and what works for them. I rarely go back and check the comments on a post I've read. I don't keep track of who's responded to my comments. I don't answer comments in email or in comments very often. I do try to leave a comment on the other person's blog. Maybe I'm not doing it right, but that's what works for me.

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  21. This is a great topic. I think that comments can give anyone a complex.

    For posts from the blogger hop, I respond on the author's blog. For comments to my normal posts, I usually respond right there on my blog. I haven't done one reply to everyone, but that is a good idea.

    For other blogs, I never go back and check to see if my comments have responses. I don't remember where I comment, I'm too old. And, I don't usually expect one. If I think one might be coming, I click the email any responses button. I will email a blogger directly if I have a general question or a comment to something on a sidebar.

    This being said. I am not a HUGE commenter. I try to comment when I have something to offer.

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  22. Everyone has pretty much said what I wanted, but that makes a great point: I was able to read all their comments and follow a conversation. That's why it's important for you, the host blogger, to comment on your own post and not theirs. That way we see the whole conversation.

    I try to respond to all comments left on my post and I do what you do: replying to many in one comment since that's what blogger offers.

    And, if it's a topic I am interested in, I'll check the "Email follow up comments to me" so that I don't have to check back in with the blog. I'll never remember to do that! :-)

    As always, a great topic Aarti!

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  23. Wow, that one generated a lot of activity.

    I had wondered about this issue myself, and for awhile, I would keep checking my blogs to see who commented, but I have so many, (18!). I have some Word Press blogs, in which you can respond directly on your own blog; they notify me of comments. I like that.

    On Blogger, I started comment moderation so I would get notifications.

    I like one commenter's response that she copies and pastes from her e-mail responses onto the blog page.

    Here's my Salon:

    http://laurel-rainsnowsaccidentallife.blogspot.com/2010/04/sunday-salon_25.html

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  24. I swear by the time I get to your posts there are always more than 20 comments on them! :D

    My methodology: I comment back on the actual post, usually individually (though in one comment) but sometimes as a group when it's a single-focus post and all I need to do is say thanks (like on my post about the kitty). Every once in awhile, I will email the commentor personally, particularly when I want to be absolutely sure they get it. I know many people never see t he follow-up and that doens't bother me - I still feel better for having followed up.

    There are some blogs that I will go back and check for response, or subscribe to f/u comments. Mostly, though, I never check back, just like you're saying. But still, I appreciate comments back on the blog itself. I don't mind getting emails but they sometimes make me feel awkward, like am I supposed to continue this conversation? And I really, really, really hate third party applications like Intense Debate. I actually refuse to leave comments on any blog w/these aps on them, because the aps are so into self-promotion you have to sign up for an account (and email spam, consequently) or go through a ridiculous rigaramole to post as a guest and half the time your comment is lost anyway. So at this point I just say nevermind and quit following blogs that have third party aps.

    Anyway, that's my longwinded answer...

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  25. I mostly email responses to comments, because I figure people barely have enough time to get to my blog once much less come back and check for comments! Only if there is a response that I think has info others will want is when I will respond on the blog post itself.

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  26. Hello, Aarti! I respond to all comments on my own post as much as possible because I know it takes effort to do so, be it positive or negative, about something I've written about. Generally I thank people for dropping by unless a much specific reply is required.

    Since I don't get to check my blog regularly, I do comment in bulk. Moreso now that my I turned on comment moderation to monitor spam.

    I agree with what Bermuda Onion said. And what you said about being perfectly happy talking to yourself on the blogosphere :)

    I don't use the email to comment though. I'm busy enough as it is trying to come up with time to post so I don't actually check emails for my blog. Sad but true :)

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  27. I'm sorry but I'm going to do a group response this time as I'm obviously behind on responding!

    I am glad I am not the only person who does not go back and check comments. In fact, it looks like MOST people (who commented here, anyway) do not go back and check, which is a relief to me.

    I am also glad that people are not offended by lack of comment responses, etc. I agree that comments can be really hard to keep on top of and to respond to and while we all try very hard, sometimes it's just not possible.

    I agree that responding on the post itself keeps conversations going much better than responding offline or on another person's blog.

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  28. I've found it much easier to respond to comments since I installed 'IntenseDebate' on my blog. I know some people have issues with it (too much to fill out? but its no more than any other commenting system if you're not logged in), but for me its the style of commenting I'm used to (from livejournal).

    If I post a comment on another's blog its a 50% chance I'll go back to check and see if I was responded to. Much of the time my comment is a one-shot transitory comment I don't expect a comment back from. Not that I'm not happy when there is, but I'm not particularly upset if its not. I rather like it when the poster e-mails me a comment back, but I've only had a half dozen or so do that ::shrug::

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  29. This is really fascinating reading everyone's responses! I'm really surprised by how many people are concerned with the artificial inflation of comment numbers. It's not something I ever really thought about before. I guess I'm not overly concerned with comment numbers because you can always see how often the blog author responds. If it's not often, you know the numbers are minimally inflated. If they respond to everyone, then cut the number by about half, etc. It occurs to me, though, that if someone doesn't know whether you've responded and they check back multiple times until eventually giving up, then that could be considered an artificial inflation of your page views because, if they knew that you've responded, they wouldn't be checking back. And that kind of activity would be really difficult to parse out. Just a thought. But again, I think it really just comes down to personal preferences. And I think regular readers will figure out your style eventually and just come to expect that.

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  30. I basically think the same way you do about commenting. I respond to comments when they seem to need a response, but it seems weird to respond to comments just to respond. I'm a bit embarrassed to learn that some people expect you to respond. I didn't know that--I never really expect people to respond to most of my blog comments unless it's part of a discussion.

    I've never subscribed to post comments before, but maybe I should try it sometime for discussion posts. I've saved them in my favorites before so I could go back and check in for a few days, but that's it.

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  31. Great discussion! There is absolutely no way I would follow the comments on all the blogs on which I comment. I would stop commenting if I did that! My response is that I comment back via email if I can (sometimes the commenter's email isn't shown), or I'll go back to his/her blog and comment directly. Or sometimes there really isn't anything to comment back.

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  32. Like you, I don't go back to a blog to check for responses to my blog. I know well that the blog owner would have seen and read that comment, and that is fine by me. I don't expect a reply, though I know many reply back - either via email or on that blog post itself. As for my policy, I can only do what best works for me. I do reply back to those commenters who ask me a question. Since I get email notifications, I usually reply back on email. Sometimes, the emails from blogspot's noreply email id. In that case, I would visit that person's blog, get the email id and reply back. In the very rare situations, I come across cases where the person doesn't blog or doesn't have an email id featured any where. In that case, I will just hope that the person will see the reply.

    When I don't think a reply back is necessary, I will just leave the comment on the blog post. Like you, I assume that everyone is as busy as me and will not miss the reply. :-\

    I should say there are loads of people who reply back to my comments via email. I would love to do the same, if I had a wee bit more time.

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  33. I respond right on my blog, and I do my best to say something in response to each comment. Yep, even those "This sounds good; I wanna read it!" types of things.

    I'd say I go back and check for responses to my own comments about 50% of the time. Usually, I'll just scroll on down the next time I'm on the blog in question. I only go back specifically to check if I know the blogger is big on responses and likely to engage in a comment-conversation.

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  34. I don't think there's a one size fits all method for comments. It's your blog, you have to do what works for you.

    I try to respond to comments in the post, usually with one comment (sometimes individual responses, sometimes a group 'thank you').

    As for checking back - that depends. I have some blogs where I know the blogger never responds to comments so I never check back. I'll also admit to rarely commenting on those blogs. I do tend to comment more often to bloggers I know will typically respond. I don't like email responses because it takes the conversation away from other readers. I never subscribe to email follow-ups because I don't like out of context responses clogging up my email.

    If it's an interesting discussion I want to follow or a blogger I know typically responds, I'll tag that post in my Google Reader as one I've commented on and check back later but it's certainly not something I do every time I comment.

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  35. I admit that I'm glad some people dislike the email responses. I think I will stick with responses on the blog itself, then!

    Also, I never thought about starring a certain post on Google Reader as a way of tracking where I leave comments and want to see responses. That is a great idea!

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  36. I think the reason I don't reply to comments in my comment section as some don't really need a reply but I feel bad leaving them out. Since all comments come to my email, it's just easier to hit reply to those that I like to give feedback to. No one has ever asked me to stop emailing but I will think about whether that is intrusive

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  37. I've worried about this as well. When trying to comment back to people's comments on my posts, I have a bit of a hard time. Of course I want to reply to everything, but sometimes I don't really have anything to say to the comment and would feel lame leaving just a 'thank you' or an 'i agree'. Thus I just don't reply with anything... I don't know if that's any better though.
    I also get busy and commenting back on the comments left on my posts is the first thing to go. I suppose I put more of my energy into actually going to the blog of the commenter and posting on their reviews, whatever.
    Good topic!

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  38. I do it a bit differently. If someone stops over to leave a comment on my blog, I don't comment back unless I need to answer a question that they have left. Instead, I hop on over to their blog and leave a nice thoughtful comment on their latest blog post, and then try to come back over a few times and leave other comments for them on other posts. I never knew this was bad etiquette though! I just have a hard time responding to comments because I never know what to say in response! I have thought about answering all comments, but it just feels sort of foreign to me and it's not something that I really feel super comfortable doing. Ditto on the e-mails. I think it's more important to backtrack to a commenter's blog and support their site by leaving a nice message for them there. I may have to rethink this though!! Great post, Aarti! It's really got me thinking!

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  39. I don't respond to comments in the comments section. I personally feel, especially if a certain post gets lots of comments, that my response gets lost.

    Every Friday I post a response to any comments left during that week that I feel needed a response. I like highlighting thoughtful comments and the people that wrote them. There's no way I can respond to each comment in this way, but it works for me and I think most of my readers enjoy it.

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  40. I always respond to comments left on my blog, I think it's a bit rude not to if someone has gone to the trouble of reading your blog and commenting on it (but maybe that's me). Like you though, sometimes I have several comments to respond to in one post - I like sites where you can reply to each post, rather than just add your comment to the bottom of the pile like this site.

    I try to keep tab of responses to comments I have made on other people's blogs, basically by trying to remember to tick the e-mail alert box at the bottom of the comment box (but I sometimes forget). Again, if someone comments on my blog, I try to go over and comment on theirs.

    But I wouldn't e-mail someone directly in response unless they are a friend of mine. To me a blog response is public, e-mail is much more private.

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  41. Great post, Aarti. I try and respond to all comments left on my blog, particularly those left by new visitors. Even if it is just to say thanks for leaving a comment! Wordpress makes it easy but it also inflates my comment numbers.

    As far as leaving comments on other blogs mine are usually short, unless there is an interesting discussion going on, like this one! Like Nymeth I would like to see more conversations happening between bloggers in the comment section. I think a lot of communication is happening on Twitter, but I could never keep up with all that.

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  42. I will definately respond to comments that ask a question or if their comments sparks a particular response. I don't think that every comment needs a response (like "sounds like a great book) - how do you really respond to something like that without repeating what you've alread said in the post? There are some posts on othere blogs that I like to know what other people thought so i will subscribe to those; otherwise, I don't go back and check to see if I got a response.

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  43. As a blogger, I respond to people when I feel like I have something useful to say! When I do respond, though, I respond on my own blog.

    Similarly, as a reader, I only go back and check when I think I've said something interesting or new! I'm sure that sometimes I've missed interesting responses using that philosophy because you never know when something boring (my comment) can be turned into something interesting. That said, I don't think all of my comments have to be interesting! I wouldn't classify this one as particularly interesting, for instance. To sum up, I tend to comment when I want to say something, but I only come back if I think what I've said is interesting in some way.

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  44. I try and respond to comments that are left on my blog. I don't always get around to it, but I try to!

    Most blog platforms now have the notify any follow up comments via email, or subscribe to comments, and so I tend to tick those boxes so that if the blogger does respond to me I can see what they said, and respond accordingly if necessary.

    There are a couple of blogs that I comment on regularly that don't have that option and I make a special effort to go back in case they do respond, but I am sure there are occasions when I miss replies to me.

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  45. I usually respond to comments via email. If no email address is given in the comments, then I'll try to leave a comment on the original post but it usually takes several days for that to happen and it makes me feel bad. I rarely check back to see if someone has responded to MY comments though. And it doesn't bother me if they don't! It'd be nice if people wanted to have discussions in my comments, but it doesn't happen very often for me :)

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  46. I respond to all the comments left on my blog, unless they've been left several days after the post was put up. And I also try and visit everyone who comments and leave a comment where I can.

    As for following conversations, I do if there's a conversation going on, and I check up on my comments at new sites (to me) to see whether the bloggers is a responder or not. I'll be absolutely honest - I love it when people respond to my comments and come and visit me - and I tend to stop visiting sites where I don't get any feedback or reciprocity. I can't help it! It's just not fun for me to have a one-sided conversation.

    Oh and by the way, I linked to your 'Reverend hands' post. No pressure! :)

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  47. I find it very silly for people to respond to my comment on my own blog. I see the blog post as a place for discussion about said topic so responding on my blog is out of place. As Amateur Reader says, the real discussion is often in the comments to a blog post.

    I try to respond to each comment individually with threaded comments. (It's so much easier than the one comment that responds in some way to everyone.) I always "subscribe to comments" but it is a pain when people comment "nice post!" because then it's not a real discussion.

    I don't mind Intense Debate -- it's nice to be able to subscribe to just responses to my comment for those posts that aren't really debates. If it was an issue I was interested in, I'd subscribe to all replies, though. I've never gotten spam from opening a third party account with them as Amanda said she has.

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  48. I respond to comments on my blog - and if time allows, I try to visit the bloggers who visit me too. Sometimes I am better at this than others. :)

    I just love the conversations that are started through comments and I love that when a blogger visits me enough I can see their blog name and actually know their real name and respond with a "Thanks Sherrie, I appreciate that!"

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  49. Oh my gosh, I'm glad you posted this because I swear this does keep me up at night! I usually comment back on my own blog, to keep the "conversation" going (not that there really is one). The part that keeps me up is that, while I'm always reading blog, the thing that falls by the wayside when I'm busy is commenting - and as I've been busy for the last couple of months and will be busy for the next three or four months, I feel so bad that I've fallen off so much on commenting on others' blogs, argh!

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  50. I'm sorry, but I can't respond to everyone individually!

    First, though- Litlove, With Reverent Hands is NOT a meme! It is a guest post only here. No one does it but me, so if you do it... please do it here, not on your own site.

    I like conversations occurring on blog posts, too, so I like to comment on the blog post itself (as stated above), and I'm glad this is generally approved of :-)

    But really... it looks like most people don't mind people not responding to their comments, so I think we can all stop worrying!

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  51. I'm here via S. Krishna's tweet about your post :)
    I blogged about this a few months ago. I tried to email responses back to commenters if they linked their email but not all do! So then I decided to just reply in the comments. I usually do one that includes several responses.
    In the "Leave your comment" box I mention that commenters who'd like a reply from me should click the "Email follow-up comments" box before clicking "Publish your comment". That way they'll know there's a reply.

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  52. Agh look how far down I am ;) I respond to my comments in one big block usually after a day or so because I'm a blogger user. I'm starting to wish we could use that intensedebate system, but would I be bothered to click in to reply individually and then have to click in again...the less clicks the better I say.

    I do pop back to check for replies to comments a lot of the time. Not all the time, only if I'm asking questions, or it's a discussion post rather than a review post. Sometimes I check back if I comment on a review and I've also read the book. I do like repsonses, as you might have noticed I'm not a big Twitter user and I feel like comments are the Twitter equivalent for the rest of us.

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  53. "When I comment on most blogs, I rarely go back and check to see if someone has responded to my comment. This may be because I forget which blog posts I comment on. But generally, I don't expect responses to my comments. So it really surprises me when people say that they stop following blogs when no one responds to their comments- mostly because I rarely ever notice if people respond to me or not. Clearly, I am perfectly happy just talking to myself all over blogosphere."

    This is so me...I can never remember either, so I rarely return to see if anyone responded to my comment.

    I sometimes respond to all or some of the comments on a post, but it's pretty infrequent. It has to do with time, and that little voice that wonders if anyone is coming back to look at the comments. And I occasionally do email responses, usually if I just want to connect with the commenter and feel like I haven't "talked" to them in awhile..

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  54. Great conversation! I use WordPress and LOVE the embedded comments. It is sad that Blogger doesn't do that. Basically I respond to the comment on my blog, and check out the commenter's blog as well - comment and possibly follow. When I leave a comment I always subscribe to follow-up comments which makes the e-mail inbox a MESS but means I catch the reply... so hard to manage!

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  55. I used to reply by email because most people's emails would show up in the comment email. But now more comments than not don't have an email to respond to. I get that no reply at blogger too. So I started responding in my comments to people. I wish we could do threaded comments on blogger.
    As far as when I leave comments most of the time I forget to check the notify me button on discussions I want to stay involved in and I don't remember to check back. So if people are responding to me I don't usually know either. However, I do try to check back on blogs where I know it is the bloggers general practice to reply via comments. I know that sounded completely contradictory. But it's true. ;)

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  56. I try to respond to all comments but some times I get lazy-When I see a new blog which obviously is the product of hard work and the love of books I try to leave comments even if to just say "nice post" or "I like your design" to let the blogger know somebody is out there reading their posts-if a person has been blogging a long time and has many readers I might not do this-I know I appreciate any kinds words on my blog as it means a lot to me

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  57. With a few exceptions, I reply to every comment and I do it in the comment section. And I also love to follow up on my comments on other people's blogs. I like the two-sided nature of the comments. The posts themselves are so one-sided, I like to encourage conversations in the comment section.

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  58. GREAT conversation!!! I subscribe to comments on those blogs that allow it because interesting conversation does result!! However, not everyone has this option on their blogs and I never remember to go back and check on these ones!

    As for my comments . . . I respond to all comments on my own blog, usually as a bulk because I am always behind in responding. I want people to know that I appreciate their comments (if they care to subscribe to comments) and if more personalized responses are needed, I usually just email them directly (if I have their email or can find it on their site).

    Thanks for a great topic!!! :)

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  59. I used to do what you did too, not check back for a reply, then I noticed some bloggers did reply back to me, so now I will check back to those who I know do.

    I think replying to comments is important if you can add something to the discussion (add something to a post you wrote yourself, sounds strange!). I always try to - unless the person has left a comment you can't really say anything to. If you have lots of vistors then this isn't so easy so I think replying to only some is perfectly acceptable. The way I do it is to add my reply to the bottom of their comment.

    There is also the issue of returning the visit. I'll generally check out the site of a visitor but if it's really not to my taste I won't force myself to keep coming back. And likewise, I'd rather my visitors come because they want to and not because they feel it's a duty.

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  60. I think I must say that after all these comments, I am more likely to subscribe to a comment feed or in some manner follow a comment discussion than I was previously. But probably more so on discussion posts than reviews, as sometimes I must admit I don't really leave shockingly amazing comments on reviews!

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  61. I'm a little puzzled about why it's a bad thing to increase the number of comments by commenting on your own post.

    I often go back to see if any comments have spurred conversation.

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  62. I haven't figured this one out yet, either. When I get comments on a blog post, I respond to them on my blog and sometimes I copy/paste the comment into an e-mail and send it to the commenter.

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  63. I try to respon to comments on my own blog personally. Sometimes I combine into one general comment. It works for me.

    I try to get around and comment on others blogs. Some respond back, some don't.

    Sometimes, I think that we as bloggers worry about too many things. I say each should do what's good for you and what you have time for. Don't stress about it. Take deep breaths and remember why we all wanted to blog to begin with. We love books and want to share that love with others. :-)

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  65. Great post! Since I don't get a ton of comments (unless it's a giveaway) I usually respond to each comment on the post, but I never thought of it as artificially inflating commenting numbers :( I hope people don't see it that way. I usually subscribe to the comments RSS feed, but not always.

    Hmmm something to think about... thanks!

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  66. Great post! this has given me a lot to think about...

    I used to worry about this as I use blogger and found this to be an issue.

    I recently installed the "Intense Debate" commenting system. I like this system as it is easy to use, you can log in using various internet profiles and there is a "reply" function, meaning I can reply directly to my readers comments and they can opt in to receive an email when their comment is replied to (or if anyone comments on the same post, its up to them!). It's great. That way there is no need for them to keep checking back to see if anyone has answered them, they will be notified.

    This works well for me as it keeps the "conversation" visible to all readers so anyone can join in :)

    I love this as I always forget to check back on blogs to see if someone commented on my comment, I need a reminder.

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  67. This is the same issue I always have with Facebook comments. Do I reply with a message on the senders wall like I always have, or do I now respond beneath the comment to thread the conversation? I feel silly commenting on my own wall!

    It seems to be blog protocol to say that "comments don't really matter" and that everyone tries to make light of the issue. But let's be serious...comments do matter! They're justification of a sort that you aren't just blogging to yourself! Few things are more frustrating in the blogging world than spending a lot of time writing a post you thought was well-thought out and creative...only to have no one comment on it. Despite the site traffic you may see, you feel like it doesn't matter if the discussion you're trying to foster just isn't happening.

    I try and respond to the comments on my blog if it warrants a comment (I'm not going to say 'Thanks!' if someone just said 'Good review!'). I also try and visit the blog of the comment author to throw in some support. I would like to think that the owners of the blogs I visit frequently and comment on know I exist too! I don't usually click the "email me followup comments" bc I hate having an email box flooded. But if it's a discussion I contributed to, rather than just a quick comment, I STAR the post in my Google Reader so I can come back to it. I'm never going to stop reading a blog bc they don't comment on mine...I don't have time to keep track of that! But it is nice to feel like your comment was heard instead of lost in the mix.

    Commenting seems to be one of those topics that never dies in blog posts, but this was a great fresh approach to it.

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  68. I generally respond to the comment on my blog, and if they have subscribed to comments, they get the response. If they don't, I don't let it worry me. If there is something personal in the comment, I will generally email the commenter directly.

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  69. What an interesting topic. I guess I, too, was (blissfully) unaware there was blogging commenting etiquette. If someone has left a comment on my blog, I typically go visit their blog and leave a comment there. I figure they appreciate visitors as much as I do. I didn't realize it might be bad form not to comment right there on your own post. Thanks for opening this discussion! Now I want to read what all your other commenters have said :)

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I read every comment posted on this blog, even if it sometimes takes me a while to respond. Thank you for taking the time and effort to comment here! Unless you are spamming me, in which case, thanks for nothing.