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Comments are Bonus Points

Last week my friend Greg Ng and I were having a discussion on Twitter about whether bloggers need to allow comments on their blog. Greg was frustrated because he wanted to comment on a piece by Seth Godin, and there was no immediate way to react to Godin’s piece. Greg thought there needs to be some method of getting in touch with the original author or an article, as that’s part of how modern marketing works.

I’m not Seth Godin. I don’t have a crazy fan base of linchpins. I’d probably die under the traffic his blog gets in one day. But still, I can understand why he runs his blog the way he does.

Comments are not a necessary part of a blog. Comments are bonus points. They’re nice, and most audiences are great and will add to a discussion.

Still, some commentators will take away from the conversation. We call them trolls. They want their own internet fame and glory.  They are willing to build their own reputation by tearing you down. And if you’re a popular blogger who gets a good number of comments, then they will appear in droves.

Really, do you want your extra credit to be so bad it takes away from the actual work?

Bonus points only work if the audience lets them work well. Great articles and blog content will last beyond the content of the comments. Having comments just for the sake of being modern and interactive does not make your blog have any better conversation.

I don’t have time to deal with haters.  I doubt Seth Godin does either.  I also don’t have time to react to 1,000 comments.  Comment moderation and fan interaction take time, which is your most valuable resource online.

Are your bonus points worth that time?

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Stop Worrying Why You Don’t Get Comments

Imagine: You’ve just written what you consider to be your best blog post.  It’s funny.  It’s poignant.  It even teaches something at the end.  You hit publish, and wait for the comments to arrive.

Then nothing happens.

No comments.  No retweets.  No online reaction whatsoever.  It’s like you dropped the atomic bomb and it evaporated before it hit the ground.  What happened?

As bloggers, we live for feedback.  We constantly want people to read what we write, spread the word and add their opinions.  If we weren’t selfish, egotistical narcissists, we’d stick to writing books and journals without the capacity for immediate feedback.

Here are five things I do to get comments on what I publish online:

  1. See if anyone read the post -  You should be using an analytics tool like Google Analytics to begin with just to see how much traffic you’re getting. Set it up, and see if anyone is reading.  If no one reads your posts or watches your videos, there’s no way you’re going to get any comments.  Get off you’re lazy butt and start shamelessly promoting your posts
  2. Don’t Have All the Answers - If you are too thorough and too knowledgeable, people won’t want to comment.  No one wants to come across as dumb.  They also want to be able to contribute.  Leave room for people to fill in details or their experiences.
  3. Ask for comments - A lot of people don’t know when to say something.  For every one person who will jump in and say something without a second thought, there are at least two more who aren’t sure if it’s ok to go ahead and speak up.  End the post with a call for people to respond with their own stories and ideas.  Your readers will then feel free to dive right in.
  4. Be Bold - Most people don’t write just to say “Great Post!”  They want to either add information, relate a story, or disagree.  Getting people to say I disagree is a great way to stimulate conversation and get people thinking about opposing ideas.  If you don’t say something that gets someone angry, you aren’t trying hard enough.
  5. Reply to the comments you get - Get a comment?  Great.  Now reply to it.  Even if your reply just says “Thank you,” your readers will appreciate knowing you actually took the time to read what they wrote.  Chances are they’ll come back for more.

I know there are more ways to get people talking.  What do you do to get people commenting on your blog posts?  (See, I even took my own advice there!)

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Why I’m for Anonymous Comments

Why I’m for Anonymous Comments

Somedays, it feels like I am the last advocate of anonymous comments.

Before I started The Anti-Social Media, I considered making a full Anti-Social Media personality with no ties to my real name. Think of the power and the possibilities.  I could make horrible comments without any of the stigma to my real name. I could call out all of the authors that make me want to gouge their eyes out. I would be like Batman, only without the cool gadgets, and stuck on the Internet.

But I decided not to, mostly because I’m a fame whore. I wanted attention lavished on me, not some fabled internet persona that had no real life.

Regardless of my decision, there is still room for the anonymous online commenter. Need proof? Look no further than @BPGlobalPR. The genius behind it has not only made BP look like idiots, but has done so in a hilarious fashion. While none of us know who is behind the screen name, I do believe s/he has brought a smile and more education to a horrifying situation.

Unfortunately, not all anonymous comments and personalities are funny and educational.  Trolls exist, and they suck. I read a lot of marketing and PR blogs and articles that advocate eliminating anonymous comments on your blog because of them. I can understand that.  It’s your blog.  You don’t want people to be nasty and bring you down.

I’ve seen a lot of amazing communities brought down by a few evil people.  There’s nothing as terrifying as someone twisting and mutating a perfectly healthy online community into a cesspool of internet drama.  However, in each case, I noticed everything happens because there is no community management.  I recently read a comment policy that wanted my real name for me to comment. As easily as I could type my own name, I could easily type another.  I seriously wondered if that author could believe s/he could police his/her comments just by requiring a seemingly legitimate name on each comment. 

Regardless of that comment policy, the internet is too open for you to try and keep one area free of negativity.  If people can’t complain in one medium, they will find another, and trust me, they will find it very quickly, and it will sting just as bad, if not worse.  Personally, I’d rather have 100 people tell me I suck on this blog, than to say they same thing on Facebook, where each one of their friends will have a chance to read it.

If you think anonymity is the problem, maybe you need thicker skin.  If you try to control the internet, it will control you.

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Caroline’s Comment on Facebook: Too Big to Quit

Caroline’s Comment on Facebook: Too Big to Quit:

If you don’t read the comments here, you’re missing out.  There’s only so much I can cover, and other people’s viewpoints inspire me.

Caroline Martin wrote an amazing follow up to my post on Monday that has a huge number of ways to increase your privacy on Facebook, or to sign up to quit Facebook at the end of the month.  Check out that comment, and check out her site.

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