Wednesday, November 29, 2006

[Etiquette] Replying to comments

Not sure if Miss Manners has weighed in on this issue yet. I am always delighted when people comment on my postings. I love the exchange of ideas and would love to encourage more conversation on the site itself.

Initially, I used to reply to comments both on the site and also via email to the commenter, as I get an email notification on all new comments. I find this especially useful when I want to establish a one-on-one connection with a commenter, particularly if it's someone new to me. However, in so doing, that conversation gets derailed on the blog.

I don't expect that there is a single right or wrong way to go about this communication. I'm more interested in your thoughts. Do you reply directly to commenters via email? Do you expect direct communication? Or is it incumbent upon the commenter to return to the postings upon which they comment to continue the conversation?

(This dovetails with a previous posting, which I cannot find now, having to do with being able to track your own comments. I believe someone recommended a program called CoComment?)

This Post was written by Sean from Hedonia


Meena said...

I usually reply to comments on my blog itself, especially if it's a comment concerning the recipe in question, such as questions or tips. I feel this way other readers might also benifit form the info instead of just the commentor.

Most times I find it hard to reply to comments since I'm quite busy. I always try to reply to any concerns for the recipe in particular, but unfortunately don't find as much of time as I'd like to to thank commentors for praises about the post or photographs.

I had once decided to reply to each comment in person through email, but a day or two into it, I found that it wasn't always possible to to do it on time. I guess there really isn't a perfect way to reply to comments. It's just what suits you best and soesn't make your readers feel neglected!

Andrew said...

Personally I like to receive a reply in the manner it was sent. So if by email then I expect an email reply; if on a blog then likewise.

From a site oweners perspective I would go the comment only route - you get the person to come back to your site to see your reply...

Anita said...

Obsessive that I am, I often do both. I reply in the comments, and then copy-paste it into a reply to the email notification... especially if the commenter is someone new to my blog, or someone who I know checks in rather infrequently.

Sam said...

Personally i like to keep the conversation going in public so reply to comments in the comments section.

However, sometimes I like to receive an d email reply when I have added a comment on someone else's blog, otherwise I might not remember to go back to check the comments to see if there was a reply.

But for the blogs where I really want to see the replies, I probably would be able to manage to keep a mental note and return.

cybele said...

I respond, as Andrew does, in the mode the comment was given.

Most of the time I respond on the blog. My blog has a system where you can subscribe when you leave a comment and you'll get an email with any replies. I usually leave some sort of feedback on all posts that get comments within a day or two. It's just a roundup list.

I like the community it creates when conversations take place in the comments area. (They don't have to do with the post at hand either.)

I think it also probably boosts readership if your visitors know that you'll be responding to posts, so they'll click through to read the comments area regularly.

I get rather irritated if I don't get a response to a comment within a month. I actually saw a recipe on a blog and asked for a clarification and never got one. After waiting all that time, I stopped reading that blog. I figure other readers are capricious like that.

My one fault though is that I don't always respond to comments on very old posts. (If it's a question, I do, but if it's just a comment, I just leave it.)

Lydia said...

The best thing about publishing a blog is the conversations it engenders, so I always respond on the blog -- unless a reader has emailed to me, in which case I respond by email. Occasionally, when the email is something I think my blog readers would enjoy, I ask the author if I might post that comment anonymously (i.e., from me rather than using the author's name). I find that some people still are hesitant to post public comments, yet want to be part of the conversation. I am happy to have them participate in whichever way they are most comfortable.

drbiggles said...

The first thing that comes to mind is a post I did on Meathenge about adjusting the flame height on old gas ranges. This entry has been gathering comments for years. This is usually the only one where I'll take it to email. Mostly because some people are clearly messing with something that could very possibly explode and kill everyone in a 100 foot radius.

I used to reply by email early on. I found that the Commenter about 98% of the time would never email back. So, unless it's absolutely necessary, I use just the Comment section to apply.

That being said, I've left comments myself only to have the author of the blog email me back directly. I respond and rarely get a response back. I know I can be a bit too, me. Even so.

I like to keep my comments in the comment area, from which they sprunged.


cookiecrumb said...

Oh, god, Sean. Was it about the pink breast? the nibbled bacon? Am I mea culpa?
Hee hee.
I'm with the others: reply in kind. Otherwise your commentee (?) gets confused.
But still loves you.

Mae said...

I'm with the others on comment on blog reply as it's not always possible to do both. But on some occasion, i do reply on email especially to new visitors.

When i get email comments and queries, i always reply back by email as soon as and when i finish reading them otherwise i'll forget.

Reply to comments on my blog always depends on time in hand but i always try to reply back. May it be a day or two [or weeks] late, as life gets in the way sometimes.

In terms of commentators feeling 'neglected', i have been on that boat myself many a times when i comment on someone's post and the blog owner[s] do a reply batch to everyone but mine. Maybe it's an oversight but it didn't stop me feeling left out, excluded and unwanted or unwelcomed...

adam said...

My rule of thumb is this: reply in the comments of your post if it pertains to the post. Reply via email to the commentor only if your response does not stay on topic with the post.

Run Around Paris said...

I usually reply to comments with a comment. This way, I don't lose any further conversation on posts.

david said...

I agree with Andrew, although I really want people would use the comments when sending me a message if it pertains to the post. I try to respond to many of the comments, but some ask for things that I don't feel the need to answer.

Recently I had a photo of a chocolate cake and the comments filled up with recipe requests for the recipe (it wasn't my recipe, nor do I provide 'recipes on request' either.)

Finally another commenter responded to everyone, which was a big help and provided a better, and more polite, explanation that I would have.

I've actually gotten some emails that were really funny, or interesting (I get some wacky comments sometimes) and asked the sender if it was ok to put them in the comments area to share them.

Pille said...

I always try to reply within a day or two on the comments section, though sometimes I complement that with an email as well.
I must admit that I really-really like when the blogger responds to the comments on his/her posts, at least to some of them. If they never reply to any comments (and there are few bloggers out there), then I feel like they cannot be bothered to reply or even check if their post has got any feedback. I guess I see blogging more like an interaction, and must admit that I've stopped reading some blogs because of this very lack of feedback..
It's also great to receive email replies to my comments, although I do not expect that.

Sam said...

ok - I admit I have a problem currently with the comments. For over 2.5 years I diligently answered every single comment I received. Every one. Recently my readership has gone through thte roof AND I have a new job which has reduced the amount ot time I can spend on my blog about ten fold.

Where I once had the time to answer every comeent, I now keep getting behind with it and the more I get behind, the more terrible I feel about now replying to everyone who so kindly made the effor to make a comment on my blog.

I don't know what to do - it's not me not to replt - it's in my make-up to respond and be polite, so the fact I am overwhelmed by it all is making me unhappy.

Does anyone have any advice please?

I might add this comment as a post...

Kalyn said...

Sam has pretty much captured my own dilemma, even though I'm sure she gets even more comments than I do. I always love to get comments and appreciate the wonderful people who leave me nice thoughts, some quite regularly. I try to respond to comments on the blog, and like Sam I always feel bad when I don't get back to them. But I have a full time job teaching school, spend tons of time working on KK every day, and write two post a week for Blogher, so my time is always really stretched. (I pretty much never watch TV any more, and rarely even go out with my friends, I'm just always so busy.) I feel bad,not only for not always answering comments as well as I used to, but also because I don't always have time to even read all the other blogs I'd like to, let alone leave reciprocal comments for the nice people who leave comments for me.

I don't know that there's really a solution to this. I just always hope that the people who read my blog understand that I'm doing the best I can and sometimes I simply don't have the time to give commenting as much of a priority as I'd like it to be.

Sam said...

hear hear Kalyn.

we are becoming victims of our own success.

Like you I just hope people understand we really are trying to do our best, and to be kind, and to be fair.

Sean said...

This is fabulous, and more or less what I expected to hear. I do always reply on the blog -- sometimes in group replies if more come in than I can handle at once. Adam, I like your notion of replying in email only if it goes off-topic from the post. Mae, I, too, like to reply in email to new commenters -- I like to get to know people a bit, but increasingly it gets too burdensome to stay on top of it all. Thank you all for your thoughts!

Tara said...

coComment allows you to do two things (mainly):

- centralize your comments and related on one page (your "conversations" page), and publish an extract of that on your blog, so that your blog readers can see what you commented elsewhere

- receive notification (by RSS or the Firefox extension) when somebody added a comment to a conversation you are tracking.

Be sure to let us know what you think if you try it out!

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