If someone comments on your blog post, one thing is for sure: someone is reading your blog. Congratulations, it turns out that some people really are reading your content! You’re doing something right.
While comments are a good thing overall in terms of measuring your readership, they can also spell trouble for bloggers that don’t know how to handle them. Engaging with commenters is a strange process for many bloggers: one minute you’re spending the entirety of your time writing content to an unknown audience, and the next you’re interacting with actual people over what you’ve written. It can be an awkward process at first, but its part and parcel of the duties of a proper blogger. I can’t stress enough how important it is to interact with your commenters, especially if your blog is relatively new.
Treat Commenters Like People… (most of) Them Are
Every blog gets the occasional auto comment from some spammy website shamelessly promoting itself, but most comments come from living, breathing individuals. If someone took the time to comment on your blog, chances are that they want some recognition for the effort they took to share their thoughts with you. Whether or not the comment was positive or negative shouldn’t matter (unless they were needlessly flaming your site). The best way to deal with a comment is to respond below the comment, thanking them for their input. You can choose to agree or disagree or say nothing further at all, but the point is that you grant the commenter the courtesy of responding to them.
It’s especially important to respond to as many comments as you can when your blog is in its infancy. You want to establish yourself as an open minded blogger who’s willing to discuss content with their readers, and you project this image by responding to comments and being receptive to feedback.
Take Time To Respond To Negative Comments
A comment can be many levels of “negative.” If you publish a particularly opinionated post, say it’s about a political subject; you could have any number of commenters dissenting over your stance, criticizing your support of a candidate, or so on. When you see comments like these, don’t ignore them. Some of them are trying to have an actual dialog with you, an exchange of different ideals and beliefs. You should pick a few (or all) of these comments and be as courteous as possible when you respond. You don’t need to feed the fire by saying anything rude of inflammatory, simply rephrase or specify your beliefs or your stances to make it clear where you stand.
Nasty comments are another matter altogether. Some people just want to troll blogs and cause trouble without any consideration to your site or your readers. You can choose to ignore these comments, delete them before they get any traction, or address them head on. The first two options are self-explanatory, but let me give you some guidelines concerning the last one.
When you address someone who’s trying to deface your blog, you’re not really addressing that person. What you’re doing is showing your other readers that you can be classy and professional when dealing with rude people; you “kill them with kindness” to show that you’re above getting into a meaningless argument with a faceless trolling user. Just say something simple but to the point, along the lines of: “Thanks for your comment, but I don’t think your particular perspective has any place on this blog. If you’d like to talk about substantive issues, then please feel free to share your opinion. Otherwise, I think everyone here would appreciate it if you moved on.” You have to handle bad commenters with grace.
What About You?
What about your commenting habits? Do you take the time to respond to the comments on your blog? Or, as a reader, do you tend to comment on a post when you feel impelled to share your opinions? Let me know with your comments!