What Do You Put in the Name of a Comment Form?

Filed as Features on August 28, 2007 8:56 pm

When you fill in a blog comment form, what name do you choose?

Most bloggers expect their commenters to use their name, or a pseudonym, though it’s also common for people to use their blog title instead. A few use keywords describing their blog or blog content, though this is becoming more and more frowned upon by many bloggers.

This issue came up at a program I was presenting recently when I was asked, “When it comes to blog comments, when are you your blog and when are you you?”

When it comes to comment forms, are you you, not you, your blog, or your keywords?

There are a lot of things to consider before answering this question.

Are you your blog? Is your blog you and are you your blog? Do you want to be known as you, the person with a blog, or do you want to be known for your blog?

Does your blog title describe you and your blog? If your blog title describes you and your blog, then you are your blog and your blog is you. If it doesn’t, then maybe you should be you when it comes time to comment on a blog, and not be your blog.

Are you your blog’s keywords? Comment spammers and trackback spammers are using keywords in their comment spam name section, but many bloggers are now doing this manually, hoping for some page ranking link juice for their blogs. If you choose to use keywords, are the keywords really you, the commenter, or are they representative of your blog?

There are two questions to answer. When you comment on blogs, who are you? Then answer why.

Who Are You When You Comment on Blogs?

The blogger and blog content are rarely separated. It’s “my opinion on my chosen topics”. The blogger rules the roost, is the blog’s representative, the blogger controls the content, and the content follows the blogger, earning them a reputation on that subject.

Graphic of blog comments with different name styles - copyright Lorelle VanFossenWhen a blogger comments on another blog, who is doing the speaking? Is it the person, the individual with their own voice? Or is it the person speaking for their blog’s reputation?

You have three choices when it comes to filling in your name in the comment form.

  1. You can associate your name with your blog, building up the reputation of both of them.
  2. Be anonymous, just letting your comment do all the talking for you, whoever you are.
  3. Or use the title of your blog as your “name”, letting your blog do all your speaking.

When the blogger becomes synonymous with their blog, they don’t always speak for themselves, the private person, but often they speak with the reputation of their blog. Their name becomes closely knit with their blog and its content. It becomes who they are.

When you see names in blog comments like “Tony D. Clark of Success from the Nest“, Liz Strauss of Successful and Outstanding Blogger“, or “Wendy Piersall, eMoms at Home“, or “Darren Rowse of Problogger, you know these names. You know their blogs. They are their blogs and their comments speak for them and their blog’s quality.

At some point, the you that is “you” and the you that is your blog will become indistinguishable. It happens because you choose which name you use to represent “you” to the rest of the world through your comments on other blogs.

Liz Strauss is so tightly associated with Successful and Outstanding Bloggers, she now hosts the annual event, SOBCon07, the Successful and Outstanding Blogger Conference. Wendy Piersall is everyone’s favorite “eMom”, quickly building up a blogging networking of eParents and eKids, too. When you hear the word “problogger”, only one name comes to mind, doesn’t it?

Should You Comment Anonymously?

The debate over anonymous bloggers has gone on since the beginning of the web, pre-blogging. For the most part, names that look like “real names” and blog titles are acceptable.

The general consensus, though, is that if you use a funky name, like an old CB Radio handle (Music Lover, Dancing Bear, Huggle Buggle, or Bartering Bob) people are less likely to take your comment seriously. It becomes an issue of trust. Many anonymous bloggers are using real sounding names instead of their own, creating an online persona separate from their private lives.

People like dealing with people with names. They can be first names or just the last name, but it helps when the names are familiar, not goofy words.

Some bloggers have no problem with commenters using the name of their blog in the comment’s name space. If your blog is what you are “selling” and promoting to the world, then that is who is commenting, right? Not you, the person. It’s now you, the blog. If you choose to use your blog title as your comment form name, then you are speaking for your blog, not as you the individual with an opinion. You speak for your blog when you use your blog’s title in the comment form.

Just remember, people like dealing with people, not companies. Especially “big” companies. It lacks the personal touch. Blogs are all about the “personal touch”. So comment carefully.

Using Keywords in Blog Comment Names

Somewhere along the line, the concept that comments are content got twisted into comments earn page ranking points. Yes, they do, but abuse of them by stuffing keywords into the comment form name section helps no one.

In fact, there is a growing trend in the blogosphere to delete comments from those who use keywords in the name section. Some are instantly submitted as comment spam before the comment is truly evaluated for legitimacy.

Keywords like “SEO King in Thailand”, “webmaster expert”, “web designer professional”, “sexy girl in Tulsa”, “risk free financing”, “real estate expert”, “web developer”, “I Build Blogs”, and such are commonly associated with comment spam, so even if your comment is legitimate, how would the blogger know?

Your blog identity is never keywords. Stop using keywords in comment forms if you want to develop your blog’s identity and brand. “You” are the expert. Your blog is the source. But keywords don’t help anyone. Stop it.

There is no identity in such names. Do you think there is a thinking human being behind them? How can you trust what they say in the comment if they don’t take comments seriously?

Using keywords in comments does not improve your page ranking nor does it drive people to your blog.

If you want a quality reputation, tell the world the name of your blog or your name. Be a person with a voice, not someone chasing link juice.

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  1. By Jeremy Steele posted on August 28, 2007 at 10:15 pm
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    I usually just use my full name.

    You’re 100% right in saying people are starting to manually use keywords for their name (vs using a bot). I believe this to be the work of get-paid-to-comment programs.

    Reply

  2. By Aaron B. Hockley posted on August 28, 2007 at 10:16 pm
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    I use my name, for that is who I am. I’m not a marketing bot and my purpose for commenting isn’t to game some search engine.

    Reply

  3. By Rick Mahn posted on August 28, 2007 at 10:20 pm
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    Since I’m always me, I simply use my name. While I understand some reasons that people like pseudonyms, the concept to me is just too foreign. Since my blog is my brand (and vice-versa), there is little confusion for me when leaving a comment.

    Reply

  4. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on August 28, 2007 at 11:39 pm
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    It feels like those who use keywords are only “the bad guys”, but people get confused and think that this is a “good” way of getting attention and improving their page rank, as well as helping themselves get “found”.

    It’s not a good way, in my opinion. But I would love to hear from those who do think it works for them. It would help us understand their methodology.

    Reply

  5. By Doug M posted on August 28, 2007 at 11:44 pm
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    As you can see i use my name. i feel that a comment is meant to be exactly that, a comment, and as such it should be more personal. using my name makes me feel like i’m actually saying what is written instead of looking like my blog is talking through me

    Reply

  6. By Michael posted on August 29, 2007 at 1:04 am
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    As you can see I use my first name (probably not the greatest idea since my name is Michael, I should use my last name as well). I hate it when commenters use the name of their blog or their keyword. Use your actual name, commenting should be a little bit more personal, treat it as if you were talking to my face, you wouldn’t tell me your name is “Blog Herald” if we were talking face to face so why would you do so if you are commenting on my blog?

    Reply

  7. By Angela Booth posted on August 29, 2007 at 1:19 am
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    I always use my name.

    In the Web site field I put whichever of my blogs relates to the subject matter of the blog on which I’m commenting.

    I’m not a fan of anonymous comments. I don’t like them on business blogs at all. They’re OK on “fun” blogs about movies or whatever, but not in a business context.

    I was getting lots of spam comments on my TypePad blog from the “pay for comments” people, and the spam stopped as soon as I made Typekey mandatory. No anonymity; no spam. :-)

    Reply

  8. By Mohsin | Blogging Bits posted on August 29, 2007 at 2:30 am
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    I use such format so that people can say: Hey it’s that guy from that blog.

    Reply

  9. By Vox posted on August 29, 2007 at 3:24 am
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    I use my RL nick, which has been with me for 20 years, as I’ve always done online…lots of my RL friends know me as Vox and have no clue what my real name is, even people who has known me for years…and that’s the main reason I use my nick instead of my full name…more people recognize me by it…hell, my mom calls me Vox once in a while :)

    On the other hand, I understand some people’s distrust of what a guy with a weird nick instead of a name says…and it’s something that I’m willing to deal with.

    Reply

  10. By Chris Cree posted on August 29, 2007 at 4:16 am
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    I use my name since it represents who I am. I can understand that some folks may have legitimate reasons for not wanting to use their names.

    However when I see only a blog title or keywords instead of the “Name” my first instinct is to think spam.

    I end up being far more lenient towards a comment that has an actual name than one that doesn’t. Comments that use blog titles have to meet a higher standard with me to not get marked as spam. And those with keywords have a much higher standard still.

    Reply

  11. Consider Carefully What Name You Use to Comment | SuccessCREEations by Chris CreeAugust 29, 2007 at 5:44 am
  12. By Brad Shorr posted on August 29, 2007 at 6:23 am
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    Thanks for the insights. Mohsin has a nice approach, because it unifies the blogger and the blog in a single brand. For me, a personal name invites conversation. If someone comments on my blog using their blog name or something else, I find it more awkward to respond to the comment, and wonder if the blogger is looking for a response.

    Reply

  13. By Jack posted on August 29, 2007 at 8:07 am
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    Using keywords is a bit of a liberty and unless the comment is real good I would usually delete it.

    If it’s just a generic “like the post” type of thing then my delete key finger gets very itchy.

    A person’s name or blog name is fine though.

    Reply

  14. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on August 29, 2007 at 8:52 am
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    How many of you, when visiting a WordPress-topical blog, see the name “Matt” and think of only one person? :D And yet, there are a lot of Matts out there. That’s the power in the name.

    So far, it appears that all of you, save Vox, like seeing a “name” of a human being in their comment forms, and choose to put a name in blog comment forms. As for Vox, you are right. As long as the name isn’t “that sexy girl” or something too cutesy, the world will come to know you by that name.

    And I’m also seeing a real distrust of all comments which don’t use names, specifically those with keywords or keyword-style names. Do you think this is because of the preponderance of comment spammers abusing this technique, or because of the “trust” factor?

    Reply

  15. By Rick Cockrum posted on August 29, 2007 at 11:40 am
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    Hi Lorelle,

    This is the first time blog synchronicity hit me so close. Darren Rowse’s article on commenting spurred me to write about the same thing yesterday.

    I prefer a name. I can understand pseudonyms or nicknames, but use a name of some kind. We’re people talking to people, not blogs or businesses talking to other blogs and businesses. To me, using a url or keywords for the name is like handing out business cards to everyone you see. You’re showing your main concern is what you can get, not participating in a relationship or conversation. Your url is linked to the name in the comment anyway, so if people want to find out about you they’ll click through to your site.

    Reply

  16. By Better Blogging with Michael Martine posted on August 29, 2007 at 12:10 pm
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    Hmm… as you can see, I’m going to be a little different, here! I often enter my name as what you see above. I can see how that might give one pause regarding spam, but most spam (automated and even paid commenters) is still pretty garbled and not easy to read.

    From your side, what you want are engaging comments that add value to the post. I always try to accomplish that with each comment I write, because as a blogger myself (and a blog coach/consultant at that), that’s what I hope for when people leave comments on my blog.

    From my side, I’m a blogger who wants to network with others and increase traffic to my own blog. I have noticed that using the above instead of just my name has lead to increased traffic. I see this technique as a win-win situation.

    However, if you really want to be mean to people like me ;), you can modify your comment form code to limit the number of characters entered into the name field, if you know how. Why am I telling you this? Because I mean it when I say my goal as a commenter is to add value to the post!:D If you see this sort of behavior as a problem, I just gave you a way to mitigate it. And I can always do that whether or not I can type my blog title instead of my name.

    Reply

  17. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on August 29, 2007 at 4:30 pm
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    Michael: I would never be mean to you. :D

    However, making the claim that associates the change in your comment form name with your increased traffic is a tough one to justify. How do you measure this? You’ve dramatically improved your blog’s profile with fabulous, linkable content, catching my eye many times. :D

    Reply

  18. By Jermayn Parker posted on August 29, 2007 at 5:56 pm
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    I also normally use my name as well, dont think using keywords is right but using your blog name is ok and worth a try.

    Reply

  19. By Michael posted on August 29, 2007 at 6:26 pm
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    I just use my first name, never even occurred to use anything else. Sometimes I use Mik as that is the name how most people know me by.

    Reply

  20. By Sheila at Family Travel posted on August 29, 2007 at 7:32 pm
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    I like signing “Sheila at Family Travel,” since it immediately tells people my primary area of expertise. My blog’s topic is not obvious from the URL, and I want to quickly answer the question, “Who the heck is she?”

    If anyone reading wants to visit my blog based on seeing my topic, fine. If they don’t, fine.

    I’m even going to confess that I don’t have a bunch of traffic stats to back this up, or anything else other than I just like it that way.

    I’m not super-wedded to it, and will occasionally just sign “Sheila” or maybe my full name.

    Reply

  21. By pelf posted on August 30, 2007 at 4:09 am
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    How many “Pelf”s do you know? :)

    Reply

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  23. By Better Blogging with Michael Martine posted on August 30, 2007 at 8:58 pm
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    However, making the claim that associates the change in your comment form name with your increased traffic is a tough one to justify. How do you measure this?

    I don’t measure it. It’s all extremely unscientific. It’s part of the formula I use for commenting, and so I’m loathe to remove any component of a successful formula. The other components of the formula are: contribute value to the post and write as well as I would for a post on my own blog.

    Thank you for the compliment on my blog, I have been pouring a great deal of effort into it and it’s paying off in a million ways.

    Reply

  24. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on August 30, 2007 at 10:19 pm
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    Your blog is improving daily, and is becoming an amazing resource, Michael. It’s paying off for sure.

    I was just hoping to find some “scientific” evidence in the grand scheme of things. SIGH :D

    Without a doubt, marketing your blog and developing your online identity is a combination effort of writing linkable content and commenting on other blogs, along with all the other “stuff”. ;-)

    You’re doing well!

    Reply

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  26. By Kirsten posted on September 12, 2007 at 6:02 am
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    I don’t care what someone wants to call himself, if their comments are relevant to the post, then I’ll allow it, whether they agree with me or not.

    Reply

  27. By LadyH posted on October 1, 2007 at 6:17 am
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    I am my keywords. I live and breath them. If I’m getting the link, I’m going to go to the effort of using the keywords.

    I’m LadyHoldem online for the most part.. sometimes.. I’m MzCathy my original nickname online, before I found poker. But if you’re going to put a link over my name, it’s gunna be a keyword. I think that the original idea of linking to the name came when blogs were created, when the link went to the next guys personal blog, whereas the link would be appropriate.

    I have seen a new idea popping up however, blogs that have a space for both.. your name, annnd your anchor.. it’s a pretty great idea, the blog I saw it on kept control over the anchor, if you posted something worth reading, you got your anchor text, if not, your name was linked ;)

    LadyH

    Reply

  28. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on October 26, 2007 at 4:40 pm
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    @Daniel:

    I’m going under the assumption that you are smarter than your question. When you filled in the comment form on this post, you put “Daniel” in the “name field” of the comment form. You didn’t put “Tips Drill” or “Send Me Links” or something stupid and inappropriate, as many of the comments on this post describe.

    People like real people to comment on their blogs, not attention-getters who use keywords and childish nicknames in the comment form.

    Understand now?

    Reply

  29. By Amyobus Key posted on December 1, 2007 at 6:37 pm
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    We like to use our whole name if it seems like a peaceful blog and if we think we are important enough to be quoted. Guess not this time. Otherwise, the Name is an identifier in case an interesting dialogue ensues.

    Reply

  30. By Jim L posted on January 8, 2008 at 3:58 pm
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    I’ve just started my first self hosted blog, and I am now trying to decide how I want to appear on other blogs. Jim L is usually what I use, but I previously never had much of a niche, still don’t maybe but it is a work in progress. Keywords don’t interest me. I don’t like using my full name, I guess I always thought the less people on the web that know my real name the less that might be able to visit my house and…anyway. I live in a bad neighborhood and people never cease to amaze me, so my trust is hard to come by, suffice it to say. Back on topic, how about something like Jim at 72suited.com, or similar?

    Reply

  31. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on January 8, 2008 at 7:56 pm
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    @Jim L:

    That sounds like an email address. Jim is fine. You choose what you want that makes you comfortable. Jim L. is also good. You’re in a different neighborhood now, so the choice is up to you.

    Reply

  32. By Jim L posted on January 9, 2008 at 8:50 am
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    Good point about that looking like an e-mail address, thanks for the reply Lorelle! Could be Jim of 72suited.com? The more I think about it I’ll probably stick with Jim L. Thanks again.

    Reply

  33. By Stephen posted on January 15, 2008 at 11:30 am
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    I only use my name to comment on a blog.

    Reply

  34. By mattbell posted on January 25, 2008 at 4:36 am
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    I used my name when i feel security.

    Reply

  35. By Geordie Romer posted on January 25, 2008 at 7:33 pm
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    I have always just used my name. I mean, isn’t blogging about building a community and about communication. It’s hard to have a discussion with “keywords”.

    Reply

  36. By SaeedTNT posted on January 29, 2008 at 5:16 am
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    I used to type my real name always
    And my nickname merged to my real name

    Reply

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  41. By Ederic Eder posted on August 3, 2008 at 1:55 am
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    I’ve just started using my first and last name to comment on other people’s blog. On my blog, I use only my first name.

    Reply

  42. By Manasse posted on August 6, 2008 at 5:32 am
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    I just put my first name not full name not full name
    but from now on I should think about full name, since I know now there are so many other Manasses out there.

    Manasse Sitorus

    Reply

  43. By Mehedi posted on August 6, 2008 at 11:37 am
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    its great articales. Befor i read this articals i never no leaves comment. Usualy I always use my name.

    my interest is more traffic

    Reply

  44. By Matt Thompson | Mattheosis posted on August 28, 2008 at 10:07 pm
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    This is a very comprehensive article on how you wish to brand your comments. Thank you for putting some great thought into what we sometimes don’t think about.

    Reply

  45. By Palma | Buddha Trance posted on November 30, 2008 at 6:32 pm
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    Your post really helped me in making a final decision. I have commented before just using my blog title, not only because it feels like an extension of me, but because it’s really my online name too.

    I liked the idea of consistency.

    Now, I feel that associating my first name to it, makes it more personalized. Not always one comments within their own niche. There are times where I just want participate in an interesting conversation off topic, or simply say thank you, and be myself, while still maintaining my online identity.

    The name | blog format has the benefit of both worlds.

    Reply

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  47. By vincent posted on April 19, 2009 at 10:55 pm
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    Here’s what I find funny about all of this “I hate keywords in the name section”: While I haven’t done it this time, I have done it before and this is why: When I, or anyone else, comments on someone else’s blog, the commenter is adding value to the blog (unless it’s spam, which I don’t condone). If it really does add value to the blog, then it’s helping that blog out in a big way. Google will keep coming back to spider the page and possibly the site because the commenter is providing fresh and unique content to that page.

    Now, in opposition, you have these bloggers whose attitude is “I hate it when people try to “sneak” their keywords into my comments section”. It’s really a “holier than thou art” attitude because they are giving you valuable fresh content for your blog and you are essentially telling them “thanks for the comment. Oh, you want me to reciprocate? Get the h*** outta here spammer”.

    I wonder how many webmasters who have a business to run will want to take time out of their busy day to continue commenting on blogs where the blog owner’s attitude is “gimme, gimme, gimme” (i.e. fresh content) and they don’t want to give anything back in return.

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