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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