What Changes Your Mind About Leaving a Blog Comment?

Filed as Features on April 15, 2009 11:05 am

A few minutes ago I followed a trackback to a lovely blog post about one of my blog posts. It was quite complementary and made some good points. I was in the middle of composing a reply when I glanced over to the sidebar and saw the listing of the most recent blog posts featuring what were clearly pay-per-post or sponsored post titles. Ick!

That was my first response. Ick. Yuk. Oooey gooey, as one of my nephews would say.

We’ve talked about a lot of different design detail clutter and distractions in the ongoing series, “WTF Blog Design Clutter“, but we haven’t addressed the issue of perception when it comes to inspiring blog comments and conversation.

It’s true that a lot of people comment on blogs for link bait and Google juice. While that may be true, what is unsaid about the importance of a blog comment is probably the most important consideration when it comes to commenting on blogs: Association by commenting.

A blog comment says you want to participate in the conversation. It says you are interested in the topic. It says you are supportive of the blogger. It says you are who you say you are. It says that the link in your comment form takes the reader to your blog, which should speak well of you and match the quality of the blog you are commenting on. It says you want to be a valuable contributor to the blogosphere and the world of communication. Right?

No? Well, maybe it should.

Your Comment is Your Clutter on Their Blog. It Better Speak Well of You – and Them

When I leave a comment, it’s a mini resume. It’s a small representative of me, of what I stand for, what I believe in, and, in many cases, what I blog about. It points to me, exposed for all the world (and search engines) to see. It better speak well of me.

Therefore, by association, if I comment on a blog doing something or covering a topic I’m not in favor of, or on a blog stuffed with ads or comment spam – by leaving a comment am I encouraging them? Would someone seeing my comment on such a blog associate me with such practices? Will their poor content and bad blog decisions rub off on me and my reputation?

If the blogger is a hate monger, blogging dark and negative stuff, it’s easy to judge them and distance yourself from associating with them. “I’d never comment there!” is easy to say, but things get a little grayer when the line slips and slides in the sand of judgment.

If the blogger does the occasional pay-per-post, that’s not the end of the world. That person may be a great person, and be totally sincere in their blog writing on sponsored posts.

The first appears cut and dried. No matter how many wonderful things they may write about you and your blog, you may not want to participate on theirs when they are the opposite of what you believe. It gets more complicated when what they blog about, and what the put on their blog isn’t right for you, though it may be right for you. Some people’s clutter is another person’s art.

It’s something to consider.

Judging How We Judge Others

We are often judged by our friends, the relationships around us. I learned early on that much of who you are is determined by who you hang out with. Your friends’ behavior, attitude, fashion sense, and reputation say much about the choices you make.

At one of my first high school reunions, a fellow student told me I’d changed since high school. “I used to think that you were one of ‘those’ kids.” “Those” kids, by her definition, were the “popular” kids, the ones who got all the attention and fame.

I was stunned. The kids I hung out with were the outcasts and loners, the chess club, computer geeks, and the band. Yet, when she remembers me singing in the choir, messing with the band, and involved in the acting club. Around me were the “stars” of the school, so she assumed that these were my friends and judged me accordingly. So did many others, I learned when I started asking around, inquiring with others which groups they thought they belonged to in high school.

It was amazing to see how many perceived others belonging to a specific group by association rather than reality. That perception can carry more weight than the truth influences the public and professional decisions I make.

By leaving a comment on a blog that I would not normally condone or support, by association I fear my reputation. Do you? Does the message your comment sends mean that much to you?

Tomorrow, I want to look at some of the ways we judge other bloggers, and our desire to comment or not on a blog. Where do you draw the line when it comes to commenting, linking, or trackbacking?

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  1. By Aaron B. Hockley posted on April 15, 2009 at 8:38 pm
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    I don’t necessarily agree that leaving a comment says one is supportive of the blogger, but it does indicate that one is willing to participate in the discussion (on the blogger’s home turf).

    I’m generally willing to speak up and leave a comment, even one to disagree, without doing too much research on the blog or blogger. Then again, I tend to speak my mind in meatspace as well (and occasionally wish I’d bitten my tounge).

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  2. By Miroslav Glavic posted on April 16, 2009 at 12:29 am
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    I don’t agree with the whole thing that if I leave a comment that I support the blogger.

    I don’t always agree with the point of view of the author of the post, so I comment on another viewpoint of the same topic.

    Comments are good because it starts discussions into the topic and shows up all points of views.

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  3. By Laura posted on April 16, 2009 at 3:58 am
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    I do agree that if you leave a comment you are supporting the blogger. I often leave comments on small blogs with few comments just to give them the support of having a comment. So it should work the other way too.

    I agree about the blogs with paid posts. I have chosen not to make comments on them many times. Mainly because I don’t think they’d really care whether or not anyone comments. They are only there to sell, not be friendly or interesting.

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  4. By Mark Wanczak posted on April 16, 2009 at 9:43 pm
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    I generally use the same advice our mothers told us, “if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say it at all.”

    Constructive criticism can lead to insightful debates, but, phrased improperly with the wrong tone, it can also serve no purpose but to detract from your online reputation.

    Google never forgets and many of the top 50 results for my name are blog comments. I want these results to represent me as well as the content I control on my own site.

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  5. By Interactive posted on May 29, 2009 at 3:00 am
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    Very well put! I enjoyed reading your post and I give you kudos… “Some people’s clutter is another person’s art.”

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  6. By Jamie Allsop posted on June 30, 2009 at 2:00 pm
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    Very interesting read. When commenting on a blog and I don’t see the point of view the author is trying to make, I will express my view and my thoughts on it but be careful how I word it so not to offend anyone and then you can get a good discussion going if other people then express there thoughts.

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  7. By Laura posted on November 9, 2010 at 2:57 am
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    I love this article – you are such a great writer. I was particularly amused by the phrase “link bait and Google juice”. But it is true – bloggers today are turning ever more to blog spamming and backtracking in order to try and muster up traffic. If it didn’t work, why wouldn’t they continue to do it?

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  8. By Martin Carter posted on November 10, 2010 at 1:44 am
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    For me leaving comment in blog also help to promote website. But what i like most is giving a chance to give your though of the topic.

    Reply

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