Nathan Bransford, Author

Thursday, January 6, 2011

How to Write a Good Blog Comment

Photo by Ped-X-Ing via Creative Commons
The art of writing blog comments may at first blush seem like a frivolous and unimportant one, but that is not actually the case!

Writing excellent blog comments is perhaps the very best way to build your own blog and/or social media presence. Consider a blog comment an audition to show off your own personal awesomeness.

Not all blog comments are created equal. Here are some good rules of thumb as you work your way up to becoming a blog comment ninja.

Read the Post You're Commenting On, Then At Least Scan it Again

Yes, this takes time and the careful suppression of twitchy fingers. But there is no quicker way to leave an ineffective blog comment than to miss something in the actual post or to accuse the poster of saying something they didn't actually say.

Accuracy is important. Good blog comments take into account the entire post and then come up with a good and original response. So not only take the time to actually really read the post, keep the comment on topic rather than bringing in an outside and unrelated agenda.

That said......

Get There Early

The most effective and influential comments are near the top of the comments section. Don't work so fast writing your comment that you don't leave a good one, but don't dillydally either. Having a great comment in the first five to ten comments will get you noticed and will also probably result in a better discussion after your comment, which will please your host.

Scan the Other Comments First

Some might say that you should read every comment before yours. But people, it's a busy world out there. It's probably not strictly necessary.

But! At least go through and scan to see if someone else has said what you're about to say. The first commenter who makes the Lady Gaga comparison is savvy. The tenth person who does it is annoying.

Give the Blogger the Benefit of the Doubt

While it is oh-so-tempting to spout off when someone says something inaccurate or that you don't agree with, you don't look better for stooping to that blogger's level and engaging in a rant. Even if they deserve it.

Try and at least give the blogger the benefit of the doubt. They might not have meant for things to come out the way they did, and even if they did mean it, you look like the bigger person for treating them with patience and respect and staying above the fray.

Be Interesting and/or Funny

Have an interesting perspective. Bring interesting and/or rare pieces of knowledge. But most of all, be funny.

When it comes to good blog comments, funny wins every time.

Become a Regular

The very best way to be noticed isn't with one really great comment, but rather with consistently good comments in the same place(s) over time. If you become a regular and valued commenter on a blog or site, the other readers of that site will take notice and are more likely to come your way.

Much like Cheers, you want to go where everybody knows your name.


christine said...

ooooo, am I first??

The pressure is on to say something witty now.

No seriously, glad to hear someone finally address the art of blog commenting.

Deb said...

Thank you! I had more to say, but deleted it, then thought at least say thanks. As a newbie blogger I am now finding myself over thinking, not thinking enough, worrying, pondering, when, really, I genuinely just want to comment, contribute to conversations-yeah, it gets ugly in my head-this gives me a framework.

A.M Hudson said...

You know what Nathan? I just love you! You are always so informative, and every one of your posts seems to address something that I have been thinking about in the days that have passed.

Please, whatever you do...don't stop blogging. You're like my own personal thought processor!!!

misssy m said...

And you can always tell when someone is commenting just to get noticed and they haven't actually read your post properly. "Great post", "LOL!"

Stop it. Stop it now, LOLlers. you're not really LOLling, are you. You're smirking at best.

Terry Odell said...

The comments that annoy me are the ones that have nothing to do with the post and everything to do with promoting the commenter's book, etc.

(and how could I not leave a comment when the spam word is cakeo -- sounds yummy)

Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

misssy m said...

So tempting to just post "LOL" now....

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Bet everyone is nervous to comment on this one. ;)

Great points. Tweeted it.
~ Wendy

jimgraham said...

A woman got on a bus holding a baby. The bus driver said, "That's the ugliest baby I've ever seen!"

In a huff, the woman slammed her fare into the box and took a seat. The man sat next to her sensed that she was agitated and asked her what was wrong. "The bus driver insulted me," she fumed.

The man sympathized with her and said, "He's a public servant, he shouldn't say things to insult passengers."

"You're right," she said. "I think I'll go back up there and give him a piece of my mind."

"That's a good idea," the man said. "Here, let me hold your monkey."

(commenting on comments about commenting is a little too post-post modern for me.)

A.M Hudson said...

Hmm..should probably add that I meant 'love' in the non-threatening-stalker kind of way.

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

There really is an art to the great comment. I have found all of my blogging friends from one or the other of us making a comment somewhere that attracted attention.

If I were to offer an example of an excellent commenter, the award would go to Josin McQuein. Always insightful and humorous. If you want to know how to do it, watch for something she says.

Laurel said...

Good tips! I'd add one more:

It's kind of uncool to copyedit the blogger in the comment thread. Typos happen. Move along. I don't see this much but every now and then there is a grammar nazi who has to say something.

If a blogger has made a serious factual error that you think they should know about, send an email so they can fix it on the down low if they like.

It's like I said to a blog buddy last year: I would not use a microphone to tell you that there is toilet paper on your shoe.

A.M Hudson said...

Ha ha...non threatening--non stalker way. Thanks for pointing that out nice blog person who e-mailed me.

Christina said...

I have to admit, I scanned this post, but that's just the way I do it. I do hate it when the commenter clearly hasn't even glanced at the post.

Missie said...

But what if you are not particularly interesting or funny?! I'd love to be a blog comment ninja, but fall short on the necessary blogfu skills. :/

But thanks for the tips. Glad I found this post through a Ellen Hopkins RT. :D

Rick Daley said...

There's a balance between shouting:


in your comment and adding to the conversation.

For example, by repeating NOTICE ME several times in all caps, there is a good chance this comment will get noticed (which is my goal). Especially because I put it on its own line.

My point to add to the conversation is that formatting is important, too. Beware the large block o' text. You want your comment to be easy to read.

Janice Gable Bashman said...

Great post Nathan - good blog commenting also encourages conversation between the commenters (and the blogger) and can greatly expand the message of the original blog to include a more in-depth conversation about the topic or look at it in a novel way.

Kristi Helvig said...

I've read this blog for several years and don't think I've ever it into the first 5-10 comments. This might be the first time I broke the first 20...yay for progress! :)

Kat Sheridan said...

Nathan, so glad to see a post on this topic. If I may be so forward, I'd like to also suggest that folks be welcoming, supportive, and patient with newcomers. Blogs such as this one, with a large group of commenters who are familiar with one another can be somewhat intimidating to less familiar folk.

It's like showing up at a party and not only not knowing anyone there, but one does in fact have toilet paper on one's shoes, and one has worn one's best glittery dress and tiara, not realizing it's a backyard barbecue.

Although, I do in fact wear my tiara to backyard barbecues. I'd wear it to the grocery store if I could, but hubs put the kibosh on that after he grew weary of the sympathetic looks from passersby, and one too many persons stopping him in the produce section suggesting a medication I might try or a charming, nearby nursing facility.

So please be nice to newcomers. We may be eccentric, but you never know what we might add to the conversation (once you stop being blinded by the dangly earrings. And tiara).

Anna said...

You forgot one last rule:
When in doubt, add monkeys to your comment. Or zombies.

Chris Phillips said...

But what if you aren't funny at all. Like even a little bit. Can I just copy/paste whatever the 4th commenter said?

Allison M. Dickson said...

And please, for the love of dog, don't say "FIRST!" and then bolt, as this creates a cascade of douchery that infects the first dozen of so comments with, "You're such an immature jerk!" or "SECOND! THIRD!" and so on.

Teralyn Rose Pilgrim said...

Monkeys. Zombies. NOTICE ME!

I think that covers it, so now that I have your attention.... *smirk* (as oppose to lol).

I had someone I didn't know on my blog the other day shamelessly post a link to his own blog. He basically said, "I like your blog, you should see mine," so I don't know if he even reads it. Needless to say, I'm not going to read his blog, and I doubt anyone else will either.

JES said...

One more thing: know in advance what a "good comment" means to you, as both blogger and commenter.

I'm not sure I'd agree that its potential for getting its author noticed is what makes a comment better or worse. Just about every blogger loves getting comments, so just about every blogger comments elsewhere; in that sense, "getting noticed" is, yes, the point. But I'd no more want commenters competing for attention than I'd want people around a dinner table shouting over one another. Maybe attention is the first thing they were seeking, but my favorite commenters seem completely oblivious to that as a reason for speaking up, replying, replying to replies, and so on.

Robena Grant said...

I'm almost too scared to post because my posts are never funny. I don't do funny. I'm serious. Pout. But, I do agree that the comments should contribute to the topic of the day. Otherwise it becomes an arena for posing, posturing, and pandering. Well, something like that.

Nate Wilson said...

But what about those of us who aren't happy with just being good? Like so many others in this trade, I strive to write the Great American Comment.

(This isn't it.)

Jeffrey Ricker said...

I straightened my collar, fixed my hair, and checked my breath before I left this comment. Can you tell?

Seriously, though, a friend of mine once said he liked that I left the funniest comments on his blog. I figure if I can make someone chuckle, I've at least given them a lift.

(That does not mean they should post "LOL" after my comment, however.)

Like everything else, it pays just to be yourself.

Deb said...

Okay, I am back to comment on the comments, too fun (and helpful. And yeah, it's time to get off the internet and to work!).

And--Kat. Where is your blog? I went to see it (and your bling!!).

I'm slowly realizing that if my commenting is genuine, and I don't over worry about just saying thanks for the post (at this point), it will all eventually work out. I'm shy (really shy, even though I'm a storyteller) in person and am realizing I'm shy in cyber-space.

Melissa Alexander said...

Well, I'm too far down to be noticed now, but I did want to comment on this timely post. I started a new writing-related blog this week, and I've made it a point to begin commenting more regularly on the industry blogs I've enjoyed for so long. So thanks for the tips!

Holly said...

love, love, love the "blogfu" skills comment. this is my new objective for 2011 ... develop mad blogfu skills

yes, i'm commenting on a comment rather than the blog - hope this doesn't break a rule nathan

Shannon said...

I may be no where near the top, but I'm still going to comment. First off, this was a timely post for me as one of my resolutions was to comment on the blogs I read. So yay me!

2nd, when commenting on blogs, is it a faux pas to put in your blog? For instance if the blog your reading ties into a post you've done?

And thanks again for the post :)

Cameron said...

I have to admit some of this I had not even thought of. I don't have a ton of followers on my writing blog or anything crazy like that, but I do have two people that comment and contribute pretty regularly. I do notice them, and generally take time to respond as a result.

And yet, I sprinkle my comments around on whatever blog article strikes me of the day, not necessarily "building the relationship" with any particular bloggers out there.

Thanks for the suggestions, guess I will start here.

Terri Tiffany said...

I can't do funny so will sincere do? I enjoy it more when someone takes the time to give me more than one word. said...

Super post. I've been thinking about this very topic my guruish friend. Congratulations on being so consistently interesting. You Rock the Casbah everytime!

Mira said...

Nathan - I don't know if I've ever read a blog addressing this - right on. I feel impressed, actually.

I have SO MUCH to say about this, and I don't have much time now, but I wanted to quickly post two things.

First, I always, always, always, always read your post before posting. Except once. And that ONE time, I got caught, and I felt totally mortified, because frankly, I consider posting without reading the post to border on rude. I'm sorry, and please know it's not a habit of mine.

Second, you make some good points here that I want to talk about later, but I do want to say I slightly disagree with you about the 'funny' thing. It really depends. Trying to be funny when you're not in a 'funny' place can backfire - and I say that from experience. I think it's more about letting your personality come through the blog comments.

A commmentor who is quietly sincere and honest post after post will be as noticable as someone more flashy. I think it really is about letting your real personality and voice come through.

Not to say funny isn't good - but humor is hard to do 'to order'. I'm only 'funny' in blog posts when I feel playful. Otherwise, I've found it falls flat.

Okay, more to say. I absolutely love that you are posting daily, Nathan. Thank you.

Ganz-1 said...

Cool post.

I always read a blog post at least twice and then I tell myself this:

'Do I have something to comment regarding this post?'

If I can't answer that, I simply don't comment/just read the other comments.

It's like what old people use to say: If you don't have anything to say, don't say anything.

Or was that a quote? hmmm...

Laura Campbell said...

Ah, to reach the level of stealth and accuracy of a ninja. Hi Ya! Stealth is a quality best left behind when commenting. Wham! Patience and frequency are key to distinguishing yourself from the crowd. Shazam! Humor? Draw on what makes you laugh. May not always work, but it's worth a try. Thank you, Sensei.

Anonymous said...

Since you mentioned this I'd like to add one thing about blog posts, which may or may not coincide with comments :)

The best bloggers keep it short. Most people click onto blogs and read fast. They don't have time to spend reading paragraph after paragraph. If it's going to take longer than a few minutes, I just skim. Personally, I think Janet Reid has nailed the length of the perfect blog post. Though some are a little too short, most are the perfect length.

This way if people are going to comment, they can comment on details, not just what they skimmed over because a post was too long.

Kat Sheridan said...

Deb, you charming dear, I don't have a blog (thus, it's impossible for me to commit the "come read my blog" faux pas. However, if OtherLis shows up (she's the friend who led me here), she'll tell you she's been positively hounding me to start a blog for ages. Le sigh. I suppose one day I should do so.

And Jeffrey Ricker, one does SO appreciate good hygiene in cyberspace, where one suspects it's so often lacking.

And Rick Daley, I couldn't help noticing you, not because of the capitals (least said, soonest mended), but because I have a friend with such a similiar name, I thought for a moment it was he (although he's probably never used a capital letter outlandishly in his life.)

Julia G. Darelle said...

Well, I hope there are no 10 comments already about what I'm going to say, but if there are - I'll take that "it's a busy world" excuse and admit that I rarely read all comments before mine. I just wanted to add one more suggestion to your list - Do not comment for the sake of commenting. Because, let's face it, if there is nothing of value to say, it's best to remain silent. Or so I think :)

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

I've had a lot of people follow my comments on others' blogs back to my own blog. I'm not sure if it's the witty things I say, though. It may be the money I promise in every comment. Or the profile picture I used to have of Kate Beckinsale.

P.S. I'm really hoping no one has just said the same thing in previous comments. You have way too many for me to read them. Just sayin.

P.P.S. Just kidding. I scanned them. You have brilliant commenters.

P.P.S. I do believe all influence is out the window now that I am, what, 36th commenter? And it's not even noon. Dang it. I'll never get in first. #notanearlyriser

Josin L. McQuein said...

Read Post -- check

Get There Early -- it's not tomorrow yet, this still counts even it's the thirty-whatever-th comment.

Scan Other Comments -- tried, they wouldn't fit on my scanner, nor could I figure out how to use my scanner while my computer was face down on top of it.

Give Benefit of Doubt -- easy peesey.

Be interesting / funny -- do I get half-credit for weird and/or random? Fahrvergnügen!

Become Regular -- (I'll spare you the squick-worthy, and horribly bad joke, that popped into my head on that one.

Or, if you really want to be noticed, you can just do your whole post in BOLD!

Sean said...

Great points today Nathan! I agree with you one hundred percent. There will always be a demand for actual books.

Oops, wait a minute...

Sondy said...

This is perfectly timed, since just began her 2011 Comment Challenge. I didn't see anyone else mention it (though I did scan the comments), so think it's worthy of note. We're eager to comment, thanks to the Comment Challenge. And now you've given us tips about doing so.

Nutschell said...

This is great!
It just so happens that one of my new year's resolutions is to be a more active part of the blogging world. I read a lot of blogs but never had the time to comment. This year I hope to be better about participating.

Thanks for this very helpful post!


Backfence said...

Guess I'd better set my alarm clock back an hour or two to beat the earlybirds (and those West Coasters) to that coveted "First Ten" slot.

John Jack said...

Comments that engage my interest contribute additional insight about the host's topic. Of course, it's a popularity pageant anyway, so some praise and flattery of the host is proper form. On the other hand, criticism is also proper form when it courteously proposes other opinions deserving consideration.

Artful praise and flattery and criticism make it all easier to digest and more engaging.

Blog rule the first, rule the Nth, rule the last, do not steal thy host's thunder, nor steal all thy fellow's thunder. Thou must share thy space.

I note Mr. Bransford didn't exhaustively cover all the bases of writing a good blog comment. Nice that he leaves room for commentors to build upon his points.

Liz Heinecke said...

I had a lizard just like the one in the picture when I was nine. Her name was Rosa and I loved her, but she was eaten by a cat.

How was that?

I only leave comments on posts I'm genuinely interested in. It's not worth reading c&*p just to get more hits on my website.

Mira said...

Okay, I'm back, and I have a few more quick things to add in what will undoubtedly be another long post.

I love your list, Nathan, and in my humble opinion the most essential point is the last one - being a regular. At least for me. I notice people who post routinely - it doesn't matter what they say, their name becomes familiar to me, and I feel like they are a part of the community of the blog, and over time, I start feeling connected and close to them.

In terms of not diving into the fray - oh boy, that is a hard one for me. I LOVE drama. Fun, fun, fun. However, I have learned, on your blog, Nathan, to restrain myself, and I think you're right. The only time I have trouble with this is when I feel protective because someone is being mean to you. Then, I want to say something so you feel supported. I have yet to figure that one out completely.

Okay, last point, sorry I'm so long-winded today. John Jake, you are absolutely right about not stealing people's thunder. That is so true, and it's a real concern for me that I also haven't figured out completely, but something I am highly aware of.

One last point - if you want to be noticed, there is a difference between being noticed by the blog host and by your other commentors. What's your primary goal?

Mine, nowadays, is mostly just to have fun and debate interesting topics. But if you're using it for networking, something to think about.

Okay. I think I'm done. Thanks for the interesting topic, Nathan. :)

Lisa Aldin said...

I guess I failed here. I'm not in the top ten and, also, this comment is not very interesting. Or funny. But I can be. Sometimes. Really.

Jenn Crowell said...

I'm not in the top ten, because I was writing. How's that for an excuse?

Seriously, though, this was a great post. Am just starting to break out of lurkdom and start commenting on literary blogs, so the primer is handy.

April said...

Epic fail as almost the 50th commenter. But I have to thank you for this. This post has inspired me to be a better commenter. I'm really bad. I'm in such a hurry all the time that I end up just skimming the blogs for something that pops up and commenting on that. I don't THINK I've ever commented on something the blogger never really said, but...I'm going to be a better commenter because my following count sucks!

Okay, and also because it just plain makes me a better person.

E. VERNA said...

On being funny? Asian jokes are not to be compared with Caucasian jokes. Delivery and timing is a must. We must, we must increase our BUZZ!

Anne R. Allen said...

An important topic-I'm so happy to see it addressed. But I don't agree with the commenter who said you shouldn't comment if you don't have anything new to say. I can never have too many people add a comment like, "thanks for the info--it's just what I needed!". It seems to me that blog comments should primarily be about communicating with the blogger--even if he's a blog god like Nathan.

Kristin Laughtin said...

I usually leave the post open in a separate window so I can refer back to it while making my comments, especially if it's a long post or there are links to multiple articles or thoughts on several issues. It makes it easier to double-check whether the post really said what I thought it said, as well, which (I hope) minimizes false accusations and the like.

That said, I am really sad when I get to a post late and find that somebody has (probably) said the same witty thing I thought in the 200 comments already there. I have to work! I can only read now because the reference desk is slow, and I'm already four hours late to the party. Oh, well.

@Teralyn: I've had that same annoyance as well. I've been really bad at being consistent with my blogging, which has translated into few people reading it (so far). It's disappointing to get a comment notification, get excited, and then realize it's just "Check out my (totally unrelated) blog kthx!" I think it's fine to direct people to your blog if you've written something relating to the current post, because at least that's giving someone a reason to want to read it. But just spamming your URL makes me want to read you less.

D.G. Hudson said...

Getting here early is not an easy task, Nathan. But I'll persevere.

Thanks for addressing this issue. I have to admit, I usually like to make my own assessment of the posting and comment before I read everyone else's, and I do look for some of the 'regulars' comments.

You mention that being the tenth commenter to say something is annoying, but so what, if that is how that person feels? Funny responses are amusing, but not everyone has that ability. The regular readers soon recognize the voices of those who consistently follow a blog.

I've had that experience with speaking before I was fully informed, and one of your kind followers informed me of such. (Thanks, INK - topic was bookstores in SF)

Interesting topic, Nathan, and it's another way you're helping us to be more professional.

Ted Fox said...

This is more useful advice than my wife's "Don't let 'em know you're not wearing pants."

Pen and Ink said...

You consistently give good advice I can use. I liked your link at the bottom of the post to other related posts. I am going to start doing that with the "First line" posts. I LOVE the picture. I am looking forward to blogging the first line of JACOB WONDERBAR. Sounds like my kind of book

Anonymous said...

I think it's important to keep in mind that when the primary goal of blogging or blog commenting is promoting one's brand, all comments have to be taken with a grain of salt. Blogs that work this way don't tend to focus on finding out what is true or important. They also politely avoid all possibility of offending others' sensibilities or ruffling feathers - which is the opposite of the true nature of art and literature. Participating in such blogs becomes a way to pass the time with people who are hoping you'll buy their product while you hope they'll buy yours, kind of like dinner parties for salespeople. There are blogs in which the conversation is meaningful, but branding isn't a goal there. It seems fairly transparent to me when people are trying to sell their books while rarely mentioning their books - the conversation usually ends up going nowhere new or different. Some of the most fascinating blogs are by successful but rebellious authors who blog in order to explore important topics, but who don't give a rat's ass (am I allowed to say that here?) about whether or not customers ever buy their book.

Kenn Chaplin said...

To follow my own wish for my blog, I thought I would comment directly at your site, rather than on Facebook ;-)

Great suggestions and some interesting comments to boot. Happy new year!

Livia said...

Too long, didn't read. But I think blog comments r dumb & ur dmb too 4 writing about it gosh nathan srsrly

And everybody come visit my website plz. kthxbye.


Anonymous said...

"Get There Early"

Oh drat, this reminds me of the first page crits when if a wishful page contestant were on the wrong side of the planet or at work, it was too late for hope. (By the way, what happened to Friday crits?)

"Be Interesting and/or Funny"

I'm here at sixty comments. I'm posting today to give feedback (for what it's worth - probably not so much as I am tuning in after the first more listened to and appreciated comments) on this topic, not to entertain or show off. (And earlier, in my internet experience, what I saw a lot of was that one person's witty was another person's snark: i.e., approach funny with care.)

"Become a Regular"

Regular? And now pressure to be not only the early bird, but drink that tainted water with the thick stuff in it too? Egads. Oh a regular? Um... Nevermind.

I believe in the polite. Polite is King.

I think the above three (quoted) guidelines...probably apply more to people hoping to enhance their own online presence.

Personally, I come here to relax, listen, learn,and, sometimes participate in the conversation in a safe and polite manner. (I may have to compete in some areas, but that is not why I am here.)
Likewise, the forums are a safe polite place to share and get help amongst peers. Not everyone is out to enhance their social media presence; There are those of us just hoping to share politely the camaraderie of other writing types on this winding path.

Carson Lee said...

Missy M:
An alternative to "LOL" which I've created is "GAL":
(giggling a little)

Anonymous said...

Missy M:
An alternative to "LOL" which I've created is "GAL":
(giggling a little)

Lexi said...


Missed the first ten to fifteen comments.

I'll be off now, then.

*slinks away*

Heidi C. Vlach said...

There really is an art to writing an effective comment. I usually stare at comment boxes longer than I stare at New Post boxes, trying to compose that perfect ode to awesomeness. It's basically poetry. Ooh, there's an idea.

Poignant words capture
This moment in cyberspace
A shining new gem

The Red Angel said...

This is an excellent guide, Nathan! Indeed, blog comments influence our blogging career more than we realize. I get very excited when I'm the first one to comment on a post and not the twentieth...I feel like for once I'm not late! :P

I definitely know what you mean about being accurate in your comments...nothing is more embarassing than agreeing with the blogger on a topic that is opposite of what the blogger says!

Thanks very much for sharing these tips!


Rachael W said...

I'm way too far downthread to be noticed (oh, well), but I did want to say that on this blog in particular, Nathan, the ideas left in the comments are often just as insightful as your blog posts. I've learned a lot about the writing business just by reading people's responses. With the exception of some of the anonymous trolls you get, this blog entry seems to be preaching to the choir in regards to stellar comments. =)

I guess what I'm trying to say is: Hi, all! It's nice to be here.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter when someone posts. I read them all.

G said...

All of those points are so very true.

However, I like to add one that I do with regularity when I come across a new blog.

Don't comment right away. When I come across a new blog I have a tendency to lurk for about a week or so, so that I can get a basic feel of the tone and tenor of that blog.

The last thing I want to do is leave a comment that doesn't reasonably reflect what the blog owner's personality/character/quirks might be.

Like if you're gonna leave a funny comment, make sure that its in the same kind of humor that the blog owner enjoys. Don't be crude and offensive if the owner doesn't like that kind of humor.

Elaine AM Smith said...

Good advice for anyone who Blogs and comments.

I find it hard to imagine anyone who comments on your posts hasn't done the required reading. It seems that the members of the nuance police lurk here, checking up on the grammarians.


Lauren said...

It's funny. Yesterday I spent an embarrassing half hour revising a two-line response to a man I'm starting to date whose awesomeness makes me feel like the dorky 12 yr old girl I still am inside. Cool to be able to have the opportunity to revise my chatting to seem breezy and casual instead of just blushing and stammering in person, but also a lot of pressure. Anyway... it's fascinating to watch the way communication has evolved with new media. As an English teacher, I'm inspired to study and develop some lessons on the art of using language powerfully in blogging, emails, even facebook :). I'd love for my students to have practical confidence in the newer networking arenas. Thanks, Nathan.

Anonymous said...

As a writer, getting there early to blogs was seriously interfering with keeping my focus on my writing. I used to be one of the earlier commenters most days on this blog, but now that I comment only when I have time and try to put writing before visiting blogs, I'm 1/3 of the way through completing my next novel. I feel incredibly more focused on writing, and I think that's important.

J. T. Shea said...

'But most of all, be funny.' Brilliant! I NEVER thought of that!

Rick, I, for one, definitely noticed you.

Anna, not monkeys OR zombies. Monkeys AND zombies.

Carol Riggs said...

Well, it's exhausting to leave comments on your blog, N, because you have so MANY--can't read 'em all, no way. Unless of course I stalk you the moment you hit Post. And humor is definitely in the eye of the beholder. But it's true staying upbeat and friendly is key.

AND, it's so much easier to leave a coherent and pertinent comment when it's easier to read the blog--i.e, when the post is shorter. Not to mention concise and clear! Thanks to you for sticking to pretty much fairly short posts. Love it.

February Grace said...

Well I definitely missed the early comment window and if I read all the replies when there are as many as you get my eyeballs would fall out and roll across the floor (and my surgeons would be so annoyed with me for that after all their hard work) but come on, you can't tell me you don't love your 100th comment as much as your 10th.

Cause if you do people may stop commenting after 10 people beat them to it LOL.

Seriously, though- while it's true that people might click on your profile if they find you amusing and so commenting on blogs can be a good move in the networking jungle, the real reason people comment on this blog is cause we loves us some Luke Sky...I mean, Nathan Bransford :D

Okay, I know, I know. I'm sorry. I'll go back to my corner now. But if you want to swing by there later, I've got Twinkies!


Anonymous said...

Aha! Is this what it has come to? Learning the proper way to comment on a blog.
for God's sake, help us all.
but I do love your enthusiasm for life Nathan . . . .

MotherReader said...

Well, I've already blown it by being late to the commenting game, but I wanted to thank you for your timely post. Timely because Lee Wind and I are running a Comment Challenge to inspire book blogging folks to get over their hesitation and to comment more. It is a great way to connect in the community and keep up your own blogging energy as well.

MamaKath said...

Most of the commenters on one of my recent blogs needed a heavy dose of this post. I hope you don't mind but I'm including a link on my blog now. Thank you so much. I'll also add you to my blogroll.

Tammy said...

I've started my own blog and am trying to learn how to write a good blog post as well as write good comments on the blogs I follow.

I've always gotten good advice from you, so my question is...

How do I get a following?

bluerabbit said...

This strategy is very effective, yet I have seldom heard it voiced.

I have found some excellent blogs by clicking on the names of commenters. Sometimes, the comments are more relevant to my needs than the original post.

Nathan, congratulations on a very clever way to boost the response to this post. I have noted the technique.

Anonymous said...

Ce3, I have the same concerns. Conformity is not a great thing for writers to aspire to, but it is something that sales people, whether they're selling books or something else, profit from. And, when contributors to a discussion need to keep in mind that they should be funny, I wonder how many serious topics will ever be covered. Personally, I don't want to appear on blogs simply as a PR brand of myself selling books. I want to write books that matter, about topics that aren't always funny. And I want to be engaged in conversations that don't involve people manipulating each other with their PR images for other commenters to buy their products. Maybe there are different rules for different types of blogs, some blogs revolving more around the discussion itself and other blogs revolving more around the use of sales techniques. I've been involved in book discussion groups with readers, for example, in which no one was allowed to simply say, "I agree!" or, "I disagree!" about other commenters' statements. Each commenter was expected to add their own significant insights into the book being discussed.

Anonymous said...

I like the long posts. Like hearing what Nate's got to say.

The Desert Rocks said...

Your posts are way better than Lady Gaga!

abc said...

Well, very often I'm up near the top. But not today, because I lived in fear of not being witty. That is until I read this excellent Onion essay. The Onion can be witty for me!

For your pleasure (and please say that in your head just like Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting):

I'm Only Happy When I'm Writing, Or When I'm Having Lots of Fun With My Friends and Family

Procrastinators Unite!

robinC said...

Just for the record, I really do lol...a lot. Somtimes for no reason at all. But it would be really nice if I could literally lmao because it would save me a gym membership.

I love this blog, but often don't arrive here to comment until late, EST. So all the witty,funny, poignant, concise, relevant things have been said, and I'm usually bleary eyed and my brain is fried but if I don't comment, then I feel bad because then I'm a...dun, dun..dun...lurker.

What a quandary!

erica and christy said...

But I work.

And raise a family.

And know sentences shouldn't start with but or and. But can't help it when restrained by these bestial constraits.


Anonymous said...

I go right to the last post and read up. Maybe I'm weird.

Perry said...

Hi, great post - I hope my comment follows your tips.
I think the main lesson is not to jump on the opinions of others- not just the blogger but the other commenters. There is no way to look good if you get involved in an online fight over opinions.

Karen said...

Am I last?

Don't leave comments that are too long with no paragraph breaks either, I always skim over them.

Great post!

E.J. Wesley said...



Damn ...

Elizabeth O. Dulemba, a.k.a. "e" said...

Very helpful post Nathan - as usual. Thanks so much! I hope this one goes viral, it's sound advice. :) e

karrijustinashea said...

Informative, and yet intimidating. :)

Thanks as always for your clear and timely thoughts.

Bryan Thompson said...

Nathan, it's difficult to 'get there early' in your blog as I subscribe via email and by the time I've gotten your post the next morning, 596,345 other people have already gotten there. :)

Dude, you are a blog rock star! I think Jacob Wonderbar will be a space rock star, too.

Bryan Thompson said...

@EJ - Hilarious!

Anonymous said...

as poster number 57676869, I realise, thanks to you, Nathan, that my comment will not be of interest to others, but... shit. What an eye opener this post is, mate! Instead of what I see on blogs, i.e., semi-drunken procrastinators waffling and revelling in semi-importance, you're telling me that, actually, most of the ppl who have commented her are in fact, desperate social climbers, carefully positioning their commas so they may become "considered" by others to be worthy of kudos...hahaha...

such saddoes they are...

have they not heard of "sport"? Sport is cool. You even get a medal, if you're really good!

This page will keep me warm all winter! Cheers, pal!

Mary E. Ulrich said...

Good reminder Nathan. About the funniest thing so far is your use of "dillydally."

I like to think I've gotten better at writing comments over time. One strategy that helped me was practice on Twitter. It's a talent to say things in a few words.

MacDougal Street Baby said...

How about one-day-late commenting? Personally, I think there's something to it.

Courtney Cook Hopp said...

Great idea, Mary. Twitter is an excellent place to practice succinct, witty comments.

Laurie Boris said...

Excellent points, Nathan. I'd add a couple more: 1. Don't use the comment thread to promote your new project; 2. Don't use the space to add the link to your blog where you blogged about the same topic. Bugs the pants off me.

Leila said...

Everyone has raised such great points to think about. Great list Nathan.

Mira, I really love your comment about letting your personality come through in your comments and not trying to force the 'funny'. I understand Nathan isn't saying every comment has to be witty etc, but your point rings true for me. Thanks for that.

Flower Patch Farmgirl said...

First-timer here.

I recently posted about a situation in my life and said, very specifically, "The waiting is not the hardest part". One of my regular commenters wrote back, "I agree! Waiting is ALWAYS the hardest part!"


Great post. You know we all think about this very topic. At least us writer types do.

Mira said...

Absolutely, Leila. Glad it was helpful! :)

Lee Wind said...

Love the timing with our 3rd Annual Comment Challenge in the kidlitosphere! And as always, Nathan, great advice. (which of course, as commenter #102, I'm not strictly following...)


Stephanie@thecrackedslipper said...

I'm breaking multiple rules here. First, I'm late. Second, I'm not reading the 102 comments in front of me. Third, this post is not funny because I will make the assumption that said 102 comments have squeezed every last drop of humor from this topic.

Who cares because no one is reading this thread any more anyway, right? Will return soon with witty, early commentary!

Anonymous said...


I always thought that the blog comments were meant for the person who wrote the blog?

This particular blog says a lot about you - something so simple as a comments section... and you believe we should learn to manipulate it for... what?... social networking purposes?

Jesus, man, give it a rest. You're such a type-A personality.

And posting rapidly as to get your comment in first so that it will be high up on the page, and will therefore be seen by more people - man that's just shallow. That is just totally shallow.

I can only hope that one day you will learn wisdom, and see that a person's post should be measured, not by how high up on the page it rests, but rather by the content of the post itself.

Also, since we're being so shallow here, I should probably point out that you forgot to mention something vital. If you really want your comment to draw attention, and you happen to be a strikingly beautiful female, then you should make sure to post your picture. I guarantee that males will stop and read your comment.

Jesus... shallow.

Nathan Bransford said...

"I can only hope that one day you will learn wisdom, and see that a person's post should be measured, not by how high up on the page it rests, but rather by the content of the post itself."

Irony, thy name is anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but you know who I am anyhow.

Nevertheless, for the record, my name:

My first name is Anon. My middle initial is E. My last name is Moose.

Anon E. Moose.

Get it! Anon E. Moose - ha! I crack myself up.

tamarapaulin said...

The comments I HATE are on recipe blogs, where someone will post that the recipe is indeed terrific, and they just made it, but they substituted yams for potatoes, salmon for chicken, cut the dairy, added some curry powder, and changed it from a soup to a stirfry.

February Grace said...

OMG you guys- did you see that? Jedi Master Bransford replied to an Anon at like post 104! He read all the way to the end! Squeee!

Doing that you're going to give us hope that you actually get to read all the comments...'course remembering how fast you went through your inbox (query-processing Ninja that you were...) maybe you do!

Since you're here, can I offer you a Twinkie? Zinger? Cupcake? Or maybe you're more a Ding Dong kind of guy. I know I actually much prefer those myself.


February Grace said...

No,wait, how silly of me. I should have offered you a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster!


Laurel Ann (Austenprose) said...

Major FAIL on my part. 1. Too late to the fray. Comment 111. Ack already a looser. 2. After 110 brilliant responses the pressure is killing me to say something insightful or witty, so I can't. Not that talented. 3.Blog commenting is an art, but do we have to make it a science too? 4. Now to save myself I must suck up to the blogger. Nathan I admire you too much to criticize, so I will give you the benefit of the doubt and ask is everyone who visits your blog on the make? I am here to soak up your incredibly insightfulness and humor. Is it OK if I just learn something and not advertise myself shamelessly?

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Caspy Jack said...

I'm a new blogger and I found this article to be very helpful. I am concentrating on making a good blog but now realize the value of a concise comment.

Paradise Valley Homes said...

The goal is to hold the reader's attention. Remember that while you want to excite your readers' interest, you also want to sound as though you know the topic you are writing about. Some of the strategies in the bullet list above will help. Thanks for sharing.

Laurie Sanders said...

I enjoyed this post a lot. It's not a topic I've seen covered on many blogs.

One point I would add to the things you pointed out is that though the person leaving the comment might want to be noticed so that people will think them wonderful enough to warrant a visit to THEIR blog a truly great comment is one which the person would write even if they didn't have the ulterior motive of getting noticed or getting traffic for their own blog.

misty said...

oh i have another great idea learned from your post. that a great comment is not enough, i should consistently appear on the page in order for me to get noticed.

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Sara @ Wall Stickers said...

Very well said. You have provided the most simplest but informative and helpful ways about blog commenting. I really learned a lot. Thanks Nathan!

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Kristy K. James said...

Well, I kind of blew being one of the first 10...but 120th is better than being...oh #347.

Very good information though. I just bookmarked this and will try to do my blog-hopping a little earlier in the day from now on. Thanks! :)

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I never really thought about it before but you do make a point in that we need to know how to write a blog comment.

I think sometimes people just want their voice to be heard so they simply jump on and write a quick comment without really taking the time to read through the article and read some of the discussion as well.

I know I have commited this mistake in the past myself.

You gave me something to think about and work on so thanks a lot!

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