Comment Etiquette – Do You Reply to All or Just Some?

Google the topic of Comment Etiquette, and even if you spell etiquette wrong (which I did – it is a very tricky word to spell), there will be quite a few sites to check out. WordPress weighs in with ‘Are You Well-Versed in Comment Etiquette‘.

I’ve learned a few things about making comments by observation of results. One of them is ‘don’t ever leave a comment on a vegetarian blog if you are not one’. Carnivores are generally not well received, even very polite Canadian ones. Actually, a general rule of thumb is to be very cautious about leaving a  comment anywhere if you realize you are going to be the only one with a dissenting opinion. It is like responding ‘Yes’ when a friend asks you if she looks fat in her new tight jeans. Some things are best left unsaid.

I have a large pile of Blog Ideas that result from comments I refrained from making…

I read quite a few blogs, and often I would like to leave a comment. But if there are 30 or 100 comments there already, I realize I have absolutely nothing new to say. So I click the Like Button. To me, the Like Button is my way of saying ‘This is very good! You are a very talented blogger, and I thoroughly enjoyed this post!” Only it is a lot briefer, and the blogger doesn’t have to say anything back.

I know there are two schools of thought on how bloggers reply to comments:
– Some bloggers think each and every comment should receive a reply, even if all they say is ‘Thanks”.
– Some bloggers think that some comments clearly lead to replies, while other comments are more like someone pushed the Like Button, and no reply is necessary.

Which brings me to the meat of this post which is, how do you reply to comments on your blog? Are you an ALL person, or are you a SOME person? I would really like to know what my readers think, because it will help me to decide whether I am going to continue being an ALL person, or whether I will become a SOME person.

43 thoughts on “Comment Etiquette – Do You Reply to All or Just Some?

  1. I’m somewhat new to this, so I didn’t answer a few, but now try to reply to all…not that there are that many. So I’m in the same dilemma as you. As a reader, I like to know that my comment was read, but I realize that it’s not always possible for the writer to acknowledge every comment. So I sometimes resort to the Like button.
    I’ll be following your responses to see which way the wind blows. Thanks for bringing this up. And, no, you don’t have to respond to this, okay?
    🙂

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    • Hi JSD – I can relate to the feeling that it is nice to know that the author read my comment and responded. But I can also relate to being the author and understanding that some comments don’t really need replies. Unfortunately the reader can’t see me nodding my head in thanks!

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  2. I do actually try to reply to all of the comments left on my posts. Once a post is a few days old, sometimes I start to lose steam keeping up, so I do miss some occasionally. I do use the like button in a similar fashion to you, it says I was here, I read a great post, but I don’t have much to add to the conversation.

    This got me thinking the other direction. Sometimes I wonder about all the replies to comments that we leave. Are readers clicking back to see read those replies or do you leave a comment and be done with it, regardless if there is a reply or not? I’ve stopped “subscribing to comments” on people’s blogs because the number of emails you get can be disconcerting! So I use the “Comments I’ve Left” function to go back and see what the replies to my comments are. I’m curious how others handle that part of blogging.

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    • Hi BRC – I don’t subscribe to comments for the same reason you don’t – too much email about things that don’t require my follow up. Sometimes I will go back to the blog to see if the author responded to a comment I left, but that would be because that post was generating a discussion I was interested in following. But most of the blog posts I leave comments on are one shot deals that I read and then move on. Which is what most of my blog posts are like!

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  3. I try to respond to each comment, if only to thank the commenter for stopping by to read. Usually my posts aren’t terribly controversial, and I write them for me, not anyone else. But I do usually welcome dissenting opinions. I have only ever “gone off” on someone (on my menopause post in September), but I attribute that to 15 of the 17 symptoms of menopause I was suffering that week.

    I use the “like button” much as you do. My “theme” also allows me to use images in my comments, so I have been working on some “buttons” that I can use in replying to commenters. I don’t have a huge following, so comments are manageable at this point.

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    • Hi k8edid – I don’t have a huge following either, so comments are manageable. But I know all of us will be incredibly famous bloggers some day, so we need think about this in advance!

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  4. Hi there! At this point in time my blog is so very new that I am estatic when someone leaves me an email. I leave a message back. Usually my comments include a thank you and a comment on the message leaver’s post. I only follow 4 blogs and yours is one of them. If I really like a topic and am curious about others comments on the topic I will ask to have comments sent to my email site. I have an email site just for WordPress thigns so my email is not overwhelming.
    Ta Ta till Later, Cathy the bagg lady

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  5. Great Question!

    I’m very chatty! So I’m an all kinda gal! I feel like I am more part of a community when I am engaging with other fellow bloggers. As well, if someone took the time to respond to my post I think it is only courteous to respond to their thoughts and opinions. It’s the connection created through blogging with others that I immensely enjoy!

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    • Hi Belle – While I enjoy all comments, I’m not a real chatty type, so it is harder for me to respond to some comments than others! Sometimes I just don’t know quite what to say!

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  6. Hi,
    Personally I like to respond to all comments on my blog.
    When I comment on other blogs, I go into “comments that I left” (in the dashboard), to see what the reply is, as I comment on a few blogs I find this is the easiest way, I don’t subscribe to comments. Like you, I also like to use the “like” button, especially if there are a lot of comments.

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  7. I am a “rarely” commenter, which I realize is not always the most encouraging thing to the blogger, but I don’t like leaving a comment unless I *really* want to add my voice to the mix. I read far more than I comment on.

    Seeing as my blog is sorely neglected due to having too much snark and not nearly enough cookies to balance it out lately (not to mention the absolute shock to the system of a “20-more-like-40-hours-a-week” job after years of working part-time), I probably shouldn’t comment on my comments to my commenters.

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  8. What an interesting topic – commenting etiquette…but I’m guessing that there really is such a thing. I guess I’m a SOME person. I can’t reply to all of my comments..but I do try – at least – to return a ‘like’ comment on their blog!

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  9. Maybe wordpress and the other blog services should have a ‘Thanks’ or ‘Like’ button on the comments like they do for the main post.
    I try to reply to each comment, sometimes I get behind and then just make one comment to respond to all my commenters.
    You are much like me on visiting a blog with dozens of comments and hitting the ‘Like’ button. I think alot of bloggers are like us on that.
    I visit and comment on blogs where the blogger rarely responds to my comments unless I say something that needs further discussion, but they visit my blog and respond with likes and comments to my blog posts. I think that’s as friendly and appreciative as responding to everyone of my comments.
    🙂

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    • Hi EC – Thanks for your comments! I guess this is where a Thanks button would be used!

      I read some blogs where the blogger never responds to any comments. Even if I enjoy their blog, I eventually only hit the Like button. The two way communication is missing.

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  10. Hi Margie. Thanks for bringing this issue up. I’ve been wondering the same thing. Since you asked, when I read blogs I like, I always click the “Like” button and I leave a comment. I hope it’s either witty or empathetic and not witless and pathetic.

    As for bloggers reading my posts, I wish they would all leave a comment rather than just hitting the “Like” button. I’m trying to gauge whether the voice in my memoir stories is consistent and if readers have questions (thus I know I left something important out that will need to be added for the book). Also, I am energized by comments that suggest the reader identifies with things I’ve been through (my whole point for writing my life story in the first place).

    I respond to every comment I get because I appreciate the time each person took to make their opinion known. My Momma done raised me up right! 😉

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    • Hi Lorna – Thanks for your input. I use the Like Button a lot, without leaving a comment. I do it whenever someone else has already said what I was going to say – better than I could have said it!

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  11. To continue, this is why I don;t have much of a life beyond writing, reading and responding on my blog. I’ve gotten more than my fair share of flak about this. Scrappy can be quite snarky… 😉

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  12. I didn’t realize there was a comment after my comment. Is there someplace I should be going to see your response?
    Because, if you have been responding then I have a lot of reading to do.
    Joy

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    • Hi Joy – At the bottom of the comments is a box that you can tick. Notification of follow up comments will be sent to you by email… I’ll send you an email to tell you this…

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  13. I am pushing the like button and posting a comment here, for good measure. I push the “like” button when there are loads of comments and/or I can think of nothing remarkable, eloquent or cute to add to the conversation. Other times I go ahead and add my unremarkable comment that is neither eloquent or cute. It is pretty random for me, I’m afraid. I hope my poor comment etiquette hasn’t been offensive 🙂 Good questions.

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    • Hi winsomebella – I don’t think you are unremarkable and I am sure you practice good etiquette!
      As for unremarkable commenting, that is me – I often have nothing to say that is all that wonderful compared to what everyone else is saying!

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  14. I usually reply individually. And I get most of my comments on my blog on FB so I get to go there too and reply.

    How to comment. Not each and every blog, like you if there already a lot of comments I don’t know what I could add. I do comment on the ones that move me to do so.

    I try to comment as much as I write my own blog. I think it sharpens me. Every blog has a personality all to its own.

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  15. In the very, very beginning of my blogging adventure, I didn’t respond to comments all the time, and then realized it wasn’t quite polite to leave those comments out there just hanging. I then made it a point to respond to almost all the comments made. When I didn’t have all that many followers, or all that many comments, it wasn’t all that time consuming. I still don’t have all that many followers now, but my numbers have increased rather quickly in the comments section, and I’m finding it to be like a child that has grown and much more difficult to hold in my arms. It is a time consuming task, yet I do find it enjoyable for the most part. So for now, I still remain an ALL person.

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    • Hi Phil – Excellent summary! I don’t have all that many comments, but I can certainly understand why some very popular bloggers don’t respond to each and every comment they get. There just isn’t enough time!

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      • Margie, for me it is difficult not to respond. I feel as though my blog is a cocktail / dinner party of sorts, and when someone comments, even if small talk, some kind of acknowledgement is deserved in return. Yet I struggle with the same notion, that I do not wish to spend so much time doing that. A real conundrum, especially as the number of posts grow.

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        • Hi Phil – I understand how you feel, and I love your analogy of a cocktail/dinner party. I have no problem responding to comments with some meat in them, but struggle with the one word tidbits. I guess it is quite appropriate to respond with the single word ‘Thanks’, but it seems unnecessary (I’m not big on small talk.)

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  16. I am pretty much an “all” comment responder, for 2 reasons.
    1) I appreciate someone taking the time to write something.
    2) It’s fun. Sometimes the comment strings are better than the original post, at least on my blog (thanks, y’all).

    But I can see what other commenters mean about using “like” when they don’t have anything to add. I guess that whole “like” thing is something I’m not that used to yet, not being a huge Facebook participant.

    Someone from WordPress dropped by my blog when they were on a “working vaca” last week, and said they are working on a “like” button for comments.

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  17. I’m an ALL person. It takes some initiative for a person to leave a comment. It’s clear to me that most people are trying to be supportive, and I try to respond in kind.

    And yes, the Like button’s great when you’re in a hurry or can’t think of anything to say. Funny– the idea of “Likes” seemed a bit silly to me at first. Ah, but then I received one of those WP emails: So-and-so thought enough of your post to actually click the Like button– imagine them taking the time to do that!!

    And I began to appreciate Likes… : )

    Now if I don’t get a response to this thoughtful and insightful comment, I shall go in the closet and simply sulk for weeks!!! : )

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    • Hi Mark – Oh, all right – I’ll reply to your comment. I don’t want to be the one who sends you sulking!

      WP certainly does send a very enthusiastic e-mail out to tell you someone Likes what you said (of course, you can tell WP you don’t want to receive those emails.) But I enjoy getting them because they encourage me to pay attention to who my readers are, particularly if a new reader arrives.

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  18. Usually 99% of time, it’s great when people leave comments on my blogs. I nurture and feed 3 blogs that I started from ground up with writing for a 4th blog as part of a large team.

    I only wish that some folks reciprocated to comment on my blog or at least “liked” a blog post or 2, when I’ve commented on their blogs….several times. I just then don’t both visiting them if their content is not critical to my knowledge, but more recreational.

    Life is short and so I have to channel my time in the way that there is a healthy exchange of info. with another person.

    2 of my blogs are aimed at professional/technical folks and so I don’t expect a huge amount of comment feedback. My 3rd blog is a personal blog (linked to my name here).

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    • Hi Jean – I’m sure you are kept busy with that many blogs! I agree it is nice when the communication goes back and forth between blogs. But I have found a number of blogs that I read and comment at, though they never comment on my blog (and perhaps never read it.) That is just the way things are!

      There are several blogs that I rarely read, even though those bloggers comment at my blog. Time is short, and like you I haven’t got time to read it all, even though I would like to!

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  19. I just bumped into this post of yours and so glad I did. I’m an ALL person. I agree with Amanda E. I think responding to each and every comment sharpens me and engages me more. Very good post. Although you wrote this around Halloween, I must wish you a Happy New Year.

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  20. I’m generally an “all” gal, unless it’s a short “Good Post” sort of comment. I’m surprised at the number of people who do respond to a reply, so the bantering threads sometimes get long when it’s a fun or hot topic. I’m also surprised how often is see comments rising above 50 on some blogs. I believe it’s because posters aren’t reading through all the comments, but rather just want to leave a note or join the fun, and that’s great. Who cares if it’s a repeat?

    As for etiquette, I try to visit subscribers once a week and leave a comment. I also try to get to all commenters’ blogs and leave a comment.
    But…after reading your post…it makes me realize I skip over the “Likes”. I only hit the like button on a blog to help the blog owner increase their ranking in Google. Which explains why I may not have left a comment on someone’s blog lately if they’ve only hit the like button on mine.

    It’s a real tug of time between the virtual world and the real world. Thanks for bringing up such an interesting topic.

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    • Hi Barb – I’m continuing on as an “All” gal, but it isn’t really all that hard because I am never inundated with comments.
      Clearly there are at least two reasons why people use the ‘Like’ button. I, too, visit the blogs of everyone who leaves a comment, but I don’t necessarily visit the blogs of everyone who uses the ‘Like’ button. But I do look at the ‘Likes’ and mentally note that I should stop by their blog for a visit.
      You do make a good point about the time it takes to follow the blogs of commenters and subscribers. At some point a line has to be drawn between time in the virtual world and time in the real world.

      Like

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