Do You Have to Respond to Every Blog Comment?

As a blogger, I love getting comments. This is one major way in which blogging is different from all other forms of writing. You get near-instant feedback. This is tremendously gratifying, but it can also be a challenge to keep up with them.

A Dinner Party - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/jentakespictures, Image #14874643

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/jentakespictures

Over the last six months, I have seen my average number of comments per post double. This has been due, I think, to four reasons:

  1. Making the comment counts more visible. You’ll notice next to my post title three “talk bubbles”: one for Facebook shares, one for Twitter posts, and one for blog comments. (Note: this is not a WordPress plugin. It is custom code I had written.) This lets people know that a conversation is happening and subtly invites then to join in.
  2. Providing an incentive to comment. Each month, I post my top blog posts and commenters for the previous month. I also give my top 10 commenters a free book. This has its downside in that some commenters are just motivated by volume. But, on average, I think it is been helpful in “jump-starting” the conversation. I plan to continue.
  3. Installing the Disqus commenting system. Not only can my readers login using just about any method they chose, they can even post anonymously. I also don’t require authentication or approval before the comments are posted. (In my opinion, this just penalizes 99% of my commenters who play by the rules.) Most importantly, I can respond to comments via email, which makes it very easy to keep the conversation going.
  4. Engaging in the conversation myself. I think this is huge. The comments provide a forum for people to ask follow-up questions, provide additional links, or even disagree with me. But for this to work like it should, I have to engage with my readers. I have also styled (via CSS) my own comments, so they stand out from the rest.

The problem is that this system doesn’t scale if I think I need to respond to every comment. If your blog audience grows, it won’t scale for you either. Think about it: if you get fifty-plus comments per post, can you really reply to all of them. I doubt it—at least not consistently.

The good news is that you don’t have to. I don’t, and I don’t feel the least bit guilty about it. Here’s why:

  • A blog conversation is like a dinner party. You have invited everyone to your home for some food and conversation. Your content is like the appetizers. You offer it up to get things rolling.
  • The main course is the conversation itself. Sure, the food is important, but the difference between a good dinner party and a great one is not the food. It’s the interactions with the other people at the table.
  • As the host, you don’t have to respond to every comment. In fact, at a real dinner party, it would seem downright weird. It would draw too much attention to you. Instead, the party has to be about them—your guests.
  • You should be present and add value as appropriate. I comment occasionally just to let know people I haven’t invited them over and then disappeared. I also comment when I think I can add value by answering a question, clarifying something I said, or pointing my guests to additional resources.

The bottom line is that you don’t need to respond to every comment. Though this isn’t scientific, I tend to respond to about 20 percent of them. You may want to do more or less. For me—for right now—this seems about right.

Question: What is your practice in responding to comments? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • odesker life

    Hi, I have been reading this blog since many days and it is an interesting an useful blog really. Our of many blogs , any one had the time to study and
    reply to something they wrote. I am thinking of adding a disqus comment system to my upcoming blog to filmbelichtung as I’ve heard too much about it and now I want to verify it by myself.
    Thanks!

  • odesker life

    Hi,
    Disqus provides too much advantages over all other comment providing services. Such as Email notifications provided by Disqus are very much easy to use…! But using plastische chirurgie as our first service can make our time comfortable.
    Thanks!

  • http://www.bostonparkplaza.com/ Boston Park Plaza Hotel

    How real is this, I experience that’s appropriate manners to reply at least to a few people should display a small evaluate of publish existence to their site.

  • inspirational_books89

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    this information to my friends.really your tips are amazing, i have read every one

  • Rmembrme

    Thank you–I am new to blogging and was feeling overwhelmed with comments.  I blog on a quilting website and sometimes the comment is just to say my current project is neat.  If someone asks for more info or details, I respond via their email, or if they help me with a specific problem, I also respond personally.  If five people give me the same info, I respond in the blog.  I hope this is okay.  Thank you for the tips.

  • Jon Wade

    Group replies make sense. Sometimes several comments on one topic lead me to write a new blog post to address those questions.

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  • http://www.crystal-jade.net/ Shane Knight

    some time its not to easy to respond to every comment…the only which seems to be relative or asked for any query or suggestion are responded

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