What Is a Blogger’s Role in Responding to Comments?

In the blogging world there are plenty of opinions and expectations about what equates appropriate and effective blogging. Even among blogging experts, the advice varies, the rules change, and the lines get blurry.

If you’re like me, you read contrasting posts, throw up your hands, and wonder what you really should be doing. You begin to doubt that all the time and effort you’re putting into blogging will pay off.

On the one hand, not having clear and concise parameters for blogging is a good thing. The lack of set “rules” allows each of us to shape our blogs into a unique reflection of who we are. The blogosphere would be downright boring if each of us were doing the same things.

But on the other hand, sometimes, we do need the voice of reason amidst the clamoring of opinions. We need reminders about what comprises good blogging etiquette, how to make our blogs more professional in appearance, and what we can do to meet reader needs.

I don’t claim to be a social media expert. I defer to others for that. But because I’ve been blogging for a while, I can share what’s worked for me and what hasn’t. So, today I’m going to attempt to answer Nina B’s questions about blogging comments. She asked: “What do you feel is the blogger's role in responding to comments? Do you think if a blogger rarely responds that people stop commenting?”

I’m sure we all have various opinions (or have heard experts give their opinions) about interacting within the comments of our blog posts. And as I said, the varied approaches is beneficial. The differences keep our blogs from being robotic copy-cats.

However, in thinking about a blogger’s responsibilities with responding to blog comments, I would offer these three gentle pieces of advice:

1. Let go of the pressure to have to respond to each comment.

Let’s face it, most of us don’t have the time to respond back to each comment. Even if we do have the time, how do we find interesting things to say to each comment? How do we prevent our responses to everyone from looking like a checklist, like something we had to do instead of something we wanted to do?

Some comments have a “reply” function. The positive aspect is that a blogger can directly chat with specific people. The negative aspect is choosing whom to “talk” to without looking like you’re playing favorites.

My solution is to let go of the expectation of having to reply to every person. Most people don’t have the time to come back and read a response anyway. I never do when I leave a comment unless I ask a question.

2. Maintain visibility in one form or another.

So maybe we won’t write a personal comment to each person who stops by. But that doesn’t mean we should throw our post out there and disappear. If we never make an effort to interact or rarely respond, then yes, I do believe comments will decline. When we don’t show our visitors that we’re listening, they’ll stop talking and perhaps even cease coming.

I jump into the discussion when a comment strikes me with an additional thought. Even if I don’t have anything to add, I still try to make a comment once or twice throughout the day. This lets anyone who comes back know that I appreciate the input. And it lets future commentors know that I’m reading and available.

Also, I always make a point of answering questions. Even if I don’t have the answer or if I decide to use the question for a future blog post, I leave a responding comment to that effect.

Sometimes, if the person has an email address in their blog link (which everyone SHOULD have!), I’ll shoot them a quick note. Other times, I’ll check in with them on twitter and let them know my thoughts on their comment.

3. Be thoughtful and genuine in our interactions.

In a perfect blogging world, we’d all have the time to chat back and forth with each other in the comments. But since our time is limited and we want to be good stewards of the actual writing time we have, we can’t expect to keep up with leaving comments for everyone.

However, we can always attempt maintain a genuinely friendly, kind, and thoughtful attitude among the interactions we do have. The inviting atmosphere of our blogs will make them attractive and keep people coming back.

It boils down to remembering that each person who comments is a real person, with real dreams and aspirations just like me. No one is better than anyone else. We’re all in this together. I want to treat others the way I like being treated--with respect and kindness.

What’s your opinion? Is there a right or wrong way interact within blog comments? How do you handle responding to comments on your blog?


  1. I think you're right on. At the beginning with only a few omments it's easy to repy to every person. I do try my hardest to visit the blogs of people who comment on mine but sometimes I can't. It's more about establishing connections than following a set of rules.

  2. I believe blogging is a way to have conversations with people about the subjects we've written about, about the questions we have about that subject, and a way to get others' opinions on those subjects. My favorite days on my own blog is when a conversation starts up in the comments section, sometimes even taking on a whole new life than what the post provided. That's what happened Monday. And because of that conversation, I'm planning a whole blog series on an important subject. It's a win-win for me. It was fun and interesting, AND I'm inspired by the readers of my blog to write something new.

    I will second your statement about wishing all bloggers would have their email addresses linked to their profile/commenting. It's so nice when you can shoot someone an email when they've added to the conversation on your blog.

    Happy Friday, Jody!

  3. When I can, I like to respond to each one, but that isn't always an option. I do like to jump in and say something! :)

    I've had several bloggers send me a personal email to connect and I'm always impressed by that. I know not everyone has that kind of time. I don't always have that kind of time, but I can say I'm loyal to those blogs! :)

  4. I try to respond to each one, but I've found the best way to respond is through e-mail, facebook etc. Then the person you are talking to is sure to see it. It's fairly easy for me because I don't get tons of comments on my blog, but for those who get many I don't expect that blogger to respond to every single one.
    And I will say that I do appreciate a shout out every now and then from the people whose blog I comment on. Keeps it from feeling like a one-side relationship:)

  5. Lately I've been sticking to the 'I do what I can' method. I love commenting on every single comment, but with twenty+ per post, it's just not happenin'. So, I comment when and where I can and I love your suggestion to follow up with questions.

    I'm thinking I'm going to ask you a question every post from here on out. :D :D :D (kidding, I would not do that to you.)

    So Jody, what makes you smile? :D (It's Friday...can you tell?)
    ~ Wendy

  6. I probably should let go of the idea that I need to reply to every comment. Sometimes, I just don't have anything to add and simply write something empty.

  7. The reason I don't respond to every individual comment is because like you, I don't go back to blogs I've already read. UNLESS, I've asked a question. Or the comments are something I'm interested in reading (aka - the author has asked an enticing question and I want to see how other people respond to it).

    Like you, I respond to questions. And I try to pop in and add to the conversation as necessary. I can say, though, that even if I don't respond, I read and covet every single comment from my readers. :)

  8. We respond to every comment we receive on our blog. We look upon it as a common courtesy--much as we wouldn't ignore a comment made in person. I usually try to visit the commenter's blog, if they have one, but I may or may not comment, or return for a visit. It depends on the blog's content, and my availability.

    We are especially diligent about responding to questions. Again--common courtesy. I have left questions on other blogs, and I do return to see if there is an answer. It is disappointing when those questions go unanswered.

    That said, we don't get many comments, so it's easy to keep up. And I always appreciate when a blogger states up front that they may not always be able to respond to comments. That way, I know not to necessarily expect a reply, and I'm not disappointed if I don't get one.

    ~ Betsy

  9. Good questions and good advice as always. Even as a commenter I find myself asking what the etiquette is. Do I just comment and that's the end of it, or am I supposed to check back later and see if there's new conversation. Theoretically, I'm interested. Practically speaking it can be a lot to keep track of. It's the perpetual challenge of finding how much time to spend on social media and when is the time to get some work done!

  10. I'm still learning so much about blogging that I don't really have too much of an opinion. I think responding to every comment would be really tiring, but would provide a good chance to know your readers at the same time. Thanks for the advice!

  11. Hi Jody! This has been something that I've been thinking about lately. Since I never have time to revisit sites that I've commented on, I assume the same from the people that visit my blog. But I never want to give the impression that I don't appreciate the few comments I do get, because I do. I love them! ;) Anyway, thanks for posting this today!

  12. Good morning, everyone!! Appreciating the diversity of thoughts this morning. As I said in my post, our differences are a good thing. So I don't think we should presume that there's a right or wrong way to go about responding to comments. Ultimately, each of us needs to do what works for our schedules. Some of us may have a little more time to respond to comments, and others may really struggle to keep up!

    And Wendy, you're too cute! :-) What makes me smile? I'm smiling right now at your comment!

  13. Jody, this is a great subject, and one on which I've swung from pole to pole. At first I didn't respond to comments unless they asked a question. Later my conscience began nagging me, and I tried to respond to every comment. As is often the case, the best course lies somewhere in between. I respond when I can, send emails or FB messages when they seem called for, and try to ignore that little voice that says, "You should do more, more, more."
    Social media and blogs are great, but, like children, they can expand to fill all available time.
    Thanks for sharing.

  14. Great discussion here! I agree with having some "visibility" and not just disappearing. I decided that I would spend my time visiting my commenter's blogs. If they have no new post, I try to email a response. And if there is an obvious direct question, I answer it on the comment thread. Great post!

  15. Thanks for this balanced post. One of the things that bothers me about Blogger is that I can't reply to individual comments. And I wonder if people will ever see the comments I leave for them (the email follow-up comments option can flood an inbox).

    When I have time, I like to click through to a commenter's blog and leave a comment there.

  16. Three good rules, I'd say. (If we were all alike, a lot of us would be redundant!)

    I like your idea of balance -- letting readers know you're here once in a awhile. I usually handle comments as you do, by emailing. And it's so nice to get one of those emails!

  17. Jody! I love that you used my question. I approach the comment thing in EXACTLY the way you describe.

    Since asking that question some time ago, I no longer respond to every one especially because of one of the issues you mentioned: when I leave comments on other blogs I NEVER go back to check.

    One thing I do that I think helps keep communication going with my blog readers is respond via email to the address of the commenter as well as the blog address. Then the response shows up on the blog and in their inbox. (I'm on Wordpress. Not sure that works on Blogger.) I only do this if I have something worthwhile to say or answer. I'm not going to clog up people's inboxes or my own blog comment section with me saying "I agree" or something like that over and over.

    I think you do a great job of making it clear you're part of the conversation. A blogger doesn't need to respond to each and every comment to make her presence known.

    Great post! "Nina B" Nina Badzin

  18. This is one of the reasons I chose to install Intense Debate, despite some of the bobbles I had with it in the beginning. I *try* to respond to comments, but have lately adopted @Wendy Paine Miller's "I do what I can" attitude. Like many here, I rarely go back to a blog on which I've commented to look for follow-up comments, so killing myself to respond to each and every one - just didn't make sense. And I don't see the point, frankly, in making a formal response when the comment was "nice job, I like this post."

    The ID has its drawbacks, but it does let me respond directly to anyone who comments, AND to give a thumbs up to it, which I always do. And with the CommentLuv feature on it, I can more easily bop over to the author's blog and leave her/him a comment, which IMO is the best thank you.

    It does have the drawback that some people won't comment at all, because even though you can log in different ways (WordPress, FaceBook, Twitter, etc.) taking the time to do so may discourage some posters. Then again, some readers won't comment even if you bribed 'em with chocolate. Writing in Flow

  19. Your tips are refreshing to hear. I've listened to other advice that basically said to treat blogging like a second job, responding to every comment, checking old posts to see if someone said anything, etc. When do I have time for my "other" writing, lol?

    I leave comments on blogs, but I don't have the expectation that the blogger reply to me every single time. They're in the same boat.

  20. When I leave a comment on a blog, I never go back and look for a response. Because of this, when people leave a comment on my blog, I reply to their email with a quick comment. I hope this lets them know that I read their comment, and I appreciate their visit. Because I really do appreciate each visit!

  21. This made sense to me! Thank you ;) I'm one of those who threw up my hands a long time ago. I respond when I can and if I have something to say. Sometimes on blogger I would group replies together. Now that I'm on wordpress, I can't do that.

  22. I do the same. I don't respond to each comment, and to honest it kind of bugs me to see bloggers who do. It looks forced or OCD or don't know, just doesn't flow natural.

    I will go back in and comment once or twice just to show I'm there, and most definitely will answer questions. If it's a new visitor, I'll make a point to acknowledge, and usually go to their blog and return the favor.

    I usually don't go back into other blogs after I comment, unless the topic draws me to, but I never know if other people will.

  23. Good post, Jody!
    I privately respond to every comment that comes with an email address, because it comes straight to my inbox. I RARELY (almost never) respond to comments ON the blog.

  24. Great ideas. I finally settled on what works for me. I reply in comments to visitors, email if they've asked a question and return the visit. When I leave comments, if I'm interested in a reply will check back. After a while you get to know people and how they respond in kind.

    I'm one of those who checks stats and always wonders why people drop by and don't say anything. Because of that, when I actually drop by a blog rather than view it in a reader, will leave a comment. I vowed not to be a shadow or rather a lurker. It has helped me to slow down, really read the posts, absorb what they said and respond in kind. I know the time and effort it takes to write posts so want to make sure to give back some bloggy love.

  25. Jody, a nice make-sense list to follow when blogging. Another question: is it OK to comment on a blog post on a FB link about it? I often read the blog post then find myself back on FB and post a 'like' and comment there. Not sure if others do so!

    It is hard to comment on all posts we read. At times I just re-tweet if a good one (Like I did here!)

  26. Ah, thank you for restoring some sanity to the "to comment or not to comment" quandary!
    As one who hates to feel obliged to comment to "make nice" I cringe at the thought someone else would feel that way about my own blog posts! Add to that the obligation to respond to those who DO comment, especially if they did so because THEY felt obligated? Eep.
    My most recent solution? I switched my comments to Disqus, because it gives me the option to simply "like" a comment the way we do on Facebook!

  27. Excellent point Jody. I might change the way I respond after my blogging break. I used to respond to every one, but the last few I've missed a few out and wonder what they think. But that is so silly since I never bother about the comments I put out there being replied to. Blogging on the whole is changing in usefulness and meaning and I think everyone will respond to that in their own way. I'm starting to see blogging as visiting someone's home for a cuppa and Twitter like hanging out at the corner shop or bar. You wouldn't have someone round for coffee and then meet them at the bar later would you? I think we should all take the pressure off of having to blog so religiously. Oops going off tangent :)

  28. Donna Galanti asked: Is it OK to comment on a blog post on a FB link about it? I often read the blog post then find myself back on FB and post a 'like' and comment there. Not sure if others do so!

    My thoughts: Hi Donna! I personally think that's okay too. Although commenting within the blogging section is another way to help us stay more visible. Our comments stay with the post and are visible to anyone who reads that post in the future. Whereas facebook comments come and go. But again, I really do think we should do whatever works best for us. :-)

  29. I do respond to every comment, but it's crazy time consuming because I also visit every blog of every commenter. At one time I suggested I might back off a little on the responses (not the visits) and I got a very definite response back from my readers saying don't.

  30. I don't see how some people do it. I've seen individuals out there with six, seven, or eight hundred followers responding to every comment. I commend them, and would like to know where they found those time trees.

    What I would like to see is a "box" that a commenter can check if they WANT a response. I don't have the time to go back unless, as you mentioned, I've asked a question. So I have no problem with NOT getting a response if I don't check said "box."

    *looks around for box to check*
    Darn. :)

  31. Thanks, Jody. This really helps assuage my big-time guilt about not responding to every comment. I used to do that, back when I didn't have any. Now I get more comments (not a bad thing...I'm not complaining, really!), I can't possibly keep. And I feel bad about that. It makes me feel better knowing we are all in the same boat.

  32. As my blog is still small and new, my comments per post only between 3-20 ish most often around 5-7, I normally try and respond to each of them.

    I don't if I don't have time. Sometimes i do a group, 'thank you post' to make myself feel a bit better, just in case one comes back and is upset that i havn't replied.

    Sometimes i come back and have a look at blog posts that i have commented on. This is normally if the post is super interesting and the comments more than 'oh wow you are awesome' comments.

    I don't however like it when i see lots of comments on a blog post and NOTHING from the original author. I think that is a little rude.

    Don't worry Jody, you are excellent at replying to your posts.


  33. Hey everybody! :-)

    Thanks for the words of encouragement, Sarah! I wish I could jump into the conversation more often than I do, but at this stage in my life, I can only do so much!

    And Bryce, I'd really love it if Blogger could put a "like" button on the blog comments (similar to what Facebook has)! It would be a great way to let people know we've read and appreciate their thoughts. But your idea of having a "I want a response" button is great too! :-)

  34. No worries Jody,

    i REALLY like that idea of putting a "Like" button on the bottom of the posts. that would be great i think.


  35. For me the main benefit in blogging is the relationships that develop. If there is never any feedback from comments I'm sure people wonder if anyone cares what they've said, and that would affect the relationship. I've just recently adopted your idea of stating on the blog that I read and appreciate all comments, and I hope that helps people understand and accept it when I don't always make individual replies. I try to leave a thoughtful comment as often as possible on others' blogs, FB or Twitter accounts to keep in touch. Most of my cyber connections are with other writers and I'm pretty sure they understand that we all need to protect our serious writing time and balance it with whatever other responsibilities our days hold.

  36. I love the blogging grand conversation that exists. I do try to visit the blogs of those who comment. If we went to a 26 hour day I could keep up better.

  37. If you have a lot of followers, it's impossible to visit everyone's blog--unless doing this is all you want to do!

    I recently set up a WordPress blog (though I still use my Blogger one so I won't lose my followers), and I like the possibility to reply below each comment. But your thoughts here point out something I'm discovering: reply if there's a comment that's a question, or you want to add something to the comment. But I've always wondered how many come back to read the comment. I don't unless I discover that the blogger responds this way. Very few, in my blogging experience, do this.

    Your thoughtful post has got me thinking--that we need to determine exactly what it is we want to achieve through comments, i.e. what kind of comments we'd like on our posts and what kind of comments we want to leave. I prefer quality in both instances.

    Congratulations on the pre-order status of your second novel. I'm anticipating that I'll like it as much as I did The Preacher's Bride.
    Ann Best, Author of In the Memoir, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

  38. Excellent post and very timely! I've been struggling with this issue. I try to respond to each comment because I enjoy the interaction but it's tough to get everything else done, especially on a busy day. I've been thinking about cutting back on replies but have been torn. I didn't want folks to feel like I was ignoring them, but I was stressed about how much time I spent replying. This gives me a better sense of balance. Thank you!

  39. Sonia,
    I understand the struggle! Social media is about relationships and how can we have relationships if we don't interact, right? But it's just not possible to keep up with all of the interacting, especially as our web presence grows. I think staying visible and available are key in maintaining balance!

  40. Cynthia RobertsonJuly 26, 2011 5:42 PM

    I believe in treating commenters like guests in my home. I think we should always be polite. We can't respond to every one, but I do try to.
    Nice topic, Jody.

  41. Hi Cynthia,
    I agree. We should always do the best we can to be polite! I'm not sure that everyone would agree on what the definition of "polite" is as far as responding to commments (as you can tell from the diversity of comments on this post!). But kindness should be our foundation and hopefully will cover over any "mistakes" we make!

  42. Hi Jody,
    I guess I'm in the minority here b/c I do re-visit blog conversations/comments if the blog has one of those handy "click here to receive follow-up comments" buttons. (I know it's on WordPress.) Speaking as a blog reader, not blogger, I like watching a conversation develop.

    Many times I learn as much in the comments as I could from the original post.

    I don't think about whether or not the blog author is popping in and out of the conversation too much or playing favorites, but I do like a skillful facilitator. :)

  43. Hi Bridgette,

    I really appreciate the discussion too, particularly on a post that seems to resonate with readers. I like the idea of "facilitator." That's a great word to describe the blog host!

  44. I've been thinking about this a lot recently. I get an email whenever someone leaves a comment and if they have an email listed, I almost always reply back.

    The issue is how to respond to commentors who don't have an email address listed. I know that unless I ask a question or I want to see continued debate on a subject, I don't come back to a post after I comment on it. I don't really have the time.

    So I wonder when commenting back to someone whether it's worth taking the time to do so if the commentor isn't going to come back and read it.

  45. Coming in late, as usual. I agree with all you say, Jody. I had a blog from 2005-2007. The fact is, if I wanted people to read and comment on my blog, I needed to do the same for them. I really enjoyed it and loved the community that developed but ran out of time (due to changing day job issues) and didn't even have time to work on my novel, so there wasn't much point in blogging about writing.

    Like Bridgette Booth, I go back and check comments and I enjoy conversations and a good "facilitator." I do not like it when bloggers have no contact at all with their readers/commenters. I realize that it's a big time investment to blog, but part of the thrill of blogging is receiving that reaction from others. (As opposed to feeling like you're talking into the void.) I think bloggers need to keep that in mind, too, when they start to get more followers. As with everything, balance is important--and getting in touch with what your goals are for blogging in the first place.

  46. Hi Kellye,

    Great point! If we sign up to have a blog, then we also need to be prepared for the committment of the time investment. If we're unable to interact within the comments at all, then that might be a sign that we need to cut back on the number of times we're posting. That way we can really focus on making the interaction quality rather than quantity. (Something I'm pondering!)

  47. Sad but nobody respects this stuff. Everything comes from a nonsense.

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