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12 Comments

Please Don’t Make These Critical Commenting Mistakes!

Credit: kevinzim

Credit: kevinzim

“Great post!”

“Thank you so much for this post! It’s exactly what I needed today!”

Bargaineering was a magnet for comment spam. It was (still is) a PR6 site and we’d get comments, many were spam, all the time. We installed all the usual anti-spam plugins to help kill the automated stuff but there isn’t much you can do for the boundary cases – the “great posts” and the “thanks!” type of comments.

For those, I would mark as spam and eventually Akismet took care of it and the commenter was never heard from again.

If this is you, don’t feel bad… but you’re going about this all wrong.

If you leave your site name as your name in the comment, that’s not only wrong but dangerous (I didn’t say this, Matt Cutts said it).

If you leave a signature link or say “I just wrote about this here” and link yourself, you’re doing it wrong.

Here’s why:

Why “Great post!” is Wrong

It’s a waste of a perfectly good comment!

You should treat each comment like a free ad for you and your site. You have the unique ability to leave a thoughtful comment on a site, why would you squander it by leaving a useless comment?

What happens when you leave that kind of comment?

  • A reader sees it and thinks – “Zero added value, this comment is annoying, how did it make it through?”
  • The blogger sees it and thinks – “Zero added value, what a jerk, how did I let this through?”

No one likes it. No one will see the comment and think “wow, insightful, who is this guy… let me click on his name.”

You also make the blogger look bad. It’s like they’re not minding their own store when they let a loiterer like you hang around.

Finally, all this happens only if your useless comment makes it through! If they’re mean like me, it gets spammed and the likelihood of future comments appearing on the site drops close to zero. Then you end up wasting your time in the future because you leave a comment that goes straight to spam.

Think of it like this: the blogger has invited you into his home to share your thoughts a subject he just wrote about.

Don’t screw it up by crapping on the carpets.

I think there is one exception to this rule – if someone is announcing something new, then a comment with words of encouragement (which could be seen as being similar to “great post”) are totally cool.

Why Site Names as Your Name is Wrong

Watch this:

Summary: Use your real name, don’t use a company name or anchor text because it looks spammy. Also, if your primary link building strategy is through blog comments then it might raise a red flag. Leave a good comment on a relevant site and you’ll be fine, you can even link to yourself.

Personally, I don’t mind it when the name is Jim @ Microblogger or something like that. I don’t know how it fits in with Matt Cutts’ opinion of commercialization though.

Why Linking to a Post You Wrote is Wrong

Matt Cutts just said, in above video, that sometimes he’ll leave a link to his own blog in the comment.

But you shouldn’t. It’s mostly because because you’re not THE authority on a subject like webspam for Google. If you’re the authority for webspam at Google, you can link to your own blog on the subject of webspam in Google. If you aren’t the authority, don’t link to yourself. It’s tacky.

It’s the equivalent of you going into a grocery store, stopping everyone who is about to check out, and telling them that you just opened a grocery store across the street that sells the same stuff. How long do you think the manager will let you hang out there? Not long.

It’s important to note that these commenting mistakes follow a similar theme. They look like comment spam. If you were a spammer, this is how you’d comment on a post. So don’t look like a spammer.

In summery: Be cool, leave constructive and insightful comments, and please don’t crap on the carpets.

If you have a comment policy page and you want to link to this post (or excerpt it or whatever) to convince people not to do these things, you’re totally welcome to. No need to email me to ask (though you can if you want), you have full permission.

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Jim

In 2005, I founded a personal finance blog (Bargaineering.com) that became successful enough that I quit my career as a software developer in the defense industry. It is my goal to share everything I learned so that you can do the same - build an online business that let's you pursue your passion.

12 responses to “Please Don’t Make These Critical Commenting Mistakes!”

  1. Michael says:

    Great post! Haha. Just kidding.

    I don’t have a formal comment policy, but I pretty much follow the rules that you’ve outlined. Add at a least a tiny amount of value, or be conversational in some way, or you’re headed to spam.

    To the above, I would add the cardinal sin of commenting (mostly seen on newspaper websites and that like)…

    Saying: First!

    As if that’s big accomplishment or something. Better still are the cases where you see someone posting “First!” as the second or third comment. It’s like they can’t even make a fool of themselves properly.

    • Jim says:

      Hahaha thanks Michael — SECOND!

      No one here has yet to break any of these “rules” but it happened All. The. Time. at Bargaineering so I wanted to mention it, especially after the epic post on Monday… this was a little lighter fare.

  2. Good stuff Jim. I’ll be honest with you I probably don’t spend enough time on other blogs to really judge someone else’s comment, but I will notice a thoughtful comment. The point about linking back to one’s own site is maddening however. This is the height of commenting arrogance and rudeness in my opinion. Commenting on someone’s blog should be all about that person’s blog and your comment (good or bad) about that post. When you leave a link to your own site you make it all about you. I will admit I have done this maybe twice when I thought it was useful to the site’s readers and I’ve also left links to 3rd party sites (like FINRA’s broker check) when it enhances a point the blogger was trying to make.

    Thanks for sharing your expertise for us newbies and novices.

    • Jim says:

      I’m not one to judge quality either, though I separate the “great post” from the others by a wide margin. I don’t think it’s worth debating whether a one-sentence comment is insightful enough or if a paragraph is too much, we’ll leave that to the philosophers.

      Linking back? Yeah, that’s crapping on the carpets and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t agree with that.

      We’re all newbies and novices in something 🙂

  3. Meg Sylvia says:

    This is awesome Jim, I’m so happy to see someone come out and say this!!
    When I started my first blogs several years ago, I definitely broke just about every rule up there. Thankfully I came to the conclusion that I was going about it all wrong, and doing no one (including myself) service by commenting that way. Luckily, I think bloggers are catching on to the fact that all content they put out, whether a blog post, email, or even a comment, should provide some sort of value.

    • Jim says:

      When you start off, you don’t know and it’s OK. When it’s someone new, obviously not a spammer, I send them an email saying something to the effect of – “Hey there, I know you mean well but your comment was less than great, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject rather than see a ‘great post” type of comment. I appreciate you reading but by just leaving that short message, it looks like you’re spamming. Thanks!”

      No one is perfect, we’re just working towards it right? 🙂

      And yes, providing value should be a way of life for bloggers and creators of any kind.

  4. “‘No one will see the comment and think “wow, insightful, who is this guy… let me click on his name.”'” Lol, I love it Jim! You’re right on though. I can understand, on some level, why someone would leave a comment like that because they’re thinking that it means they can do more of it and more is better, right? I think that’s part of what many who leave comments like that are missing though, it’s generally about quality and not quantity. Commenting, in my opinion, can be a great way to get your name out there if you’re new to blogging, but you’re generally only shooting yourself in the foot with a simple “Great post” kind of comment.

  5. yskan says:

    I was wondering, what doyou think about usernames with @ in it?

    Isn’t it the same as a brand/keyword username?

    • Jim says:

      I think that’s borderline because I look at what comes after the @ as someone’s last/family/surname on the Internet. When I comment, I usually put Jim or Jim Wang — there are more than a few million Jims and more than a few thousand Jim Wangs. There is only one Jim @ Microblogger. So while I recognize that it’s similar to a brand/keyword username, it’s far better than just the brand/keyword and it does act as a differentiator, so there’s value there.

  6. Wow – I didn’t realize it was bad to use just your site name. I guess I’ll have to mix things up a bit. Thanks for the tip 🙂

    I’ve actually had a blog owner tell me not to use Derek @ MoneyAhoy.com and just go with MoneyAhoy… seems like he had it backwards!

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