Comment Response: Three Thoughts

I write for a lot of online markets: blogs, publications and other places that post articles. Most of the sites where my work is published allow comments — when they don’t outright request them. That means that there are a whole lot of responses to my writing out there that I have to decide whether to acknowledge.

The simple fact of the matter is that I don’t really have time to acknowledge all the comments my work receives. From the sites that are set up to actually send me emails whenever I receive a comment I can easily receive 30 notifications in a day. And plenty of sites don’t automatically let their writers know about comments. Depending on how in-depth of a response you give, you can spend 15 minutes on just one comment. My strategy comes down to three thoughts that I’ve had over the past several years.

  1. There’s not really a need to respond to a lot of comments — and many commenters aren’t even looking for a response. If there’s a question, or a clear need for a response, I’m happy to add a comment, but I don’t feel that I have to respond to the equivalent of “Hey, nice article.” I appreciate those comments — I really do. But if I respond to every on, I can’t write anymore of those nice articles.
  2. I’m not getting paid any extra for responding to comments, in most cases. On some sites, I do get a traffic bonus and I’m happy to add lots of extra comments, assuming that extra commenting is reflected in traffic increases. But most sites just pay me for the article. Not to be absolutely mercenary, but if the editor wants me to comment regularly, we can work out some arrangement for compensation.
  3. I categorically don’t respond to comments intended to do nothing but attack me and my writing. I’m happy to issue clarifications and corrections where necessary, but if someone’s goal is to just be a jerk, I won’t egg them on. To be perfectly honest, if I had control over the commenting process everywhere I write, I’d probably delete trolling comments entirely.

That’s pretty much my entire policy on responding to comments on the websites that pay me to write. I have tweaked my policy for various sites, but in general my policy is pretty much across the board. What’s your policy on responding to comments? Leave me a comment — I’m much more interested in responding to comments on my own site!

3 Comments

  1. Steve Davis   •  

    I guess if you are blogging on several sites it could get onerous. If someone has taken the time to read my post and comment, then I like to acknowledge it. If I read a post on someone else’s blog and enjoy it or find it very well written, I always leave a comment.

    Steve

  2. Liora   •  

    Thursday, thank you. As a very new writer for Lifehack.org, I find this very valuable. I was actually wondering about this very thing in reading some of the comments left. I like your #3 above, especially. I’ve seen a different, but also very well read, site, and one of the contributor’s back-and-forth with the commenters made both her and the entire site look bad.

    *Traffic bonus?* I think my ears or eyes might have just perked, if they can do that. It appears I have much to learn.

    I’m happy to have discovered your blog and have added it to my “must reads” now, which I have very few of.

    • thursday   •     Author

      @Liora, Traffic bonuses can definitely make a difference. On occasion, you can convince an editor to agree to compensate you if you can significantly up traffic — and who wants to turn down extra money?

      I’ve seen more than a few of those negative back-and-forths, and they’re just not worth it. Even if everyone comes out smelling like roses, it’s emotionally taxing.

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