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ELDER GEEK: The Secrets of Blog Commenting

VirginiaDeBolt75x75Virginia DeBolt (bio) writes the bi-weekly Elder Geek column for Time Goes By in which she takes the mystery out of techie things all bloggers and internet users need to know to simplify computer use. She has written several books on technology and keeps two blogs herself, Web Teacher and First 50 Words. You will find links to Virginia's previous Time Goes By Elder Geek columns here.


Ronni recently posted Attention Email Subscribers - and Others Too here to explain the ins and outs of how to make a comment here. I thought I'd add a bit more to that with a few tips and tricks about commenting in general.

First, I want to emphasize again that the only way to comment on a blog is to actually visit the blog web site. You can't do it by email. You can't do it in an RSS reader. You have to visit the blog on the web.

Let's start by looking at the comment form from Time Goes By.

comment form from Time Goes By

Under the form field where you type your comment, you see this:

(You may use HTML tags like <b> <i> and <ul> to style your text. URLs automatically linked.)

You often see this on comment forms. It's telling you that you can use a few basic HTML tags in your comment. If you type in a URL it will automatically be clickable. Be warned, however, that most blog platforms flag a post with more than one URL because they think it's spam.

Often, HTML tags that aren't mentioned in a small blurb like this one can be used, too. I know for a fact that Ronni's blog comment form will accept a link written like this: <a href="http://www.somesite.com">Some site</a>.

Since I've left comments on this blog several times, it recognizes me and fills in my information. If I decide I want a different link or email address here, I can edit it before I submit.

Time Goes By gives you a chance to preview your comment before you submit it. Some blogs don't do this.

Here's a different comment form from a Wordpress blog at 1 Woman's Vu.

comment form from 1 woman's vu

This form doesn't specifically tell you that you can use some HTML, but often it will work even when the form instructions don't tell you it will. This form has features you can select that will email you when other people contribute to the discussion. Sometimes blogs have this notification feature selected by default so if you don't want to follow the discussion you need to deselect it.

Blogs at blogspot.com are a particular gripe of mine. I don't like the comment form there and generally complain every time I try to comment on a blogspot blog. It's because I have so many blogs. Hopefully it doesn't drive you as crazy as it does me. Here's an example from Advanced Style.

comment form from Advanced Style

Blogspot is a Google property, so if you have a Google account, the default choice for identifying yourself in the comments is your Google information. For me, this means my comment would be linked to a blog that I created as an example for one of the books and not to any of the blogs I use with regularity. Not what I want.

Blogspot offers several options as to how I can identify myself. If I choose Open ID, I can select a Wordpress blog I do use regularly, but only if I'm logged into the blog at the time. The same is true if I choose the Name/URL option and add a Wordpress blog. I have to be signed in to the Wordpress blog.

The best advice I can give you about commenting on blogspot blogs if you are a Wordpress user is to log in to your Wordpress account before you even get started on the comment. If you don't, your comment disappears into the ether when you try to submit it and you must attempt to recreate it after you go log into Wordpress.

Blogspot lets you comment as Anonymous, not something many other blogs do. Blogspot also has the word verification form, which is an accessibility barrier for many people. While I love me some blogspot blogs, I often get frustrated with the blogspot commenting system.

Some comment forms use CommentLuv. Here's an example.

a comment form with commentluv

If you select the box next to the CommentLuv logo, the last post from your blog (as you entered it in the website field of the form) will show up as a link in your comment. This is a nice feature for commentors who are bloggers because it increases the incoming links leading to your blog.

Often, blog comment forms allow you to reply to someone else's comment published comment. Here's an example from BlogHer.

a comment with a reply option

If you click the "Reply" link, you are responding to the comment. You may comment on the entire post, but by using the Reply link, you can comment on what another commentor said. On BlogHer, as on many other large sites, you can also report comments as spam if you think they are simply linkbait. Some sites let you report comments as objectionable for whatever reason.

Another feature of published comments is that they often come with their own URL or permalink. Here's a comment that was published on my blog.

a blog comment with a permalink

By clicking the permalink link, you find a URL linking directly to a comment. You might want to write a post about something on your own blog, and mention your comment about the topic on another blog, including a link to your comment.

Comments are the life blood of the blogosphere. For a blogger, inviting comments opens up a dialog and a conversation among yourself and your readers, as well as conversations between your readers. As a blog reader, comments allow you to participate and join in the conversation, too. It's a two-way street. Knowing how to travel in both directions on that street is a good Internet skill to have.

Any comments?


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Claire Jean: Ain't It Somethin

Comments

Excellent tutorial! The Blogger comments form is one of the many frustrations I experience on my own blog. Wish I had the nerve to import the whole shebang to Wordpress, but not that familiar with it yet...what if I lose something in the transfer? Still too new to this to move with confidence. I think I may provide a link to this tutorial on my blog to help some of my older, less blog-savvy readers feel more comfortable with the comments process.

The Blogger comment form is the main reason I ditched them.

Nance, I wrote a step by step article about switching from Blogger to Wordpress at eHow. There are a lot of steps, so it sounds scary, but it isn't that bad. Maybe it will help you.

Very helpful once again. Every blog service should provide a tutorial like this when one begins a blog.

Sharing your prejudices, I'd add that the fiddling with comment styles that TypePad and blogspot have done over the past 3-4 years has not helped...

Hi! I commented. Yay! Hi mom.

Thanks for this post, Virginia. I always wondered about these different comment systems. I captured the migration link, too. I'm hope to someday move my blogs out of Blogspot. I wonder if you have any knowledge of backing up blog posts? I've looked into this on-line and asked around but, for the life of me, I can't figure out whether it is even possible! I'd feel much more secure about migration if I new I could retrieve the posts, if I messed up. Thanks again!

Cile, You can backup a blog using the RSS feed. Here are two sites that say they will do it. I've never tried them and don't know anything about them. http://blogbackupr.com/
http://bloggerbackup.codeplex.com/

I have used http://www.blogbooker.com/ to create a PDF file of a blog. It saves the blog posts, images, even comments, all in a PDF file. Not electronic, but still, a copy.

Thanks, Virginia, for reassuring me that I am not alone in being frustrated by Blogger's comment form. I'd love to be notified when comments are posted without forcing the writer to wait for me to "moderate".

Got it! Thank you again, Virginia!

Ashleigh, you can address the comment moderation settings and enter your email for notifications on the Blogger Dashboard under Comments.

OYE VAY!!!! Now I know why I don't blog except with dear Ronni....but thank you Virginia for the information. I may use it in my "afterlife" at one of those CPU Cafe's.

Virginia, thanks for the link to blogbooker.com. At one point, I meant to use Booksmart software to make a book out of some of my blog parts, but they claim I have no internet connection and I can't get any further. They haven't been very helpful and I suspect it has to do with the blog being on wordpressdotcom
I think that PDF is definitely better than nothing. Thanks again.

No matter how much I blog or learn (and I seem to learn something every day!), you always have something else to teach me. I do appreciate your efforts! Thanks.

I actually paid for two courses that were on blog commenting that was less informative than this one post.

One was $10 & the other was $37.

I enjoyed the section where you talked about commenting on blogspot blogs and logging into our Wordpress account before starting the comment.

this is something that I've struggled with and bewildered me a little.

Thanks for the info! You are a true leader:)

Thanks for the tips and links.

The secrets of blog is on the comment box? I already commented on a hundred of blogs. i see all the comment box above but on my own experience on 100blogs theres only a 30% or less than blogs that approve the comments on time.

Yes, you are like mine did every I visited the blog vimax which spread out like a net.

The Blogger comment form is the main reason I ditched them.

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