Comment Etiquette: Are You A Blog Hog?

BlogIt!-150-x_OptimizedGuidelines that govern appropriate behavior exist for just about everything we do, from table manners to writing thank-you notes, and guess what? Written replies, a.k.a “comments,” left for the authors of articles published in the blogosphere, are no exception. I’ve shared a few industry-standard guidelines below, but first, let’s review why commenting is a good thing.

Leaving  thoughtful comments on your colleagues’ posts is a great way to:

  1. Collaborate with and support fellow bloggers
  2. Draw cross-over traffic from similar blogs
  3. Enhance SEO via your website’s link in the comment system [NOT in the body of your comment]
  4. Understand the type of posts and topics popular on sister websites
  5. Find partner bloggers to trade guest posts with

Blogs that publish on similar topics/subjects will draw the same type of readers you want to attract to yours, and it’s no secret that frequenting your sister sites can help your popularity. But hopefully, that’s not the only reason you’re hanging out with your friends. As Duolit’s Shannon O’Neill said in a recent post on my blog called Book Promotions That Work, a comment agenda that says Marsha! Marsha! Marsha! will turn off readers and turn away potential supporters.


Photo by squacco

You might be a blog hog if you hijack someone else’s blog and use your comment to toot your own horn, discuss your accomplishments ad infinitum without being asked, hog the thread, dominate the conversation vs. join it, or take it upon yourself to jump in and reply to every question or comment other visitors make. Here are a few general rules to help you play nice:

Be respectful.
Duh! Pretend you’re having tea in the blog host’s parlor. Support and encourage them, defer to and thank them, and be generous to the author/host and their visitors. Millions of blogs clamor for attention, and because of intense competition, it’s hard work to draw readers to a blog. Keep that front of mind when you’re commenting. You’re on the blog host’s turf due to their hard work. It’s their show, not yours.

Don’t take over!
Do not use another blog as your visiting-expert forum UNLESS you are a guest poster or you’ve been invited or encouraged to do so. Per Deborah Ng in her post, Online Community Comment Etiquette, “avoid making every comment a testimony as to how awesome you are.” You might re-think your remarks about all the traffic your blog gets and/or the dozens of blogs you’ve started and/or worked on. You might just be a blog hog if you expound like Bing Bang Theory’s Dr. Sheldon Cooper.

Add value.
Be sincere and engaged. Post comments that are useful and relevant without being arrogant or better-than. Be polite and respectful, even if you disagree with what the host and/or other commenters have to say. Per Ng, “Practice respectful disagreement, not personal attacks.” Wisecrackeritis is completely acceptable on your beloved friends’ blogs, but keep in mind it may not translate well when people don’t know you.

Stay on topic.
Bloggers always welcome comments and additional information that enhances the subject of the post. Out of respect, read the post completely before you reply, and try to stay on topic. If you or another commenter starts a thread that leads in another direction, defer to the host before adding to and/or encouraging the off-topic conversation. Let the blog’s host decide where it goes. If the off-topic thread garners interest, contact the host privately and offer to write a guest post on the subject.

Tailor your comment length to the type of post.
Obviously, when the host has invited discussion about the merits and drawbacks of a product, service or issue, you’re free to write as much as you see fit. Still, in general, try to be as succinct and concise as possible. Avoid writing your own personal blog post as a reply. Examine your motives. You might be a blog hog if your comments consistently approach 500 words and they sound suspiciously like a visiting expert’s take on what the host had to say.


Photo by Thomas Hawk

Avoid redundancy.
It’s best to read the thread of previous comments before posting your own. That way you can be sure your reply will add value vs. repeating what has already been said (this does not apply to thanking the host!).

Don’t include links unless invited
This guideline differs from blog to blog, but many websites prefer that commenters do not post links within a comment unless they’ve been directly invited to by the host. Why? Bloggers work hard to draw and retain readers, and links take readers away from the blog.

If you believe the info you have to offer is important, find a way to direct readers to an article without including the actual link. Adding an unsolicited link in the comment portion on someone else’s blog is often considered a form of spam, especially when presented like this: “wow, what a good post, now read mine on the subject. [LINK] (Can you say “Marsha! Marsha! Marsha!?)

Your blog, your rules. If you’re a blog host and you disagree with the no-links-position, check out the plugin commentluv – it will actually allow commenters to place a link to their last blog post in their comment.

Your comments are your brand.
Commenting on other blogs is a method of branding yourself, and our personalities come across loud and clear via the written word. Happy, intelligent, compassionate, generous, upbeat, and supportive is a great way to go. People aren’t dumb. If your Number One priority for commenting on other blogs is simply a means to attract traffic to your own, your agenda will be clear.

I know some bloggers disagree with these points – and that is, of course, perfectly fine. When visiting another blog, invest time and get a good idea what the host encourages and prefers before you break the rules.

Okay readers, it’s your turn. Do you agree or disagree? What have you seen commenters do that makes you crazy?

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Photo credits: Gord McKenna, squacco, Thomas Hawk

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58 Responses to Comment Etiquette: Are You A Blog Hog?

  1. Rochelle July 15, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

    I agree wholeheartedly! I am part of a blogging group and we often help one another out with posts. It can be nice and yet frustrating. Some people will just comment “great post” and then link to their blog. Or “love your pics” and then link to their blog. Um, thanks? You didn’t have anything to add, just wanted to get your link out there? I try to make sure when I comment that it has some sort of value. With the blogging group there are some posts that really aren’t my thing, but I still try to put something in the comments that contribute to the conversation in some way. Now I’m paranoid that I’m tooting my own horn. I have a lot to learn about contributing to the blogging community. I’m grateful for this post and will subtly point some people I love to it. 😉

    • Molly Greene July 15, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

      Hey Rochelle! DO NOT BE PARANOID, lol! Weighing in is not “tooting your own horn.” It sounds to me like you understand the issue and are making a great effort to contribute and support your colleagues. Your blog group is lucky – I bet they appreciate your efforts as much as I appreciate your taking the time to leave such a lovely comment. Mwah!

      • [email protected] July 19, 2013 at 7:05 am #

        this is our most common comment dilemma: whether to add a link we think might be helpful and related.

        Since we blog about a very specific topic, and have a free guide on that topic, when we read a related blog and find that we can add more depth, or another view, we sometimes will leave a link …

        … and in the same instant, feel a twinge of ” what if this is too self-promotional?”

        Sometimes we get a “good link, thanks”, and sometimes we get crickets. So it is helpful to read your comment thread here and see what folks think!

        • Molly Greene July 19, 2013 at 7:52 am #

          Hey Rhonda! It’s only my position and I’m no expert, but I never add links to a comment on another blog unless 1) the host uses commentluv 2) the author has specifically asked for commenters to share links and resources or 3) I know the blogger welcomes a good link in their blog comments.

  2. Anne R. Allen July 15, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

    Great tips. I’m one of those bloggers who doesn’t mind a link in the comments as long as it’s to a relevant and non-spammy post.

    Sometimes a long comment is just a spontaneous outpouring on a subject. When that happens, I’ll invite the commenter to expand on the subject on their own blog and let us know when it’s posted. That way you’re creating community and inviting discussion.

    I so much agree about reading the thread first. When 10 comments all say the identical thing, you want to say “people, can’t you read?”

    • Molly Greene July 15, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

      Anne, you’re so smart! Great way to handle a long comment. I do not mind lengthy comments at all – not at ALL – when the writer is thoughtful and knowledgeable and adding value to the discussion. It can get annoying when it happens over and over again by the same visitor. As for duplicating content, I’ve been guilty myself. Yikes!

  3. Geraldine Evans July 15, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

    Handy lesson on blog manners. Not sure I completely agree with the ‘read all the comments before posting’ part, though. Some blogs, like Joe Konrath’s, can have comments that go on for days! You’d never get to say anything if you stopped to read them all.

    Thanks for the tips, Molly. I’ll be sure to remember them to forestall any tendency to blog-hoggery!

    • Molly Greene July 15, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

      Geraldine, that’s a good point and something I hadn’t thought of! Few bloggers have Konrath’s reach, and in cases like that I agree it would be tough to wade through a huge comment section. I should be so lucky as to have that problem 🙂

  4. Elissa Field July 15, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    Molly, great post. Now here’s my link… Just kidding. I really appreciated this. As you suggest, there’s all kinds of info about how to build platform through genuine connections, but not as much clear guidance (beyond common sense of the Golden Rule) on where things go too far. I was actually sweating this exact thing the other day in wondering if I should include a link in a comment, so it was a timely conversation. Thanks so much.

    • Molly Greene July 15, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

      Made me laugh! Many bloggers welcome links, just as Anne said. I agree with her and don’t mind the occasional link to really relevant posts, it just makes me wonder when the link is to the commenter’s blog. My website is set up to hold comments that include a link in “limbo” until I approve it – that cuts down on pure spammers (and it works!). So really, you just need to know what the culture is on any particular blog.

      There’s a roundabout way to direct folks to info, too – you can say “if you want to read more, there’s a great article titled Comment Etiquette on” Not an active link, still demonstrates how to locate a post pretty effectively.

      • Rochelle July 15, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

        I get so nervous that I’d be considered spammy that I don’t post them. I don’t want to steal someone else’s show from them. How do you set up your website to hold link comments in limbo? Do you delete the whole comment if you don’t like the link or can you just delete the link?

        • Molly Greene July 15, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

          I was afraid you were going to ask me that – after I posted my comment I realized I wasn’t sure how that “link-held-in-limbo” situation came about. But I believe it must be my Akismet plug-in that does it – that or JetPack’s comment system, which I use. With great power comes great responsibility: I never delete the comment, I just delete the link if it doesn’t thrill me.

          • Rochelle July 15, 2013 at 11:11 pm #

            Sorry! hee hee. I’ll go check it out.

      • [email protected] July 19, 2013 at 7:08 am #

        good suggestion! bookmarking:)

  5. Chris Mentzer July 15, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

    Great article Molly. I don’t have enough traffic on my blog to wonder about blog hogs. I do have one question concerning the first photo, what do you have against goats?

    • Molly Greene July 15, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

      Hahahaha!! Don’t you love that graphic!? Made me laugh so I had to use it – perfect illustration that there’s a rule for everything. And no worries, Chris, your blog will grow!

  6. Shirley Ford July 16, 2013 at 3:13 am #

    Thanks again for another great article. I’ve taken your comments on board and have read all the above comments and like Chris Mentzer (sorry name dropping just to prove I have read them!) I don’t get much traffic to my blog either. It’s early days, I’m still learning and picking up helpful tips.

    • Molly Greene July 16, 2013 at 7:43 am #

      Shirley, your blog will grow and so will comments – One foot in front of the other. Thanks so much for weighing in!

  7. Cindy July 16, 2013 at 5:33 am #

    Hi Molly, loved this. I also read all the comments first which I usually only sometimes do. If I’m rushed, no. That was my take away. Jenny Crusie also has hundreds of comments, so I just scroll through. I think I’m good on all else. One thing that nobody brought up is HOW to post comments. Some blogs make it so difficult I just give up. I write the comment, I put in my name email, URL, I decipher the little box of nonsense (I think that’s the proper name for it) I do all this and then try to post and I’ll get a message that I am not a member of Blogger or whatever. That’s when I leave.

    • Molly Greene July 16, 2013 at 7:49 am #

      Cindy, I agree about comment system frustration. I’ve lost so many comments I’ve taken to writing them in a Word doc in case I need to re-post. As I said before, I use the Akismet spam filter plug-in to keep spammers out, and that combined with WordPress’ JetPack’s comment system works very well, no other rigamarole required. Some websites require an ID to “sign in,” and I’m sure that’s what you mean – Blogger or WordPress are ID choices.

  8. Mary Yuhas July 16, 2013 at 5:46 am #

    Great article, Molly! I’ve been waiting for someone to talk about this.

    • Molly Greene July 16, 2013 at 7:51 am #

      Hi Mary! All this is really good common sense, as you know. Play well with the other children! 🙂

  9. carol hedges July 16, 2013 at 7:42 am #

    I seem to be lucky, in that I think everyone who regularly comments on my blog is brilliant…some go to great lengths to be witty and charming. And they stay on point. Hope I try to reciprocate! I have seen some of the errors you highlight on other’s blogs. Trouble is, they do rebound on the commentator…… If you regularly take time to follow people you soon get the hang of what is appropriate.

    What is MORE annoying is when you post a comment and the host does not respond. Happens to me all the time….

    • Molly Greene July 16, 2013 at 7:56 am #

      Carol, my commenters are wonderful, as well, aren’t we lucky? I agree that poor behavior reflects on the perpetrator quickly. Character shines through every time, good or bad. As for replying to all comments, I’ve been know to miss a few myself!! Sometimes life intervenes. That’s another blog post!

  10. Claire Hennessy July 16, 2013 at 7:44 am #

    Great blog and really useful tips. Thanks Molly. There is definitely an art to commenting. Love reading your blog but never usually have time to comment (sorry – lurking!). Now, I wrote a really interesting article about this you might like on MY blog … 🙂

    • Molly Greene July 16, 2013 at 7:58 am #

      Hi Claire! So lovely to see you here. Truth be told I read a LOT of blogs but if I commented on every post it would be a full-time job. Feel free to lurk all you want!

  11. Robbie Cox July 16, 2013 at 8:59 am #

    Another great post, Molly. And fantastic comments. I’ve worried about links in the comment section before from people I don’t recognize fearing a reader could click on a virus such as we find on Facebook or Twitter. I’ve switched to the approve comments rule to try and keep this from happening.

    I always find your posts extremely helpful. Thank you!

    • Molly Greene July 16, 2013 at 11:13 am #

      Thanks, Robbie! The great thing about approving comments is that you only have to do it one time for each commenter. I agree, better to be safe than sorry. Thanks so much for your kind words!

  12. Jennifer July 16, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    Great post! Thanks (as always) for all the helpful information. I’ve often wondered, “Should I comment? Should I not? What should I say? Does it matter?” So, thanks for clearing up the muddy waters!

    • Molly Greene July 16, 2013 at 11:21 am #

      Hi Jennifer! Yes, it does matter. Bloggers love comments and it’s a wonderful way to build relationships. Welcome to my blog, so happy to see you here, thanks for the kind words and visit often!

  13. Susan Silver July 16, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

    Love the tone of this piece. Very straight forward and I agree that these rules are the best. The most important thing is to take into consideration the point of view of the website owner or blogger.

    I feel that comments are the best way to span gaps in knowledge or to point out another way of doing things. Points that you address above. It is easy to fall into the SEO and Social Media trap for promotion and forget that you are actually having a dialogue with others when you choose to blog. I try to keep that in mind when I post or engage with others in any medium.

    • Molly Greene July 17, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

      Great comment, Susan. Excellent blog comments do often enhance the actual post and/or point out a different way to approach a subject or issue, and by doing so the commenter adds to the overall value for readers. Thanks so much!

  14. Victoria Grefer July 17, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

    What great advice! I don’t know why blog hogs think they’re going to successfully draw traffic to themselves…. bloghogging works the same as spamming. You’re noticed but not in a good way, and no one really pays attentions to you.

    Even if you have solid credentials and quality content…. demonstrate that by a thoughtful response based upon what you’ve read, not by tooting your own horn. Much, much more effective.

    And sometimes I remind myself “it is better to stay silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

    • Molly Greene July 18, 2013 at 8:08 am #

      Made me laugh! I think social media – Twitter, FB, blog comments – amplifies our personalities. If life is “all about us” around the water cooler, it’s even more “all about us” in these venues. Thanks so much for reminding us of that fab quote!

  15. Steve Vernon July 18, 2013 at 7:55 am #

    Hello…my name is Steve Vernon…and I…am…a…BUYMYBOOKBUYMYBOOKBUYMYBOOK…Blog-Hog!

    • Molly Greene July 18, 2013 at 8:02 am #

      Sounds like a meeting for Blog Hogs Anonymous! Come on Steve, we know you’re not :-O

  16. kari lemor July 18, 2013 at 11:50 am #

    Hi, Thanks for this great information. I just started a blog myself and so need to know what’s good and not so good.

    Personally I like replies that aren’t too long or too short. Something like “great blog” is nice that someone responded but it would be even nicer if they let you know what it was they liked or why it was good information.

    And yes, too long, the blog hog, that I just skim over. Too lazy to read it all I guess.

  17. Ryan July 18, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    Anytime someone comments on my blog simply saying “great post!” or something similar, I just remove the link or don’t publish it all together. I hope I added value with my personal insight. Ha!

    • kari lemor July 18, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

      I see we shop at the same avatar site. Hee hee!

      • Molly Greene July 19, 2013 at 9:46 am #

        My position is clear: Your blog, your rules! But my two cents is that I really don’t mind when someone leaves a comment that says “great post” or something along those lines. People are busy and there are a million blogs to read. I know from experience it’s a challenge to come up with new, exciting, clever and/or thoughtful responses. Arggh! So I appreciate it when someone makes time to read my post and lets me know they felt their time wasn’t wasted. As Anne said, I don’t want to discourage comments!! Thanks so much for weighing in!

  18. Anne R. Allen July 18, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

    I’m a little worried this thread might discourage newbies from making comments on blogs. I spend a lot of time encouraging newbies to make comments. It’s a great way to get to know people and take the first steps into blogging. Starting a blog and sitting there waiting for people is a big waste of time. Better to get to know people by getting out and about. And that involves making comments. If people think they’re going to get deleted if the comment isn’t clever enough, that’s going to hurt fledgling writers. I think any comment is fine as long as it’s honest. “This post is very helpful,” is a welcome comment on my blog.

    • Rochelle July 18, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

      I appreciate your comment Anne. I’ve been following this comment thread and while I try to make the best comment I can, I have started to get even more paranoid. Is this too long (I tend to be long-winded), too short, not helpful enough, etc? While it’s true we should give thoughtful comments, sometimes a simple “this was an awesome post” can be good enough. To me it means someone took the time to read my post and liked it enough to say something. But then, I’m a newbie blogger, so I appreciate anything! 😉

    • Molly Greene July 19, 2013 at 7:47 am #

      I appreciate your comment, too, Anne. I personally love commenters who take the time to simply say, “great post!” In my humble opinion, commenting is common sense. Read the article and have a good grasp of its content and the discussion in comments, then do your best to add something useful (or simply thank the author!); be respectful to the host and other commenters; and don’t use your comments on other blogs strictly as a means to promote yourself, your products, services, or blog. Thank you all so much for taking the time to sharing your thoughts and concerns!

  19. Thad James July 29, 2013 at 7:13 am #

    I’m relatively new to the blogging/commenting world. These are some great guidelines. I’ve already noticed comments on several blogs doing the “no-no’s” you mention. Thanks for the article.

    • Molly Greene July 29, 2013 at 9:40 am #

      Thanks for the read and comment, Thad, and welcome to my blog!

  20. Linda Kinsman July 31, 2013 at 6:47 am #

    After reading through all the comments on this excellent post I feel good about my commenting style. What drew me to your post in the first place is that I have a commenter who seems to be doing her best to preach on her lengthy (some over 600 words) comments. I didn’t know what to call her, but thanks to your insights Molly, blog-hog is perfect!

    • Molly Greene July 31, 2013 at 9:39 am #

      A blogging friend had someone a while back who did that too, Linda, and she had so much trouble trying to figure out a diplomatic way to handle it. She eventually just stopped replying to that person’s comments in hopes it would send a message, but it didn’t work, the person just began to engage with other commenters on her posts. Would love everyone’s take on what to do – ignore it? Address it?

  21. Mary-andering Creatively August 6, 2013 at 7:53 am #

    Hi, thanks for these tips. I plan to feature this article on my Friday feature section on Mary-andering Creatively. The tips were so to the point and helpful.

  22. Tom August 31, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

    This follows on very nicely from your piece on twitter. Responding to blog posts is a great way to network with other writers but unlike face to face networking the writers credentials, bio and previous works are one click away. For me, this negates the need to include them in the body of the comment – that’s the place where you say something interesting and relevant. Make your comment count and people are going to want to know more about you anyway.

    No need to mention awards, your lovely agent or your impressive back catalogue. Oh yes, and no need to describe yourself as ‘award winning’. Its all on your own website which the comment is automatically linked to.

    Like the analogy of having tea in the hosts parlour, and yes, there is much redundancy in what I’ve said because your readers and you have already made these points!

    Like your work,


    • Molly Greene September 1, 2013 at 9:36 am #

      So true, Tom! I wonder sometimes if people realize their comment is a clickable link. Thanks so much for pointing that out, and I so appreciate your read and lovely comment!

  23. shankar September 11, 2013 at 2:30 am #

    I’m relatively new to the blogging/commenting world. These are some great guidelines.

  24. Donna April 30, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    Thanks for this! I had a sneaking suspicion about some of these etiquette tips, but wanted to make sure about them.

    Its funny how if it doesn’t feel right, even in the slightest, it probably isn’t.

    Thanks again!

    • Molly Greene April 30, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

      Thanks, Donna! And you’re so right – somehow we just know these things, don’t we?

  25. Paula Banner November 5, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

    Nice article, the tips are very nice, especially this one:

    “Avoid redundancy”

    I hate to see a lot of similar comments or the same questions in the comments of my blogs!

    • Jessica Lynne Martin January 5, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

      I would like to think I’m not guilty of being a ‘blog hog’ … I try to only comment when I feel I can add something meaningful to the conversation. My only comment to the “avoid redundancy” thing… I think that is TOTALLY a nice thing to aim for… but honestly, to stop and make a comment on a blog takes so much ‘time’ (in this fast-paced social world we live in these days) that I frequently scroll right down to submit my comment without reading everyone else’s … hopefully this doesn’t make me annoying!?

      I will say that if I feel like I have a brilliant solution/really funny comment/great new idea to add … before I make myself look like a dummy by commenting, I DO read to see if anyone else beat me to the punch…

      • Molly Greene January 5, 2015 at 1:12 pm #

        Thanks Jessica, and you’re right – it is sometimes tough to scroll through a lot of comments on a blog. If I had to choose between the two, I’d choose to have everyone comment and forget about the duplication worry. Welcome to my blog and thank you so much for taking the time to speak your mind!