If you have a company blog, you’re probably dying to drum up a few comments that can lead to a community. yet established bloggers have some surprisingly diverse views on the value of commenting and engagement.

Gini Dietrich revved up an interesting debate last week with her examination of blog commenting strategies but I think some important points were missed and I’d like to add my voice to the discussion.

Gini identified three blog comment “camps” …

  1. No one comments.
  2. The blogger leaves the comments open for everyone to debate, argue, or agree with one another, but the blogger rarely responds;
  3. The blogger replies to every comment left on his or her blog post

… and she concludes that none of them are necessarily a predictor of success. There are widely-read blogs in all categories. Her position, and I agree, is that it’s your blog and you can do anything you want with it.

Mitch Joel responded with a post called the Disease Called Blogging and explained his own interesting position on blog commenting:

I don’t think that the blog comments are my responsibility. It’s not a dialogue between the blogger and the reader … I have the spotlight already. The blog comments are your space to shine. The blog comments are not about me and how I respond.

As I perused the posts and the many ensuing comments, there were two big points that I think have been overlooked.

Comments create community, community creates benefits.   The community here on {grow} has become an essential part of my business and personal life. Through the blog community, I have made great friends and business partners. I’ve found a group of people who are interested enough in me to maybe even hire me, buy one of my books, or ask me to speak at their event. I’ve hired people from the blog community, provided referrals, and provided help and counsel. The business benefits of blogging have been incredible.

Point number one: If you are writing a blog, why don’t you want to have a supportive community?  How can you create a community if you don’t engage? Engaging just makes good business sense.

It’s not just a comment. It’s a gift.  Nearly everyone I know would describe their lives somewhere between “busy” and “swamped.”  But somehow, each day dozens of people take some of their time — life’s most precious commodity — and devote it to me and this community through the form of a blog comment.  Wow. That is just so humbling. I never, ever take a blog comment for granted. What a gift.

Point number two: A comment is an amazing gift of somebody’s time and talent.  How can you simply ignore that? 

For these reasons, I try to respond to every comment, even if it is a simple “thank you.” Sometimes it’s at 1 in the morning, sometimes it is a day or two late, but I do try to respond.  It’s not easy, but it’s important that I show you gratitude and respect.

If you’re a blogger, do you recall the wonder and excitement of the first comment you ever received?  Did you respond? Of course you did. I still feel that excitement every day and I hope I never get to the point where I take my community for granted. if I do, you have my permission to give me a swift kick in the ass.

I can’t promise responses on every single post or every single comment (especially if it is simply people nodding in agreement), but I wanted to explain the reasons behind my commenting philosophy.

Where do you fall on the commenting continuum, and why?

Illustration: The Conversation by Renee Kahn

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