I’m still catching up with everything and have missed out on many days of this great challenge. Day 19 was “Respond to a commenter on your own blog.” This got me thinking…

If any of you have left a comment before, then you know I do respond. (I’m 99.9% sure that I have responded to every commenter.) The difference is that I respond directly in email with my commenters to continue the conversation in that way. Sometimes, I respond both directly in email and on the blog, especially if it is something that would clarify a question or remark to other readers.

Should I change my practices to responding to commenters on the blog instead of email? What do you think?

It could seem to readers that I don’t reply so there is less incentive to leave a comment. But, as I said, I always respond in email (and sometimes those responses turn into long email chains of conversation with readers.) Should I try to continue responding in email but also respond on the blog? This would definitely take some extra steps on my part but if you all would be more engaged by it, I’d certainly be up to it!

I consider my readers friends and colleagues and cherish the relationship built by responding and emailing personally back and forth from comments and questions. If my responses to comments were all also in the comments area of the posts, I often feel that commenters are less likely to see them (at least quickly.) But, if the relationships with readers was made richer by publicly responding, then I’d definitely change.

So, readers, what do you think? I’d appreciate your thoughts on this very much – and will reply personally in email and publicly!

31-Day Comment Challenge: Day 19
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  • Commenting back to readers on your posts is more about letting all your readers know that you respond back to comments regardless of whether the original commenter reads the comment. My personal decision is if a blogger seldom engages with comments on their blog is to stop and think about if I really want to leave a comment. The other aspect of commenting back is it can enhance the whole conversation and you often see richer discussion of the topic. Take for example Tony Karrer’s post on Reframing Conference Social Tool Participation. Often Tony will reflect partly on what he is thinking in the post and then further clarify in the comments which leads to the enriched conversations.

    An ideal solution is to comment back and send email; however email for me takes too much time.

  • Thanks, Sue! Even in writing the post I realized your point. Ideally, follow up should take place in both ways. As much as I have enjoyed building relationships with commenters in email exchanges between just the two of us at a time, I strongly value the community conversation and benefit of the responses publicly in the comment section. From now on, I’ll try doing both and keep everyone posted on how it goes. Thanks!

  • Definitely email is a really good way to build community and relationship. Beth Kanter uses it really well. Trouble is with two blogs, working full time — for me its too hard so I limit the emails to solving problems I can’t solve via comments back on the blogs.

  • Thanks, Sue – I agree. What is most important, I think, is that we identify our limits and work as well as we can within them. Time is, apparently, not always on my side 🙂 So, knowing that I can’t manage replying all over the place means I need to choose how/where comments will be most beneficial for my readers/the community.

  • I tend to use a combination of the two ways of responding. If a commenter is new, I will often respond via email to make a more personal connection. I’ve had a lot of people say that they were really surprised and pleased that I’d take the time to email them after they commented, which of course reinforces my own desire to do that. Often I will copy and paste my response (or a version of it) into comments as well so that I can both connect with the original commenter as well as let others know that I try to respond to comments.

    For regular commenters, I’m more likely to respond via comments, rather than an email, unless there’s something more personal I want to say, in which case I’d send an email.

    I think you need both strategies to really build community and keep things going.

  • Thanks for your thoughts, Michele. This has been such a beneficial conversation for me! I’m glad to have your ideas in the mix and to know that you also work to balance both personal emails and comments.