I’ve always believed that leaving and responding to comments is the very heart of blogging.
I won’t repeat what I’ve said before about bloggers who do not respond to comments. You’ve heard it all before. But imagine my surprise when I recently read that some bloggers are turning off comments on their blogs for good.
Hold on. What? A silent blog? No comments? No place to discuss what you’ve just read and interact with other bloggers? Will these blogs become known as ‘library’ blogs? A place where you can read but not talk?
Are some of the bloggers that don’t respond to comments the people turning off comments for good?
What are the reasons for turning off comments?
The number one reason seems to be time. Some claim that responding to comments is a waste of their time; time better spent writing more blog posts. I got really hot under the collar when I read that statement.
If you’re lucky enough to get lots of comments left on your posts, then responding to them can become overwhelming. And I agree that the time it takes responding could be put to better use, but if we manage our time correctly, it should never become a problem in the first place.
How many is too many comments?
In the seven years I’ve been blogging, I’ve approved and responded to well over 40,000 comments. I don’t know if that is too many, but I’m a blogger who craves even more comments.
Sometimes it takes me a whole morning responding to them. I could have spent that time writing more blog posts or short stories. However, I’ve always had the attitude that if somebody takes the time to read one of my posts and leave me a comment, then it’s only polite to acknowledge them with a response.
“Treat every visitor to your blog, as you would any guest in your home.”
Those were the words I read very early on in my blogging journey. Written by a blogger who had a follower number I could only dream about, she responded to all the comments left on her blog. Her words have forever remained etched on my mind.
One of the first jobs I do every morning when opening my blog is responding to comments. Not only does it makes me feel good (because I know people are reading my posts), but I like to think that the person who left the comment will see that I’m a friendly guy who doesn’t ignore his audience.
Are comments all the same?
No. Comments come in all shapes and sizes. There are the comments where you know your whole post got read. There are the ones that spark new ideas for future posts. And then there are the comments that say little if nothing and get you wondering if all they did was click the ‘like’ button without reading your post.
I acknowledge lazy comments by pressing the ‘like’ button next to the comment. It, at least, shows I’ve read what they’ve had to say.
Do I have a good quote about comments?
I think so, yes. I published this quote on my blog many years ago – one which many readers seemed to like and agreed with.
“Not answering comments left on your blog is like inviting somebody around for coffee and ignoring them.”
Other things comments do.
Comments can often open up debates between readers. I always enjoy seeing two or more bloggers commenting between themselves about the subject of my post. I refer to it as ‘healthy debate.’ Somebody once told me that getting a discussion going on a blog post you’ve written and published proves you’re engaging with your audience, even if some of the comments are not directed at you.
But what about the question I posed in the title of this post? Should bloggers kill off comments on their blogs? I can certainly see why some bloggers would temporarily disable comments. But to disable them all together is something I don’t believe is a part of what blogging is about.
After all, don’t comments allow the reader to communicate with the author, and isn’t that what most bloggers and writers want? – to engage with their audience?
Would you consider turning off comments on your blog? Are there any reasons why you turn off comments on specific posts? How do you manage the responding to comments process on your blog?
Join the discussion. Let’s get talking.
28 short stories and pieces of flash fiction take the reader on a rollercoaster of twists and turns.
I’m delighted to welcome Judith Barrow to my blog today, who shares a true story about the perils of holiday letting an apartment.
Having read some of Judith’s other stories of holiday letting, there’s always a humorous side to them which I believe would not only make a fanatics book, but a television comedy show.
Will Judith’s story have you laughing as much as I did when I read it?
For many years we summer let the apartment which is attached to our house.
We had many visitors from other countries staying in our apartment and shared great times with them.
Couples from the USA, Australia enjoyed barbeques on the lawn; long boozy evenings of wine and slightly burned kebabs and steaks, of tall tales and laughter.
Visits to restaurants with people from France and Italy. Long walks and talks on the coastal paths with a couple from New Zealand that we’d met from there on holiday in Christchurch, followed by drinks in local pubs.
We had a German man stay with us for three weeks who’d come to participate in the Iron Man Wales event. He’d worked hard for twelve months, he told us and had to acclimatise himself to the course. Three days before the event, he caught a chest infection and had to drop out. Despite his anti-biotics, he still needed to join Husband in a double whisky that night.
Oh dear, I’m sensing a common theme here.
This is the story of our last visitor for the season one year.
He was a single man. We’ve had people come on holiday alone many times over the years and thought nothing of it. When he arrived, we quickly realised he could only speak a little English, and we couldn’t speak his language at all.
He hadn’t been in the apartment before he came to the door brandishing an empty bottle of washing up liquid.
“Oh, sorry,” I said, “I thought there was plenty in it.”
An hour later, washing powder was asked for by a demonstration of vigorous scrubbing at a pair of underpants.
“There’s a box of it under the sink.”
Sunday brought him to the door twice. First, with the sugar bowl.
Then the salt cellar.
“I thought I’d filled it—”
‘Used it’ quickly became the watchword whenever we supplied tea bags, vinegar or handing over shoe polish.
Monday, he arrived with an empty tube of glue.
“Sorry, we don’t supply glue.”
He stands, smiling, waggling the tube. “Used it.”
Husband went into his Man Drawer and produced a tube of Super Glue. Scowling. We never found out what the man wanted it for, even though Husband examined everything he could that would need to be stuck the following weekend.
Each day, at least once, the man came to the door to ask for something by waving the empty bottle, carton, container or label at us. Unlike most holidaymakers, he didn’t knock on the back door but always came round to ring the doorbell at the front. In the end, Husband and I would peer through the hall window.
“It’s Mr Used It,” one of us would say. “It’s your turn to go.” Pushing at one another. “You see what he wants this time.”
On Wednesday, he arrived with a cardboard roll.
“There are six more toilet rolls in the bathroom cabinet to the right of the hand basin,” I offered helpfully.
Seven rolls of toilet paper usually last a couple the whole week. I handed over four more.
“What’s happening in there,” Husband grumbled, “do-it-yourself colonic irrigation?”
On Friday, Husband produced a list. “We should charge for this lot,” he declared. “See?”
It read like a shopping list: milk/salt/sugar/vinegar/butter/tea bags/ coffee/soap/soap powder/toilet paper/shampoo/glue/shoe polish.
“Really?” I said, even though I knew the chap had been a pest. “You’ve been keeping tabs on our guest?”
“Too true.” The husband was indignant. “We could even charge him for overuse of the battery in the doorbell.”
“Except that it’s connected to the electricity.”
“Even worse!” Husband grumped off to his shed.
Saturday morning came, and the doorbell rang. Smiling, the man put his suitcase down onto the ground and, vigorously, shook hands with both of us. He waved towards the apartment.
“Used it,” he said. “Very nice.”
About Judith Barrow
Judith Barrow is originally from Saddleworth, a group of villages on the edge of the Pennines, in the UK. She now lives with her husband and family in Pembrokeshire, Wales, where she has lived for over forty years.
Judith has an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David’s College, Carmarthen. She also has BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University.
She is a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council and holds private one to one workshops on all genres.
She has written all her life and has had short stories, poems, plays, reviews and articles published throughout the British Isles. She only started to seriously write novels after having breast cancer twenty years ago.
When not writing or teaching, she enjoys doing research for her writing, walking the Pembrokeshire coastline and reading and reviewing books.
1914 – and everything changes for Jessie on a day trip to Blackpool. She realises her true feelings for her childhood friend, Arthur. Then just as they are travelling home from this rare treat, war is declared.
Arthur lies about his age to join his Pals’ Regiment. Jessie’s widowed mother is so frightened of the future, she agrees to marry the vicious Amos Morgan, making Jessie’s home an unsafe place for her.
Before he leaves, Arthur and Jessie admit their feelings and promise to wait for each other. Arthur gives Jessie a heart-shaped stone to remember him. But with Arthur far away, their love leaves Jessie with a secret that will see her thrown from her home and terribly abused when she can hide the truth no longer. Faced with a desperate choice between love and safety, Jessie must fight for survival, whatever the cost.
Click on the book cover to buy The Heart Stone
More Books from Judith
Click on the book covers to buy Judith’s books.
My thanks to Judith for writing this guest post.
If you have any questions or comments for Judith, please leave them in the comments section. She’d be delighted to hear from you.
Do you have a true story you’d like to share on my blog? Contact me via the ‘Contact Hugh’ button on the menubar.
I’m delighted to welcome Sally Cronin to my blog today, sharing a true story that had me laughing all day after I read it. It bought back many happy memories of a similar nature for me, especially some of the parts I played in school plays and amateur dramatics.
Many of you will know Sally from her successful blog where she is constantly helping to promote the works of bloggers, authors and writers alike.
Will Sally’s story have you as staged-struck and laughing in the aisles as I was after reading it?
My two sisters who were ten and eleven years older than I was, both trained as secretaries, which led to them having some interesting and high level jobs over the years.
However, I decided at an early age that I wanted to be a singer and actress! The desire to follow this career path was my mother’s fault really. Apart from the fact that she had a bit of a flair for the dramatic, she manipulated me into being her co-conspirator every Saturday afternoon.
My father loved football, and after he had cooked us one of his Spaghetti Bolognese lunches, followed by steamed treacle duff as he called them, we would retire to the lounge where our television took pride of place. I would have been about seven or eight at the time and my mother would coerce me into facilitating her viewing pleasure; the Saturday afternoon musical on BBC2.
Of course this conflicted with the afternoon football offering by Grandstand on BBC1. Fortunately my father had a weakness. Stoked up with carbohydrates and sugars from lunch, within 10 minutes of the match starting, he would be stretched out in his recliner, snoring.
In the good old days it was necessary to get up and down to switch channels, and this is where I came in.
As soon as my father began snoring, my mother would nudge me, and I would creep across the carpet to turn the channel over to BBC2 and the Saturday musical. Things did get a little hectic at times if there was a temporary change to my father’s breathing. At a shove from my mother, I would leap up from the sofa, dash across the room and switch channels back to the football. My father would watch blearily for about five minutes then resume his afternoon nap.
This would happen several times during the course of the movie, and as the final credits scrolled up the screen, I would turn the channel back over to BBC 1. My father would wake up to enjoy the cup of tea my mother had made, convinced he had watched 90 minutes of fancy footwork, but not the kind we had been watching.
This Saturday afternoon ritual fuelled my love of dancing and singing. My heart and soul burned to be the lead, dancing and singing my way through the performances like Ginger Rogers, Esther Williams (yes I would have done synchronised swimming if called for) Deborah Kerr, Mitzi Gaynor etc.
I had seen South Pacific at age ten and I would have even taken the role of Bloody Mary given half the chance. I knew all the lyrics from all the popular musicals of the day and wept buckets as John Kerr lip synched to “Younger than Springtime”; and I could perform all the songs from the Sound of Music.
Over the next few years I was lucky enough to be cast in a number of school plays. Being tall for my age, it usually involved me standing completely still for thirty minutes in the guise of a tree or some other inanimate object.
I did attempt to achieve some form of recognition for my talents, which included dressing in Swiss costume and dragging one of my friends around to old people’s homes to entertain the residents with the songs from The Sound of Music (they were very appreciative, let me tell you!).
This did not impress my parents, who were adamant that when I left school, I must train as a secretary, as drama was not a profession to be relied on.
I left school in September 1969 at age 16 and enrolled in technical college for a year’s secretarial course. Over the course of the next twelve months, I became very proficient in shorthand and typing, but it was the extra classes we took in English that I enjoyed the most.
Our teacher also taught drama, and had trained more than a few successful actors and actresses over the years. To my delight, she was casting for that year’s drama production which was the operetta “Passion Flower”, based on the story of Carmen, but adapted for the amateur stage.
Without informing my parents I auditioned. I was rather expecting to be cast as part of the scenery again, but you can imagine my absolute thrill when our producer chose me to play Micaela – Carmen’s rival for the matador’s affections. Something that I kept from my parents, and they assumed I would be part of the chorus as usual.
Police cadets did their initial training at the college, and several of these were roped in to play the soldiers. Our producer recruited outside talent from her drama group to play the leads including an Australian dentist in his mid-thirties who took on the role of the matador, Escamillo, and a wonderful young singer called Julie took the part of Carmen.
The performances ran for three nights, and by the final evening I had almost conquered my nerves, despite the fact there were two very important people in the audience. I had persuaded my parents to come on the last night, with the expectation that it was likely to be the most flawless performance of the three.
I was desperately hoping that if they saw how passionate I was about acting (and my talent); they might relent in their objections to me attending drama school.
I can still remember standing in the wings that night, knees quaking as I prepared for the cat fight with Carmen, followed by being manhandled by the soldiers as they pulled us apart enthusiastically.
All was going very well until we reached the final scene when Escamillo threw a rose onto poor dead Carmen’s body, having been stabbed by a former lover, and then pulled me into his arms for a passionate kiss!
Unbeknownst to the rest of the cast, our lead actor had been celebrating the end to the run by consuming a number of cans of beer hidden in the wings. This certainly gave his performance some extra gusto which our producer put down to exuberance. As I swanned across the stage and into his arms for the expected stage kiss, he bent me over backwards and gave me a hearty smacker, before picking me up and rushing off stage.
Cue a very loud gasp from the cast clustered around poor Carmen’s corpse and from the front row where my mother and father were seated with other VIP guests. I can only assume they had already been taken aback by my starring role as a floozy, in an off the shoulder blouse, big earrings and a penchant for men in uniform.
I also had an inkling that these last few minutes had not gone down well. My erstwhile suitor and I joined the cast and clasped hands, bowing in appreciation of the applause. All I could focus on was my father, arms crossed with a very frosty look on his face.
My mother told me later that my father had turned to her and shouted over the applause, ‘Who is that man and what was he up to with our daughter?” At this point, a woman who was sat next to my mother announced furiously ‘That would be my husband.”
As you can imagine, this fiasco did not further my ambitions to be allowed to attend drama school. Two weeks later, when I had graduated with my secretarial diploma, the evening paper’s employment section was strategically placed next to my beans on toast for supper. Probably for the best, as I have enjoyed a wonderful variety of jobs across a number of industries including broadcasting.
However, my love of musicals has never diminished, and who knows… maybe one day!
About Sally Cronin
After a career in customer facing roles in the hospitality, retail, advertising and telecommunications industry, Sally wrote and published her first book in 1999 called Size Matters, about her weight loss journey, losing 150lbs in 18 months. This was followed by 13 further fiction and non-fiction books, including a number of short story collections.
Sally’s aim was to create a watering hole on her blog to provide a wide number of topics to chat about…..This year in September 2021, Smorgasbord in its current format, celebrated its 8th anniversary.
As important as her own promotion is, Sally believes it’s important to support others within our community. She offers a number of FREE promotional opportunities on her blog, linked to social media.
Having lived a nomadic existence most of her life, Sally is now settled on the coast of Wexford in Southern Ireland with her husband of 40 years, enjoying the odd sunny day and the rain that puts the Emerald in the Isles.
Sally’sLatest Book – Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet
Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet is a collection of short stories with scattered poetry, reflecting the complexities of life, love and loss.
The stories in the collection dip into the lives of men and women who are faced with an ‘event’ that is challenging and in some cases life changing.
Even something as straightforward as grocery shopping online can be frustrating, and a DNA test produces surprise results, the past reaches out to embrace the present, and a gardening assistant is an unlikely grief counsellor. Romance is not always for the faint-hearted and you are never too old for love. Random acts of kindness have far reaching consequences and some people discover they are on a lucky streak. There are those watching over us who wish us well, and those in our lives who wish us harm.
I’ve been involved in some great discussions on Twitter. This one inspired this post.
How did all this start?
It all started when I came across a tweet from an indie author advertising one of his books.
While checking out his Twitter profile, I noticed that one of the right things he’d done was to include a link to his blog. His books looked interesting, so I decided to check out his blog and engage with him.
However, several weeks later, he had not acknowledged or responded to any comments or questions left on his blog posts. Yet he remained active by publishing new blog posts a couple of times a week.
This got me thinking not only about bloggers who do not respond to comments, but some of the responses I often see – those lazy responses that James referred to.
Now I know it’s up to each blogger how they handle comments left on their posts, but am I the only blogger who finds that not responding to comments is a strange occurrence?
After all, leaving good meaningful comments does seem to work. Take a look at Marsha’s response to some comments I’d left on one of her blog posts.
Short comments – do you like them?
What do you think about comments such as Great Post, Nice Story, or Lovely photos? Have you left comments like those or asked yourself ‘why don’t they tell us what made it a great post, nice story, or what it was that made those photos lovely ?
How to respond to short comments
Reader – “Great post.”
Me – “Thanks!”
Reader – “You’re welcome.”
Are those comments beneficial or should they be deleted?
Why do readers’ leave ‘Great post’ comments?
Is it because they’re trying to read and leave comments on too many blog posts in too little time?
Do they feel guilty if not leaving any kind of comment on a post they read so short ones will do?
Is it because they haven’t really read the post?
Is it because they don’t have the time to get into any discussion about the topic of the post?
Is it because what they were going to say has already been said by somebody else?
What are lazy responses?
For me, they’re the types of responses that let all the air out of your blogging balloon. You’ve left a great comment that opens up for a discussion about the post you’ve just read, but all you get back is a ‘Thank youfor your comment.’
How deflated does that kind of response make you feel when you left a comment that asks questions and opens up a discussion?
I believe this is what James was referring to in his answer to my question on Twitter. But is a lazy response any better than no response at all?
Maybe you’re somebody who doesn’t mind getting and leaving short comments. Are there any reasons why you leave them?
What are the benefits of leaving short comments?
Maybe you’re somebody who doesn’t like getting into discussions on your blog posts?
Are there any benefits to leaving lazy responses?
If I told you that I delete any comments that only include emojis or words such as ‘Great post‘, would you think I was being too harsh?
Finally, this reply to my question on Twitter really got my attention.
What do you think about Lydia’s answer? Do people really care whether you respond to their comments or not?
How would you respond to the question I asked on Twitter? Do you like getting into discussions when replying to comments on your blog posts? Let’s cary on the discussion here. Join the conversation by leaving me a comment.
Thank you to Marje Mallon, who blogs at M. J. Mallon – YA/Paranormal Author, for asking me a question about blogging after reading my blog post ‘Do You Have A Question About Blogging…’
Marje’s asked two questions, which I’m going to answer as best I can. Here they are –
With millions of blogs out there, Marje’s first question is one I get asked a lot.
Every time we hit the publish button, our blog posts are launched into vast cyberspace in the hope that they will stand out enough from all the other millions of blog posts out there.
How do we make sure our post is brighter than all the others?
For me, the most crucial part of a blog post is its title. If it doesn’t stand out or is eye-catching enough, then it’s likely that it will fade away fast. Almost certainly, after a few weeks, it will probably be long forgotten and never receive any further attention.
I firmly believe that when getting the title of a blog post right, you’re already halfway to getting a blog post to stand out.
The other half, of course, is getting the content of the post right. Get the title and the content correct, and you’re well on your way to having a successful outstanding blog post on your hands.
Why? Because it opens the door to make it stick in the memories of many of the people who read it.
Many of those readers may save the post so they can refer to it in the future. It’s also likely to attract lots of attention by way of comments and by being shared on social media and other blogs.
Indeed, the number of shares a blog post gets on social media will almost certainly tell the author if their blog post has stood out.
Of course, some will share the blog post of others they are friendly with regardless of what the post is about, but if other readers who are little known to the author also chose to share it, then that is when the author knows their post has stood out.
The same goes for when a post is shared via a reblog, Press This, or by way of a pingback on another blog. If the number of shares is more than average (taking away those who always share the posts of certain bloggers), then it will have stood out.
Keep publishing blog posts that have eye-catching titles and excellent content that engages those who read it, and it won’t be long before the whole blog starts to stand out.
When it comes to content, don’t rush the post and publish it on the same day you write it. Give it time so you can go back to it and make changes that will make it stand out even more.
Remember, blogging is a marathon, not a sprint.
What are some of the key elements when deciding on the title of a blog post?
Making sure the title makes sense and reads correctly.
Word it in way that will make the reader want to find out more.
Ensuring the title is not misleading and has little or nothing to do with the content.
And, of course, ensuring you have a title for your blog post.
You’d be surprised by how many blog posts I come across that have no titles.
Did you know that when a blog post with no title is published on WordPress, the title is made up of a random row of numbers?
That doesn’t look good, does it?
If you really are stuck for a good blog post title, ask yourself what title would make you want to click the link to read the post you’ve just written.
Once you have your title, try inserting it into a headline analyser and see what score it gets. The higher the score, the more likely your blog post title will attract search engines and readers. I use CoSchedule for this. Click here to try it out for free.
What else can I do to get my blog post titles to stand out?
To get my blog post titles to stand out, I like to ask a question or use certain words in the title such as –
And don’t forget to add an excerpt after your blog post title. This will help the post stand out even more.
Look for opportunities to write guest posts for other bloggers.
Open up the opportunity for other bloggers to write guest posts for your blog.
Ensure you promote your blog and blog posts on all your social media accounts.
Now, you may have come up with the best blog titles in the world and have excellent content in your posts, but remember that if the layout of your blog is not friendly or inviting, then you’ll be dimming the way your blog stands out.
What are some of the most critical aspects of making a blog stand out from the rest?
The name and subtitle of the blog.
A good blog theme that matches what you blog about.
Easy to use and accessible menu and widget bars that do not include any broken links.
A blog that downloads quickly (especially photos and images). Click here for some tips on how to improve your WordPress site speed and performance.
Using neutral or coloured backgrounds that do not strain the eyes or make reading posts difficult.
Ensuring that the font (and the size of the font) used is easy and comfortable to read.
The layout of your blog is not cluttered (e.g. too many items in the menu bar).
Any images or photos do not overlap with other images or text (especially on the email notifications that are sent out).
Images and photos are aligned correctly (especially on email notifications that are sent out).
Using the latest software and tools available when drafting posts.
Publishing blog posts that are of good quality content that invite readers to engage with you and each other.
With regards to Marje’s second question – ‘how do you successfully combine an author platform and a blog?‘, I believe there are several choices open to an author who also has a blog.
Some authors will have one blog purely for their books, their current work-in-progress, author interviews, etc., and another blog for more personal stuff that does not include anything about their books.
Some will have two (or more) blogs that combine everything, but this is something I don’t recommend as it is likely that there is a lot of repeated and duplicated information on each blog.
Then there are authors, like myself, who will have everything on one blog.
I think the main thing to remember when combining an author platform and a blog is continuity.
The author should stick to using the same photo, logos, and themes on all their social media accounts, blogs and author platforms. This helps readers identify you as the owner and gives you a brand.
If you’re a blogger who already has a book published, ensure your author platforms (such as Goodreads) follow the same theme as your blog. That way, your readers will instantly know it’s you when they see your page.
Thank you so much for your questions, Marje. I hope my answers have helped?
Connect with Marje
Blog – for information about new releases, photos of main characters/character interviews, book reviews and inspiration: https://mjmallon.com