How should I respond to comments?

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —February 1, 2005
Filed in Collaboration

I’ve been thinking about how to best develop a conversation on my blog. So far when someone has made a comment I’ve read it and sometimes emailed the commenter thanking them for the effort but most of the time I’ve done nothing more than read the comment. Not good enough.

Nancy White has just made a post referring to some ideas from Teresa Nielsen Hayden on how to cultivate community in a blog environment. I think the suggestions are practical and useful. But I still have some basic questions.

Should I respond to comments with comments of my own? Should I include the comment in a follow up post and respond to the idea? Or should I update the original post with the comment (suggested in Nancy’s post)?

I would love to know what you think.

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About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:


  1. Nancy White says:

    Shawn, I’ve been experimenting with this as well. Here is what I’ve learned so far.
    1. I try to respond to most comments, but sometimes I don’t or there doesn’t seem to be a response called for.
    2. I’ve tried responding on the commentor’s blog, and then tag it on delicious with mycomments tag so I can find/track it later. What I find is that if I take it to their blog I quickly forget where I’ve posted what. The delicious tag is an effort to better track, but still, it requires me to pay attention a bit more than I have time for.
    3. I’ve seen some folks experimenting with a hybrid between Wikis and Blogs. Ton Zylstra was writing about this last fall. For me comments rarely get to the dialog or conversational level. Too “ping pong-y” – so maybe there is a solution that is part tool, part process.

  2. fling93 says:

    Not all comments warrant a response from the blogger. My approach is to respond to all that do with a comment. I think any sort of back-and-forth is best done in one place, where you don’t need any mouse-clicks to navigate through the discussion. And if they wrote a comment that looked like it wanted a response, I assume they’ll check back for one (ideally, most blog comment systems would have more advanced message board features, like automatic notification, but alas…). If my response is much later than the original comment, I sometimes send an e-mail as well.
    If the comment gets too long, I make it a blog post and create a comment linking to it. I view comment sections as a place to find diversity of opinion, the spirit of which is stifled by a long comment.
    In addition, I try to make it a habit to at least check out the commenter’s blog, and if I comment there, it’s generally on one of their blog post’s topic, and not my original post.

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