Comments Count!

A lot of the learning from blogging happens as a result of commenting and interaction between commenters.   Comments that challenge views, ideas and thoughts or provide alternative solutions expand our thinking.

Trouble is most readers are reluctant commenters, not because of lack of time, but because they feel uncomfortable leaving comments.

Please leave a comment to demonstrate the power of commenting by sharing your thoughts on:

  1. Reasons why readers mightn’t leave comments on blog posts
  2. What makes a good comment?
  3. What are some of your tips for encouraging readers to comment?

Are You Being A More Effective Blogger By Tracking Comments?

When I leave comments on other blogger’s posts I like to be notified on any new comments that are posted.  Maybe it is just me?  But comments by other readers and response(s) by the blogger help my learning.

Being notified of follow up comments means I can choose to continue the conversation by returning to the post to add further comments — this makes me a more effective blogger.  Needless to say, after 18 months of tracking comments, I’m ‘quite’ good at it.

Subscribing by RSS

There are several comment tracking services that allow you to subscribe to new commenting by RSS using your feed reader.   RSS is always my preferred choice when available because it makes my life easier.

Image of comment shutdown

I was using co.mments and cocomment but co.mments was discontinuing their services and shut down as of today!

Here is my detailed post on how to keep track on of new comments on other bloggers’ posts using cocomment.  One definite benefit of cocomment is if your comment is accidentally lost and you can normally find a copy of what you’ve written in your cocomment account e.g. your comment failed to post due to problems with the anti-spam word.

I’m now also using Commentful which is okay, as a backup, but doesn’t give me the type of RSS feed I like.

Subscribing by Email

There are several options if  you prefer email to RSS.

Some bloggers use the Subscribe to Comments plugin which allows readers to select ‘‘ when they write comments.  This means each time a new comment is posted you will recieve an email.

For posts that don’t have the option to ‘‘ you can always use:

  1. Commentful
  2. Bloppy
  3. Cocomment – select email notification in your account settings

Both comment tracking services provide the ability to track comments by email.

Image of Bloppy


People often ask me how I’m able to respond quickly to comments on other bloggers posts.  Hopefully this has answered those questions.

Would love to hear your thoughts! Do you like to track comments on other bloggers posts? If so, what is your method(s)?  What tips do you have for being more effective at tracking comments?

This was part of the Day 8 Task for Building a Better Blog.

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Emailing New Readers Who Leave Comments

Wasn’t me who said I’m currently unable to revisit Darren Rowse’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog while also reflecting on Steve Dembo’s 30 Days to Being A Better Blogger!

Course I’m able! Simple… I will write posts about each task on this blog but based on my interpretation of what’s 31 Days 8) .

Using Email For Relationship BuildingImage of community

The first task of the 31 Days Project is to email a new reader of your blog.

Why? Helps build relationships while demonstrating you’re grateful they’ve taken the time to comment. Writing comments and engaging in conversations on posts is intimidating for many readers. Yet readers’ comments are where so much of the learning happens for edubloggers.

Would I recommend that edubloggers make a practice of emailing at least one new reader a day? Your decision. There’s pros and cons.

What I can say is bloggers such as Beth Kanter, a non-profit blogger, and Larry Ferlazzo often respond to comments, to both new and old time readers, by sending an email. Being on the receiving end of their emails definitely makes me feel valued.

If you do respond to comments by email I also recommend leaving a comment to the reader on your own post. This demonstrates to all readers that you both read their comments and value their input.

Tip For Email Response

An easy method is to use the comment notification email:

  1. Click on reply
  2. Replace your email in To: field with their email address
  3. Remove the text at the bottom of the comment
  4. Write your response or thanks above the original comment notification text

Image of responding by email

Besides being an effective method of responding it also provides the reader with reference to their comment and gives context to the email.


Thanks to Lisa Dick’s coordination, there is now 15 bloggers working together on the 31 Day Challenge. Would love for you to join us – leave a comment if you’re interested. And if you like you can bend the space-time continuum like me to interpret 31 Days as……

What are your thoughts? Do you email readers? What do you see as the pros and cons?

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Finishing My Homework as The Comment Challenge Comes To An End

30 days has September, April, June and November. Today is 31st May which means the Comment Challenge is coming to an end. Trouble is I’m still trying hard to complete my homework and would love your help!

Could you please share your “Top 5 lessons you learned from the Comment Challenge” — from anyone regardless of if you participated in the daily challenges.

Day 19: Respond to a Commenter On Your Own Blog

Responding back to comments on your own blog posts demonstrates you value your readers’ input and encourages further conversation leading to increased learning. How Tony Karrer responds back to comments on his Reframing Conference Social Tool Participation post is an excellent example of its benefits.

Day 20: Three Links Out

This task was based on Dave Ferguson “three links out” method to explore blogs that aren’t as familiar to you and hopefully on the third link a post that you want to comment on. Dave included his example of following the link from Cammy Bean post to Cathy Moore post ended at Tom Kuhlmann. Dave says “Often three links out will take me to unexpected places, like the surprisingly engrossing conversation you can have with the right stranger during a long flight”.

I’m sure Dave will understand when I say I decided not to do this task. My blog subscription is high already plus I visit blogs “new to me” and comment on them on a weekly basis. Definitely a great way to explore and find blogs if wanting to increase your blog subscriptions.

Day 21: Make a Recommendation

As Michele says “we’ll often recommend another blog, a post or a resource that we’ve read in our blog posts but we may not always do that in comments”. A common reason why people don’t recommend is they aren’t sure of how to add the link.

It’s easy when writing a blog post to add a link because you can use your visual editor but for comments to helps if you understand how to write the HTML code for the link.

Here is how you write the HTML code to add a link in a comment:

<a href=””>Welcome to the Edublogger</a> produces Welcome to the Edublogger. Most blogging platforms allow you to use HTML code to insert links (TypePad maybe is the exception?)

Day 22: Highlight a Favorite Comment

Just as I couldn’t give an award (for Day 15 task) to one or a few of my commenters I can’t highlight a favorite comment. I’m grateful whenever anyone takes the time to comment because each comment inspires me in different ways.

Day 23: What Makes a Great Comment?

Once again I’m just happy when someone does take the time to write a comment — that in itself makes a great comment. However Ken Allan’s 10 points for writing a great comment and Kirsti Dyer’s Thoughts on Being a Great Blog Commenter for Day 23 do provide some excellent tips. I’m also looking forward to reading Miss W. students thoughts on what makes a great comment.

Day 24: Comment on a Blog Written in a Foreign Language

I suggested this task because I have several readers that English is not their main language. As English bloggers we don’t realise we are being very English centric; expecting others to read our blogs in English while not reading their blogs written in other languages.

Fortunately Google translator is expanding languages translated so am now able to read

Day 25: Take a Break!


Day 26: Exploring Other Ways to Comment

I confess! I cheated on my homework!

Our task was to consider whether or not you think multimedia is a better option and how it might impact learning. I already had my own views on video and audio commenting but wanted to hear a range of thoughts so I asked my twitter network for their input. Here are their thoughts:


  1. Benefits those whose typing ability is limited but speaking ability isn’t – Lisa Parisi
  2. Video comments are fun to do. Audio not so much – Kathryn Greenhill


  1. Bandwidth takes longer to get and absorb comment – Gary Barber
  2. Written very fast on uptake of comment. Easier to reply to written commentsGary Barber
  3. Text of what you say isn’t indexable/searchable thus findable – Kathryn Greenhill
  4. Not every one has the hardware – James Kingsley

Video comments were popular during the Comment Challenge and you can check out participants thoughts on video commenting on these posts:

  1. Kate Foy’s Words and/or Moving Pictures
  2. Greg Schwartz’s New Feature Video Commenting
  3. Kevin’s Comment Challenge Video

What I liked about the video comments was it gave me greater insight into each person.

I also really loved:

  1. Kevin’s Comment Challenge as a SketchCast
  2. Claire Thompson’s Enough Texty Already (a reflection of what the Comment Challenge has meant to her using SketchCast)

Day 27: What Do You Communicate About Your Personal Brand Through Comments

Personal branding made some Challenge participants feel uncomfortable which lead to a great conversation about branding, online identity and voice. I’m very conscious of the need of personal branding and having a recognisable online identity.

Developing our own unique identity is an important part of being online which we don’t always appreciate when we first start setting up our online accounts. Personal connection is really important for interacting online. The better others can visualize you as a real person the more likely they will be to want connect and network with you. Tips for creating online identity are covered in my Is Your Photo Avatar Making You Look OLD? post.

My tips for creating online identity when commenting are:

1. Have one online identity across all accounts

Using one online identity makes it easier for others to connect and relate to you. When starting out we often feel nervous about using our own identity but it is much easier to relate to real names. My username was originally dswaters — which is rather meaningless and if a person wanted to respond they had to work out who I was (and what gender). My solution has been to:

  1. Set my Edublogs account to my preferred name i.e. Sue Waters
  2. Use NAME/URL option, if available, when submitting my comments on blogger blogs
  3. When NAME/URL option isn’t an option on a blogger blog I sign the bottom of my comment with Sue Waters, add my blog name below and have edited my blogger profile to link to my blog.

2. Ensure consistent voice in writing posts and commenting

“Voice” is the emotions, imaginary and feelings we convey mainly in the text we write. Blogging is about creating our own unique, authentic voices that distinguishes us as who we are and what we stand for. We do need to be very careful with our voice because:

  1. The visual image people have of us will depend on the level/types of interactions and whether it is based solely on text
  2. Written text can easily be misinterpreted (as can what we don’t say can be misinterpreted). For example what we think as humor may be wrongly interpreted.

When you write comments remember to make sure your voice is consistent with how you post. Try not to let yourself down by saying something inappropriate in a comment that you wouldn’t say in a blog post.

Challenge we face is over time our readers build a picture of who we are and what they believe we stand for. This a gradual process that happens as a result of them interacting with our blogs. When we write comments on other people blogs — the blogger and their readers don’t necessarily have that image already created so it is easier for them to make erroneous decisions on who you are based on your comments.

Day 28: What’s Your Blog Commenting Strategy?

Okay this task made me feel uncomfortable. I don’t like to think of commenting as a strategy rather a very important part of my daily routine for two main reasons:

  1. It’s an important part of my personal learning; my learning is enhanced by reading other people’s post and interacting through commenting.
  2. Over the years people have supported and mentored me so I like to pay this back by supporting others especially new bloggers.

I comment when:

  1. I agree and want to extend
  2. I disagree and want to share my opinion
  3. I want to support a blogger (especially a new blogger) but try to do it in a way that extends the conversation
  4. I want to thank a blogger when they link to my posts

Day 29: Write a Commenting Guide for Students

Since challenge participants have worked hard of creating Commenting Guides for students I decided that I would tackling this task by listing their resources for others to check out:

  1. Kirsti D. Dyer Commenting Guide for Online students (College and Graduate) based on her Six C’s on Being a Great Blog Commenter combined with her current Discussion Board Guide and Grading Rubric.
  2. Kevin shared Youth Radio Blog Netiquette developed by Gail Desler which has some great suggestions for writing comments. He also highlighted Paul Allison hyperlinked document to use as a template which allows students to get a feel for commenting.
  3. Ines Pinto explains how she has talking to her students about the “concept of brand” and how shocked they were to realise what they share online in their youth can impact their adult life. She’s considering inviting some ex-students to talk her current students in the form of a series of recorded interviews. From this the students could work collaborately to create their own Commenting Guidelines.
  4. Ken Allan created Homer 8 Comment Tips and U Comment 5 Ways — I think the younger students will really love Ken’s guides (especially Homer) .
  5. Dani’s Commenting Guide for College Students – Dani’s a librarian and archivist at an academic library.
  6. Sue Wyatt’s created an online survey for her students using Google Documents so the students can share their ideas on comments and what makes good ones. She plans to use the results from her survey to create her Commenting Guide for Students.


It’s almost a wrap 🙁 . And would like to complete my final post by sharing your “Top 5 lessons you learned from the Comment Challenge” — from anyone regardless of if you participated in the daily challenges.

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How To Effectively Manage Your Comments on Other People’s Blogs

Blogging is all about having the conversations — not talking to yourself! True conversations, which is what we want to achieve, is when we all, author and commenters interact.

Managing Comments on Other People’s blogs

I’ve many tips for keeping up the conversations on blogs but I believe the most important is being very effective at managing my comments on other people’s blogs. I use co-mment, which tracks my comments, and it notifies me automatically by sending the comment to my Google Reader account. This way when a person comments on a post that I have commented on I can choose to immediately respond back if I want. Co-mment means I can effectively manage my conversations, and they can be near instantaneous.

Setting up Co.mment Account

  1. Go to co.mment and click on Get an account to set up your account
  2. Click on Tool/Setting link and follow instructions to add bookmarklet to your web browser

Diagram of how to set up Co.mment account

Add A Post You Want To Follow To Co.mment

  1. Write your comment on the post you want to track
  2. Then click on the Co.mment bookmarklet in your web browser — make sure you are logged into your co.mment account


Subscribing To Your Comments From Co.mment Using A Feed Reader

There are a few options for recieving updates of new comments on blog conversations you are following:

  • Read them directly on your tracking page at co.mment
  • Subscribe by email — means you receive e-mail alerts when new comments are posted
  • Subscribe to your tracking page RSS feed using a Feed Reader i.e. new comments are delivered to your Feed Reader

Subscribing using RSS is the most efficient method because you can use it to manage all the information you receive e.g. comments from your co.mment tracking page, latest posts from blogs you read, your friends Flickr photos.

Subscribing to RSS from comment

Responding Back To Comments

By subscribing to my co.mment tracking page using Google Reader I’m quickly notified when a person comments on a post I’m tracking so I can quickly choose to respond back if I want.



Do you use comment tracking applications? If so, do you prefer co.mment or cocomment and why? What are your tips for achieving true conversations on blogs?

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How keep track of new comments on other bloggers’ posts

Frustrated because you like to read new comments on other bloggers’ posts when you have added a comment and find it time consuming to keep going back to the post to see if there is new comment? Well – you don’t need to!

Thankfully Cammie helped me out by telling me about Co-mment.

Here is how you use Co-mment:

  1. Add the Bookmarket to your Web browser
  2. Create an account with Co-mment
  3. Every time you comment on a post you press the Track co.mments
  4. Log into your co-comments account to check the updates of comments
  5. Alternatively click on the subscribe icon in your account and copy the feed address into your Feed Reader (e.g. Google Reader, Bloglines, NetVibes)


Thanks Cammie you have given me a definite timesaver. This makes commenting on other people’s posts sooooo much easier!!!