Commenting is a creative extension of the art of good conversation…
To sustain the extension we need to abide by some basic rules that can make conversation truly engaging, experiential and immensely exciting. No one likes off repeated and mechanical stream of comments.
Leaving a comment like “great post”, loved your post”, very interesting post”, “wow”, “wonderful post”, has little value if it is not qualified with qualitative insights or quantified analysis.
Here are some ground rules if followed religiously can make a significant difference in establishing a connection and building a communication that is mutually enriching as a blogger both for the writer and the reader.
Rule (1): The Early Bird
Blogosphere is an ocean. Like the sea birds in the ocean who knows where to go and when to go for the fishing, the blogger should also know where to go and when to go for commenting. It is humanly impossible to read all the blogs. We have to be selective. We have to spot and select the blogs that we should be reading regularly and those set of blog posts we should attempt to read on the list of early birds who can catch the insects.
We have the RSS feed.
We get informed the moment the post gets published. The number of insects are limited.
Insects are a metaphor.
The life of a post is limited. Commenting at the fag-end of the life of a post may not get the much-needed interest in the extension to the discussion on the topic.
Rule (2): The Value Addition
On reading a post, we should decide whether to comment on not to comment. Commenting is not compulsory. We shouldn’t go with a preformed mindset. In this blog we should comment and in those blogs we shouldn’t comment. It is not mandatory to comment on every post we read.
If we feel the topic has touched our heart and it is critically questioning our assumption or it has intrigued us or we are truly inspired, then we should respond.
The response should come in terms of creating a new perspective, adding a new dimension to the topic or building a new part to the conversation. This not only gives a value addition to the topic in conversation it also provides a value addition to the person behind the comment.
Value added comments adds a deeper insight into the mind of the reader and if the reader is also wearing the bloggers cap, it adds a fine feather to blogger’s cap.
Rule (3): Share not Sale
This appears like a ready-made market.
It is tempting why not display some of my products as so many interesting customers keep visiting this market. This is not the place to sell ourselves or sale our services directly.
If we engage in selling do it becomes totally anachronistic.
This is a place where we have to follow a code of conduct, not always written but the unwritten ones that has to be properly understood and sincerely followed. There definitely should be any attempt made or effort put to showcase our ability to engage in a meaningful conversation. Many times we do so with leaving a link and with writing a few lines one what we have done.
This can potentially break the subtle relationship that we could have possible made with a fair commenting practice.
Rule (4): Agree to Disagree
This is one of the most important rules to “make a difference” in the conversation of good commenting practice.
Generally the practice is to agree and align with the perspective presented by the writer. It is no doubt a good practice. But if the practice is not periodically re-looked and revamped it becomes stereotype. Though it is equally important to strike a good balance between the agreement and disagreement of views, getting inclined towards consensus or getting skewed towards contrarian views can get us branded as a holder of extreme point of view.
The art lies in the balance, it is a balancing act and we should know how to agree to disagree.
Rule (5): Art of Questioning
Commenting is not only about answering to the questions raised in the topic but is also about the art of questioning what is presented in the post. Raising some valid questions can make the topic more interesting and the conversation in the comment more enriching.
It is not an easy art.
The art of questioning is knowing what to question, what not to question and how to question.
Yes, the question has to be meaningful and the question should have the potential to “make a difference” in the quality of conversation. The more we read the threads of conversation the better we become in the art of questioning and the art of conversation.
Rule (6): Knowing how to Start
There are different ways to start the lines of comment.
The opening statement sets the tone for continuing the commenting. We can start with our judgment stating that it is indeed a wonderful post, truly insightful to brilliantly written and there are many adjectives we can add and make the opening statement superlatives, but it may not stand the ground if we are not able to sustain it with substantive analysis.
The “qualitative interpretation” that matters.
Instead of starting with a value judgment we can start with the line that has really impressed us and make that quote as the opening statement which gives credence to our comment that we have read the post sincerely and have done so thoroughly.
The choice of words in the opening line has to be deeply contextual.
Rule (7): Knowing when to Stop
This is where we are most likely to falter.
The question what’s so big deal about ending a commenting conversation. One needs to be tactful and it is much easier said then done. What’s so great about stopping the comment, it sounds simple but it is indeed deceptive, there is a such a subtle connection that gets gradually built between the blogger and the reader during each such bouts of smaller sessions of comment conversation.
“It adds a human touch.”
The expression of emotional feelings.
The little touch of caring.
The ending has to match the mood and to the construction of that particular commenting session. We are always not in good mood or have the right frame of mind to go for a longer conversation. There are instances where we love to extend the conversation. But we have to equally judge the pulse on the other side to spot the right set of sessions for extended conversations.
We may be ready but the blogger isn’t for an extended conversation.
An abrupt end or conversations that keeps mechanically dragging, are not signs of building a good commenting practice. And the art of good commenting comes with practice, more practice and it comes with being cognizance of the emotions and feelings embedded in the conversation.