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#1 iamlost

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Posted 26 December 2010 - 03:55 PM

What with the blog being extended and co-opted by so many other social platforms and the increasing emphasis on and variety of 'local' guises the lowly comment has a new importance.

One can find discussion on the benefits of commenting, especially among the SEO crowd but the art and science of how to comment, not so much.

I will lead with a post by Brian Clark of CopyBlogger from June 2009: Is Commenting on Blogs a Smart Traffic Strategy?

No.

And yes.

It depends on how you do it.

...

In fact, you can actually attract that traffic you want via a smart commenting strategy.

Of course not everyone who comments is looking for traffic, they may, as I, simply enjoy being part of a certain community.

Regardless, how one comments might be compared to how dress and comportment labels one. So how should a comment dress and behave?

I quite enjoyed this guest post from Rob Lyman, A Little New Year's Advice, 25-December-2010.
Note: Megan McArdle, business and economics editor for The Atlantic: I'm opening up the blog on Christmas day to my long-time regulars. I'm soliciting guest posts from commentators who have been with us for a while, especially those who started on the old blog.

'Tis the season of goodwill towards men, loving our enemies, forgiving those who did us wrong, and calls for unity, civility, and an elevation of our public discourse to new heights of seriousness.


Yeah, well, Bah Humbug to all that.

Instead, I thought I'd offer my guide to effective blog commenting: one serious tip and a bunch of fun and manipulative tricks. My Christmas wish to you is that you should all find it in you to become as much of a sneaky b*****d as me.

You well hooked?

So first, the serious tip: Commenting is a performance, not a conversation. Most people who read your work will never respond. ...when you get into a reply string, you should always address the comment above yours... But the fact is, your interlocutor is not your audience, so your goal is not to persuade that person, it's to persuade (or perhaps merely entertain) the silent majority...

...

Make allusions you decline to explain. Any idiot can deploy a stupid simile... But an unexplained allusion gives anybody who understands it a nice little insider's smile--and causes them to feel a certain affinity for you, as a fellow insider. An outsider who has to go to Wikipedia to figure out what you're talking about will recognize your superior knowledge.

...

Use fake imprecision to imply greater knowledge. ...any idiot can do is look up dates online. ... On the other hand, if you can toss off references... you can make it appear that you really do know what you're talking about... As with allusions, however, you should be careful only to refer to things you do have some understanding of, lest you look like an idiot.

...

Treat stupid questions as if they were serious. ... Blogging works much the same way--monkey dancing is the dominant mode of commenting. But on the other hand, if you ... act as though you don't detect the challenge, point at something and call the questioner's attention to it--you can get inside his OODA loop (unexplained allusion! Look it up, people!) and diffuse a bad situation.
[Note: Kim, is fabulous at this :)]

...

Treat serious questions as if they were stupid. This isn't something I would do all the time. ... But sometimes an earnest question can present the perfect opportunity for mockery, especially of your opponents. ... a good opportunity to score a cheap point and maybe get a laugh or two. ... it's hard for people who disagreed to complain about unfairness, and people who were inclined to agree got a chuckle.

...

Admit to any and all faults you are accused of. Is there any point to getting huffy when somebody calls you a ---? ...They won't repeat an insult if they know it won't bother you, and you can either move on to their substantive points (if any)... For more serious commenters who have gotten off the rails a bit... such an admission is an admonishment to correct their behavior that doesn't permit them to be defensive...

...

Eagerly claim adherence to loathsome opinions. ...The purpose of this sort of admission is to highlight the stupidity of the original statement. ... Now, you could get huffy about strawmen, or engage in a bit of armchair psychologizing... but then you're being just as big of a jerk, in reverse. And nobody likes a jerk, remember? So just jump on board with it and let the stupidity shine through without any commentary from you.

...

Ask earnest questions instead of making arguments. ... Do you remember creative writing in 7th grade, when you were asked to "show, not tell" the story? Well, this is the same thing. It's easy to say "That's wrong." But it's much, much more convincing to ask a good question and get a lame answer. ... So instead of declarative sentences about the wrong wrong wrongness of somebody else, how about a little well-placed cross examination? ...your goals are better served by real questions, earnest questions--questions that are hard to answer but impossible to dismiss.

...

Never, ever attempt to pull rank. It can be tempting, when arguing with an idiot, to start ranting about what a genius you are, and all your years of education and experience, and whatnot. ... When you start telling everyone you know better than them even if it's true, you look like a jerk. And--this is becoming a bit of a theme--people will believe a moron they like over a genius they don't.

...

Let surrogates make some arguments for you.

...

Set up ludicrous a strawman--and then admit it's a strawman. Strawmen are fun, and much easier to defeat that actual arguments. So you want to use them when you can, but you don't want to have people dismiss you as just peddling strawmen. But if you admit in advance that's what they are, how can anyone accuse you of anything? ...The argument will seep in, but the fundamental invalidity has a good chance of getting filtered out.

...

Shamelessly copy from writers better than you. ... you may notice that I sprinkle my writing with locutions and one-liners I take from his books. ....makes me look smarter than I really am. Plus, it counts as an unexplained allusion, for double points!

...

Finally: Be brief. One chuckle-worthy one-liner is worth 10 lengthy policy discourses. It's not rational and it's not fair, but who cares? If you want to be fair, use more sunscreen.

To do any of the above is difficult, to do them all well and appropriately the study of a lifetime (unless one is DCrx :)).

I hope you got a Boxing Day comment bargain value for the new Year ahead. Feel free to practice here at Cre8. :)
Note: Your efforts will be critiqued and appropriately marked:
:pieinface: :rofl: :busted_cop: :thumbs: :clap: :yuk: :zz: :spanked: :cheerleader: :duh: :drunk: :frustration: :emo5: :nanacomputer:

#2 EGOL

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Posted 26 December 2010 - 08:33 PM

I still don't get it..... I think that the value of these comments evaporates over time. Instead just write content on your own site and if it is good enough to attract links it will appreciate over time. All the while the natural traffic will attract a few likes and tweets and stumbles which might generate a slowly rising sizzle over time.

This social commenting stuff seems like an effort to kill rabbits with ricochets. If you enjoy the sport then have at it... but if you are doing it with the hope of making a living (or some extra money) then I think that there are more effective ways to spend your time.

If you can produce good enough content to see it slashdotted or stumbled... just submit it once there and the fire will spread to twitter and facebook, etc. on its own. It's like tossing a ball into a room full of mousetraps.

The only real value that I can see is if a person isn't very good at producing popular content but is very good and posting about the "free beer" that doesn't exist on the website that he points to.

... like I said above.. I don't get it. ... and since everybody everywhere is talking about it all of the time I think that I must be pretty dumb. :)

... for the record... I am still puzzled about blogs... years ago they were talked about as if they were magical, silver bullets that would defeat your competitors and make you famous... I don't see it happening for the average guy.

Edited by EGOL, 26 December 2010 - 08:39 PM.


#3 iamlost

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 01:44 AM

The problem when talking about blogs is that only a large minority of blogs are actually weblogs, most are sites leveraging the lightweight CMS (I prefer the term CPS for Content Publishing System but then iamlost) backend.

Regardless, to suggest that comments value evaporate over time is to ignore how SEs, to date, have valued comments (and their links, as we know all too well) in blogs, fora, FaceBook, Twitter, etc. Comments and their siblings testimonials, recommendations, tweets and re-tweets, et al. Sui generis comments are generally treated by SEs and visitors alike as UGC (user generated content) often of substantial value.

Indeed many passionate and even scholarly discussions are carried out in the comment sections of many blogs. It is not unknown for some articles to draw hundreds, even thousands of comments - even on sites where comments are moderated.

My sites are older, the frameworks developed a decade ago, making little use of UGC, but I can see the power of community. I saw it first on BBSes in the 80s, then ListServ, then various fora. As blogging drew people away from fora, as they put their 'forum' time and posts onto their own blog domains, I feared splintering of interests into such tiny parts that community simply disappeared.

Fortunately the SEs became a method of connecting the newly disparate. And to balance that power other social accumulation frameworks such as FaceBook and Twitter. And now, with Local increasing important, comment, in all it's forms, has even more, the power to make or break or make anew a site.

In one sense the entire web, just as is Cre8 itself, nothing but pages of commentary and comments.

#4 EGOL

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 08:35 AM

Thanks! Now you have me thinking... about comments....

I don't allow commenting on my own site because I don't want to moderate. Not allowing comments sacrifices free content - some of which would be quality.

So, if I make a presence on a social site such as facebook and direct my visitors there for discussions of specific topics that match my content, then I can have an advertising island over there that produces free content.

What do you think of that?

If that approach works then some of the skills that you included in your post above might be helpful. Posting to start conversations and then periodic fire-tending if a discussion gets started.

#5 jonbey

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 10:09 AM

We talked comments, before, and I mentioned how useful I find them. Depends a lot on the type of site you have though. On mine people ask questions, which is generally how people search.

So I write about Blue Chickens, then someone will ask in a comment "I am 15 years old, how do a make my red chicken look like a blue chicken?", and then I answer it. Then a few days later someone searches Google "how to make my red chicken like a blue one?" and they find my site, and then ask their own question, and the page grows in popularity.

OK, it does not always happen like that. I wish it did. But it certainly does to an extent. Lots of searches come my way for age related (especially teenage) questions which wound not have done if it were not for the original commenters.

I treat comments as a question/answer system more than a discussion though. Not through choice, but that is just how people want to use it. Would love more specialist / educated discussion, but the pros are not interested, and really they probably would not buy much anyway.

#6 iamlost

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 02:59 PM

Over the years I have been in many conversations about the value of comments - in the broad sense - and there is a fair consensus for the following (not in any specific order):
* that with G&B looking for social, especially market->niche->site specific engagement, validation comments/reviews/testimonials/etc. are generally valuable.

* that with G&B Local emphasis, if site market is local, comment et al are currently important on site, critical on third-party, i.e. yelp, sites.

* that when product/service offering involved, either affiliate link or direct, comment et al are important to critical (some disagreements on niche differences and methodology).

* that niche and site type play a great part.

* that the quality of comment matters greatly. Some form of moderation strongly recommended.

* that at the least comments add food for long tail niche queries; that they possibly/probably add weighted value to page (original article).

* that the comment process allows communication between site and visitor which strengthens visitor sense of community that increases return visitor number and frequency.

* that the above loyalty translates into widely disparate (especially across social platforms) backlinks with great anchor/surrounding text.

I am not about to add anything to my sites. They are what they are. :)
However, if I were starting or still building now, I would strongly consider how best to include visitor involvement as part of my business model.

#7 jonbey

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 03:43 PM

My brother has a delivery business and I added a simple testimonials page to the site (wordpress comments, latest on top). Very popular page, both with new leads and happy customers. Certainly adds a lot of value to the website.

#8 EGOL

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 04:23 PM

I am not about to add anything to my sites.

We think you should build a new site just to play with this stuff. :)

#9 jonbey

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 05:02 PM

And why not add it to your sites? Or at least convert one site to a blog CPS format. Then you can thoroughly test all the theories and report back!

#10 iamlost

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 05:24 PM

iamlost: I am not about to add anything to my sites
EGOL: We think you should build a new site just to play with this stuff
jonbey: And why not add it to your sites?

I am (semi-)retired. That is why.
And I am still recovering from the illness of earlier this year.
Although I do have to remind myself occasionally as my mind still sees possibilities all about.
Have you ever seen the results of an overspeed governor failure?
I am (semi-)retired. That is why.

jonbey: Then you can thoroughly test all the theories and report back!
Nah.
Too few people ever believe my theories so why should they believe test results?
For free? Ouch! :)
Develop your own, test your own, enjoy a competitive advantage.

#11 JPRoss

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 10:32 AM

If you use good spam detection, then moderating a blog doesn't take much time. I've got mine setup so that I only have to approve a poster once, and then there replies post automatically. It's worked well and doesn't take much time.

#12 A.N.Onym

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 09:54 AM

As someone else sometimes said,

If you are writing for/on another website, you are someone else's UCG.

However, enabling comments on one's own website does have all the benefits of commenting, such as traffic, community building and links, and should be encouraged :-)

Edited by A.N.Onym, 20 November 2011 - 10:10 AM.


#13 jonbey

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 12:49 PM

If you use good spam detection, then moderating a blog doesn't take much time. I've got mine setup so that I only have to approve a poster once, and then there replies post automatically. It's worked well and doesn't take much time.


This is dangerous - a lot of spammers are well aware that many blogs are set up this way and send in one pretty comment and then if approved post the spam after. Nothing gets posted on any of my sites without my approval first. Even if visitors increased ten fold it still would not take up too much time to approve them, and if it did increase 10 fold then that would mean my job would be pretty easy from then on!

#14 Michael_Martinez

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Posted 21 November 2011 - 02:05 PM

I use the Stop Forum Spam plugin for Wordpress and rarely have to deal with spam. Akismet catches just about everything else. Of course, some legitimate people are prevented from commenting but if they contact me and let me know I can whitelist them. I also review the Akismet comments before deleting them.

And why are we discussing this in a year-old-thread that seems to have included a lot of tongue-in-cheek comment-spam-for-seo suggestions?

#15 jonbey

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Posted 21 November 2011 - 03:35 PM

Such is the nature of the Internet, conversations never die, they just take long vacations.

Another reason I moderate all comments is because I am a control freak. I like to personally read and reply to each comment (they are often questions, in fact, almost all are a question for me) so leaving all comments to auto publish risks me missing them or other people replying, which if Yahoo Answers is anything to go by would be a total disaster for my brand!

#16 glyn

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 04:07 AM

If there is one thing {I do not|I don't|I simply do not|I wouldn't|I can't} like it is when {people|individuals|folks|men and women|persons} do comment {spam|junk e-mail|unsolicited mail|junk|junk mail} in forums.

:saywhat:

#17 Michael_Martinez

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 04:58 PM

It's a little more efficient to put the "I" before the spin string. Also, you might want to use more options in each string. I especially prefer the spun comments that mix case, gender, and tense all in one paragraph.

#18 glyn

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 04:14 AM

Quite....and then some Michael. :infinite-banana:

#19 Jeanmarnina

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 06:03 AM

Spinning is just not right i believe.

#20 jonbey

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 08:45 AM

Spinning is fantastic, you can burn over 700 Calories an hour spinning!

#21 Michael_Martinez

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 09:19 PM

Spinning by hand is quite okay in my book. Many a freelancer used to do that in the good old days, before all the newspapers and magazines published their articles online.

It's the automated spinning that has led to real grief. Most people are really bad at it, but even if you're "good" at creating interesting spun content there comes a point where you're generating too many variations on the base article. I would put that point somewhere in the double digits, maybe in the 100-200 range for really long spun articles.

The average spinner probably generates several thousand articles from one base article.



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