To Respond Or Not To Respond…That Is The Question

Do you respond to every comment you get? Do you visit every person’s blog that leaves you a comment? Don’t get me wrong, when you first start blogging it is super important to respond to comments and visit and comment, visit and comment, visit and comment on other blogs. It’s like the newbie’s mantra: “Visit and Comment”. It’s important because how else are you going to get your face and your blog out there unless you get around (and I mean that in the least offensive way possible)?

But as your blog gets older and you’ve been around awhile, things change. Take for instance the number of comments you get. On Twitter the other day several of us were chatting about whether or not it’s necessary to respond to comments. To me, there’s a lot of reasons to respond to comments:

– You build relationships with your readers

– You can have longer conversations about the blog topic (or other stuff!) via email

– You can toss ideas around

– Your readers understand that you value and appreciate them.

On the other hand…

At some point, the number of comments you get everyday gets overwhelming. To not only respond to 30+ comments via email (which is easy if the commenter doesn’t have “no-reply blogger” as their email address – otherwise you have to go try to hunt their email address down and can only find it 50 percent of the time) but also visit each commenter’s blog is time consuming. Crazy time consuming, actually. And let’s look at the benefits of not responding to each comment you get:

– You have more time to visit your “regular” blogs, as well as explore new ones

– More time to spend with the kids (don’t tell me you don’t ever say “Just one more minute, honey” when you’re trying to get through comments)

– More time to do other things that you’ve been not doing…you know, cooking, cleaning, reading, gardening…

– More time to tweet (Whoops! Did I say that out loud?!)

Not that anybody asked, but here’s where I stand on responding to comments: at some point in your blogging life, you gotta draw the line. If you average 30, 40, 50+ comments a day, it’s just too time consuming and difficult to respond to every single one.

I read somewhere (and if it was your post, forgive me and email me and I’ll slap your credit in here where it’s due) that commenting is often a comment-for-a-comment type situation. You leave me a comment and I’ll leave you a comment. As much as I love comments, I’d rather someone just read my posts and enjoy reading them instead of feeling like that have to comment.

A couple of months back, I mentioned that I was going to stop responding to every comment. I was only going to respond to commentors that asked me a specific question. I still respond to some comments that are over the top or really funny/interesting/eye opening, but not to all of them. And you know what? People are still coming! They’re still commenting! I haven’t lost any readers because I’m not responding to them. Loyal readers will come whether you respond back or not, just like if you take a few days off, they’ll show back up again when you come back.

I now have more time to read more blogs and leave comments that are meaningful and thoughtful…not just “LOL, that’s funny”, although sometimes I do leave comments like that because it really was LOL funny. Comments are important and shouldn’t be dismissed or taken for granted. But let’s face it…how many blogs do you visit and leave comments on and NEVER get a reply back? Yeah I know it’s a lot of blogs, not a lot of responses back, right?

So where do you stand? To respond or not to respond? Agree or disagree? Have another viewpoint? Have more questions about commenting? Blogging in general? Reader loyalship? Let me know!

And so it goes…

I have a review and giveaway of Snikiddy snacks up at Makes Fun of Stuff…stop by for your chance to win!

Comments

  1. I have a plugin on my blog that emails the commenter when I reply to them on my blog. So I usually comment IF there is a comment to be made. Some comments there is nothing to reply to it. However I don't visit just because you commented. I don't feel bad if I don't reply to a comment right away or not at all. Life is first. Once you start establishing yourself you have to create guidelines for yourself. It is just the facts of life.
  2. frazzledmomma says:
    I feel both ways. Sometimes I respond to all the comments, sometimes none, sometimes one... A lot for me, is to do with whether the comment is about what I blogged or if it's just "hey, we need to get together again! Call me!"

    I have several blogs I follow (like THIS one!).. but I also have seven monsters, and I don't always comment on the ones I read religiously.

    So I'm fairly new at this game. So what? Here's the gospel according to the Monster House Momma: I'd rather be known for the quality of my comments, rather than the quantity.

    Great post! May have to link to it... or just beg you to guest blog for us! ;)
  3. The mad woman behind the blog says:
    I too only reply to those that beg a response. Usually those comments are from my good friends, loyal readers.
    Now if I could kick the need to read everything in my reader. Got a suggestion for that?
    See, I asked a question. Like that?
  4. LOL you have superb insight on topic. Please visit my blog at www.funnyorsnot.com
  5. Commenting is like a whole separate art form. Which I totally suck at, by the way. I try to respond to and leave comments for my readers as much as I can, which unfortunately is not very much at all. But I only have a limited amount of time in a day to blog, so I usually spend it writing my own stuff. Oh well, what can you do.
  6. You should totally follow that Poppy chick; she's hysterical.

    Nat, I have gone back and forth on this one! When I was new, I really tried to read LOTS of posts and comment appropriately. I'll admit I probably did a few "follow-me" blog hops but they left me hanging. I really wanted to read some cool stuff and meet other people who liked to read and write.

    And now? I would rather have someone visit and read my post because they wanted to; not because I commented on their blog post and it's payback. However, since I sometimes neglect my reader for days on end, if I see a comment on my post from someone who I enjoy reading, I may hop right over to see what they've been up to. So it looks like a comment-for-comment but it's not intended that way.

    Once I started getting some emails and tweets going back and forth? I really started to feel like friendships were forming. And they've become the glue that holds my blog world together.
  7. SharleneT says:
    Life has gotten much simpler since I had everything come through Google Reader. It gives me a chance to see something of the post and if it really catches my attention, I click and go comment (like, now!). But, it can become very time-consuming and you really don't get that many comments back from making your own. I just wish I had an answer that was more definitive for you.

    Have a great day and come visit when you can...
  8. Sippy Cup Mom says:
    I do try and email back everyone that leaves a comment. Especially if it's a question or a compliment. I figure if they are taking time to come to my blog and comment, I can give them some time back.

    I don't always get to comment back on their blogs but I do always click and visit them.
  9. Allyson & Jere says:
    I do e-mail everyone back that has an e-mail address attached to their comments. If they don't, too bad. But, it's easy to e-mail my commentors back when I only average 9 or so comments a post. I really love hearing back from people I've commented on, but I don't EXPECT it. I will always continue to read people I like, whether or not they respond to my comments.
  10. Perfectly worded, Natalie.
    Thanks for holding my hand.
    Much love!
  11. Mommy Needs a Vacation says:
    It depends on what the comment says (ie ask a question) or what the topic I am writing about is. For example, my food battle post this week- it took a lot for me to write that..and then people wrote very nice long comments back to me...so I wanted to respond. But for example a WW post...nah, I don't respond. I need to focus on visiting other people's blogs that visit mine!!!
  12. Mommy Needs a Vacation says:
    PS- Plus, I MUCH rather be on Twitter!
  13. MultipleMum says:
    I usually comment/visit blogs when someone has left a comment, but I also visit my blog roll most days (and usually comment) and randomly comment elsewhere (like here for instance!). I am still working it all out really.
  14. Dysfunctional Mom says:
    I would love to respond to every comment, but it's just not always possible. I try to always respond to a new commenter, a direct question, or certain things that seem to really require a response. Otherwise, I just do the best that I can.
  15. JustMom420zaks says:
    That's a toughie. It's a question that I've been exploring the answer to as well. I've still got a small enough following that I count them one by one as they accumulate.
    I know I need to answer all my comments, there's no reason why 2 or 3 comments every post can't be responded to. But sometimes I'm at a loss. What is said is a statement that doesn't require a response, or something like, "Really nice post! That totally made me think."
    Like, what am I supposed to say to that.
    "Great, glad you liked it. I have a FB fan page." can only be said, maybe once a month before I feel robotic.
    Arg.
    Why did I just vent on your blog?
  16. Mandyland says:
    At this point, my comment count is low enough that I can respond to everyone, even if it's a "thanks for stopping by, I hope you enjoy your stay. Please let me know if there's anything I can help you with." And then hand them a travel guide.

    And, I have to admit, when I get a response from a blogger - especially one that I really enjoy - I get a little thrill that OMG they noticed me!!

    BUT, that being said, I would much rather you spend your time at MY blog than writing out responses to a hundred comments. In other words...I blog to write. I read blogs I enjoy. The comments...they're just sprinkles on the cupcake.
  17. Doll Clothes Gal Pal says:
    I do understand that if you have about 50+ replies then I guess it is ok to not respond. :)
  18. Just Another Mom of 2 says:
    Here's my deal. 1, we have to maintain sanity. 2, I'm not a big enough blogger to really complain, but I still fall behind. 3. Twitter saves my behind- so much easier to connect with everyone that way!

    I think responding as you can, spreading some visiting around, and adding a little twitter love is the way to go. Or at least, it's all I can manage. So what do I know?

    you are a great blogger! I think as long as a blogger makes any type of effort to interact, not necessarily a daily one, the readers will be hooked. As we all are with you!
  19. I'm with you...I don't care if I get a response unless I ask a specific question. I don't like the plug-in things b/c they're too impersonal and a waste of MY time (you know, because clicking delete just takes up waaaayyyy too much time).

    I can't say that I get as many comments as you're talking about, but I don't think a comment-for-a-comment is healthy. Comment if you really want to...otherwise, sit back and enjoy the ride!
  20. Right now, I respond to all comments. I don't know where I'll be in the near future though...as my job is changing. It's nice to hear though, that you are still getting comments even without responding to them.
  21. Mrs. MidAtlantic says:
    I'm trying to be better about commenting and responding to comments. While my blog has been around for a while, I still fall into the "small" blog group with only a few comments per post. I'd love to build better relationships, and responding to comments is definitely the way to go!
  22. I'm trying to comment on just my "better" posts or to new visitors if I can. But I have found that my visitors have dropped WAY off since I stopped reading as many blogs.

    Not much I can do about that, though!
  23. If you want to build relationships than I think it's very important to respond and return comments in the beginning.

    Right now I respond to most comments. If someone is no-reply or say something completely irrelevant to what I wrote (ie. come enter my giveaway), than they won't hear from me. As of now I don't have a ton of comments so it's easy for me to reply. If that were to change in the future I'd like to think I'd do my best to respond.
  24. MommaKiss says:
    You're so sweet to even wonder about this! (I'm not giving up on this sweet bidness. Fyi).
  25. I don't get a lot of comments yet, so I'm able to respond to every one, or at at least visit every blog. However, I don't expect someone who receives tons of comments to do that every time.
    I have to admit, though, that I like when "celebrity" bloggers stop by or, even better, comment!
  26. I try to remember to, but sometimes time gets away from me. I do read and post on other blogs often though. I don't get a lot of comments yet, but I'm working on it!
  27. John and Allie Fields says:
    If I notice it is someone that keeps coming back and is really taking an active interest then yes, I try my hardest to respond and also go to their blog. There is no way I could do that with tons of readers but that isn't a problem for me =(
  28. I really want to know what the Tweeps said! And not to come off like a Blog Snob, but I think it's fair to say I have one of the highest average comment counts around these parts. I actually try to visit the blogs of everyone who comments, and only respond to comments if the comment left begs to be answered.
  29. This is totally why I don't respond to the comments you leave me. Because we talk all the time anyway!
  30. I'm a full-time mummy says:
    I do respond to each and every comment I get on my blog (except those junks/spams of course which gets deleted immediately!)

    Normally for new readers/visitors, I'd reply to their comment and copy my reply on their recent post (or whichever that caught my attention) and paste my reply to that post on top of saying something about their post (kinda like to refresh what they commented on my post and also add in a bit of a personal touch)

    For regular readers, I normally reply them on my post and they are on my fave list of blogs to check everyday, so I usually leave my comment on their latest post.

    Sorry for the long ramble :P

    ~ Jenny @ http://www.imafulltimemummy.com/
  31. The Empress says:
    No easy answer, Nat.

    Just throw out your #angryNat avatar and scare us all away.

    I kid I kid... I don't come here b/c I want a visit back. I come here b/c I like what you say. If I need you, I can email you or tweet you.

    Never worry about your loyals. We's a steady bunch and expect nothing in return. xo
  32. theTsaritsa says:
    I have DISQUS so replying to comments is really easy. I think it's extremely annoying when bloggers feel they are too popular to bother replying to questions left by their readers. It's so snobby, I think.
  33. If SHE can figure it out.......... says:
    And just because I don't comment everyday, it doesn't mean I don't visit every day! I love your blog and I don't think anybody expects you to be responding or visiting them everyday.....you do have a life, right?
  34. Megan (Best of Fates) says:
    I try to respond to comments - but I certainly don't think there's an obligation!
  35. I try to answer every comment because, frankly, it's a way to connect with my readers without having to visit every single blog . I can't do it. I have three kids and I already spend way too much time on the computer.

    So my blog visiting is down, except for my regulars and if I see a new commenter, i will make an effort to return the visit.
  36. I might be terrible but I almost NEVER respond personally. I do reply to comments in my own comment thread though. I dunno what it is, but when a blogger emails me and says "thanks for your comment!" or something, I get pangs of anxiety... Am I supposed to respond back? Is it rude if I don't? Should I be emailing every commenter too? It's stressful, I tell ya!
  37. Booyah's Momma says:
    It's a catch 22. I certainly don't expect replies to comments I leave on other blogs. But I feel a distinct pressure to respond or visit those who leave comments on mine. Argh!

    I keep trying to remind myself... blogging should be fun. Right?
  38. blueviolet says:
    I don't reply by email to every comment. I simply don't have time, but I do my best to visit the blogs of everyone who comments on me. It might not be the same day they left the comment, but I try to get there.

    My hobby is actually reading blogs and commenting. I did it for a loooooong time before even having one of my own. I tend to be very, very loyal too.
  39. gingerbreadmama says:
    I appreciate that this subject gives pause. I concur that if you can comment, or if there is need to comment, then you should but it is understandable that one cannot comment every time, especially if you receive tons of replies. Do what you can!
  40. Funky Mama Bird says:
    I used to comment a lot, but then my kid got bigger and now I barely have time to read, let alone comment. So I stopped responding to everything and stopped commenting on everything I read - only those things that I really felt I had something to add to.

    And... traffic and comments dropped waaaay off. And I'm OK with that, because at the end of the day I'm just too busy. It became, comment more and read fewer blogs, or comment less but read more. And there it is.
  41. This is a toughie...
    Before when I was only getting a handful of comments it was easy to respond to each comment. The better the post...more comments. I still try very hard to reply to them, but I personally think that the commenter enjoys it more when I make it to their blog and read what THEY have to say and leave a comment there.
    It's a hard balance that I struggle with. I love getting comments but I love reading my commenters blogs more.
    Hmmm...difficult.
  42. The Zany Housewife says:
    I love getting comments and generally try to respond to each one. But that is also because I get, at the very most, ten or eleven comments (and on a good day). If I hit the fifty mark it might be more tiresome. I think responding to your readers as much as you can is important. It's a conversation over time.

    I also try and visit my readers and leave comments on their blogs if something strikes my interest or eve just to say a quick hello.

    I do not, however, leave comments on larger blogs that I know will never respond to me or to anyone else. In fact, I typically stop reading them altogether.
  43. WTH am I Doing? says:
    Hmm. Well, I'm probably not your target audience since I don't get enough comments to make replying to them particularly onerous.

    I do try to reply to every comment, but every once in a while, I truly have nothing to say...so I don't.

    I don't visit everyone's site...altho if they are fun/insightful in their comments, I will be more likely to check them out.

    As far as commenting? I will leave a comment if I have something to say. Which I often do.

    I will regularly read blogs that I enjoy, altho I sometimes have to triage and pick out only the ones that pique my interest among those people that I follow. I am usually very limited on time....not that it is obvious by the length of my comment...>.< LoL
  44. Leigh Ann says:
    This is a great topic, and you ahve some legit points. I am just now transitioning from my family blog to a new, more public one, as well as getting out and reading more blogs. I admit, I love it when I get a response from the blog author. I really do feel like it starts to build a relationship, and I am elated when I see them over at my blog. :) I'm sure it will take me a while to get to 30+ comments on mine, so I'll probably respond to the ones I can!
  45. Right now I try to respond to all my comments. There aren't usually very many. I don't always get to every blog. And when I do read, if I don't have an immediate thought, I don't force a senseless comment. I'm kinda just going on feelings each time.
  46. Theta Mom says:
    Thought provoking post Natalie and this is my stance: If a reader asks a specific question in the comment I always try and be sure to respond or if the comment really struck a chord with me, I let the reader know that as well. But responding to every comment on every post is not realistic.

    As you said, when you are just starting out, it's imperative that you connect with your readers - but over time and as the blog begins to grow, there just isn't enough time for it all!!

    And it was great to catch up with you on Twitter last night. Loved our convo!!
  47. I try to visit the regular commenters blogs on a regular basis but I defintely can't reply to each comment. Like someone mentioned half the time there really isn't anything for me to reply. thecoolkidsblog.com
  48. Snuggle Wasteland says:
    I try to return every comment with a blog visit and comment. I don't always reply to every comment via email but I hit quite a few. I'm usually a few days behind in getting back to people but I get there eventually.

    Having said that, I don't get offended if I don't get that same response from someone else's blog. Everyone does things differently and if someone is just in it to get numbers he/she is missing the whole point of blogging.
  49. Domestic Goddess says:
    For all of the reasons you listed, you should respond. But for the reasons you listed, you can't possible respond to every single one. It's a pick-and-choose thing. I do try to read the blogs or follow the blogs of those who read me, though. But that will eventually be a losing battle!
  50. Ludicrous Mama says:
    Since I'm not subscribing to responses every time I post a comment, I rarely know if they responded.
    I do go and answer questions, or add something more I thought of as a result of a comment, but otherwise, only if I have something meaningful to say. I don't want to just have an obligatory response like you said. "LOL."
    However, in one of the weekly food linkups that I participate in, I try and comment on each person's entry, since many of them comment on mine, and it feels so nice :) Another one I participate in, no one comments on each others' entries, but I try if I really like what they've done.
  51. Circus Daily says:
    I'm a bit torn on this one...

    my blog is still somewhat new, under a year, so I don't have too many comments to respond too, that being said, between writing the posts, editing the photos, reading other fave blogs, commenting on theirs...you have to drawl the line somewhere. Otherwise, well at least for me, I'm on this puter' way too much.

    I bet if I responded more to my comments I'd likely have more, but so far I'm really happy with my lil' group of active followers. Feels like a family.

    Happy New Year
    Alissa
  52. MommaKiss says:
    It's been a few hours. No response. Whateeeeeehver.
  53. Gina @ MoneywiseMoms says:
    I try to respond, but you're right--it's either that or 100 other just as important tasks. I also get frustrated when 90% of my commenters don't have an email or any other way to contact them. Then I can't even when I try!
  54. I try to visit as many blogs and leave comments because I appreciate how supportive people are of me! But unfortunately life and work get in the way and I've had to drastically cut back. Nothing wrong with that - I'm still reading just not commenting as much as I used to.
  55. Sorry, I hit enter accidentally before I finished:

    As far as commenting on other's comments, I only do so if they ask a question or if their response warrants a response.

    My God I made that complicated, didn't I?
  56. I feel the same way you do about comments. I try to respond to as many as I can through email, but I was become a slave to my blog and not making a penny on it. I will respond if there is a question, or sometimes to my best blogfriends, but not generally. If a newbie stops by I try to thank them for the message or stop by their blog. The most frustrating thing is the no-reply at blogger emails. Unfortunately, I don't get back with those people.
  57. I never respond by email. it's too consuming. but I do my best to respond to each comment if I can. but sometimes, if it appropriate and there are lots of comments, I'll do a blanket response. I just like my readers to know I hear them too, that they matter to me.

    but I rarely visit a commenter's blog. part of the reason is I have TONS of blogs I already love and barely have the time for. it's just too much.
  58. Oh, man. I have been thinking about this lately. My post on Tuesday has received 52 comments so far. I cannot respond to ALL of those comments specifically and also visit those peoples' blogs. I used to try to visit the blogs of people who commented on mine, but it gets out of hand sometimes. I do need to make more time for my family! So glad you brought this topic up.
  59. I don't respond to every comment. If a specific question is asked, I'll e-mail, DM or Tweet the person. If a similar question has been brought up by several commenters, I have been known to center an entire post around further explanation.

    This is such a hot topic right now!! The pressure to post every day, respond to comments, visit other blogs, comment there, promote and encourage one another and do it all daily! It's down right impossible. We feel so compelled to start and/or continue the dialogue. You just have to do what you can do and be comfortable with that and hope others understand. And if I know anything about the mommy blogging community in my short time as a memeber, we all get it.

    Hang in there. You do a awesome job at what you do with three littles at home! :)

    Thank you for writing this today.
  60. I was just wondering about this myself. My resolution for this year: instead of responding, I'd rather visit and comment. But? I still feel guilty for not responding. Oh well. People just need to understand that life gets in the way.
  61. Mrs.Mayhem says:
    This is a very interesting post. I enjoyed reading the comments and seeing what other bloggers do.

    I have a plug in that sends an email if I respond on my blog. I respond to a comment whenever I feel that a response is warranted. I don't ever send something that says, "Thanks for visiting" because I feel like it's a waste of time for both of us. But I always visit their blog, mainly because I'm nosy and I like to see what people are up to (via reading about their lives).

    I email subscribe to my favorite blogs, so I read the posts in my email, but I don't always make the effort to click over and leave a comment. It depends on how busy I am. So commenting is definitely not a tit for tat business because most of the time people don't even know I'm reading their posts!
  62. I used to feel like I HAD to reply...and then I realized how many comments I leave that I don't get a response to- and guess what? It doesn't bother me.

    I do still reply to a lot of comments. But, if I don't have anything to say in response other than "thanks" I don't reply.

    I DO try to visit those who visit me. But, it might not be until the next day.
  63. I respond the best I can in my most vertical of positions. Love the faces your daughter make, sooo sweet and I think what you did for your friend battling alcoholism was very selfless and kind. Hope you have a great weekend lovely lady.
  64. the mombshell says:
    xo (respond to that!)
  65. ninabadzin.com says:
    Hey there! I'm really struggling with this as a new blogger. I for sure think new bloggers need to respond to comments . . . even if it's in the form of a tweet or an email. I tend to just comment right back on my blog. I think neither a blogger nor a commenter wants to feel like she/he is talking to themselves. HOWEVER, I see how quickly it can take over your computer time. I guest posted on Scary Mommy this week (WAY bigger than audience than I'm used it) and I definitely struggled to keep up with the comments. I guess it's a good problem to have! ;)
  66. You brought up some good points....obviously new bloggers need to visit and comment, I agree with that, the more popular bloggers that have been around for awhile, have many foloowers, there is no way they can comment to every reply,BUT (always a but) I do think (or wish) the more popular bloggers would perhaps "notice more" when a new blogger has left them a comment and just make an effort to go check out their blog etc....and even though it seems like I am talking about myself, I am not, I have a new blog, but have been blogging for a year prior. Anyway...also, there is another blogger, very popular, she post EVERY DAY....and not only does she post EVERY DAY but she also replies to all comments left on her blog, I have no idea how she does it, but she does, she prides herself on posting daily and responding to all comments.
  67. This is a good question/topic. Since I'm a newbie, I was responding to every comment. But I just found out the other day that wp.com doesn't send response emails. I feel totally ridiculous because people had no idea I was responding! What I'm trying to do more of now is to visit the blogs of the people who comment and we'll see how that works!
  68. Natalie, I've been blogging for just under two years now. During that time, I've read numerous posts like this one giving an opinion on responding to comments, and asking the readers their own position on the issue. And these posts are always from people with a large following. Based on what I've read and the responses I've seen, there seems to be a narrow range of opinions. By that, it seems that people fall into one of three categories when it comes to responding to comments. 1) They reply to all comments, no matter how few or many. 2) They never reply to comments, but return the favor by going to their blog and leaving a comment. 3) Some combination of the two. Based on what I've seen so far, and it's only my view of things, the more popular a blog gets and the more readers/followers they have, the less likely the blogger will reply to comments. Time being the major issue. My experience is that the smaller blogs almost always reply to all their comments. In my opinion, and this is for anyone with a popular blog, the readers are the reason the blog got so big. If it weren't for them, the blog wouldn't be where it is now. So as I see it, "that is the price you pay for success". If they took time out of their busy day to read and comment, then the popular blogger owes it to them to take time out of his or her busy day to respond to them. I'm not a stay-at-home mom, and I don't have a "popular blog". I work 12 hour shifts, have other responsibilities, but I make the time to reply to every comment. Sure, I don't get over 100 comments per post, but with an average of 30-60 I find the time. One might contend that if and when I get the number of readers and comments that larger blogs get, I'll feel differently. I say not. If I ever reach "popular blog" status, I'll pay the price of success. And that's a wrap. Matty