Tips for Leaving Comments When There’s Nothing to Say

Paul Taubmann is giving useful Tips for Leaving Comments over on his blog, and if you’re new to blogging or you’ve been told your comments are often mistaken for those left by a badly coded Ukrainian spambot, you should pay particularly close attention.

Me, I’m 6 or 7 days into my plan to lose 78 pounds by the end of the year. I have a mean case of the munchies and aches in muscles I didn’t know existed. Second day back to work, and now I’m tired and cranky. I read that post and all I could think to say, upon being invited to put Paul’s good tips into practice by leaving a comment was to say, “I would, but I feel as though I’ll be graded.”

Freakin’ A. A+.

But no, seriously – where’s my comment mojo gone? I think it died over here. You’ve heard about kids who didn’t talk till they were nine or ten, because they had nothing to say? I think of past blogging contests and wonder if I’ll just run out of things to say by the time I’m sixty.

Don’t look so hopeful. 

It’s a struggle, though, sometimes – and in talking with other bloggers, I know that I’m not alone.

Paul gives a bonus tip in comments: “…when you have NO idea what to say, but you need to comment because you are involved with the Ultimate Blog Challenge, for instance), leave a comment such as, ‘Wow! This is not really my area of expertise, however I find it interesting that ___________ (fill in the blank with some fact from the post showing you read it!)’ Of course, add another sentence or two and explain why you find it interesting!” But what if you don’t find it all that interesting, or the post itself is just an image and a few words – not even enough to latch onto with a compliment or a contrary opinion?

So here are some tips for leaving human, meaningful comments when you aren’t feeling it.

Admit that the post isn’t your cup of tea. We don’t all like the same things, and that’s okay. You stopped by, you took time to read, you have nothing to say – and if you weren’t secretly hoping and praying for a kajillion comments in return, you’d just click on to the next blog. But maybe you can make a new friend. Say hi. Ask a question. Read a different post on the same blog, and see if there’s anything there that you can relate to. Read the blogger’s bio, if one is given. Maybe there’s something there that interests you, and you can consider it a challenge to work that into a comment relevant to the post at hand.

Suggest a topic you might enjoy more, especially if you can name one that fits – however tangentially –  with the overall theme of the blog. For example, you could say, “I normally read stories about grown-ups who dress like oversized, anthropomorphized woodland creatures. But your post on angels in bowling shoes has got me thinking. Did they ever figure out exactly how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? And is that a pin with a large plastic, colored ball on the end, or just one of those little blunt flattened things? Do you believe badgers go to Heaven?” Or maybe, “What could an MLM marketer learn from a Jehovah’s Witness?”

Imagine yourself cornered at a party with the blogger: what would you be drinking? Go get one of those. Now, imagine you cannot go home until you’ve had a conversation. Grab the bottle. It may be a long night.

Pull out the Mad-Libs Magical Comment Generator. “I really liked the point you made about [plural noun – bonus points if it occurs in the body of the post]. If only more [type of mammal – bonus points for mentioning sea creatures] knew this! I think they would be [adverb]. What can you tell me about [plural noun]? I’m subscribing to your blog because I think you are [adjective] and I don’t want to miss a [noun]. Thank you!”

In all seriousness, though…

Remember that there is a human being on the other side of the screen, and remember how good it feels to get real comments and conversations on your blog.  I still like knowing when there’s been a meeting of the minds – when something I’ve pulled from my brain and written here touches your brain in some way.

If you have to comment on a post, here, that really isn’t your cup of tea – I hope this post helps.


19 thoughts on “Tips for Leaving Comments When There’s Nothing to Say”

  1. Great advice! With doing some blogging challenges and comment chains, I find myself reading a post that I know I’m required to comment on and I can’t relate to it, and have nothing to say. I will follow these tips

    1. Good luck with it! 🙂 Hope this helps, Ashley. (If you followed the link in there to where I lost my comment mojo, you’ll find a guest post I wrote that has over 700 comments. And for the most part, none of them are of the “great post” or “am bookmarking this info for later” variety! People have made that stretch on my behalf, so it’s the least I can do. But I join these things sparingly, nowadays – it’s a fast road to blogging burnout, if you’re not careful.)

  2. So, I can understand a post not being your cup of tea. (After all, my selections cover the universe of ideas from medicine to management, for taxation to technology.) But, I can bet – like me- anyone who posts a comment like your second set of ideas would simply be erased.
    I already get hundreds of spurious comments (mostly to get their own spam on someone’s radar). I don’t need more.
    But, I am with you on your other ideas.
    Notably- the only time I won’t comment is when the post is so poorly written, I would never want my name associated with anything by or with that author…

    1. “I can bet – like me- anyone who posts a comment like your second set of ideas would simply be erased.”

      It depends. If they phrased it in their own words, and it was clear (to me) they were human and being silly, I’d probably allow it. The trick is to make it clear that you’ve read the post and ARE being silly – and aren’t just a really badly coded bot. Check out the facebook page “Spomment of the Day,” run by my friend and fellow author Marian Allen – where we share and mock particularly egregious examples of bad spam.

      I’m trusting my readers not to take that suggestion too literally, Roy. 😉 If they do, they do so at their own risk.

  3. I think it is so important to comment as best and as honest as you can. The writer took their time and soul into what they wrote. If you do not understand it, state it and they will clarify it for you. This is a nice blog, love the wonderful tips.

    1. The only times I really struggle to find something to say are when I run across a post that looks as if (a) the author’s just phoning it in with a bland post that leaves nothing to comment ON; (b) anything I say will likely be judged as lacking (I often feel this way on religious blogs); (c) anything I say will likely come across as snarky or critical (or MORE snarky and critical than intended), even if it’s meant to be silly. 😉

      It happens. (Happened on Paul’s blog last night. No illusions, I probably actually got a C. I mean, it passed moderation, so it wasn’t an F.)

  4. 100% agree. Too many time I’ve seen comments that make it obvious the reader didn’t even both to read the article, and those usually come from blog challenge sites. I end up deleting those because they are so off-topic.

    1. Part of that comes not from the challenge participants, but from increased activity by spambots seeing a newly (very) active blog, due to participation in the challenge. I also get an uptick of weird friend requests on Facebook when I do this UBC – it’s fine, if I recognize a challenge participant who has left comments somewhere and I know they’re real human beings, but there are a lot of scammers out there, so I’m pretty wary about accepting any at all while I’m participating in this. UBC can provide a nice boost for a flagging blog, and I’ve met some great people through it, too.

  5. Ha ha! I totally love your humor.
    I’ve been in those situations and have had to go to the bio.
    Great encouragement here and will remember when all else fails to compliment the blogger in plural, if I can! I hope the opportunity lends itself to throw in a sea urchin or two. I missed my golden opportunity when that topic came up. It was only in retrospect after reading a zillion other blogs. Just before I fell asleep, it came to me. I lived in Japan. I ATE sea urchins. Darn! I missed my connection!
    Have a great day, HOlly!

    1. Haha – but Amy, a sea urchin isn’t a mammal. I’ve eaten them, too – do they have brains? ARE they nothing BUT brain matter? (Not my favorite form of sashimi.)

      What is the word for that… my son was reminding me, just the other day… something in French – ah, yes: L’esprit de l’escalier (staircase wit)

      Like me, getting smacked in the face with a kickball in 7th grade – the girl next to me snarled, “What’s the matter, ya BALL SHY?” Took me about ten years to realize the only appropriate come-back to that was, “If I were ball shy, you b****, I’d have DUCKED.” (And “Thanks for your concern, I don’t THINK my face is broken.”)

  6. I saw this in my inbox this morning, and I couldn’t click fast enough! Sometimes I have such trouble with comments, but any time I visit a blog, I try to at least say “hello.” The hardest thing for me is when the blog is poorly written. The grammarian in me wants to come out and annoy people, but the human part of me says, “Now Doree, you wouldn’t go into someone’s home and point out the crumbs on their counters, and you wouldn’t want them to point out the dust bunnies in yours.” So I put on my proverbial smile and try to say something nice. But it’s difficult.

    1. Oh, well, you’re among friends, here, then, Doree! Welcome. If you catch any stray dust bunnies using bad grammar, just sweep them into this bag. I’ve taken up crochet, but the yarns I spin as a writer don’t always dye. I thought maybe I’d try using grammatically incorrect dust bunny fiber, this year. Make yourself at home.

  7. I don’t think I could do it; matter of fact, I know I couldn’t. With our P50 group, some of them wrote poetry posts and there wasn’t a single thing I could say about any of it. Posts that are geared specifically towards women but you know the writer… there are topics that I just can’t comment on because I just don’t know (no kids, no trouble with PMS, etc).

    I tend to think that sometimes you just need to remain silent and move on, maybe share the post elsewhere on social media saying “interesting” or something and then get out of the way.

    1. A challenge it is, now, dear Mitch –
      My fingers are starting to twitch. I’ll
      Just pick up my pen, and pencil you in,
      Next time I’ve the poetry itch.

      What do Mitchell and an orange have in common?

      You WERE a kid, once. You see kids out in public (and while I’d warn the wise never to criticize any parent’s parenting skill, saying how children’s good or bad behavior affects you is always fair).

      You have a wife. 😉 But PMS can be a touchy subject for men to comment on. Then again, so can breasts and cancer, but that didn’t stop my men friends from commenting on those posts when I was going through diagnosis, surgery, and recovery. We’re all human, and I loved having their support, too. I loved it when I got comments like, “Thank you. I have always been afraid of saying the wrong thing when friends are going through something like this, and now I’m not afraid to talk to them.”

      PMS is like having bad gas after eating too much fried food, and having a headache and muscle cramps to add insult to injury. You can relate on some level, surely. You get cranky and irritable when you’re in pain? Think that gets old, month after month? But yeah, you’re probably better off not commenting unless it’s, “That sounds like a miserable feeling. I hope you feel better soon.”

      But some of the fault lies with the blogger; some posts just aren’t accessible to a huge chunk of their readership. And I’ve seen bloggers who think they’re only writing to a very specific audience (say, men, women, gay swingers, whatever – who really don’t welcome comments from other demographics). I think they ought to put up a warning, don’t you? Save us all a lot of time and trouble.

  8. Thanks for the shout out, Holly!

    One other point about leaving comments is that it help with getting your readers engaged with you. Blogging is really about establishing a connection – and what better way to do that then starting out with a meaningful comment!

    Again, thanks for sharing!

    1. Happy to share, Paul. (But gosh, someone didn’t click the link to find out where I lost my commenting mojo!) Don’t say the word “engaged.” It’s starting to sound a lot like “paradigm.” Can’t anyone just have a good conversation, anymore?

  9. Okay I thought I was the only one that had this problem. I read a interesting blog posts all the time but I feel I have nothing helpful or insightful to contribute as far as comments go. Or I’ll see that someone else already said something profound in the comments section and I give up and say nothing.
    Making comments really aren’t my specialty, but I’m really good at ________ , _______, and naming a third thing.

    1. Oh, no, you’re not alone. It can be a real struggle. If my #OneWord365 is “commit,” my anti-word for the year should be “perfunctory.” But most bloggers – like, 99.987% of us – love comments from real people. It’s like the red ink my middle school English teacher scribbled in the margins of all my papers – I LOVED it, because it meant she read it and took the time to give me some feedback. Really, just let us know we’re not flinging words out there into the vacuum. (Unless you’re a spambot. We can usually tell. The main thing is to say something sufficiently “you” or sufficiently connected to the substance of the post that there’s no doubt about that one, either on the blogger’s part or the automated plug-ins that keep us from having to ever see most of the spam.)

      So glad you stopped by, Mia!

  10. You’re right that bloggers like comments from real people.

    Even though we write for ourselves and our own little online magazine, we like to get the equivalent of ‘letters to the editor’ (us) that show some level of value to someone else.

    It’s not easy when you spend most of your time writing a single novel that’s the second in a trilogy coming up with something new and exciting for long-time readers. I’m tempted to write using a random word as a prompt (just to prove I can)!

    But I enjoy other people’s comments, and make an effort part of the time, because bloggers who stop writing don’t give me anything to READ. And I crave new material and people who will write back; it’s a shield against the loneliness of the long-distance writer.

    And I’m running out of posts here to read. Sigh. Greedy, greedy.

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