Eight Principles to Follow
When Posting Comments at Blog Sites
- Practice brevity. The shortest comments are the ones that get read by the most people, get understood the fastest, and get remembered the longest.
If you have three points to make in your comment, and you can make them in three short, lucid paragraphs, you have the makings of a very good writer. Five reasonably short paragraphs are still okay, if they’re clear and interesting and easy to read. Longer than that, friend, and unless your words are fascinating, you’re pushing your luck with the reader.
- Know when to respond elsewhere. Yes, some postings do call not just for a few short paragraphs but for a whole long essay in response. If your response needs to be such an essay, there’s nothing wrong with that. But in that case your best move is to post that essay at your own blog site, where it can shine without crowding the other comments or being crowded by them. So post it at your own site, and then post a link to your essay in the comment section on the blog you’re responding to.
- When possible, speak from experience, not theory. A variation on this principle is, if you’re expressing disagreement, try to respond with facts, not just value judgments. This makes what you say more useful to the reader, and more trustworthy as well. Your readers will be grateful to you for it!
- Practice courteous discourse. Do what you can to demonstrate that you respect your readers, and respect the person you’re responding to, and think of them as people whose feelings and experiences matter. Anything less will just slam the doors in readers’ minds against you.
- Above all, try never to slip into abusiveness toward others, no matter how exasperated you become. This can be hard when you find yourself dealing with an obnoxious conversation partner. But if you’re exasperated, frankly, it may be better not to post a comment at all; if you do post a comment, don’t do it until you’ve written one and then slept on it for a night to see how it looks to you the next morning.
- Practice humility, and beware of self-promotion. Actually, sometimes self-promotion is absolutely okay, but sometimes it just puts everyone off. The times when it’s okay, generally speaking, are (1) when you are promoting something you are doing, or some expertise you possess, that is directly relevant to the topic of discussion, or (2) when you are trying to get something started that is directly relevant to the topic of discussion. In either of those cases, don’t be shy; toot your own horn! But otherwise — you improve the whole conversation by lifting up the other people involved instead of lifting up yourself.
- Remember that blogs are not democracies. The owner of the blog must control it and will, in order to make it work. So if she or he finds your postings out of line, she or he will almost certainly delete them.
- Remember that you are loved. I know this sounds odd, coming after all the little warnings in the preceding advices, but it’s true and an important principle. The people who are encountering you for the first time on the blog site have hearts that God designed to be open to you, and in most cases they will be open unless or until you manage to blow them away.
Your job, then, is not to blow them away, but to build on that foundation of love. And the best way to do that is to remember that, fundamentally, you are loved, and practice loving them right back.