tiny twig comment policy

comments

Comments.  Every blogger thinks comments are rad.  Every blogger handles comments differently.  Some reply to every comment in the comment section.  Some reply strictly via email.  Some don’t respond at all.  Some bloggers don’t have comments enabled for various reasons.

Awhile ago, I did a survey asking Tiny Twig readers how they would most like to be responded if they leave a comment.  The overwhelming answer was that they would like an email because they may not come back to the comments.  I totally understand this view, and I often don’t come back to comments I make on other women’s blogs.  However, I know that I wanted to foster community ON Tiny Twig, not just community between the readers and myself.  So, I sort of stalled on what to do about comments on Tiny Twig.  I respond to some, I don’t respond to some.  Some people I email.  I am really just a mess!

I love Jules of Pancakes and French Fries, she’s smart, she’s got great style, and she’s got an opinion.  Love a smart lady with an opinion–but, that opinion must come with a healthy dose of humble!  Jules has it all in spades.  Anyway, I follow her Twitter feed and noticed her discourse with various other bloggers about comments.

Jules got responses from two other great bloggers, Andrea and Lindsey.

So, since she was already having the discussion on Twitter, I asked if she wouldn’t mind sharing with us her thoughts on commenting.  I respect her voice and thought she might help me formulate what direction Tiny Twig should take regarding comments.

She had this to say:

Everyone has an opinion on the way blog commenting should go. This is how I do it: I reply to every sincere comment I receive on my blog and I do so in the comment section. I believe it fosters community between the blog author and the readers and makes blogging a more fulfilling experience for everyone involved. Public comments rarely require a private response, but when that happens I will send the reader an email.

Blogging, when I first stumbled upon it in 2006, was about bringing together like-minded individuals. I want every post I write to be the beginning of a conversation. For me, emailing replies or leaving a comment on someone else’s blog isn’t discourse, it’s marketing. I want the work I do to benefit the whole, and to do that I must be an active member of the community I started. It’s more work for me this way, but it’s worth it. I love to see women talking amongst themselves in my comment section. I love that Sue gave Jane a tip for moving ahead on library waiting lists, and that Jane came back excited and told Sue it worked. I love that I have more than just readers, I have friends. And, as a side benefit, my community has only grown stronger and more vocal in the past year.

The thoughts she had cemented my own take on comments.  So, going forward, this will be the policy on comments!  :)  Oh, I’m such a “good girl”…I make things like “policies” for things that don’t really need them.  (P.S.–if you are a good girl, too…get [easyazon-link asin="0800719840" locale="us"]this book[/easyazon-link], give yourself a hug, and don’t worry about thanking me!).

My take on blog comments:

I hope that the comments within Tiny Twig can be a place of rich discussion and deep encouragement for the women who gather here.  I want to respond where needed, answering questions or just offering encouragement.  I also want you, the readers–who are the heartbeat of Tiny Twig, to feel encouraged to respond to each other’s comments.  I hope you feel compelled to build up and help the women who share this space with you.  You are the richest resource I can offer, and I hope you’ll find a home for your voice here.  I know that you are an amazing woman, full of awesomeness to share.  I honestly pray you’ll be compelled to share you wisdom and your joy here at Tiny Twig.

Going forward, I hope the comments are a place where women can gather and get to know each other.  To this end, I would encourage you to install a Gravatar to use on this site (and others!).  A Gravatar will allow you to be a real face on here, rather than that cute swirly ribbon.  I would love to put a face with a name, and I’m sure others would, too!

Please feel free (feel compelled, even!) to answer other women in the comments.  I know you know more than I do about spices, or budgets, or hairstyles…share your knowledge!  And, if it’s a post like this one, y’all, make someone’s day and help them feel not so alone.  Come alongside a voice that sounds like yours and offer her some encouragement or solidarity.

I will respond to the comments in the comment section, not via email.  I hope you’ll check back to join the conversation–as Tiny Twig grows in community, I hope a vibrant group of voices emerge…where women feel valued and understood, encouraged and challenged.

If you have a question of a personal nature, or you are just more an email person–please, PLEASE, feel free to email me at thetinytwig @ gmail.com.  I will respond as soon as I can, which isn’t always the fastest with 3 small people at my feet.

Comments that are offensive or hateful to the women of this community will be deleted upon notice.

64 Comments

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    Susie Davis

    Love this! Good words to consider. I don’t have a ‘policy’ and wondered about these very things. Thanks for posting and engaging Jules (she’s no-nonsense, brilliant!).

    • Reply February 20, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      I didn’t have a “policy” either…but, I felt like I wasn’t telling a clear story with my interaction in the comment section. I didn’t feel like I was leading the way, so I don’t know how I expected my readers to know how to proceed. Thus, my “comment policy”. Ha!

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    Tiffany

    I love it when people comment on my blog, but then I find myself lurking on so many other blogs. Guilty!
    I did want to let you know about a cool plugin that will automatically email people when you reply to their comments in the comment section. That way you reply once, but it’s in both places. It’s called “reply me” I think.

    • Reply February 20, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      oh! that’s a good one. thanks for letting me know! :)

      • Just wanted to echo what a few said about reply notifications. I love conversation and community and feel discouraged when I leave a comment but the blog isn’t set up to notify me via email if someone replies. I find myself feeling the need to go back and check repeatedly which feels like too much fuss! : ) Also if someone replies months later it’s nice to be notified and so I am able to head back and add to the conversation with them.

        • Reply March 15, 2012

          Tiny Twig

          good to know! i set up reply notifications so you can keep up. :) well, not just you…for our collective good. ha!

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    Anna

    As a sometime commenter on a couple of blogs I read, I find comments really frustrating. You want it to be conversational but because of the nature of a list that’s difficult especially if the list gets really long. You don’t know if someone you reply to will ever see what you say and it’s often just not an option to keep checking back either… That said, at chattingatthesky, WordPress (?) have an automated system where you can tick to say you’d like to be updated every time someone else comments. It’s good if you are especially interested in the topic or if you asked a question, you get to see if there’s an answer. It can get a bit crazy if there are loads of comments but then you can unsubscribe to the comment updates which I have done. It’s a thought. I agree if you ask a question of the blogger, it does seem rude not to get a response!

    • Reply February 20, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      I am going to check in to ways that readers can easily check back in with the comments. Thanks for the suggestion, Emily is great with her community. Love her. :)

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    keely

    This is a great thing to think about, Hayley. I’ve just recently started emailing responses to comments, but maybe I need to rethink that. I only get a handful of comments, anyway, so it’s not like it takes much time to respond. I love your focus on the community of your blog.
    Also, I wish that blogger made it easier to respond to a specific comment. I like the set up you have here, where your reply shows up right under the comment and then someone can reply to that, as well. It keeps it clean and less confusing.
    Thanks for this discussion!

    • Reply February 20, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      I think blogger moved to threaded comments recently–at least as an option. You might want to check it out. :)

      • Reply February 20, 2012

        keely

        They do, indeed! Thanks, Hayley!

    • Reply February 20, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      I think it’s whatever works for YOU. I know I love getting personal emails from bloggers I read…but I also know that it wouldn’t be fair to my boys to open up that can of worms. :) Don’t feel like you have to do it this way, just find a way that actually works for you and the community you’re building. xo.

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    linda (burlap+blue)

    Love that you’ve posted about this-I, too, am very scattered about how I respond to my commenters. I absolutely want the community aspect, but know that not many people will check back in. My solution was to install a plug in called Comment Reply Notification (I think this is what Tiffany, above, is referring to). Like she says, it sends an email to the commenter when I reply to their comment. Unfortunately, I think it’s a WordPress only thing.
    Yay for you, though, for clarifying your process…it’s definitely a lot to think through-and I think you made a great decision:) xoxo

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    Jenny Meyerson

    Excellent post and dialogue, Hayley. I installed the WordPress plug in that emails my responses back to commenters. The comments and emails have increased accordingly. But the most important part is the dialogue with my readers. I feel like I am getting to know them better and vice versa.
    Being still relatively new to the blogging world (8 months), it’s been a truly positive thing.

    • Reply February 20, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      I need to do this! Lots of suggestions for it, and for some reason, I just never thought of it!

    • jenny – do you mind sharing which wp plugin you used? was just recently discussing this on twitter with two other people looking for something similar. i like replying to comments on my blog but am never sure if those replies are seen so if there is something that emails those replies to the commenter…I WANT IT!!!

      and hayley – thanks for the great discussion your post has generated!

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    Heather

    I never knew how to make my avatar appear on sites that aren’t hosted by Google- thanks for the link to Gravatar!

    • Reply February 20, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      it makes it very easy to brand your image across platforms, too. i start recognizing readers from blogs i frequent on other new-to-me blogs…so that makes it fun to see where your friends are conversing. :)

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    casey wiegand

    i think this is such a good discussion :)- for me personally just responding to all my emails, twitter mentions and facebook wall messages every day takes up a lot of time…I just cant respond to comments the way I want to in less i want to spend an extra hour on the computer every day….so I do my best!!!! I would love to know how people manage it all!!!!! its so hard!!!! i would LOVE to respond to each question asked in my comments, oh well maybe eventually when all my babies r grown!!!

    • Reply February 20, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      oh girl! i know. :) that is a HUGE reason i want to foster community here…because i know i can’t be all things to all people.

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    kaley

    Thanks for this post! I also love how you can respond to each comment individually, instead of having your response show up with the rest of the comments. Are you using a wordpress plug-in for this? I have tried a few and never gotten them to work correctly.

    • Reply February 20, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      I think it is with the theme I used, but I’m not 100% sure. I feel like it was eons ago that I did the code for this site, but I’ll look into it and see what I can find! :)

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    ElleSee

    My blog isn’t very big yet, so I am in the habit of answering questions, or leaving a little reply comment, for each comment — like you have decided to do. I used to feel obligated to reply to every single one, and recently I decided that if it wasn’t asking a question, or I couldn’t think of a good reply, I wouldn’t leave a comment. I find it a lot easier now, but hope that all of my commenters still feel loved.

    p.s. I have joined that site you mentioned so that I will no longer have a swirly ribbon face. Do you know if it works for all sites with a comment form like yours?

    • Reply February 20, 2012

      Trina Holden

      ElleSee, I’m right at that tipping point with the amount of feedback I get on my blog, realizing that I can’t possibly answer everyone if it continues to increase. I like how you’ve given yourself permission to only leave a comment if it’s truly necessary, and not just answering everyone just ’cause they said, “hi!”

      It’s hard for this people pleaser, though! :)

      • Reply February 20, 2012

        ElleSee

        Thanks! I know what you mean, though! It really is hard not to leave a comment for everyone out of the fear that they will be hurt if you don’t say “hi” back.

        • Reply February 20, 2012

          Tiny Twig

          I know what both of you mean! I think some comments don’t necessarily need a reply–and as always, grace in all things!

          • February 20, 2012

            Jules

            I agree with this. I told myself I don’t have to reply to comments that say, “Love this!” or “Funny!” and nothing else because that isn’t really an invitation for dialog. That’s more about the reader letting you know they like what you’ve done. Of course, if I had something specific to say to them I would. It’s more about creating discourse, so I play it by ear. It’s hard to explain, but I think everyone can tell the difference between a comment meant to invite conversation and one that is meant to acknowledge the blogger.

            p.s. I about died from embarrassment reading my twitter stream on your blog. I guess my family is right. They’ve been telling me since I was born that I’m the most opinionated person on the planet. I thought they were exaggerating. :-/

    • Reply February 20, 2012

      Jess

      I agree, ElleSee. Since I’m also pretty new, I’ve definitely gotten in the habit of responding to almost all comments. (Except for ones that are clearly just requests for me to check out the commenters’ blogs with no other substance.) I wonder how I’ll adapt if I get more traffic.

      (Though, now I will also go and check out your blog because I am curious now. I like how thoughtful comments actually inspire and motivate.)

    • Reply February 20, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      It should work across TONS of platforms. Mine shows up when i least expect it, but it’s so nice because it easily brands your image across the web. :)

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    Trina Holden

    Hailey, great post! I appreciate your definition of a comment that you will reply to – a ‘sincere’ comment. Yes, we bloggers love every single comment (I usually read each one 2-3 times! I’m an affirmation junkie!) but often a comment doesn’t ‘need’ a reply, especially if it’s just a casual comment. I’m learning to give myself permission to focus my time on the sincere comments.

    I, too, desire to create community with my readers. I recently got a plug in that allows my readers, upon leaving a comment, to subscribe to all comments on this post, or just receive an email if someone replies to their specific comment. That way they know if you answer their question, or they have the opportunity to keep abreast of the whole convo if it’s of interest to them. I personally love this option on others blogs – I hope to see it here at Tiny Twig, soon! (I believe this is the one my webmistress installed on my blog – http://theme10.com/comment-reply-notification/)

    • Reply February 20, 2012

      Jules

      Bingo–this is what I meant when I said sincere comment. It’s the distinction between that and casual comments. I like the way you’ve phrased it.

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    caroline

    i love that you care about your readers and the community that you are building here on Tiny Twig to research this and figure out what works best for you and the community!

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    Jessica Sliman

    I LOVE that you’re even asking yourself these questions. It’s so nice to feel like the comments you receive are important to you as the blogger….and to the rest of the readers. I know I’m much more likely to comment on a blog where I see that my comments are read and sometimes responded to. I so appreciate your blog and your desire to have a sense of community here.

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    Ellen S.

    I appreciate when bloggers participate in their own comment discussion. Otherwise, I tend to think to myself, “Do they even read this? If not, I’m why am I bothering to take the extra steps to click through on the reader and post something?”

    • Reply February 20, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      I agree! :) It is kind of a pain to click through the reader. The best solution I’ve found to this is installing the “next” button from Google Reader in my toolbar…it takes me directly to their site rather than the reader frame.

      • Reply February 22, 2012

        Trina Holden

        I love the next button! best tool for staying truly connected with the blogs you follow…

      • Reply February 22, 2012

        Trina Holden

        P.S. – would love to know how and when you allocate time to read the blogs in your reader, Hailey, and how many blogs do you read? I’m always curious how an intentional blogger manages their online time and would love a glimpse into yours…

        • Reply February 25, 2012

          Tiny Twig

          good idea for a post. will do soon. :)

          • February 26, 2012

            Trina Holden

            thank you, beautiful lady. :D Hey, I liked the email I got in response to my comment, drawing me back into the convo. I’m gonna have to find that plug in. :)

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    Megan

    I think this is a good policy and I think your goal to build a community instead of just a blog is admirable (and totally happening – this is a great community you’re creating!). I think every blogger and every commenter has her own needs, and ultimately, I think each blog finds its own balance. People who need responses to their comments will gravitate to blogs where they get them, and people who don’t will be okay with blogs where comments aren’t responded to.

    As long as you’re building a blog that works for you and feels authentic, it will be functional and sustainable!

    • Reply February 20, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      So true, Megan! I really love this comment. I’m going to really keep that in mind. There is a blogger out there for everyone! ;)

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    Jess

    I think this post is so useful. I met up with my friend yesterday for brunch, coffee, and some blog talk, and one of our biggest gripes with bloggers is the feeling that some bloggers have just capitalized on their popularity but don’t interact with any of their readership. I understand that many of the blogs I read are based on a certain sense of exclusivity (isn’t that a characteristic of preppiness to begin with?), but I feel like it just doesn’t foster community or engagement in any way. That is the exact opposite of what I want my blog to be. I aspire to have a blog where I interact with people, where I post about things that interest and inspire me, and where I can make friendships and learn more about what other people are doing.

    Thanks so much for posting this. It’s nice to know that even big bloggers like you feel this way too!

    • Reply February 20, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      I think you can totally create that! Even your comments are engaging. :) Thanks for passing this post along, Jess. xo.

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    Allison

    I so appreciate this post. My friend Jess (the comment above me!) tweeted the link to me and I’m so glad I found your blog. As a blogger myself, I feel that responding to comments and fostering a community comes with title. And I love it!

    • Reply February 20, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      So glad you’re here! Yes, fostering a community…building a tribe, not for myself but for others. +1

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    karin hope

    As a reader I really appreciate when the blog author responds to comments, especially ones with questions, within the comments section. I understand too that some things are better to follow up with via email.
    What has worked for me as a reader is after reading a new blog post I click back to the previous post to read over the comments. That way I can usually catch if response has come in to a comment I made, as well as see what other readers have commented about.
    Also, Gravatar is a great suggestion, thanks!

    • Reply February 20, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      Great idea! I’ll keep that in mind for when I’m engaging in other blogs. And Gravatar really is so nice!

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    Emily

    Thanks for the Gravatar info! Picture present! (hopefully!)

    • Reply February 20, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      Yay! There you are! Totally wasn’t trying to make an example of you in the post. :) :) :) Forgive me!

      • Reply February 20, 2012

        Emily

        No Problem at all- It’s funny because I was wondering why my photo didn’t show up the other day — :)
        made me feel like I was returning the favour of the help you’ve given me with my stuff :D

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    Kate

    I loved reading this! I have three blogs and I struggle with how to handle commenting because of these issues. Right now I usually respond to comments on two of them, but on the third I usually reply via email. It’s interesting to see why other people do what they do!

    • Reply February 20, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      3 blogs! Lady, you win the medal of the year. I can barely keep 1 thriving. I love figuring out what works best for this space. I love, too, that you do different things for different blogs.

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    Jenna

    What a great topic to dissect! So much to think about! I’m fairly new to blogging, so I’ve made it my informal policy to email most commenters and reply in the comments to any questions. I was inspired to do this because one blogger that I read and love almost always responds to comments with a quick and sweet email. I love that I feel like I’m building a friendship with her. But I like the idea of community too! I really like the idea of the plug-in some of the other ladies have mentioned. Because I’m really bad about checking back to see if my comment has been responded too. After all, who has the time to keep checking something over and over? An email letting me know my comment has been responded to would be really nice!

    • Reply February 21, 2012

      Gemma

      I also have an informal policy to email commenters but to reply directly in the comments section to specific questions. I seem to be having a hard time initiating discussion at the moment though and part of that is that I use Squarespace which doesn’t have a reply function like this site and although it does have the option to be emailed follow-up comments many of my readers don’t seem to use it. This is a great topic, thanks Hayley!

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    Jules

    Thank you, Hayley, for inviting me to share my thoughts on comments. It was a little embarrassing to see that I am, in fact, as bossy as my family always said I was based on my Twitter stream (!!!), but I’ll take it as a learning moment. :)

    I’m emboldened by the positive response from your readers. I think blogging is all about community, and it’s obvious your readers feel the same. Long live internet etiquette!

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    hannah singer

    this is such a wonderful post!
    between lack of time, and commenters with no email attached to their profile, i feel disconnected often. today i decided to begin commenting replies right in my comment section. like y’all pointed out, it benefits everyone this way.
    i so appreciate your taking the time to tackle this and give such wise direction. thanks xoxo

  • Reply March 12, 2012

    Aimee Wolf

    I followed your link to get a Gravatar, and so this is a test. If you still see the blue ribbon, then I need help knowing how to make my Gravatar appear instead. Thanks!

  • Reply March 22, 2012

    Tsh @ Simple Mom

    Hi Hayley! What a fun post topic. I think it’s great that you’ve vocalized your comment policy.

    One thing I wanted to throw out there is the possibility that as you grow, it becomes harder and harder to keep up with comments. And it absolutely, definitely, positively has zero to do with whether you truly love or care about or value the community that has come to your site and shown its loyalty. It simply has to do with time management.

    I want to comment all the time to my posts. I want readers to not feel neglected, or that I don’t care about their questions. But I’ve also found that I could turn responding to comments into a full-time job—and therefore not only not generate new content, but also not get the laundry folded and food on the table.

    So… I don’t have really any lightning bolt insight here, other than to say (to anyone reading, really), there’s so much grace here, and it’s okay if you get to a point where you just can’t reply to comments as often as you like. It’s kind-of a weird thing that happens, isn’t it? The thing you crave and go out of your way to foster ends up being something you can’t dedicate as much time to.

    This is pretty informal, but for me, I’ve found that I need to keep my focus on interacting in the comments of the newest post. Then as that post moves down, keep reading any new comments, but only dedicate energy to responding when it’s a sincere, thoughtful question that is best left answered by me. Not saying everyone has to do this (not at all!), but I’ve found this is what has kept me sane.

    You’re doing such a good job, Hayley! So very impressed with your work.

    • Reply October 7, 2012

      Sarah

      It has to do with priorities. Not the size of your blog.

      Young House Love posts twice a day and responds to more than 200+ comments per post. (On top of raising their toddler daughter and doing house renovations.) You can bet they spend 4 hours a day doing it. However, that is their priority and they have a following of 1 million intensely loyal readers.

      Granted, not everyone posts twice a day nor has 200+ comments nor has 4hrs to respond to comments. Yet every blogger has a choice to make responding to readers’ comments a priority.

      Frankly, if a blogger doesn’t respond to any comments it is as good as not reading them. How are readers to know the difference? I assume the blogger is too busy and can’t be bothered. And if that is the case….why do you have a blog? A website would be more appropriate.

      Responding to comments shows readers that you do care, that you are taking what they say into consideration because you are taking that time and making it a priority to engage with them. Otherwise it is all hearsay.

      Just my two cents,
      Sarah

      • Reply October 8, 2012

        Tsh @ Simple Mom

        John and Sherry are an interesting case study—I like them, both as people and as bloggers. Just keep in mind, however, that they are TWO full-time bloggers working on one blog, and they have only one small toddler. I’ll be fascinated to see if they can keep up their pace when they have more kids, especially older ones.

        But yep, it’s all a matter of priorities. Bloggers have lots on their plates, and no one does “it” all. We all have to say no to some things, even if they’re really good things. :)

        • Reply October 8, 2012

          Sarah

          I have wondered myself how their pace with change with more kids. There only so many hours in the day and with so much on your plate there are hard choices must be made, that is for sure. Thanks for the reply! I appreciate it :-)

  • Reply April 30, 2012

    Trina

    Oh, Tsh, wouldn’t that be nice to have so many comments that I can’t keep up ;) Just had to add, Hayley, I’m a “good girl” too and love that book!

  • Hello, Tiny Twig — this is Hope from theflourishingtree.com! I found you from Lysa TerKeurst’s blog tour post today. I don’t have time to visit every site she mentioned, but because our blogs share a major theme (suggesting we might be soul sisters, just a little bit), I picked yours! And then I stumbled on this great post about commenting. Thanks so much for sharing it. I’m trying to build my blog from the roots up. It’s a little sapling now, but I hope someday it will become a grand oak tree. I love getting comments (and responding to them) and appreciate learning how to “do commenting” the best way!

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