A Guide to Writing Comments

Jerry WalchStarred Page By Jerry Walch, 31st Mar 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/f3xo93a0/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Tips

Every writer likes to hear from his or her readers, if their readers have something meaningful to say about what the author has written—positive or negative. Far too often we get comments like “Nice Post”, “Interesting post”, “Good tips here”, what do those comments mean? What do they tell us about what we wrote? Did those commenters even read what we wrote? Comments should add value to what we have written. Commenting is an art form. The following guidelines will help you develop the art.

Why are you commenting?

The first thing that you need to do before commenting on an article is to be sure in your own mind why you are writing the comments. Are you writing the comment because you agree or disagree with what the writer wrote? Did what the writer have to say in his or her article really help you and you are commenting to say thank you? Are you commenting because you disagree with what the writers wrote or because you found a serious mistake in what the writer said in the article? Knowing your motivation for commenting will help you frame your comment in a meaningful and helpful way.

Make your comment in context

I once received this comment on a Basic Electrical Skills article that I wrote: Good advice for the novice DIY electrician. What was the good advice? The commenter could have been referring to many different things, perhaps it he was referring to my warning to be careful to not nick or “ring” the conductor when stripping the wire. If that were the case, the comment would have been more meaningful to both me and to other readers if the commenter had put it in context. In context the comment might have read, what you said about being careful not to nick or cut a groove in the copper conductor when stripping wire is very important because nicking or grooving the copper will weaken it and cause it to break.

Make your comments respectful

Let me start out this section by saying that I have violated this rule far too many times in the past when commenting on something someone has written here on Wikinut and on other sites as well. It is far too easy to attack the writer of something you disagree with then to objective comment on what was written. It is far too easy to call someone an ignoramus or something even worse than to point out politely why we feel what he or she has written is wrong. It is also human nature to become defensive when you feel you are being attacked or wrongfully accused of doing something wrong and attack that writer for attacking you. We need to keep our focus on content and not on the author of that content.

We need to make a point

Comments like, “Good Post,” or “Interesting post,” tell us nothing, what was good or interesting about the post, commenters need to make a point. As commenters, we need to point out what was good or interesting about the post. If we find an error in what the writer wrote, to be an effective comment, we need to not only state that the writer is wrong in what he or she said but also why they were wrong and what the correct information would have been.

Know what you are talking about

I once read an article on how to install circuit breaker panels where the steps given actually were dangerous, so dangerous that they could have caused the person following them to be electrocuted. Before commenting that the information was wrong and could cause serious harm or even death to the person following the instructions, the commenter had better know what he or she is talking about before giving the correct procedure because someone reading the comments may actually follow them. With over forty years’ experience in the electrical trades, I knew what I was talking about and had preface my comments with the statement that my corrections were based on forty plus years of experience. Never accuse a writer of being wrong simply because you feel that he or she was wrong.

Comments should be short, focusing on one point

One point per comment is the rule; of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Comments, to be effective should focus on one point, keeping that point in context. If you need to cover more than one point/subject, it is better to break the comment up into two or more comments. Turning one long comment into several shorter comments will not only make it easier for the writer and for other readers to grasp what you are trying to say, it will give the writer the benefit of the additional views.

Proof read before uploading your comment

Proof read a comment just as carefully as you would proof read an article that you were publishing. Check and double-check your comments for spelling errors, errors in punctuation, incomplete thoughts, and mistakes in content. To correct someone mistakes is worse than not correcting them at all if what you say is just as wrong as what they wrote in the first place.

Link carefully

If you are writing a comment to link back to an article that you have written, be sure that you create your comment carefully so that it will benefit the writer and other readers. Do not simply post a link to your website or to an article that you have written on another website as your comment, to do so is disrespectful of the writer and bad etiquette.
These guidelines are far from being exhaustive, but they are a good starting point.

Tags

Comments, Constructive Criticism, Feedback, Objective Criticism, Websites, Wikinut, Writing, Writing Comments

Meet the author

author avatar Jerry Walch
Jerry Walch is a 71 year old freelance writer for hire living in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He has been writing since the late 1970s, and writes for both the print and online media. He specializes in

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Comments

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
31st Mar 2014 (#)

Controversial articles are sometimes the easiest to comment on as a person wants to express their views, fictional posts and poetry may be harder to leave good comments on.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
31st Mar 2014 (#)

I couldn't agree with you more Mark. I seldom ever comment on poetry or on fictional pieces.

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author avatar Mariah
31st Mar 2014 (#)

Fair play to you Jerry for being man enough to put your hands up to past mistakes in commenting, I respect your honesty, and yes I totally agree with you on let's keep it respectful and on the subject of the writing, not the author, well said.
Your point stating that you must be qualified and know your craft when it comes to writing DIY posts on electricity and the like is absolutely paramount, given as you say that a fatality could incur
when following unqualified advice.
Great post thank you.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
1st Apr 2014 (#)

Thank you Mariah for reading and your in-depth comment.

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author avatar Carol
31st Mar 2014 (#)

What an honest article Jerry, I only comment if I like an article, maybe that is not helpful for those wanting critique, but something that I might not like, others may. Thank you for this useful information

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author avatar Jerry Walch
1st Apr 2014 (#)

I appreciate honest comments whether they be positive or negative. I try to be honest and genuine in everything I write even if that gets me into trouble at times.

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author avatar spirited
31st Mar 2014 (#)

Some of us do comment for a reason, others to just return the favour of someone commenting on our own article.

Non de-script comments such as "nice post," should be taken in this light, I feel. Someone is just being nice to us.

Sometimes this is enough of a comment, sometimes....

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author avatar Jerry Walch
1st Apr 2014 (#)

True Spirited, but if a comment doesn't add something of value for the writer or for other readers, it's wasted as far as I'm concerned.

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author avatar Connie McKinney
1st Apr 2014 (#)

Good advice. Thanks for sharing, Jerry.
Seriously, though, I am often guilty of these "nice post" comments. I think you are right. It's better to be specific and point out why it's a nice post. Thanks, Jerry, for this article which will undoubtedly help me to become a better commenter here on Wikinut and on other sites.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
1st Apr 2014 (#)

Good morning Connie. I think that many people who post comments like "Nice post" or "Interesting post" do so just to let the writers that they are following know that they have read the article. Personally I expect those that follow me to have read what I have written without always leaving a comment. I always read what those that I follow write but I don't always comment on what they write.

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author avatar Maria Malone
3rd Apr 2014 (#)

Thank you Jerry... good points and I agree, as writers, it is important to show respect and to leave a thoughtful well written comment when we do leave a comment. I always remember it is best to say nothing if we have nothing nice to say.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
3rd Apr 2014 (#)

Thank you Maria

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author avatar Ptrikha
8th Apr 2014 (#)

Great tips which we can use when commenting on articles, be they on Wikinut or elsewhere. While at times, I do write- Nice to read kind of short comments, often, I do try to state what I feel about articles, and even state the points on which I did not agree. Often, my comments are long enough to be categorized as short or a medium blog!

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author avatar Jerry Walch
8th Apr 2014 (#)

Know what you mean. I have been told from time to time that my comments borderline on qualifying to be classified as being tomes :-))

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