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Be a Comment Rockstar: 10 Terrific Tips!

Be a Comment Rockstar: 10 Terrific Tips!


    by libertyandvigilance

    Social media” has numerous definitions, and all of them share the principle that the Internet has given us a lot of cheap ways to communicate with each other. As computers have gotten cheaper and broadband pipes have become fatter, we’ve expanded the multimedia involved: text has been prominent since the BBS glory days, but pictures are up there too, and making your own videos no longer draws double-takes. (Extending further into the future is building your own 3D content in virtual worlds.)

    I’ve become a social media expert not by label alone, but sheer, dogged experience. After 100,000+ comments/forum posts/etc., I’ve distilled what’s worked best for me, much of it learned from vets who’ve spent even longer stretches “in the field”. If you’re wondering how to make your blossoming comments shine, this is for you!

    1. Write eclectically

    In other words: observe the diversity that’s out there, then share the best gems that other people miss. After scanning what’s already been said.

    Always be looking for connections other people aren’t — or internalize, but aren’t bringing up. One of my fave things is share origin stories, and I’m not limited to comic book characters. I wrote a piece for leading design weblog Smashing Magazine where I revealed where the drumbeat in the Kill Bill trailer music came from, how Russell Brown came to be the godfather of Photoshop, and 3 more “I didn’t know that!” stories. While that’s a post instead of a comment, the responses make it clear: there’s a big hunger for filling in gaps.

    Yes, it’s healthy to continue discussions by threading someone else’s thoughtline, but to rock — to create change by leading — you should be initiating conversations that influence others.

    2. Don’t use “lonely humor”

    “Lonely humor” includes when a comment is snarky or sarcastic, but provides nothing else. Like empty calories, “lonely humor” doesn’t contribute to your long-term health or wealth.

    Who’s to judge? Well beside the site owner(s), there are certain things which are funny at first but quickly become tiresome blah. One of the mother of all examples is declaring “First!” if no one has commented yet. This gets really annoying when you’ve seen it a handful of times, and besides self-pride, does not add any value whatsoever. It gets forgotten in the long run, too.

    Also in this boat but trickier to tell are predictable reactions. While I’m on the liberal side of Internet memes and don’t mind getting Rickrolled in fresh ways, humor should be applied with relevance to the conversation at hand — in other words, if the original topic isn’t about Rick Astley finally winning an MTV award, it’s not a criminal sin to Rickroll the post, but there are so many better choices, so go with them. Humor can be a tasty wrap to flavor a meatier comment in, but like the best political satire (think Jon Stewart), make sure your irrelevance surrounds relevant matters.

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    3. Add value quickly

    Related to the “First!” thing, on some blogs and forums, you may see rules that encourage you to “Add value to the conversation”. You can read between the (guide)lines and discern this means “Don’t be a jerk and flame others.” We can also understand it as:

    “Don’t post useless crap!”

    Do be early to comment — often because later ones need to be scrolled/paged through and hardly get seen, reducing your visibility — and do be quick. This isn’t writing A-levels, and spending a great amount of time on a comment isn’t proportional to its overall impact. (That’s not necessarily true of original posts, tho.) I strive for 5 min. or less, which over the longterm leads to “quality in quantity“.

    Harsh truth: a comment without readers serves no function. Spread your thoughts prolifically. It helps to practice your typing and boost your WPM so you can comment more in the same amount of time. (I type 110 WPM with 2 fingers and a thumb.)

    4. Substantiate hearsay

    No, not these kind of rumors…

    Fleetwood Mac - Rumours  by Loony Libberswick.

      by Loony Libberswick

      rumors, in the hurtful sense, are a human problem, not a technological one. But tech facilitates spreading them, and there’s all sorts of unverified fallacies on the Internet. Sadly, such distractions can invade discussion threads, causing conflict and derailing trains of thought. Celebrity sex, political scandals, financial turmoil, or a mixture of those 3 are often involved.

      Your reply, if confronted with such a rumor, should be terse: “More details?” or “Please provide a source” will do. Then, the onus is on the rumormonger to explain themselves.

      Often, I find said rumormonger won’t reply (they don’t have anything to add or didn’t come back to check). If they don’t give a helpful answer (i.e., they rudely insult you), they aren’t worth the time. These are Gladwellian psychological tests you can use to move on.

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      By focusing on what’s tested and true, you’re advancing the conversation, and also providing a cue that you’re not gullible — a good example to set for other commenters.

      5. Express yourself uniquely

      That covers such a wide ground of behavior, doesn’t it? Let me be simple & clear: this relates to #1 in that you want to do what other people aren’t. Not just for the sake of being “different”, but because adding to the conversation also means not duplicating what’s already been said.

      Here’s an excellent opportunity: some blogs, like TechCrunch, support video comments like Seesmic. While relatively rare at present, if you have a US$25 webcam, you can easily upload a video and show yourself off in a way most people won’t do.

      Look for ops like those and seize them. You may open up new work & play possibilities by dabbling across formats: “social media” doesn’t just refer to words!

      6. Repeat your main ideas

      Day 247/365 "Um...Sir, you forgot your idea..." by Wellstone.

        by Wellstone

        This needs some clarification. Repetition helps retention. This is best used on sites you’ve become a regular at, and is great for championing what you really believe in. You may’ve seen people on political blogs gain a reputation for being forthright about certain views, and while it can get heated, that’s certainly a valid example.

        Don’t come off as a stubborn smartass though, and the best way to be proactive is explain why your ideas hold benefit for other commenters. For example, if you believe open source code is superior to proprietary software, make sure you emphasize this, and relate it to their needs (not just yours). Don’t butt-heads with others who disagree, but appeal to what they can get out of it. One of the best ways to win someone’s passion is to associate their memories of you with things that make them happier.

        (Such an old notion, but so very true.)

        Don’t be afraid to admit when you’re wrong, either — people love getting credit, and attributing someone who corrects your error while smiling is the best thing to do.

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        7. Don’t fall for wasteful arguments

        MUCH easier said than done! Most people can’t resist the temptation and only realize in hindsight that they were “scammed for time”. Well, being a comment rockstar means being you, not “most people”.

        By the time an argument has reared its ugly head like Rosemary’s Baby, the hope of convincing someone else to listen is ridiculously, preposterously low. And yet, I see so many humans make this mistake.

        It’s best to not get involved in the first place.

        But, if you find yourself starting to enter the “zone o’ hostility”, the most helpful way I deal with this is: I think of all the great comments I could be making, either here or somewhere else. If only… I wasn’t involved in this lame debate!

        That usually snaps me out of it; I close the web browser tab and concentrate on what we lovingly know as “productive activities”. Or disagreeing with someone who’ll really listen. :)

        Departing long before an oncoming text-trainwreck is essential, because like gambling or drug abuse, the deeper you fall, the harder it is to get out.

        If someone’s being really persistently uncivil, flag them using the social site’s moderation system, or if it’s extremely rotten, let a moderator/site owner know.

        8. Create intrigue by linking

        singing beach #11 by sandcastlematt.

          by sandcastlematt

          If you feel your comment is going to be longer than 3-4 weighty paragraphs, I suggest making your own blog post about it and linking/trackbacking from there after a brief teaser (this is welcome on most sites). That also serves the benefit of driving traffic to your site. If you don’t want to start your own blog (it’s really easy), pick one key thing you can focus on, express it in as few words as possible, and leave it at that.

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          You’ll have every opportunity to continue in future comments.

          This is useful for a number of reasons, chief among them being people’s attention spans. You want to grab and hook others for more, not bore them on your first outing. Planting the seeds and inviting someone to followup both pleases their own will to comment and is amenable to a good long-term relationship. On vibrant communities, you will see the same faces frequently, and it’s been said (I hate to use passive voice but couldn’t find who originated this):

          “Links are the currency of your online popularity.”

          Also beware of know-it-alls (in the worst sense): they’re overly concerned with using expensive-sounding words, not getting to the point, and cramming more links than you’ll ever want to check out. The sheer amount of choices negates your ability to choose. They’re not concerned with your benefit, just their ego. Know-it-alls may seem impressive, but that’s superficial. They fail the simple skill of summarizing neatly, so don’t fall for that, and don’t let your writing style head in that direction — it’s the wrong thing to do.

          Speak in your own earnest, casual voice.

          9. Ask questions for followup

          I’m a big fan of followup, and indulging my curiosity is a driving force behind this. Pushing queries is another way to help the discussion flow, and projects your own vulnerability as a human being — that you don’t know everything. And that’s fabulous, because you will learn from asking.

          Be sure to read what’s already been written: the answer may be in (or linked to) the original post or highlighted by another commenter. In which case, absorb knowledge and say thank-you.

          10. Keep track of what you’re saying

          It’s well-worth knowing your “comment assets” to understand how you’re growing. There are a number of tools out there to keep tabs on your comments. I tried several clunky systems before my current favorite, BackType, which lets you see comments you’ve made across various blogs (email the makers to get more added), and you can also follow comments of interest, or be followed.

          It’s funny and touching to read what you’ve written ages ago.

          Got comments?

          I use all 10 of the above to this day — since it’s easier to share ideas than execute them, I hope you’ll give them a live go and figure out your own specific applications.

          Now, let’s comment about comments!

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          Last Updated on June 19, 2019

          6 Ways to Be a Successful Risk Taker and Take More Chances

          6 Ways to Be a Successful Risk Taker and Take More Chances

          I’ve stood on the edge of my own personal cliffs many times. Each time I jumped, something different happened. There were risks that started off great, but eventually faded. There were risks that left me falling until I hit the ground. There were risks that started slow, but built into massive successes.

          Every risk is different, but every risk is the same. You need to have some fundamentals ready before you jump, but not too many.

          It wouldn’t be a risk if you knew everything that was about to happen, would it? Here’re 6 ways to be a successful risk taker.

          1. Understand That Failure Is Going to Happen a Lot

          It’s part of life. Everything we do has failure attached to it. All successful people have stories of massive failure attached to them. Thinking that your risk is going to be pain free and run as smooth as silk is insane.

          Expect some pain and failure. Actually, expect a lot of it. Expect the sleepless nights with crazy thoughts of insecurity that leave you trembling under the covers. It’s going to happen, no matter how positive you are about the risk you are about to take.

          When failure hits, the only options are to keep going or quit. If you expect falling into a meadow of flowers and frolicking unicorns, then you’re going to immediately quit once you realize that getting to that meadow requires you to go through a rock filled cave filled with hungry bats.

          2. Trust the Muse

          Writing a story isn’t a big risk. It’s really just a risk on my time. So when I start writing a story, I’m scared it will be time wasted. Of course, it never really is. Even if the story doesn’t turn out fabulous, I still practiced.

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          When I’ve taken risks in my life, the successful ones always seemed to happen when I followed the muse. Steven Pressfield describes the muse,

          “The Muse demands depth. Shallow does not work for her. If we’re seeking her help, we can’t stay in the kiddie end. When we work, we have to go hard and go deep.”

          The muse is a goddess who wants our attention and wants us to work on our passion.

          If you’re taking a risk in anything, it’s assumed that there is some passion built up behind that risk. That passion, deep inside you, is the muse. Trust it, focus on it, listen to it.

          The most successful articles and stories I write are the ones I’ve focused all my attention on. There were no interruptions during their creative development. I didn’t check my phone or go watch my Twitter feed. I was fully engaged in my work.

          Trust the muse, focus your attention on your risk, let the ideas and path develop themselves, and leave the distractions at the side of the road.

          3. Remember to Be Authentic

          Taking a risk and then turning into something you’re not, is only going to lead to disaster. Whether you are risking a new relationship or new opportunity, you must be yourself throughout the entire process.

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          How many times have you acted like you loved something just because the men or woman you just started going out with loved it?

          For example, I’m not an office worker. I have an incredibly hard time working in a confined timeline (ie. 9-5). That’s why I write. I can do it whenever the mood strikes, I don’t have somebody breathing down my neck, telling me that I’m five minutes late, or missed a comma somewhere. I don’t have to walk on eggshells wondering if what I’m writing will get me fired or make me lose a promotion. I can just be myself, period.

          One girlfriend didn’t understand that. She believed solely in the 9-5 motto, specifically something in human resources because that was a very stable job. I was scared for my future, but I stuck with the relationship because of my own insecurities and acted like I would do it to make her happy.

          Here’s a tip: NEVER take away from your happiness to make somebody else satisfied (note I didn’t say happy).

          Making somebody else happy will make you happy. Doing something to satisfy somebody is murder on your soul.

          4. Don’t Take Any Risks While You’re Not Clearheaded

          I’d been considering the risk for a couple weeks. It all sounded good. I was 22 and I could be rich in a couple of years. That’s what they were selling me, anyways.

          One night, while at a house party with some friends, I found myself at a computer. A couple of my friends were standing nearby and asked me what I was doing. I told them I was considering starting my own business and it was only going to cost me $1,500.

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          Of course, when a bunch of drunk people are surrounded by more drunk people, things get enthusiastic. It sounded like the best business venture in the world to everybody, including me. So I signed up and gave them my credit card number.

          A few painful months and close to $4,000 dollars lost later, I quit the business. I was young and fell into the pyramid scheme trap. It was an expensive drunk decision.

          Drinking heavily and making decisions has a proven track record of failure. So when you have something important to decide, don’t let your emotions take over your brain.

          5. Fully Understand What You’re Risking

          It was the start of my baseball comeback. I got a tryout with a professional scout and killed it. After the tryout, he talked to my girlfriend and myself, making sure we understood I would be gone for up to 6 months at a time. That strain on the relationship could be tough.

          We understood. I left to play ball, chose to stay in the city I played in, and a year later we broke up. Not because of baseball, see point 3 above. Taking big risks can have massive impacts on everything in your life from relationships to money. Know what you’re risking before you take the risk.

          If you believe the risk will be worth it or you have the support you need from your family, then go ahead and make the leap.

          You can get more guidance on how to take calculated risks from this article: How to Take Calculated Risk to Achieve More and Become Successful

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          6. Remember This Is Your One Shot Only

          As far as we know officially, this is our one shot at life, so why not take some risks?

          The top thing people are saddened by on their deathbeds are these regrets. They wish they did more, asked that girl in the coffee shop out, spoke out when they should have, or did what they were passionate about.

          Don’t regret. Learn and experience. Live. Take the risks you believe in. Be yourself and make the world a better place.

          Now go ahead, take that risk and be successful at it!

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          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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