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Should You Respond to Comments via Email or in Comments?

Posted By Darren Rowse 19th of August 2007 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Respond-To-CommentsIn my last post on responding to comments on your blog two readers, john – from fat to fat and Lynnae, both post the question of whether a blogger should respond to comments via email or via comments?

I’d like to throw this open as a reader question – what do you do?

Let me share a few suggestions to kick off the discussion.

I think that either can work – and in some circumstances it can either be worth to respond via comment AND to send an email.

Respond in Comments – The advantage of responding via comments is that it’s a public response that could answer questions of many and that shows the wider reader community that you’re engaging with them. The disadvantage of doing it via comments is that the person may never see it as many people leave comments and don’t keep track of responses.

Respond via Email – The advantage of responding via email is that the person will see the response and that it’s a much more personal thing which can have a real impact upon your reader. Of course the downside is that it’s a private thing and something that your wider reading community can’t participate in.

Both? – The third alternative is to do both which will cover all your bases (although it’s a touch more work).

I guess for me it depends upon what you’re responding to. If it’s an important question I’d do both. If it’s a comment that has more of a personal question in it then I’d respond via email and if it’s a little more general in nature I think just doing it in comments is ok.

Another Option – There’s one more alternative though and it’s something I’m doing right now.

You can respond in a new post.

This has the advantage of continuing the conversation by drawing attention to an older post, highlighting a reader’s comments and getting you another post.

What do you do?

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • I have done both although I try to do most replies online because people like to follow the conversation and to see how it develops.

  • I recently started to respond via email because of an earlier article you wrote. It is working very well, but I still need to get better at responding to comments on my site.

  • I do both. In fact, frequently I’ll get a question about something off topic to the particular post but about ‘Disney’ none the less. I usually just answer these questions off line and delete the original comment.

    A lot of times these comments become subjects of future posts.

  • Often when I leave a comment, I don’t go back to the site to check followups. So it’s best to email, otherwise there is no guarantee you reply will be seen.

  • I also do both on a case-by-case basis. If the question revolves around support, sometimes I’ll e-mail the person directly. If the question doesn’t need “one-on-one” attention, I’ll usually respond via a comment.

    If it’s in a conversational setting as Jake pointed out, I’ll almost always just respond with a comment.

  • I do both. If the person commenting leaves their URL to their own blog, I am more likely to respond by both email and by commenting. After all the great thing about blogging is the conversation it creates.

  • When question was asked in comments – answer in comments, if it was via e-mail I’ll answer via e-mail.
    I think it’s good policy :)

  • Depends on type of reader. If the comment comes from a new one, I send him an email, first contact. If the reader comes daily on my blog, I think that he watches the comment status, i give him a public reply.

  • I love the fact that you answered this. I read it in the comments of your last post and was wondering what your response would be. I guess it’s kind of the “obvious” answer, but, having your confirmation makes it seem correct. Thanks as always.

  • “I love the fact that you answered this.”

    The problem with writing about responding to readers comments is that you’ve got to do it…. :-)

  • I agree with Fanatyk. I’ve installed an option for readers to “Subscribe to Comments” so they can keep up with responses to any comment they leave.

    I tried for a while to respond to all comments in email, but after a while I found myself spending so much time replying to email that I didn’t have time to read other blogs, much less write my own!

  • I do both, that way (even if the commenter doesn’t come to the site again) they get a personal response

  • I don’t know if what i do is best, but I reply on my site. I have the subscribe to comments plug in, so it it totally up to the reader if they get an e-mail with the reply.

  • I prefer it when people comment back on my blog. hate it when people just email me

  • I tend to email if it’s a new commenter plus give them a “welcome” in the public comments.
    And then if a regular commenter says something particularly interesting I’ll sometimes take it off-line to continue the conversation with them privately.

  • What I like to do is thank new readers with an email and respond to comments individually if I can. I read about emailing new readers from ProBlogger when I was just getting started a month ago and I think it’s helped me develop a couple of regular readers. Getting more comments and commentors is my goal for the next couple of months!

  • I respond to commenters in a post. That way it is brought to the front and they don’t miss my response.


  • I stick to comments. I’ll reply to them on my blog, because it can really stimulate a conversation, not just with that reader, but with other readers.

    I also tend to go to the person’s blog, and leave a comment there as well.

    I’m not so fond of emails, because when you’re getting a lot of them that are just little comments, it can be very time consuming to go through them all. :(

    The worst is when people have a plugin to automatically thank you for your comment. I know that they mean well, but the point of an email thank you is to be personal. An automated reply is just bordering on spam.

  • Wow! Thanks for the quick response! I never would have thought to respond with a post, but you got my attention!

    And it’s nice to know that what I’ve been doing is good, too. Thank you!

  • You’re welcome Lynnae

  • I’ve committed to reply to all comments, however briefly. When it’s just a simple acknowledgement type comment I round those up into one reply and post it with name (Fred,James, Sally: thanks!). I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep that up, but it’s what I want to do right now.

    I installed a plugin which mails back the other people. It installs a little envelope icon and when I click it the program sticks me in the reply field, and emails that one person with whatever I reply. Sometimes they email back, sometimes they come back to post. Either way, I wish more people would install it because I’d rather get an email heads up than have to wade through all subsequent comments with a subscribe-to-this-post plugin.

    (The link to my post about this one is in the link section of this comment.)

  • Well, when you already have a subscribe to comments by RSS or email, if you respond by email, the reader will receive two emails. I’m not sure if that represents a problem.

    When I answer by email because it’s a more personal answer, I leave a short answer on the comments of the blog something like: @Darren: I’ve sent you an email answering your question

    This way I’m telling all the other readers I do engage with them

  • I’ve done both before, I recently wrote a post with resume tips and a fellow blogger mentioned the need for a little assistance in dressing up theirs, so I responded in comments and emailed them personally as well to offer help.

    If I offered help publicly however, everyone who ever saw the post, even years from now, would be emailing me for help with their resume. I’ll help people who have been around…that particular blogger had been on my site before and commented and I considered them part of my little 10 person readership :D.

  • I generally do both with new commenters and quite often with regular commenters.

    I am especially careful with questions – I answer then on the blog AND via email to make sure they have their answer. In many cases I add extra information in the email. In some cases the person leaving a question has follow up questions or comments.

    This is how I develop a sense of community around my blogs.

  • Deb

    It depends. I try to email as many new visiting commenters as I can provided there is a way to get an email address. I definitely click over to see if it was random or if we have some larger common ground for a potential regular blog connection. I try to go back an acknowledge in comments that are fairly fresh posts. Is my answer vague enough yet.

  • I respond by email if the comment has a return email. If the comment is a ‘no-reply’ then I link to their blog and leave a thank you and a comment on their most recent post. It is very rare that I respond to a comment in the comment area of my own blog…I generally will do as suggested here and respond with a post. This system works quite well for me as it enables me to develop a relationship with my readers. Some are quite astounded that I reply back via email and the feedback has been quite positive with this approach.

  • Kat

    I do a combo of all 3, but I mostly reply by email to each and every single comment I get. It’s time consuming, but it’s a personal touch. It let’s my readers know I really did read their comment, I took the time to think about what they said or asked, and I’m replying in kind.

  • I do a little of all, as well. I respond by e-mail to new commenters to give them a personal hello and thank them for their comment or to regular visitors to my site that I have a more personal relationship with. I comment in the next entry if it is a subject that I want to follow up with.

  • It makes my head hurt.

    If I respond in the comments, well, should I respond to everyone? Probably not, but then I feel as though I’m being unfair. This probably comes from working around teenagers all day who are quite concerned with justice.

    On the other hand, if I am answering a question, as you pointed out, only one person gets the answer. And as far as responding to all comments with emails, well, that’s exhausting.

    I think I’m just going to write and not worry about it unless it looks important.

  • I am new, so trying to learn as much as I can. Thanks and have a relax weekends.

  • Both is a good option, and allowing people to subscribe to their comment is an excellent solution.

  • Amy

    There’s a great WP plugin that let’s you respond in the comments, and also shoots the commenter you’re responding to an email. That’s what I use.

  • I generally try to respond to comments my readers leave with another comment.

    My impression is that responding to a comment with a comment AND an email stinks of desperation – but that’s just my opinion.

    On the other hand, if one person is always leaving good comments on your blog, it might be a good idea to email them to thank them for their support.

  • I have done all three. I always respond with a comment, even if it’s just a thank-you. Since commenters have the option to subscribe to comments, I don’t respond in e-mail unless there is a specific reason to do so, such as to answer a question. Some comments have led me to write a post – one time a series of posts – in response.

  • It took me a long time to figure out how I was supposed to respond to comments. (Eventually, I posted and asked my readers!) Now I do a little of all of the above. I reply via e-mail when I can and duplicate my answer in the comments when I feel the community will benefit. When there is no e-mail address to reply to, I reply in comments. And if the discussion is good enough that I really want to call attention to it, I will reply by writing an entirely new post.

  • Both are very important.
    I respond my visitors by e-mail because it’s very good to pass a good impression about me, but more important, to show to my visitor that I’m really a human, not a machine.
    I like to respond directly in my blog when I can extending the discussion, when the response can aggregate some information about the theme or just about some comment.

  • Well, when you already have a subscribe to comments by RSS or email, if you respond by email, the reader will receive two emails.

    — Nope. The plugin I use will not duplicate. So, if someone decides to subscribe, they won’t get the direct email.

  • I think the best choice is to use both and gather the benefits of (Respond in Comments) and (Respond in Email) …

  • I always do both. I write a response in a comment and then email them letting them know that I have responded.

  • eve

    What about using the plugin- respond to comments? It lets you click an icon next to the commenters name and you reply to them in the comments AS WELL AS sending them an email, and it works with subscribe to comments and does not send the commenter 2 emails- made by Owen-

  • The Rules of Engagement – I agree both works best, a personal response and an open reply so the users can see you proactively engaing.

  • The Rules of Engagement – I agree both works best, a personal response and an open reply so the users can see you proactively engaging.

  • “Depends on type of reader. If the comment comes from a new one, I send him an email, first contact. If the reader comes daily on my blog, I think that he watches the comment status, i give him a public reply.” – Sorel

    This is kind of what I have been doing and feels right to me. It’s probably easier when you have a small reader base like I do though.

    Darren – making a post out of the response certainly works as you certainly got my attention! When there is a chance I like this approach.

  • I do both depending on the comment. If it’s a continuing discussion sort of thing, then I reply in the comments. If it’s just a “thanks for stopping by” then via email.

  • I usually just respond in the comments, but I’m really considering picking up the habit of sending an email to new commentators. They’re easy enough to pick out since I have the blog set up to require one manually approved comment for new commentators. Once they’re approved, the comments just go right through. I could use that initial approval process to make contact with new readers via email.

  • Often times I will visit a blog and comment sometimes including a question in that comment. Chances are I will never revisit that blog to find out if someone answers my question. That is why I email commenters when they ask a question but I also answer the question as a comment so that others who visit the post can see the answer.

  • Until now, I have mainly answered in another comment. I think this is the way things should be, but I know that people are lazy and to not follow comments. I may have to write more emails. A couple of times I have writen a post on the matter.

  • I’ve gone to using the Subscribe to Comments option on my blog, and I default it to check the check box so that anyone reading gets an e-mail to see that I commented. I’ve had a couple people wonder, when I sent them actual e-mails, whether the e-mail was automatic or not!

    Hey Darren, looks like you need to get a plugin to make sure that links don’t overrun your comment section or do some CSS wizardry to clip off the overflow. (See comment from eve above).

  • A ‘Subscribe to Comments’ plugin may be an option, but I’ve never seen one that emails only responces to a particular comment. An entry may get dozens of comments and they will be all emailed to you. This is the reason I seldom subscribe to comments myself (in fact, I did it only once).

    On my blogs I never reply to comments via email unless a commenter asks to email him in private. I see it as a minor violation of privacy and even try to make the ’email’ field optional when it’s possible – I don’t really need people’s email addresses.

  • It depends on the nature of the question. However, I generally try to do respond online. I may follow-up with an email if the person is looking for very specific information.