About Blogging – Blogging Etiquette

Our monthly column, About Blogging, is back! Melanie Nelson, is joining our 5 Minutes for Mom team as our new About Blogging columnist.

Melanie is an experienced (and fantastic!) blogger who answers your basic blogging questions M-F at Blogging Basics 101. She also hosts giveaways from outstanding vendors at Bloggy Giveaways. And, as if that doesn’t keep her busy enough, she also blogs about her daily life at Don’t Try This at Home. We are honored to have her writing here at 5 Minutes for Mom!

Blogging Etiquette

by Melanie Nelson
Melanie answers your basic blogging questions every week day at Blogging Basics 101.

Emily Post is our go-to gal for etiquette in the every-day world. What about our virtual world, though? Is it fair to say we need rules of etiquette here as well?

Blogging etiquette is something I am asked about frequently. There are those who never considered such a thing and who, upon learning of it, are intrigued and want to know more. Then there are those who want to make sure they are not offending another blogger. And so the questions pour in:

  • Is it OK to lurk on a blog?
  • Is it rude to ask for reciprocal links?
  • Should I respond to all comments left at my blog?
  • How should I reply to comments–with a personal e-mail or in the comments section?
  • Should I correct a blogger’s typos in the comments?
  • What if I disagree with the blogger’s point of view? Should I still leave a comment?
  • Is it OK to link to someone even if you don’t know them?

As you can imagine, these are just a few of the questions out there. I’ll answer these questions (and I do, on a regular basis, at Blogging Basics 101), but first I want to give a blanket answer that is true for just about everything:

Be polite. Follow the Golden Rule.

This virtual world we’ve built allows us a bit of anonymity. We may feel like we can write anything we want because we aren’t face to face with the other person. Remember that words are tools to express your thoughts and feelings. They can be used to hurt and to help. Remember that tone is a hard thing to express with words only. Without your body language to back it up, your comment may be misconstrued.

I tell you these things not to frighten you into never commenting or joining in the discussion of a blog, but to remind you to think before you type.

Now, let’s get to answering those etiquette questions.

Is it OK to lurk on a blog? Yes. Although comments are always appreciated, it’s OK to lurk on a blog. Throw them a bone every once in a while, though, and say hi.

Is it rude to ask for reciprocal links? This is a hard one to answer because there are two schools of thought. I do not like to be asked for reciprocal links–especially by someone I do not know. I do not like to trade links. I like to decide for myself who I will link to.

Should I respond to all comments left at my blog? In theory, this is a great idea. I have had to become better about this myself. I tend to be introverted online as well as off-line so I don’t like to engage in conversations much–it intimidates me. However, I have found that responding to comments encourages people to leave comments more frequently and has made my own little bloggy community grow.

In addition, leaving comments at the blogs you visit helps your own visibility in the blogosphere.

How should I reply to comments–with a personal e-mail or in the comments section? You can do either. I prefer to answer with personal e-mails instead of in the comments section. Do what works best for you. If you are receiving the same question or comment repeatedly, you may want to go ahead and respond in the comment section so everyone can find your answer.

Should I correct a blogger’s typos in the comments? NO! Although we all like to post the perfectly edited post every day, we are all going to make mistakes. We’ll use their instead of they’re. Or we’ll misspell something. Unless it’s part of a button or banner (or something equally important), just ignore it. If it’s truly driving you crazy or you know the person would want to know, send them a quick personal e-mail.

What if I disagree with the blogger’s point of view? Should I still leave a comment? If you have been reading and commenting at a blog and feel that you have a rapport with that community, leave the comment. If you’re unsure, don’t leave the comment, or, you can send a personal e-mail to the blogger.

I personally love to hear different opinions. However, I have commented with a dissenting opinion at other blogs and my comments have been deleted.

If you are polite in your disagreement, you can add to the discussion. I believe most bloggers appreciate this. The key is to be non-confrontational.

Is it OK to link to someone even if you don’t know them? Of course! Bloggers LOVE to be linked to! It means they may receive more traffic. And traffic may mean more comments. And bloggers live for comments, don’t we?


  1. says

    We DO live for comments, and because of that I am honored to be the 1st one to comment on this post. Thank you so much, Melanie, for the great advice! I feel often that I am in uncharted territory, and it’s nice to have you explain things simply.

  2. says

    Oh, yeah, a person interviewed of which I’m already familiar. Cool. Thanks, Melanie for the great work you do with the BB101 blog (well, taking on the giveaway one, too). I appreciate them both! :)

  3. says

    This is all such wonderful advice! I’m still relatively new to the blogging world, so I love reading blogging how-to’s, ideas, politeness, etc.

    I began reading a lot of my blogs though my Aunt, who began blogging more than a year ago. I found that though I really like most of the blogs she reads, there are a couple I just couldn’t stomach. But that’s ok!

    Just because everyone L-O-V-E-S [the best blog in the whole world] doesn’t mean you have to. If it’s too political, negative, anti-religious, etc. for your taste, just pass on it!

  4. Susan says

    Thank you so much Melanie for the great advice.

    Janice and I used to love to visit every blogger who commented here on 5 minutes for mom, but sadly now we rarely have time. (With our babies and our stores and of course keeping up with 5 minutes for mom, the day is done before it begins.)

    We LOVE all our comments and we wish we could visit each of you.

    It’s too bad we don’t all have an extra twelve hours (child-free) in every day just for blogging. Even then I don’t think I’d have enough time for all the blogs I’d like to read.

  5. says

    What a great post! I love all the information. Comments are great to receive so you don’t feel like you are just talking to the air. I can get that at home. LOLOLOLOL

  6. says

    I love this post! You know, I just had an experience asking another blog in my same category to exchange blogroll links and the blog owner declined by literally saying “I don’t know you, so No”..I’m like, “Wow!”. Doesn’t she know this is the blogosphere? Nobody knows anybody but you develop the friendship by commenting on one another’s blogs and exchanging blogroll links? I mean, I have no problem with this. As long as the blog is related to my blog theme, I am open to it. :)

  7. says

    I love this post! I’m fairy new to blogging and actually did a search for blogging etiquette when I first started last fall. I never found any answers, until now! Thanks!

  8. says

    I’d think it was weird if someone asked me to add them to my blogroll and I’d never been to their blog before. I have listed on my blogroll that I’ll link to you if I’ve been to your blog before and left a comment (which usually would mean that I liked the blog enough to spend time writing a comment!)

    I don’t respond to my comments because most of the time I don’t have an email address for people. I wish I could though. I occasionally respond in the comments, but I doubt that anyone returns to read my responses.

    I think I respond to the comments mostly by visiting the commenter’s blog and commenting on their blog.

  9. says

    Great post! I often have trouble remembering to reply to comments. I need to get more into the habit of it! Thanks for the reminder!

  10. says

    for my self I rather have someone leave a comment about something they don’t see eye to eye with me. I’m not saying to be rude to the person you disagree with.
    But all honesty to me when some one e-mails you a comment I kind of fine it a coward ways out.

    I don’t know what reciprocal link is?

    But one thing I do like about blogging I learn so much.

  11. says

    I like that you are sharing on this blog as well as your own, it means I will still have time to see you when I do not have so much time for hopping! :o)

    Thank you Susan and Janice for having her!

    God Bless.

  12. says

    This is a fantastic new column! I LOVE it!

    Melanie, I especially loved your comment about reciprocal links: “I do not like to be asked for reciprocal links–especially by someone I do not know. I do not like to trade links. I like to decide for myself who I will link to.”

    I completely related to that point of view. I see my blogroll as a place that I can really express myself – my interests, my passions, etc. I don’t like to link to others’ blogs just because they’ve offered to link to mine.

    I’m honored if people choose to include me on their blogroll, but I don’t think that should obligate me to link to theirs. Similarly, I link to several bloggers who don’t link back to mine – and I am totally okay with that. I like that freedom.

    Blogrolls should be about sharing yourself, not about cross-promoting.

    Just my 2 cents… :)

  13. says

    Thanks Melanie for your post. I’m another one who appreciates what you said about reciprocal links. That’s always bothered me, and you put my feelings into words better than I could. :)

  14. says

    Hi Melanie,
    Thankyou for an informative post… It’s great to be reminded of posting etiquette. You can never go wrong by following the ‘Golden Rule’ both online & offline.

    Comments are a great way to receive information & opinions can give you a different angle you’ve never thought of.

    Interacting with others can be the beginning of great friendships online & great opportunities can often open up for you.

  15. says

    WOW, you guys! Thanks for all the encouragement! I’m very excited to be writing for 5 Minutes for Mom. If you have any specific questions you’d like addressed, please forward them to me at askchilihead AT gmail DOT com. Please be sure to put 5 Minutes for Mom in the subject line. I’ll try to answer them if they aren’t already answered at BB101.

    Thanks for reading and commenting! I really do appreciate your feedback!


  16. says

    Up until just recently I didn’t really understand what a blog was. My dear husband has me starting one of my own now! Your advice and tips are great since I can use all the help I can get now. Thanks.

  17. says

    Thanks for this post. It’s cleared up some questions I had, especially about recipricol linking. I just started blogging, but I have a couple other websites as well and one thing you do want to do is ask for reciprical links from other sites that are related to yours. I wasn’t quite sure about how that worked with the blogging community though. I emailed a blog that I really like that is related to mine and asked if they wanted to trade links. Of course I felt a little funny about that after wards and I put her blog on my blogroll anyway. I never did hear back from her and I figured she didn’t want to do that I guess. I can’t blame her though I suppose. She probably didn’t want to sound rude by replying with a No. Though now I feel a little dumb for asking.


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