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Web Comments: Strategy, Etiquettes and Future for Publishers and Contributors.

Comments on a webpage are like a magical mirror, which everybody want to snatch from others to see her own face, but in the end owner snatches it away for herself, by force, and makes a movie out of it.

A fantastic reality of internet is that every page is only as much credible as the owner of the webpage and fortunately vice versa too. So, knowing one helps knowing the other, and you will fail to see otherwise. If you are regularly commenting on different websites, you should be able to shortlist some trustworthy ones. The mirror analogy works everywhere, the only difference is whether the owner is a Dog, Monkey or some other creature like you or me! Since, web is mostly dominated by curators and hoovers, originality is a rare encounter for lucky few. Advent of Social Networking and messaging platform has made everyone a frequent commenter on multiple issues resulting into an unending quest for attention across various platforms. So the viral tide will surely strike you once in a while, tempting for a deep plunge into the sea. So, be prepared for the inevitable because you are going to make or break your reputation.

There are some good practices, which quite honestly I would tell you only the best people are seen practicing, but others like us must give it a try:

  1. Your politeness is the most lethal weapon against all the odds that may come across you, while seeing comments across the web. So, try never to lose it.
  2. Add wit and sarcasm but not abuses, even when others are throwing mud on you.
  3. Be Original and just say what you feel and agree with, no need to seek support from others. You will find more support in this way, rather than by asking for it. People support you because of attraction and appeal you create there.
  4. Don’t try to have the last word. People trying to do so can be easily identified, and they don’t make any real impact, though they always think they are making great impact. You must leave a discussion beyond a point.

These will make you Smart, while commenting:

  1. If you comment according to the way discussion is moving forward, always look at the discussion and wait till you can read mood of the crowd and gently change the direction.
  2. Bring some authentic source to sound credible. Link to a good video or a reputed authority on the web. People coming back after visiting the link will respect you, if you sounded genuine.
  3. Give a personal touch and anecdote in your comment. Address the author, so that he may remember you, next time you visit.
  4. Always comment through your public profile. Twitter or Facebook are best, it helps people know you better and also helps in creating better impact. Those who comment through guest profile or a dedicated commenting profile are taken as dishonest and the ones who run away throwing a stone on others.

For publishers the best strategy is one which facilitates a good discussion on the topic. some of the good practices are:

  1. Allow for the Popular log in platform. Twitter and facebook login are a sort of norm these days.
  2. Install a commenting System which allows simultaneous posting on different Social media platforms. It helps get more people and sharing.
  3. Moderation is a dirty word. If you are moderating, announce it categorically, What kind of comments are removed and published. Keep it minimal and open. You should never look like doing something to slant the public view.
  4. Selectively publishing comments to favor the author’s version of the story is criminal, and big publishers doing so will surely lose credibility and audience over a period of time. You are not the only place where people can comment, there are several other platforms and if comment on your page is not in sync with that at other place, people can easily sense the scam.

Future of comments on the web:  Some of the websites have stopped accepting comments on their webpages. People comment on twitter, facebook  or other places about them. So, you can’t address their audience, you can only address your own audience about them. It is good for publishers whose subject is highly technical or the audience participation may only increase the noise there. I see noise reduction as the major challenge that need to be addressed through a proper commenting system. People moderate but that takes away the credibility of the web page. Amount of conversation happening on twitter and facebook may completely take away the comments from the webpage. It is highly likely that webpages in future would rather allow you an easy peek into the web reactions as social proof and author or fan may access them and respond to them easily, from anywhere. 

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