Comment box etiquette.

Aargh, I’ve just discovered another reason to be paranoid. (Finding reasons to be paranoid being one of my major life skills.)

I’ve just discovered that, in certain circles, failure to greet a new commenter with a quick “Hello and welcome” is regarded as a breach of blogging etiquette. Now, I’ve often observed other people welcoming newcomers, and I think it’s a dead nice thing to do and all that – but I’ve always taken it as a matter of personal style/preference, rather than as The Correct Thing To Do.

It could well be generational, and informed by the perspective of a relative old-timer, stuck in his original paradigm. When I started blogging nearly five years ago, the rules of engagement were somewhat different – and I don’t recall anyone doling out the Meet & Greets as a matter of course. (Peter, maybe?) Indeed, you could make a sound case for arguing that blogging was a good deal more aloof in those days, and a good deal more community-minded these days – but that’s a think-piece for another time.

In any case, I have certainly never expected my comments to be automatically replied to. Rather, instead of feeling snubbed when a comment is ignored, I tend to feel a mild ripple of pleasure when someone chooses to acknowledge it – because I have said something which has been deemed worthy of further discourse.

I do frequently reply to comments, and always by name. However, the fact that I have replied to some and not others should never be seen as favourtism, or cliquiness. It’s merely because some comments inspire further thoughts on my part, and some comments don’t. And it has certainly never occured to me that new readers might end up feeling excluded.

What about you? What’s your policy?

Update #1: Based on various people’s comments, I’ve added some follow-up thoughts of my own, in which I surprise myself by taking quite a severe line.

Update #2: For what has to be the definitive statement on this whole malarkey, you are strongly urged to read this excellent post from Status Anxiety.

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