NOTE: This is the REVISED version of this post (see the changes in the middle section). I was made aware of a system bug that will affect the choice you have in making comments, read more:
The ActiveRain points system pretty ingenious. It incentivizes the types of actions that you should be doing and this makes the community thrive. For example, you get points for making blog posts and you get points for making comments on others' blog posts. At first, you may do comments 'for the points' but as you interact on others posts, you quickly realize that getting comments on your own posts encourages you to do more posts and you realize that your comments to others will have the same effect. If you've ever posted on your own blog outside of AR, and especially as a new blogger with minimal followers, hearing either crickets in the comments section or needing to throw out a bunch of bot-like spam comments is no fun. As you get established in ActiveRain, you'll expect to see more and more comments and you'll really like it!
Here are some of my observations, and suggestions on making comments.
If you are just making comments to get numerical points,
you missed the point.
If you are simply running around trying to get points for comments and all you ever say is "Great post, I really appreciated that information." You may get numerical points in AR but don't count on gaining more important points -- from the author of the article. If you sincerely liked it, but have nothing more to say, click the LIKE button. They'll know and appreciate that you were there. However, if you really enjoyed the post, it only takes a little more effort in a couple of sentences to be specific about what you liked or gained from the post. That added personal touch is much more likely to have the author want to learn more about you. Quite often the added benefit is that they'll want to venture over your blog and check it out too.
Here's where things get a little tricky, let me explain.
ActiveRain introduced threaded comments, a new feature update for us back in Sept 2015. The potential was great. You could now more directly reply to somebody who commented on your post. If you click the comment link located beneath their comment then your reply comment is shown directly below. Before that feature, you had to start an entirely new comment box with your reply. Doing a separated reply was simple enough in the case where your comment was immediately below theirs. However if you came back to your post after a few hours and you had many comments lined up waiting, by the time you got to reply back you ended up doing a lot of scrolling up and down to review their comment as you typed your reply.
However there is a hiccup in the threaded comments system that you should be aware of. (I was unaware of this until yesterday when I originally posted this and it seems that many others are also unaware because it took about a hundred views of my post until Lottie Kendall gave me a heads up on it, thanks Lottie! I learned also afterward that Debe Maxwell, CRS also wrote "Confused About When to Tag in the Rain" over a year ago also explaining this predicament.) So here's the problem:
If you reply using the threaded comment system, the system ideally would just automatically notify the poster of the comment that they got a reply. It does not. So what many people (including me until yesterday) would do is @tag the person, thinking they would then get a notification. It turns out (BUG ALERT), people do not get a notification when you tag them in a threaded comment.
So we, at this point in time, are left with two choices A or B. You'll have to choose which route to go.
The A option is back to 'old school' method. This is where you post your reply as a separate comment. When you do this, you can @tag the person and they WILL get a notification. As mentioned, this is easy enough when your comment is directly below theirs. If there are many comments in between, then you have a scrolling up/down issue (I'll put a **tech tip at the end that can help you with that). In the example below, see how Lottie replied to George.
The B option is to use threaded comments, which definitely makes for a nicer looking conversation thread but then you just have to be aware that quite a few that you respond to will never make it back to see how you replied. (see my notes below about the easiest way to go back and check where you have made comments using the comments log page). In the example below, see how Alan May is using threaded comments. Notice that he is not tagging anyone because in threaded mode tagging does not work. For Alan this is the best choice. (His witty comments are sure to make you smile.) But, imagine if his replies were separated by needing to scroll down so far the original comment is off the page, you would have forgotten the connection of the comment to the reply!
SHOULD I @tag* somebody when I make a comment?
When you are commenting on a person's post, you do NOT need to @tag* them in the comment. The system already sends them a notification each time somebody comments. So @tags are just redundant and honestly sometimes can be a little awkward looking because many people add additional details to their name and all of that extra stuff shows up in your comment (e.g. their location and/or phone number). So just skip the @tag in your comments, it's not required!
Avoiding a Community Faux Pas
It is considered good etiquette in the AR community to reply to all comments that you receive. Yes this takes extra time, so you should really make an attempt to do so. At the very least, in particularly busy seasons when you truly maxxed out of time, after you read the comments, you can click the like button so that the person knows you appreciated their time there with you.
You've been a very busy commenter? How can you easily go back to the comments you've made to see the reply you got?
If you have been a very busy person in making comments all over the AR stratosphere, how can you easily return to see what the author's replies are? (especially if they didn't @mention you in the reply). I highly recommend that make a bookmark of your comments log page. Wait, did you not know that you have a comments log page?! Check this out:
Start at your My Home page > on the left sidebar, expand "Find Blogs to Read" > click "My Comments"
Ok, that took three clicks to get there (not very efficient for such a useful page!)
That's why I suggest you make it a bookmark in your browser, because then you can land there in the future with just a single click. Moreover, notice the links on your comments log page will jump you not only to the blog post, but to the spot in the page where you actually made the comment (#timesaver)
"I'm a new blogger. How can I get more comments on my AR blog posts?"
Initially, when you first start posting, you may only get a comment or two. It's all a matter of having your post be seen so it can be clicked on. In the main blogroll feed (of everyone's posts) your post will be on that page for just a short while. Beyond that, there are a couple of strategies to consider. (1) Join and post to various popular AR Groups. On the each group's feed page, you'll have a little longer visibility there. (2) Spend time interacting with others in the community. Read and give genuine comments on their posts. They'll come check you out. If you have great content, don't be surprised when you get a "new subscriber notification". The more of these you get, the more people will see your posts in the future.
Happy blogging and commenting!
*footnote: @tagging is the case where you type an @ and then followed by a few letters of their name. If they have commented on your post, their name will appear so that you can click on it. This creates a link to the person so others can follow the link if they want. But it importantly also sends out a system notification so they are aware that they were mentioned and can come check it out.
**tech tip: This is how I solve the issue when trying to see what the person said if my reply comment is scrolled down so that their comment is off the page where I can no longer see it as I write the reply. Open up two browser tabs with your same post in it. Then arrange the windows left and right. For instance, the left window can be used for reading the comment, the right window could be used for writing your reply. Not ideal, but for me, this beats the constant scrolling up and down problem.