I wrote a post about a year and a half ago called “No Reply”? No Kidding! I’ve received comments here and there, usually expressing relief that the commenter wasn’t either crazy or stupid. Recently, Amy from Sews N Bows found it, and is writing a guest post as part of series on blogging at Plucky’s Second Thought. In our emails back and forth, she suggested I write another post to help clarify the issue.
There are many different blogging platforms, some of the biggest being Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, Live Journal, and TypePad, with new ones added almost monthly. I’m going to focus on Blogger and WordPress for the sake of this post. I am NOT going to argue which platform is better, because “better” depends on the user’s needs. Obviously, I prefer WordPress, since that’s the platform I use.
Blogger is a popular platform, extremely recognizable, easy to use, and preferred by many amateur bloggers. It is owned by Google and it interfaces well with other Google products.
WordPress is extremely versatile and highly customizable, and is preferred by professional bloggers and amateurs who prefer more control over their blogs. WordPress is the most popular blogging platform in the world.
In Blogger, the blog owner can choose one of four comment settings. In order of most restricted to least restricted:
- Blog members only
- Google Account users
- Registered users (includes Open ID, WordPress, etc.)
- Anyone (includes Anonymous users)
If the blogger wants to be open to as many comments as possible, they choose Anyone. This opens them to more spam, but also allows people to enter the conversation without sharing any personal information, either publicly or privately. With the Anyone option checked, this is what you’ll see in the comment form:
Registered Users is safer because the commenter must have provided personal information at some point, either when they set up their own blog or website, their OpenID certificate, or their Google Account. This personal information is not necessarily shared with the blogger or the public.
Restricting comments to Google Account users means that a commenter must sign up with Google before leaving a comment. It goes a step further, though, and forces you to also create either a Google+ or a Blogger account to leave a comment. With a Blogger account, it creates a profile page that you can edit to list additional details like your blogs, your email, and blogs you follow. The Blogger account default setting does not include any of this additional information.
It is unlikely that you’ll run into a blog with a Blog members only setting, as membership blogs tend to be private. Even if you do find one, you won’t be able to comment so it isn’t really an issue.
Blogger has additional comment settings, including adding a word verification (CAPTCHA) and requiring moderation on comments always or only on posts older than a specific number of days.
In WordPress, comment settings have a number of variables. The pertinent options include:
- Comment author must fill out name and e-mail
- Users must be registered and logged in to comment
These are both yes/no options, so which boxes are checked determines what information a commenter must share. The most restrictive would have both of these boxes checked, requiring the commenter to provide their information AND be registered/logged in with WordPress, Twitter or Facebook. More commonly, WordPress users just require commenters to fill out their name and email address. This helps reduce spam and flaming, although it by no means eliminates it. This is what the comment form looks like:
Other options in WordPress include closing comments on a post after a certain number of days, requiring comment approval (moderation) on all comments or only on new commenters, allowing threaded or nested comments (where you can reply to a comment and your reply will appear below that comment), moderating or blacklisting comments that include certain words, and moderating comments that contain more than a specific number of links.
You’ll notice that the commenter also has the option of receiving follow up comments or new posts via email.
What is “No Reply”?
It is important to note that “No Reply” is only an issue for people who use the Blogger platform to host their blogs.
In order to understand “No Reply,” first you need to understand the opposite – let’s call it “Reply.” A “Reply” comment is one where the Blogger owner is able to respond directly to the commenter via email. In a “No Reply” comment, the Blogger owner cannot respond directly via email. So what prevents them from replying via email?
Blogger users can see their comments two ways, in the Comments page in their Dashboard, or via email. By default, all incoming comments are sent to the blog owner via email. They can turn this off if they choose, and only view comments on their Dashboard. As I understand it (and please correct me if I’m wrong), they receive emails for ALL comments, including spam, which may be why so many Blogger users choose to implement word verification on their blogs.
When they receive a comment via email, it looks something like this:
Notice that the From: line shows a name (piecemealquilts.com), but the actual email address following it is <firstname.lastname@example.org>. This is a No Reply comment – if I replied to that email it would
eventually bounce back disappear into the ether. (Thanks, Pam, for clarifying that!) If I had left the comment using my Google/Blogger account, it would have shown my email address, and clicking Reply would have sent an email to the address I shared in my Blogger account.
“No Reply” isn’t as big an issue for Blogger users who turn off their email notification, because the Comment page on their Dashboard doesn’t show email addresses anyway. Here’s what the Comments page looks like in Blogger:
See on the far right side where it lists the “name” of the commenter? These are links – if they click on “piecemealquilts.com” and it will take the blog owner directly to my blog home page. If they click on “Sandi@Piecemeal Quilts” it will take the blog owner to my Blogger profile.
They would then have to click on my email (or right click and copy) in order to send me an email. These extra steps are why I believe most Blogger users prefer to receive their comments via email.
So why is “No Reply” only an issue for Blogger users? Because Blogger is the only platform (that I’m aware of) that doesn’t either have an option for a commenter to enter their email address, or share the email address from the OpenID information with the Blogger user.
For comparison’s sake, here are the same screenshots from WordPress:
Above is the email I receive when a comment is left on my WordPress blog. I erased a few pieces of private information, but all of those links in the post mean I can reply directly via email, view the commenter’s blog, trash the comment, or move it into spam.
This is the Comment page of my WordPress Dashboard. I blotted out personal info again, but you can see that each comment shows the name, email address and website (if provided). Here I can Unapprove, Reply within the blog as a threaded comment, edit the comment, mark it as spam, or trash it. I can also click on the email address (or right click and copy) to send an email to the commenter.
Why are you “No Reply”?
There are two reasons why a commenter would show up as “No Reply”:
- If they leave a comment with a Name/URL, WordPress, OpenID, or anything other than a Google/Blogger account, they will always be No Reply. The commenter cannot change this. The Blogger user cannot change this. It is a limitation of the Blogger platform. The only way this will change is if Google changes it.
- Some commenters who use a Blogger account are still No Reply because of settings within their account. The default is to NOT share the email address, causing them to be No Reply. They CAN change it if they choose, but some people prefer not to share their email address publicly.
How to Change your No Reply Status
I hesitate to include this because there are so many posts that tell you this already, but for the sake of complete information, here’s how a person using a Google/Blogger account can change their No Reply status.
Go to http://www.blogger.com/home
If you are logged in, click your name in the top right corner and a box will pop up. Click “Blogger Profile” and it will take you to your profile page.
If you are not logged in, do so and it will take you to your profile page.
At the top right, click “Edit Profile.”
Make sure the box next to “Show my email address” is checked. Below that, be sure your email address is entered. Scroll all the way to the bottom and click “Save Profile.”
How to respond if the comment is No Reply
Obviously, the easiest comments for a Blogger owner to respond to are the ones that are sent using a Blogger account with a public email address. They receive an email, they click Reply, they write the message, they’re done. If a commenter uses a Google/Blogger account and is No Reply AND does not have a blog of their own, there’s really no way to reply to the comment except in your own blog. However, with minimal effort, everyone else can be contacted.
Right there in the comment email (or on the Comment page of the Dashboard) is a link to their website, blog, or Google/Blogger profile page. The Blogger profile page may provide a blog link. Just one or two clicks will put the Blogger user on the blog or website of the commenter. Look for a Contact page or an About Me page or section. Most blogs provide a way of contacting the owner, but even if they don’t, you can still just leave a comment.
Why non-Blogger users are so frustrated by this “No Reply” stuff
I understand how frustrating it is for a Blogger user to be unable to to respond to their commenters. They want to engage with their readers – it expands readership and it’s fun to talk to like-minded people. But what about the rest of us? Why does this whole “No Reply” thing bother us? Well, because we’re bombarded with it, blamed for it, and there’s nothing we can do to change it. If you Google ‘”no reply” comment’ (with quotations around “no reply” so you don’t get everything that has the word “no” and the word “reply” and the word “comment”) you get 6.3 million hits. That’s almost six and a half million Blogger users who are telling us that we need to fix something so we can interact with them – BUT WE CAN’T. We can’t change it. Our platforms are not at fault – theirs is.
Another frustration is the “fix” that is offered. “It’s okay, you can change your no reply status,” we’re told. “All you have to do is set up a Google/Blogger account and use that when you leave comments.” When I first discovered the problem, I tried just that. But when I set up my Blogger account, I discovered I could not list my WordPress blog in my profile. The profile only allows you to list Blogger blogs. My options were to leave a comment on someone else’s blog without sharing my blog address, or leave a comment with my blog address and hope that they’d make the effort to contact me. Or, to simplify: Build someone else’s readership, or build my own. That’s a no-brainer. I’ll share my blog URL, thank you.
Then there are the blogs that instruct you to leave your email address in the comment. Do they not understand that some people don’t WANT to make their email public? Or, as in my case, don’t want to make it public in a hundred different locations? I provide my email address on my blog, in addition to having a contact form. Once is sufficient. The more times you put your email address out there, the greater the chance of it generating spam.
How about giveaways that tell you they will draw another name if your comment is No Reply. It always makes me wonder – do they make any effort to contact the winner, as explained in the previous section, or do they just move on to the next person?
I’ve had some fantastic conversations with Blogger users who have taken the extra few seconds to contact me through my blog after I left a comment. There are a lot of really awesome people out there! It’s the ones who don’t know better or don’t think they should have to make the effort that frustrate me. I’ve always been a No Reply commenter, so I don’t know if this is typical, but I receive responses to about 10% of the comments I leave. It’s hard not to think that there are a lot of Blogger users who aren’t making the effort.
There are levels of blogging. I would be shocked to receive a comment response from a professional blogger who literally make a living at it and receive hundreds or thousands of comments a day. Frankly, I only comment on those blogs if they’re hosting a giveaway, and if they mention “no reply” in their comment form, I don’t bother. The bloggers like me, who write for themselves and not to make a profit, or the ones who would like to build a readership so they can generate some income from their blogs, don’t have the same excuse. Building a readership means engaging the readers, and it’s a two-way conversation. It means hopping over to the commenter’s blog and reading a bit, or even just scanning a few photos. Dismissing a reader because they can’t just click reply and dash off a sentence or two does both the blogger and the commenter a disservice.
I know exactly how time consuming it is to do this, because it’s what I do when I receive a comment. Even though I can easily respond through my email (because with my settings, WordPress ALWAYS gives me your email address), I also take a few minutes to look at the commenter’s blog if they provide it. Sometimes I mention something I saw in their blog in my reply, sometimes not. Sometimes I end up following their blog, sometimes not. I’m far from a perfect blogger – sometimes I neglect to respond to a comment, if it’s been a particularly difficult time for me. But I ALWAYS look at their blog if they list it. Every. Single. Time.
Here’s a suggestion. Instead of simply telling people to fix their No Reply status, acknowledge the reasons for it and say what effort you’ll make to reply. Something like “If you comment with a Google Account and do not know if you are a No Reply commenter, you probably are! Here’s a link to how to change it so I can reply to your comments. If you choose to maintain a No Reply status but have a public blog listed in your Google/Blogger account, or if you comment with OpenID, WordPress, or other platforms or websites, I will try to contact you through your site.”
Other things to consider
In order to allow “Name/URL” as a commenting option, the Blogger comment setting must be set to accept Anyone. Anyone also allows anonymous comments, which leads to spam, which, as I mentioned early, must be especially frustrating for Blogger users if they receive an email for every spam comment. I understand why they would choose the Registered Users option instead. But that means anyone who has a website that is not a blog on one of the big platforms, or uses Facebook, etc. may have difficult even leaving a message. They’d have to set up OpenID credentials, and they probably don’t even know it exists. By the way, you already have OpenID credentials if you use Yahoo, Flickr, MySpace, LiveJournal, AOL and several others. Check out the Open ID website for more info about setting up or using OpenID.
The only way this problem will ever go away is if Google changes the way Blogger works. They need to explain to new Blogger accounts the ramifications of sharing or not sharing their email so they can make an informed decision from the beginning. They also need to give Blogger users the ability to receive comments that keep the email private from everyone except the blog owner, whether it’s through a Blogger account or via a Name/Email/URL option. Until this happens, No Reply will be a constant problem for Blogger users. If you want it to change, tell Google.
Finally, remember that if you want people to return to your blog, you must give them a reason to come back. Sometimes it’s content, sometimes it’s giveaways, but mostly it’s because you’ve created a connection that your reader wants to maintain. The best way to create that connection is by responding to their comments. If a blogger doesn’t make the effort to communicate with their reader, their reader will eventually find another blogger who will. This is a sales transaction – you are selling your blog to your readers. If you want them, you must communicate with them on their terms.
Thank you for taking time to read this (as usual ridiculously long) post. I’m interested in your thoughts. I promise I’ll reply!
Thanks so much for ll of this information. This must have taken you ages! I’ve never thought of blogging as selling myself and you have certainly given me a lot to thin k about. Thanks so much.
Me parece perfecto que usted este distraída por las cosas brillantes.
Me encanto volver a encontrarla en mi bandeja de entrada.
Yo no tengo blog.Pero si decido hacerlo volveré sobre esta entrada suya.Cuanto trabajo!1000 cariños.
Thank you for a lengthy and informative post … and a reminder of why I am glad I started in WordPress.
Thanks for your thoughts! You gave me a lot to think about. I’ve struggled with the google/blogger merge as well as my blog isn’t on blogger. Often I’m lazy and just do the google anyway, but it does bother me. When I start posting more frequently, I think I’ll have to just go the no-reply route as I’m not going to want to keep ignoring the fact that my blog exists.
The way Blogger handles comments drives me crazy. I’ve been able to work around it by putting my blog link in the “introduction” section of my Blogger profile (which is a relic from way back when I was using Movable Type on a now-defunct site and considered using Blogger instead). But I really, really wish Google/Blogger would snap out of the walled-garden mindset and allow name/email/URL as a comment option.
Wow! That was a long email. I recently wrote a post about responding to comments which was also a gentle reminder to WordPress bloggers that answering a comment on their comments page doesn’t reach those of us still using Blogger! Most people don’t go back to old blog posts (who has the time) to see if the Blogger left a reply to their comment there.
I have set my Blogger comments to enable a thread to occur but so far it hasn’t! I also took to answering my comments by email then copying the reply over to my Blogger comments page to set up a thread there! Time consuming but I’m thinking of it as a social experiment!
I still have comment moderation on my blog but am thinking of removing it now that I have restricted comments to registered users only — twenty six spams in one day is more comments than I get in a week! BTW, Blogger doesn’t send emails for the comments they catch as spam (too many to count) — well not that I’m aware of anyway. I only get emails about the comments I’ve already monitored!
I am able to respond to most commenters who are not Blogger users because most of them are already in my email somewhere. For those I cannot reply to, I go to their blogs and leave a comment for them.
I have a WordPress account (Blogger was driving me crazy last year and I set my WP account up in case I wanted to move over). It has one post on it, telling people where I am currently blogging! This means that I can comment on WordPress blogs, like yours, without having to leave my details every time I comment: which can become very stratifying when reading dozens of blogs a day!
Google is making life more difficult in that Google + commenters are now “no reply” commenters (unless one also has a Google + account — so I’ve set one of those up to but am not blogging with it because then “ordinary” Blogger users can’t comment! So stupid!
Sorry about my long reply but it’s obviously a topic that;’s being talked about around the blogs at the moment — although I wasn’t aware of that when I wrote my post!
I wish everyone had to read this – I always feel like people think I’m a jerk when I comment under my blog name, and they tell me “You are no reply.” I can’t fix it 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
[…] https://piecemealquilts.com/2013/05/05/whats-up-with-that-no-reply/ […]
Tbh, I still feel like a noob when it comes to this bloggin business and at the moment I am a bit stressed for time so didnt have the time to read the full post (will mark it unread though so I can come back to it another day.) But I really hope I am not a “no reply” blogger myself. If I am I would love to have it brought to my attention and I will try to resolve it asap. Thanks for making such an extensive post on the subject and I am looking forward to read it when I have more time. Thanks for sharing,
Having a Blogger blog, this is a very informative post, Sandi. I became aware of the ‘No Reply’ issue for non Blogger blogs, via Amy at ‘SewsNBows’. Prior to that, I would only infrequently try to find the email of supposedly ‘No Reply’ bloggers who had left me a comment. Since Amy emailed me, I now try to find the commenters email, if it initially shows up as ‘No Reply’.
If I’m not watching what I’m doing, it’s easy to reply via email to a commenter who shows up as ‘no reply’. It doesn’t bounce back… just disappears somewhere in cyberspace. Yes, you’d think it would bounce back, but they never have for me.
Re: comments left on my blog… The information contained via email or via the Dashboard is the same. In both cases I can click on the profile and it will take me to the same place, depending on the profile the commenter used to leave the comment…. Blogger profile, Google + profile, actual blog, Twitter account, etc. When you reply to my comment, I’ll double check this.
Re: going to Blogger profile and finding the email address… If the (Blogger) blogger is actually ‘no reply’, their email is not listed in their profile.
Re: 10% responding to your comments… More and more I’m finding bloggers who reply to a comment, by leaving a comment under the original comment. I rarely have time to go back and check, so perhaps it’s the same for you. Oh how I wish Blogger blogs could just tick a box to send an email as well when they reply to a comment under the original comment. I’ve almost finished writing a post with my thoughts on this.
I wish Blogger would differentiate between Name / URL and Anonymous. To help prevent spam, I’ve chosen Registered users, but would prefer to open it up to Name / URL. I know a couple of people who read my blog (and are also real life friends) leave comments on my TMW Facebook page, as they don’t have a blog.
Sorry for my lengthy reply. As I have a Blogger blog, I thought you’d like to hear my thoughts on your post. Thanks again for a very informative post.
Thank you for this excellent discussion of this issue. The other thing that drives me nuts when I am commenting on blogger blogs is the hideous, awful CAPTCHA blogger uses. It is so, so difficult to decipher I can’t imagine that anyone with dyslexia or vision problems can ever comment using it. The blogger blogs that are most user friendly for me, as a non-blogger user, to comment on all use Intense Debate and CommenLuv. (I think you can only use commentluv on blogger if you’re using Intense Debate.) http://intensedebate.com/home Thank you for framing the discussion based on what we all want- to connect with other bloggers!
Phew – what a long but very informative read 🙂 Thanks for clearing that no-reply business up. I don’t blog from any of the platforms you mention and I prefer to use the Name/url options when it is given.
I don’t expect an email reply when I comment. I would, as you also point out, much rather have a comment back on my own blog.
I am sure the blog where I commented would also rather have *my* comment on their blog post than through an email in the first place.
Like you, I also swing by my commenters’ blogs when they give the option.
I did have someone email me to ask me if I knew I was a no-reply commenter. I had no clue what that meant and clearly she was able to email me, so I did not really see a problem 🙂
Hi, I do not have a blog but I like to follow blogs and comment on them if I feel I want to or if there is a giveaway or something. I have been told I am a NRB but I don’t have a blog like I said. When I comment on someones blog now I have to put my email in the comment form like this (smjohns63 at yahoo dot com). I guess it is so they know I am not a spammer. But I was just wondering if you knew what someone like myself, who does not have a blog but likes to follow blogs could do? Is there anyone else out there that does this, sometimes I think I am the only one. Do I just make up a fake blog that can be set somehow so I can follow blogs but not write a blog? Does this make sense to anyone? I would greatly appreciate some advice or ideas. Thank you very much in advance.
I’m relatively new to blogger and have been told on 2 occasions that I am a “no reply”, the first time I thought I fixed this but apparently I didn’t. I appreciate the detailed instructions from this post and attempted yet again to fix “no reply” only to find that blogger has updated their profile site so it looks quite different compared to your photos….unless as usual I have found myself in a completely different location by clicking too fast, not following directions, etc. Anyway, thanks and hopefully I am no longer a “no reply” 🙂
Hey Sandi! Many thanks for leaving a comment on my blog about your lovely cow pattern! I thoroughly enjoyed making it (despite messing up the 2nd one!). Unfortunately I couldn’t reply to you directly as you are showing as a ‘no reply comment’ blogger, which I think is a bit unusual! Not sure why this is the case, but wanted to acknowledge your comment. Judith xo
Wow, I had no clue! I never even noticed “no reply” anywhere, does that mean I’m “reply”? How do I know? I’m a blogger and open to “anyone” but my email is not shared. Should it be? Thank you for sharing this info even though I don’t make any money with my blog, but would like to connect with more readers. Your quilts are great, I wish I had your talent. http://www.mrsbrechtl.blogspot.com/
Hi Sandi – I wasn’t able to respond to your comment on my blog using the email address you have listed on your blog, so I’ve responded in the comments. Thanks, Adrianne.
HI Sandi, seems this issue is escalating, now we cannot even leave a ‘no-reply’ commnent! I have written a rant on my blog about it, and I am linking it back to you. I also have posted the link in a number of link parties. Hope we can stir this pot some more.
Thanks for the informative post. I’ve chosen to just create a Blogger account only for the purpose of commenting on other blogs. I did want to let you know (maybe it is a change since your original post) but you can include your WordPress blog in your Blogger profile. The link to my WP blog is listed under my interests in my Blogger profile. So I am still able to tie back to my blog here! 🙂
[…] Here’s another post that really explains the situation well. https://piecemealquilts.com/2013/05/05/whats-up-with-that-no-reply […]
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