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June 06, 2008

Why I'm Proud To Be A Blogging Dork

I put a lot of time and energy into comment writing, both here and in other blogs that I read and visit, so I was interested to check out the latest comment writing advice from Daily Blog Tips: 7 Things To Avoid While Leaving A Blog Comment

Most of the suggestions were things I'd read or heard about before, but I was curious about #2: avoid signing your comment.

The reasoning was this:

Most comment forms ask for your name on the first input box. That is, you already signed your comment even before writing it, so there is no need to finish the comment with your name a second time.

Apart from being redundant information, it is also annoying for some people.

I can see how it might be considered redundant, but I was a little surprised to read that it might be annoying.  Not least as I'm one of those people who does, 99% of the time, sign her comments.

As I said to Daniel (the author) in my (signed) comment:

It seems friendly to sign off with my name - I see the ID in the comment box as being as an identifier in the list of comments, not something that says this is from me.

Daniel helped to clarify things by pointing me and other signature-signers to a post by Lorelle Van Fossen: If You Sign Your Blog Comments, You Are A Dork

The headline is a bit harsher than the post, the gist of which was this:

A comment is not a letter.  A comment does not start with “Dear Lorelle” and end with “Yours sincerely” and name, address, email, phone number, or website address.

These types of comments are usually left by people with little or no experience with blogs, blogging, or commenting.

Blogs change the whole concept of communications and publishing media. Blog comments come with your name and URL, if you provide them.

So don’t sign them.

Now I have to confess I'm still relatively new to blogging.  I've only been out behind a corporate firewall for 2 years so didn't read any before that, and have only been writing and actively commenting for the last 15 months or so.  But I wouldn't say I was a novice - and I must have written screeds of comments  in that time.

I start many of them with a "hi" and I sign them off with my name. Why?

I've been thinking about that.

  • It feels natural
  • It feels like the right way to open and close a conversation with another human being
  • I see the name in the box as an identifier, not a signature
  • I often write very long comments, so it feels like the right way to end them. 

Plus I hadn't realised up to now that I was bugging people with those additional 6 letters at the end, or proving myself to be a blogging dork :-)

But now I know, will I change? I don't think so.  And again, why?

  • I've built up fantastic relationships with other people through comment box conversations both here and elsewhere
  • I host some high quality conversations here, which help me to learn, to teach, and to create value-added content
  • I try to create rapport with people I don't know and may never meet through the words I type.  Signing my name at the end plays a part in that, I'm sure.

Oh and as PS for any other wannabe blogging dorks: I knocked out the Copyblogger in the recent writing blog tournament on the back of the comment culture here.  To quote:

Confident Writing has approximately 1.5% of the subscriber base that Copyblogger has, but gets about 20% of the comments that Copyblogger does

I'm not saying you should sign your name (and if your 'name' is "quality comfortable sofas", please don't bother). 

If it feels odd, old-fashioned, silly, redundant, pointless, time-consuming, dorky (is that a word?), then stay as you are.

What I am challenging is the notion that signing your name on a comment makes you a dork.

But if that remains the consensus, then heh: I'm proud to be one.

Joanna Young, The Confident Writing Coach
Because our words count


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I don't sign comments because it seems redundant, but I'm certainly not offended or bugged by anyone else signing theirs.

Hi Joanne

I'm with you. Maybe it's old fashioned but I don't think I couldn't sign my name. I find it impersonal and I like to think the person writing to me takes the time to sign off in some way that signals their friendliness. Unless of course, they are using a pseudonym...

It's like at the end of business emails where people use their standard organization 'signature', often without a regards or cheers or whatever they use to say to finish a conversation. And that's what I think we are having - a conversation. I tend to feel 'dismissed' after receiving an email without a signoff although that's probably not the intent.

Well that's my two cents worth (as they say in Australia).

Cheers, Jan


I always always sign off with my name - it's the way I've done things now since, oh gosh, 1989 back when I started posting on Usenet, and how I enjoy doing things today.

It's not dorky whatsoever - it's being polite. That being said, if a blog's author contacted me and proactively asked me NOT to add my name to the comments, I'd certainly respect that. But my preferance is to always sign off with my name.

Data points, Barbara

Hi Joanna, Excellent use of the word "dork" in your headlines - I'm going to use it in a post on headlines I'm working on. "Dorky" is absolutely a word, here in Chicago anyway. (And Jan, by the way, we say "my two cents worth" here as well.) Anyway, having followed your blog practically from day one, I consider you an expert on building blog community and conversation. As a reader of comments, I prefer seeing a signed name. Making a comment seem more like a personal letter is a plus. And by the way, on your blog and some others I follow, the way comments are formatted makes it difficult to determine whether the auto-generated name applies to the comment above or below. (Has anyone else noticed this?) Bottom line - dorks rule. Cheers, Brad

Hi Joanna,
I can do it both ways. And, as I know now, you prefer the more personal way of communicating by commenting, I will stick to that whenever I comment articles on your blog. It gives me the impression that I am talking to you and building up a relationship, not just throwing in a comment.

Hi Joanna,
I wonder if it's partly a generational thing. Those of us who grew up writing letters are more comfortable with signing off, while those (of you) thinking "what's this letter you speak of" and to whom a 3 paragraph email is deleted with a snort of contempt for the one imposing on your time in this way, just can't be bothered. That being said, although I belong to the former generation, I rarely sign my comments. But sometimes I do.

No, I pretty much never sign comments, either. Maybe on rare, rare occasions, but then, I don't start with a salutation, either. Just like I usually don't bother with a salutation in an e-mail, either. I figure that it's more like a memo than a letter, or being part of a conference call--you MIGHT state your name every time you open your mouth ("Hi, Deb here, and I think...") but chances are you don't!

It's fascinating we all approach the same thing, and a thing most of us do every day, in such different ways. (It's amazing there aren't more misunderstandings now I come to think about it!)

Lillie, a number of people said the same thing when I first mentioned it last week. That it was redundant, but they wouldn't be bugged by it. I find it hard to imagine you getting bugged by such a thing anyway :-)

Jan, it sounds like you have a similar feeling to me... it's not an approach as such, just what feels natural, and complete.

Barbara, thanks for sharing your experience and perspective. It feels polite to me too - well, friendly, polite, natural. That being said it doesn't feel remotely impolite if someone doesn't. Only that I feel I've not signed off if I didn't. I think I might be bit surprised if someone e-mailed and asked me to stop... but yes, like you, I'd respect their wishes.


Brad, I'm glad you liked the headline. It wrote itself in my head, and then demanded I wrote the post to support it. Funny how the mind works isn't it? I'm glad there's a word called dorky. I'm glad to be it - though also got called a proud but undorky blog geek on twitter today - which I took to be a high compliment!

Ulla, for me comments are very much a conversation that turns into relationships over time. I try and remember who you all are, what's important to you, what's going on, what your blogs are like... It's not just a note for me, but a way to make a connection. That's what I hope anyway. But you don't need to sign back... unless you want to :-)

Anna, thanks for making me smile :-) I don't know if it's generational or not... maybe something to do with our learning styles and preferences, how we 'feel' when we read a communication? (Hmm, need to think more about that)

--Deb, I think the practice is probably similar to e-mail too. I nearly always start with a salutation and end with my name, unless it's part of a rapid fire exchange. But then maybe that's me being dorky :-)


Funny how we get so hung up doing everything lie everyone one else. And if someone chhoses to be annoyed by a signature, that is their problem, not mine.

I sign my comments sometimes, sometimes not.

But one thing the art of writing blogs doesn't need any more of are hard and fast rules. We aren't writing sonnets or haiku. We're connecting with another human being on day to day stuff - the stuff of life, BTW.

Bo :-)

I see comments as dialog, so I don't usually sign them, but I don't mind others leaving signatures.
I have noticed with the design of this particular comment section, it is helpful when people sign their comments because the "posted by" text is so small. At other sites, the commenter's name is above or to the side of their comment and the text reads, "SpaceAgeSage says" or something similar. The nice thing about blogging is that there really are so few rules.

Joanna, I had no idea it was dorky to sign comments. Sometimes I sign and sometimes I don't. Now that I think of it I do what feels natural and as appropriate to the blog. On blogs where no one signs, I find that I do not either. Hmmm,, what an interesting conversation! I honestly did not know that some people would be bugged by me signing my name, must be those young whippersnappers. LOL! Thanks for enlightening me...although I will continue to do exactly what I'm doing, only now I will be conscious of my dorkiness! :-)


Bo, I like the idea of blogs as exchanging the stuff of life... I think I'll add that to my set of definitions :-) And I agree, we don't need rules!

SpaceAgeSage, I think you're right about the particular issue with my comment box design... a few people have mentioned it and I've heard too that it's a little bit small for those wanting to explore who you wonderful commenters are. 'Fraid that's one for my next redesign though...

Karen, it's funny, I had to go and check some other sites to see if I signed my name their too or just (or mainly) here but I seem to do it most places - must be dorky through and through! (At least I don't do it on Twitter!)

I think doing what feels natural and right for each of us is the best non-rule to go with

Thanks for a great conversation everyone


Joanna, I like the fact that you are free to be you and you will keep signing your name. In my mind that's being a fire breathing dragon!

"What I am challenging is the notion that signing your name on a comment makes you a dork."


Whenever someone tries to make unsubstantiated rules for the rest of the blogging community they'll find themselves backed against a wall.

Especially if name calling is in the mix.

(I noticed Daily Blog Tips has edited)

How one leaves comments is a personal choice. It has nothing to do with being a dork or newbie or whatever.

And truthfully, this is the first time Lorelle has disappointed me with subject matter.

Now, I don't usually leave my name at the bottom of a comment, but if or when I feel like it, I certainly will.

(the dork)

Robyn, there's a thought: a dragon dork!

Cat, I agree, and I was kind of surprised by Lorelle's post too. Her readers expressed some surprise in the comments on the post (from about a year ago), and although she clarified she was quoting someone else on the dork thing a headline like that sticks and gets recycled. I do like the resistance to rules in this community. Maybe it's why I enjoy being part of it so much :)


Hi Joanna
The wonderful thing about a community like this one is that everyone is made to feel comfortable leaving comments in the way that feels right for them. So I don't think there's a right or a wrong way.

I personally like the added connectivity of using someone's name at the beginning.

Also, some comments may be in response to another commenter, so scanning wise, using names offers an at a glance look at which comments are directed to which person.

Hi Joanna,

Well, I've never given much thought to this issue, thanks so much for bringing it up. I don't always sign and that is because I fill in my name, but I don't mind seeing signed comments.

you are right, it gives them a more personal feel, it makes them more of a personal note sent to someone than something typed in an online form:)

Enjoy the weekend,
Alina :)

BTW, congrats on the traffic/comments statistics! When you get to have the traffic of Copyblogger, we'll all have to do a lot of scrolling down to follow the entire conversation :)

Me again :)

Dear Joanne (and other dorks her present),

Dorks are as dorks do - and since they seem to be such a thoughtful, friendly bunch - count me in.

Happy to be in your fine dorky company,


P.S. Admission time. I'm a newbie dork as well, and either a hybrid or an oddball because while I do sign off with a signature I rarely begin with a salutation, instead just launching into conversation with a comment (made an exception here just for fun). Takes all kinds, I guess - even out here in Dorkville!

I sign my name when it is a more personal comment, but usually I never sign my name for the reasons given in the two articles you quoted.

I recently stopped signing my emails at work. I believe it is redundant as well. Comment etiquette is largely undefined, it's a good topic for writers.

I really don't see why it matters. I guess I'm a dork! I most always sign off like this:


I'm sure I'm considered the dorkiest (a word?) of all!
Oh well. Here's how I feel about it. Do you know when you go to the store and the person checking you out doesn't smile and say, "Hi, how are you today?" just feels kind of blah? It is so cold. Maybe they're just tired, but still....

I don't think people who don't sign their name are being cold--so please don't bless me out! :-) Actually, I'm sure a lot of people who do sign their name are cold - and even rude. I suppose it depends on the person commenting and their intentions.

My point: I'm the girl who'll always say, "Hi, how are you today?" when you come through my line--and I'm proud of that!

I'll join you, Joanna, as a dork. But, like you, I'm a friendly one!


Yvonne, I'm happier without rules too. I often, but not always, say a hello first. And as you say, that can be handy if it's a conversation with lots of people, like one of your weekend confabs at the writer's cafe :-)

Alina, I'd never thought about it before that post either. I don't think it does demand too much thought really - other than doing what feels natural - and being proud to be a dork if that's what others conclude! :-)

Lissa, thanks for joining in the conversation from Twitter! Welcome to Dorkville :-) I don't think I always start with a greeting either - it depends on the context and who I'm talking to. I think perhaps it's because I can 'hear' my comment like a conversation in my head - which is why the beginning and ending sound natural and complete. But I wouldn't say my way was the right way - just my way.

Damien, that's an interesting point about e-mails. It's exactly the same framework - the e-mail address serves to tell someone who it's from so there's no 'need' to add your signature. I think it would feel odd to me not to sign... but I guess if you're sending and receiving gazillions it does start to make sense.

Michele, I agree, it all depends on the intention, and that shines through whether there's a signature or not. I can tell you mean it, and your comments always make me smile :-)


Hi Joanna.

I one of those commenters who don't sign because usually my name is already displayed. But signing a comment has never bothered me and I don't want anyone to start dictating how people can or should comment.

Thanks, Joanna! I'm so glad I make you smile! You know, I think of it as walking down the street too--we're traveling along the cyber highway, right?--and passing by someone and giving them a big ole smile as a courtesy, as being friendly, and just because! I love signing off with *smiles* and I always feel so blessed when people - like you! - tell me that it made them smile. I've even had editors e-mail me back and let me know that I'm the kindest person they've "spoken" to all day! Now, that makes me feel good!

I suppose my friendly chattiness is why I always excelled at things like fast food jobs and telemarketing (I know, I know... folks hate telemarketers, but I was actually very good at it--could hold the folks on the phone (they rarely hung up on me and my bosses loved that!) and I made lots of sales! ;-)

AND, I suppose my natural chattiness is why I've fallen madly in love with blogging--and commenting!


Greeting and salutations -

I must agree with Anna that this rumble is the result of a generation gap. Even though I spent decades sending military radio traffic and Morse code, I did sign everything in one way or another. It ain't over until it's signed, sealed and delivered.

I will say now - right up front - I'm sorry if you are annoyed with me. Just deal with it. Redundancy keeps the astronauts alive. It may even keep our correspondence alive. But here is the gist. I WILL keep opening my long and rambling comments with a salutation and closing them with a signature.

Deal with it. After all, if that's the worst thing happening in your world you are one lucky person.


Michele, you're doing it again, I just can't but think about you and smile :-)

Mervi, that seems like a sensible place for us to reach the consensus: it's redundant, but no problem if someone chooses to do it. Thanks for taking the time to comment - nice to know you're still there!

Harry, thanks for sharing that great perspective, and a wonderful line. "Redundancy keeps the astronauts alive" Much appreciated


Very interesting discussion on whether to sign at the end of a comment.

You make some valid arguments, and I can see both sides points; I'm actually torn now.

My first instinct would be that by signing in a comment, it may be interpreted as you're looking for too much attention. And it's simply not necessary. On the other hand, it does seem to bring a sense of warmth to the comment.

I don't think I will take up the practice of signing in comments from this day on -- but you made your argument clearly and I appreciate that.

In honor of your post, I will sign. But this may be the only time I ever do so.

Bamboo Forest

Hi Bamboo Forest

Thanks for taking the time to read & think through the different points of view. Actually I can see the 'redundancy' point of view as well, but I think my fingers are so used to writing my name now it would be too hard for me to stop!

Thanks for leaving yours :-)


In 9 or 10 years of reading blogs and 8 years of contributing to the blog mess, I rarely ever sign my blog comments (usually in the case of where there's no form or anything) because that's what the comment form is for.

I think it became an unwritten rule among bloggers and readers that adding your signature screams promotion when there's your name right there with a link to your site or whatever you used. Everyone knew where to go if they want to jump to the commenter's site.

Meryl, thanks for sharing that perspective. I think it must have been one of those unwritten rules that I missed or didn't pay sufficient attention to when I started blogging.

In some ways I'm glad I didn't know the rule because it's allowed me to find my own way of writing & signing comments... Just hope people haven't thought I was being overly promotional because that wasn't my intention at all.


Hey, Joanna, if you want to be a blogging dork, then I'm still proud to know ya!

Hi Robert, you're too kind! Glad you had a good weekend away. Looking forward to hearing all about it


A dork???
ME??? Pishaw...

a rose by any other name...

I sometimes do and I sometimes don't. For crying out loud..all these rule makers getting annoyed by THAT? That is just funny. With so many real things in the world to be upset by. I could see if I signed my name CANCER. or DEATH or something sad and negative, but come on, it's a friendly little conversational comment and then someone plops their name on the end of it, and wham, rule makers call them Newbie dorks.

I'm not changing a thing. They can call me what they want. I love being able to sign my name at the end of a heart-felt comment. I love reading a comment and seing someone's name at the end of it. It feels more personal. More like a hand-written note.

I especially love to see a name, when their tag line is vague like Cloud-woman or something and then they sign the comment: Susan. That way you don't keep having to call them Cloud-woman and you can become better friends.

Hi Wendi

Thanks for reminding us why comments really count: to make connections, person to person. To start the slow quiet human process of becoming friends.

Thanks :-)


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