This post has been linked up to the Book Blog Discussion Challenge.
In the past couple of months, I’ve been trying out two new tools that have really helped me with replying and commenting back (though there are a few drawbacks as well, which I’ll tell you about). I’ve been using the Comment Not Yet Replied To plugin (which, obviously, only works for WordPress self-hosted blogs) and Pocket, a tool that allows you to save.
I thought I’d share how I’ve been using these two tools in conjunction with each other, and it’s made me so much more organized! (If you know me, you know this is quite an accomplishment!)
By the way, this isn’t a marketing post or anything—I don’t get anything if you use these. (I know my title seems kind of “markety”—I was going to change it but I liked the slanty “Transformed” and I didn’t end up coming up with anything else.) I just thought they’ve helped me out, so why not share?
This plugin keeps track of all of the comments on my blog and lets me know which ones I haven’t replied to yet. I first heard about this plugin from Silvara @ Fantasy of the Silver Dragon, but I was hesitant to use it because I thought it might be overwhelming (I wasn’t completely wrong). But now that I’m using it, I’ve found it to be so incredibly helpful!
- It’s so organized! I don’t have to remember about that comment from last week that I meant to reply to but somehow lost track of. It remembers for me.
- My email inbox is no longer overflowing with comment notifications. Those emails just got overwhelming and ended up buried in my inbox. Weeks later, I’d still be deleting old ones, and by then I was too overwhelmed to even check to see if they were replied to.
- It doesn’t matter if I reply to the comments via the tool in my admin or right on the blog. This was the worst thing about using email as a notification system. If I’d reply to comments right on my blog, I’d still have the emails for them. And then I’d still have to go through the emails and delete them. Then I think I sometimes deleted notifications that I hadn’t taken care of because I thought they were ones I had.
- Comments on old posts get noticed as much as those on newer posts. Sometimes when my email got flooded with notifications, I would get overwhelmed and delete them and just focus on replying directly from my blog. But when I did that, comments on older posts would get ignored. I would always try to read them (via the emails), but I sometimes wouldn’t get around to replying to them. With this plugin, the older posts get just as much love as the newer posts.
- No way to indicate a post doesn’t need a reply. This is the biggest drawback of this tool. Let’s face it, not every comment warrants a reply. I want to reply to 99% of my comments, but sometimes the conversation should end—but I have to reply or it shows up in my list of comments not yet replied. Forever.
- Includes links to my post. While I like to be notified of when people link to my post, I don’t actually reply to those links normally. First of all, replies to those links don’t even show up on the post properly (they don’t show underneath the link notification itself, they just show up randomly at the end of the lists of comments). My workaround for this has been to just post a reply that says “Thanks for linking up!” and then immediately deleting the reply. That way the plugin removes it from the list, but it doesn’t appear on the blog (for more than a moment). I’ve actually used this method for a few other comments that don’t really need a reply as well. I’m not sure if the person who commented gets an email about my reply or not in this case? Sometimes I wish they weren’t because it just seems like a bother. (If you’ve linked up to one of my posts, do you get an email that says I’ve replied? I’m curious!)
- It can be overwhelming. There have been times where I stepped away from my blog for a day and I check the list of comments not yet replied to and see a big number listed. That can be a little daunting sometimes. BUT I’ve found that the organized nature of the list makes it easy for me to get through them all much more easily than I used to. One thing I’ve thought of—what if I go on vacation or something? Will I just be so completely overwhelmed with comments that I’ll feel behind for all time? I’m wondering if maybe I could just turn the plugin off and back on to delete the list in extreme circumstances.
One of the other issues I’ve had with replying is keeping track of commenting back. It makes the process run much more smoothly when I can just reply to a bunch of comments at once without jumping all over the internet to comment back on all of the blogs in the moment. But then it’s hard to keep track of which ones I’ve commented back on and which I haven’t, especially if I don’t have time to do all the commenting back immediately.
Shannon over at It Starts at Midnight mentioned Pocket on her blog, and I was immediately intrigued. Basically Pocket allows you to save blog posts, websites and even tweets that you want to get to later. It works kind of the way that saving something on Bloglovin’ does, but I don’t have to access the posts via Bloglovin’.
- I no longer have fifty-million tabs open at a time! My old process was that I would reply to a comment, and open the post in the CommentLuv box and then leave a tab open so I’d remember to go back to it later. My husband would regularly chastise me for the sheer number of tabs that I had opened at one time. Sometimes it was rather crazy. Pocket allows me to save those posts for later without keeping a tab open for hours (or days)!
- I don’t lose or forget about any posts that I meant to comment back on. One issue with having so many tabs open? Inevitably, something happens, and one or (or all!) of those tabs gets accidentally closed. The worst is when you have like thirty tabs open and your browser gets closed—Yikes! Sure, I could search through my history and find them all again, but more often that not, something gets lost in the shuffle. When I use Pocket, all of the posts are sitting there waiting for me until I delete them.
- Wish there was better organization? Okay, I might be missing something here, but I wish there was a way to put the posts in folders so that I could more easily filter out certain ones. There is an option to tag, which on the surface seems like basically the same thing, but it works slightly differently, and that difference is enough to make it less usable (for me). I sometimes save things other than blog posts (like stuff I’m researching for my kids for homeschooling). I thought I could tag these as “school” and then archive them so they don’t show up in my main list, but it turns out that when I click on the tag, it only shows the non-archived sites. So, I’d have to literally tag everything to keep the list organized (which I don’t want to take the time to do). Maybe I’m missing something? I don’t know—I’m still trying to figure that out.
My new process:
I go to my list of comments not replied to and reply to a post. I click on the CommentLuv link (or just the blog URL if there isn’t a link) and open a tab for the linked-up post. I immediately click the Save to Pocket button in my toolbar (to save it for later) and close the tab. I then move on to the next comment, rinse and repeat (okay, there’s actually no rinsing involved). Then, either as soon as I’m done replying or sometime a bit later I go to Pocket and go to the blog posts I saved and comment on them.
I’m not gonna lie, I still don’t manage to comment back for each and every comment I get, but I do a much better job of keeping track and being intentional about it.