top blog commenters spotlight imageI've been a huge supporter of giving Top Blog Commenter Awards each month to those people who commented the most on my blog.  It seemed like a great idea and went over very well with the readers of my blog.

They received some well deserved recognition and a back link to their own blog or website.

It was a win-win situation.

Here are some past winners of our Top Blog Commenter Awards:

Are You One of our Top Blog Commenter Award Winners?

Our Top Blog Commenters for April:  Two Shining Stars in our Community 

I even found a Top Blog Commenter widget to use on my blog so that I could display a running tally of the comment leaders throughout the month.

But as with many other good things, some people decided to take advantage of the opportunity, to shortcut their way to the top, if you will.

You Can't Shortcut Your Way to the Top

After a while I started to notice something happening with comments left on my blog — the number of blog comments dramatically increased but the quality of the comments began to decline.

Some people started leaving short comments that were not exactly spam but certainly not thoughtful or insightful.

I've seen some pretty ridiculous comments as a blogger, but there was something different about these.

They were just there to drive up the number of comments and get their link juice at the end of the month.

Sure, I could have deleted the comments as spam, I suppose.

But there was a problem — these people had obviously spent some time reading the post, since they were careful to leave some small details within the comment letting me know they had done so.

And not all people who left these kind of comments did so in a deceitful way.

Some people just naturally leave short comments, and that's okay.

But when it's done just to get to the top of the Comment Leader Board, I had a problem with that.

Top Blog Commenter Awards:  My Options

I had several options when it came to giving out Top Commenter Awards:

  • I could continue to give out the awards the same way each month, without change (ignoring the spamming issue)
  • I could try to hand pick which blog commenters I felt provided valuable and insightful comments
  • I could stop giving the Top Blog Commenter Awards altogether.

I tried monitoring the commenting situation and handpicking the best commenters each month, but this was labor intensive and also felt a bit arbitrary on my part.  Like I said, it was sometimes hard to distinguish between someone who was trying to scam the system versus someone who was well intentioned but just left brief comments.

So, in the end I've decided to stop giving out the monthly Top Blog Commenter Awards.

Top Blog Commenter Awards:  Where Do We Go From Here?

I still believe it is beneficial and necessary to reward those that comment on your blog, especially those that come back time and again to do so.

But I want to do so in a fair and just manner.

So, I've decided to spotlight one or more commenters each month based on the QUALITY of their comments, not just number.

As such, I've also decided to remove the Top Blog Commenter widget on the right sidebar, which listed leaders based on number of comments.

The goal is to reward those that provide valuable insights and contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way.

Introducing the Blog Contributor of the Month Spotlight

I've decided on a new kind of blog commenter award, to be given to one or more readers who provided the best comments over the previous month.

Notice I am emphasizing quality over quantity, although the more solid comments you leave each month will improve your chances of being spotlighted.

Each month I will award a Blog Contributor Spotlight to those commenters who did the most to contribute value to our community via their comments.

Those readers that truly made an effort to contribute to the discussion.

Since only 1 or 2 recipients will be chosen each month, that person will get a full (or half) post devoted just to getting to know them better.  And of course, they will be able to leave a few links to their own site as well! 🙂

I've already chosen the recipient for last month, but will hold off on the announcement until the post is published.

How To Get Spotlighted

It's easy to get spotlighted as a Top Blog Contributor:

1.  Read the Post — this may seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised.

2.  Leave a Meaningful Comment — share your experiences, your insights, or what about the post you found interesting.

3.  Use a  Gravatar — this isn't mandatory, but it's always great to see your smiling face!

If you don't know what a Gravatar is or how to get one, check out this post:  Gravatar, A Blogger's Best Friend

Will These New Requirements Piss Off Some People?


Some may even stop commenting, although if those are the same people that are trying to shortcut their way to a back link, that's fine with me.

But in the end, it's my blog and I want to provide each reader with the best experience possible.

It's Your Turn

What do you think of my new Top Blog Contributor Spotlight?  Agree or disagree?

Leave a {Meaningful} comment and contribute to the discussion!

Jane is giving away a FREE Blog Engage account and one year FREE Blog Engage Gold Syndication Membership at her blog Problogging Success. The total prize is of value $89.87. Find out how easy it is to participate in the giveaway by visiting the Blog Engage premium membership giveaway post. The contest is for a limited time, so hurry to avail your chance to win!

    46 replies to "Top Blog Commenter Awards: Why I Stopped Them and What You Can Do Instead"

    • Karen J Miller

      Hey Bob…
      I caught your blog article from another blog about commenting.
      I’m just starting to ramp up my commenting activities and appreciate the articles I have read lately on commenting etiquette.
      I can understand the need to moderate those who are trying to take unfair advantage of the system.
      I plan on adding the top commenter plug in on my blog. After reading your post, I will make sure to pay attention to the quality of posts.
      Thanks for the valuable advice!

    • Carolyn

      Hi Bob, Well, from the quality of the comments to this post, I have to say that your problem seems to be solved, lol!

      I have found that the one line, meaningless comments on my blog seem to come from spammers. I do a Google search of their IP addresses and sure enough, they have been flagged every time.

      I use a Top Commenters widget because I want to reward those who take the time to thank those who leave a lot of comments on my blog. I value comments highly and whatever I can do to thank my commenters I will do!

      I’m very sorry you have had that problem, but maybe if you delete your spam comments, you could re-instate your widget?

    • zamahsari

      I personally dislike automatic comments through software but I still appreciate manual comments (short or long sentences) on my blogs as far as not spams. Sometimes people just want to response as simple as possible to the posts they have read without thinking too much how long the sentences.

    • […] Bob Clark Dishes on the Spammer and gamers in “Top Blog Commenter Awards: Why I Stopped Them and What You Can Do Instead” I’ve been a huge supporter of giving Top Blog Commenter Awards each month to those people […]

    • ashley

      Some of the blogs are offering auto-approved on the succeeding comments. That’s the reason why there are commenters that soar high on the chart top..

      • Bob

        This may add to it Ashley, but I have seen a lot of comments that are “fluff” for lack of a better term. They don’t add much to the conversation and seem to be an attempt to get to the top of the leader board.

        I have decided to tighten things up here on this blog and will be trying out our Commenter Spotlight award next month.

        Thanks for the comment.

    • VaNessa Duplessie

      Bob, I think this is a brilliant idea. Many of us post comments on blogs because we come and visit to see what our friends are say. At the same time, I know for me, I learn a lot when I visit my friends blogs. This has also let me to follow other bloggers. I am looking forward to watching this process and to learning more about those that are adding value to our community by leaving thoughtful comments that lead to conversation. We are all busy, so I know that when I have some time to leave a comment I would rather leave one that is valuable. Blogging is fun. It is a way for us to connect with each other in this disconnected world where so many live behind their computer. Blogging helps create community. Commenting creates community. OK, I’m off my soapbox now. V-

      • Bob

        Hey VaNessa, I agree. If you’re going to spend the time to leave a comment, make it count. Make it special in that you really contribute to the conversation. If we all did this, our blogs and those we comment on would be enriched in so many ways.

        Glad to have you on your soapbox… you’re welcome to preach here anytime! 🙂

    • Bob, I totally agree about keeping it real. It’s an unfortunate fact that there will always be people trying to game the system. Happens with everything really. Love your transparency and your new plans!

      • Bob

        Thanks Kim! I believe we’re on to something here, and we will certainly report back with our findings!

        Thanks for stopping by, Kim!

    • Cat Alexandra

      Dear Bob,

      I must say that I chuckled through much of this *read*! I can only imagine some of the useless tripe comments you probably started to receive due to the “something for nothing” mentality of much of the masses. I am saddened at the viral nature of this kind of attitude. It seems like much of the marketing guru philosophy over the recent years has only exacerbated this kind of thinking…worse yet, it’s been congratulated.

      Perhaps a bit off topic here (perhaps not), but I am actually HAPPY at the changes that titans such as Google have been implementing to suppress this kind of activity at large. One of the bloggers who I follow, Clint Butler (SEO expert blogger) was just sharing about it this week. I think that these kinds of changes, plus the diligent & concerted efforts of the REAL PROS such as yourself (and of course others in our humble blogging community) will truly prevail and help to expose more authentic and VIABLE ways to share with others.

      Ripples become waves, my friend. Thanks for your great work and for always providing thought-provoking content!

      Best regards,
      Cat Alexandra

      • Bob

        Hi Cat,

        Great points. There are no shortcuts to success, with the exception of finding a true mentor to lead the way. This is a shortcut in the sense that it can save you time and money trying to “figure it out”, but all the same work must be done. There is no fast, easy money in my opinion.

        Looking back on it, I think Google did our industries a great service by tightening things up and getting rid of much of the hype, although at the time when my account (along with most others in our industry) was disabled, I was not pleased! 🙂

        But now I see that the changes they made did most of us a favor.

        Thanks for sharing, Cat!

    • Melodie Kantner

      It is a shame how some people will try to get things they don’t deserve. I get a lot of comments that seem like they come from automatic submission programs. You can tell they haven’t even read the article. I just delete them. It gets wearisome dealing with those things.

      • Herbert

        Agree with you Melodie, there are a lot of people doing commenting automatically,

      • Bob

        Yes it does, Melodie! I agree, but for the real commenters, the people like yourself who add so much to the conversation, it makes it all worthwhile. I’ve heard some say they are considering turning off the ability to comment altogether. I really don’t understand that thinking (although I do understand the frustration) — why else do we have blogs if not to promote discussion?

    • Hans Schoff

      Hey Bob, that’s an interesting approach you’ve taken but I think it’s probably the right decision for what you’re trying to achieve with your blog. There are some good, very lengthy responses to your post so it must be working! I like how you include your readers in your thought processes of what you’re doing and why; very engaging and interesting. I hope you’ll post the results from making this change, would be curious to see what impact it has longer-term, if it reduces the amount of spammy comments you get, the number of overall commenters and how it might affect your rankings, etc. Great blog though, you’ve always got an enlightening perspective to share.

      • Bob

        HI Hans,

        It’s a bit hard to quantify, isn’t it, but I will do my best to figure out the results of this decision and report back to the group. In the end, it’s my intention to make the reader experience more enjoyable and interesting for everyone.

        Many people read the comments of a blog post as a way to get more information. It’s in the commenters best interests to put their best foot forward in this regards.

        By the way, I left a message on your blog. Did you receive it?

    • Richard Goutal

      Thanks for candidly sharing your tactics and results over time with respect to encouraging comments.

      I thought the comments here have been interesting too – like Oliver expressing his concern about tribe generated comments.

      I like the orginal idea of commentluv , but do not like any form of the premium version or other plugins that allow anything other than a name in the name field. It just doesn’t have anything to do with the “conversation” and it actually “looks” like spam, at least to me.

      As for prizes, I enjoyed reading those posts here when you wrote them, and I will still get to enjoy them from time to time, apparently. The fact that you are changing the criteria makes total sense.

      The truly subjective issue is, does the commenter seem like part of my community? How can I tell? Well, frequency of commenting is indeed a factor… when balanced by quality of the comments. And there are other factors to roll into the “community” piece: Are they one of my subscribers? Do they interact with me on FB or elsewhere? Do they share my stuff in a meaningful way?

      It’s hard to know how to reward loyalty! But at least you are trying to figure it out which is more than a lot of us have actually done!

      • Bob

        I found that this post generated a lot of interesting comments. It seems this is something that many blog owners feel very strongly about — this concept of loyalty and how to reward it. In the end, I think that bloggers who pay attention to their comments can easily determine who is a loyal follower truly interested in contributing to the conversation in a meaningful way, and who is just commenting for any link juice they can garner.

        The trick is to reward the loyal followers and commenters and not to encourage the spammers.

        Thanks for your insights, Richard!

    • Michaele Harrington

      Hi Bob,

      First up I love the candid way you express yourself here! I’m all about keeping it real and you’ve done a great job of that in this post. I also like how objective you’ve been in terms of recognizing that some people just leave short comments! I have some well meaning followers who always leave one liners and it’s just part of their personality.

      Having said that, this topic is very timely for me in terms of people trying to game the system. I just installed commentluv premium a few days ago and used the same setting you have in terms of allowing a keyword after 3 comments. Almost immediately, I had someone contact me on FB to let me know they should have qualified to use their keyword as they had left 3 comments!

      After carefully trying to locate them in my comments to see if something was wrong, I realized I had already deleted and marked their first comment as spam. They hadn’t used their full name or a Gravatar, and had left a one liner “I like how this blog looks.” I then went back and apologized to the person for deleting their first comment and approved the next 2 which were also one liners. By this stage, of course it was obvious that the person wasn’t interested in contributing any value to the community but I let it slide.

      Although some people might have been attempting to game the system you had set up, my guess is they wouldn’t have received much benefit anyway. Sure they might get a small amount of link juice from their keyword, but since Google is now adding a lot more weight to ‘social signals’, it’s unlikely that someone who leaves a comment that doesn’t add any value is going to receive a clickthrough to their site. Which in turn = zero social activity on their latest post!

      My philosophy with comments is to acknowledge the author and some of the takeaways you got from the post. E.g. in this post you have me re evaluating my commentluv premium settings. Then if possible, contribute some value to the topic. I know this isn’t always possible as some posts might be outside the readers realm of knowledge (E.g. SEO etc), so in that case, just mention what you learnt.

      The search engines are now paying very close attention to the content author via the recent rel= author markup, as well as the authors social authority and the amount of social activity/shares their content is receiving. Which means now more than ever, you simply cannot game the system through leaving lame comments.

      Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts on your blog Bob 🙂


      • Bob

        Hi Michaela,

        I love your commenting philosophy. If more shared it, we bloggers wouldn’t have to spend time weeding through comments and it would be a much more enjoyable experience.

        As for Google, as usual they are way ahead of me. Glad they are working with me this time! 🙂

    • Oliver Tausend

      Hi Bob,

      thanks for sharing your insights and some background information how and why you got to your decision. You have my respect for that.

      In parts, I face the same problem and decided to only award those people who leave insightful comments with links back to blog posts that are somehow related to my niche. No one who leaves affiliate links or opt-in pages will ever be mentioned in a top commentator post. I also delete the unrelated link and the CommentLuv link.

      I have to moderate my comments anyway due to an increase of spam or borderline spam comments, so it’s not that much additional work for me.

      Is it arbitrary ? Yes, certainly. But I asked myself the question: Whose blog is it ? Whose “online home” is it ?

      So I agree with Marquita that you shouldn’t feel bad about it 😉

      One thing I did a few weeks ago is stopping “forced commenting” through tribes etc. because the spam comments or borderline spam comments came mainly from that corner. It automatically increased the number of quality comments and it’s more fun for me too.

      Be blessed


      • Bob

        Hi Oliver,

        You’re right — it’s your “home” and you can treat it any way you see fit. Interesting comment on the tribe comments, as RIchard pointed out. I haven’t had that experience, but then again I don’t subscribe to the huge tribes that force commenting. It sounds like that’s not working.

        Thanks for sharing your insights, Oliver!

        • Bob

          Sounds like we have a similar philosophy regarding tribes and commenting, Sonny. It can work both for and against you, I guess.

    • Sonny Lanorias

      Hi Bob,

      Great post! I think this blog has changed its algorithm LOL. But Bob you know, YOU rock! I have to salute you on this because quality really always prevail over quantity. If you focus on quality, you’ll get more quality readers and quality blog commenters. Thats why this post really is an eye-opener for those who are serious into blogging and that its a reminder that not all blog comments are created equal 🙂 Thanks again and thanks for your leadership Bob.


    • Justin

      Hi Dr Bob,
      I never had the top commenters award for my blog but I did have the widget installed. It did cause people to spam my old posts or to leave more than one comment on my posts.

      I will go back again to comment on a post of the author asks me a question but I don’t do it just be the number one commenter.

      I like your new idea better. 🙂

      • Bob

        Hi Justin,

        Most people aren’t inherently spamming the blogs of others. As with anything else, its the select few who are ruining it for everyone. Although I do feel that the number of spam comments has increased dramatically as of late. All I can do as a blog owner is try to discourage them and give them little benefit. Maybe if I do that they’ll go somewhere else to spam! 🙂

    • Larry Lewis

      So i suppose it wouldn’t be right to say just ‘great Post’ and run away. Well it is. I am often thinking about comments. It is such a huge issue in the blogging world. I’ve certainly noticed how much harder it is to tell a spam comment from a real one. I was blogging the other day how recently i was struggling to find the time to actually reply to comments on my blog, which is dreadful because like you i appreciate everyone that comes to my blog and takes the time to comment. I like your idea of spotlighting a commentor for their contribution. its measuring the value of their thoughts, and words, something any blogger i’m sure will enjoy that challenge.

      • Bob

        Hi Larry,

        You bring up a good point. It’s easy to focus on the spammers and the negativity surrounding their comments, but we can’t lose focus that there are loyal and well intentioned folks out there who leave truly outstanding comments. I agree —- let’s focus on the positive. Maybe we’ll also attract more positive people to our blog in the process! 🙂

    • Adrienne

      Well Bob, we’re always going to have to deal with “those people” aren’t we! Always trying to game the system just to get to the top. Kind of a shame really.

      I agree with Theuns when he says, “it’s your blog and you can do whatever you want”. I recently implemented some commenting rules over at my place so I now do not feel bad when I delete a few. It’s really pretty easy, you follow the rules then there’s no problem at all.

      I love the top commenter widget personally because I can see the people who visit and comment the most over at my place. I guess so far I’ve been pretty fortunate that I haven’t had a lot of one liners or people trying to just get to the top. I’m sorry you are dealing with that now so since that is what is happening, I can see why you would change things up a bit.

      So the pressure is on now. Add some value to the comments or we will never be featured. Alrighty then, I guess I better get that thinking cap on and come up with something interesting to say! I know you know I have my moments while other times, not so much. But you’ll never see a one liner from me my friend! It’s not in my nature! 🙂

      I think you are moving in the right direction Bob. Your blog is becoming more and more popular so people are going to try and get on the radar of some of your readers. They can’t help themselves, they either haven’t been taught the correct way to go about this or they are just nasty spammers. Either way, it’s up to us to take control.

      I applaud you for taking action and I have no doubt that the quality of your comments will improve. I wish you the best of luck with this. Never fail, I’ll be back!

      Have a great day Bob!


      • Bob

        Thanks for your kind words, Adrienne… you are definitely among my most loyal of readers! 🙂

        And here is something that I might add — as blog owners, it is our duty to truly read each comment and submit a quality response, keep the conversation alive if you will. I see some blog owners who answer comments, which is a good policy but they do so with one-liners, the kind of thing that we are trying to get away from.

        I’m not saying that you need to write a book on each comment, but do the commenter the courtesy of truly reading the comment and add something to the conversation. A great way is to ask a question — it keeps things moving along.

        Thanks for your insights here as always, Adrienne!

    • Theuns

      Hi Bop

      I fully agree with you, and I like what you say , it is your blog and you can do what ever you want.

      It is a pity that people do not treat you blog and top commentator with respect. Any one and copy and past a general reply on a blog just to get back links but they do not realy read your blog let call it bad blog manners.

      I love you new way and it is a far more better way to do it.

      Theuns Serfontein

      • Bob

        Thanks for the kind words of support, Theuns. In the end, it IS our own real estate and we can make some rules to keep it cleaner and more to our liking. In the end, the people who move away from the blog are probably not regular contributors anyway.

        Thanks for your insights here, Theuns. We appreciate you!

        • Theuns

          Thanks Bob you ar so Welcome 🙂

    • Sonia

      You know I saw that on a few sites, but never paid much attention to it. There is a blog I follow and the author does just what you are doing, only they still have their leader board up. What I like about your idea is that for those that were only here for the wrong reasons, will go away and what you have left is the readers that do enjoy your posts.

      Sometimes making small changes reveals the true essence of someone’s true intentions. I am ok when I have the same bloggers comment on my blog and the message is short and sweet, but for someone new coming, I would hope that they really tell me what the post meant to them and show it by their feedback. That is what we all want to know that our posts, our sweat and time it took to write the post truly meant something to them and why.

      I even see people hurrying on some really high traffic blogs to be the first to leave comments in hopes that Google will give them something in return as well as traffic from that blog. To me that is just lame. If your first, great, but if the post compels you to comment, that should say enough even if your last. Good idea and I have to borrow this idea (if you don’t mind) for my blog. I love the fact that you truly want to show your readers that you care about them too!

      • Bob

        Hi Sonia, good to see you again!

        That is the trick, isn’t it? There are loyal readers who are just brief and to the point, and probably very busy in their own lives. They leave a comment just to say, thanks for writing this great post! You don’t want to discourage them from leaving these comments, because they are doing what they can!

        It’s the people that are leaving comments for the sole purpose of getting some minor link juice that I am looking to discourage. As I said before, as a blog owner if you are paying attention to your comments, you have a pretty good idea of who they are, anyway.

    • Meg

      Agreed 100% and this issue is not limited to only you but many bloggers are facing the same problem and the only cure of this is the way which you have sort out.

      So get going on. This will surely cut your issue to the full extent.

      Thanks a lot for informing us.

      • Bob

        HI Meg, that’s the hope – it may be a bit more work right now sorting through each comment and being more diligent about approvals, but in the end it’s my hope that these actions will make the experience of reading blog comments much more enjoyable for all.

        Thanks for the comment.

    • Ken Pickard


      It’s a real shame how some people try and “game” the system. Or take advantage of something special or cool…like your top commentators award. One things for sure though…a real leader will see this as an opportunity instead of a disappointment. Sure we have set backs, but I like to call them set ups for a come back. And that is just what you are doing with your new monthly spotlight. i really love that you’re focusing on quality vs quantity.

      That could also be a great opportunity for your community to get involved with as well. You could select the top 5 best comments of the month. Create a post around it and have your community vote for their favorite. This will allow you to create a value added piece of content for your followers (showing how to leave quality comments) as well as recognize those who contributed.

      You could even go on from there and offer a coaching slot or strategy session for the winner. just a thought, but I’m sure you’re already thinking of ways to support your community as well as commenters becasue your leadership wont allow for any set backs.

      Ken Pickard
      The Network Dad

      P.S. Thanks for the link to my Gravatar post!

      • Bob

        I love this idea, Ken…. you are always thinking outside the box, my friend! I’m going to give this a go and see how it works. I think anytime you can get your readers actively involved, it’s a really great thing.

        I appreciate your insights here, Ken!

    • marquita herald

      Hey Bob, I wouldn’t feel bad – you have to do what you can to keep things professional. I’ve also noticed a recent flurry of mini comments – but to be honest all I really did was check to make sure the link went to a legit website and if it did I’d let it go. But I’ve just installed the premium version of CommentLuv and now there will be a few hoops to jump through before anyone get’s to enjoy the perks. Nothing major but, like you, I decided it was time to raise the bar. Good luck, I’m sure it will work out.

      • Bob

        Hi Marty,

        I find its a bit of a grind to police these spammers, but it is what it is. The only way to stop it would be to prevent commenting altogether, which (if you ask me) defeats the entire purpose of a blog.

        So like you said, we do what we can and leave the rest. I just want to be sure to reward the contributors who truly deserve it.

        Thanks for your feedback!


      Top Blog Commenter Awards: Why I Stopped Them and What You Can Do Instead…

      Every month we give out our Top Blog Commenter Awards, but some have been trying to scam their way to the top. What we are doing instead?…

    • Herbert

      On my view, If a blog has commentluv, you only need to pass your first comment, when you got approved, most blogs are offering auto-approved on the succeeding comments. That’s the very reason why there are commenters that soar high on the chart top 😀

      The final say would still be yours Sir Bob, not all criteria should be based on statistics alone.

      Cheers 😀

      • Bob

        I agree Herbert… some people were adding short comments just to get an Award at the end of the month, so they could get recognized with more link juice. This was not cool, in my opinion. Anyway, I am excited with our new award format, which you will see very soon.

        • Herbert

          Looking forward to that Sir Bob..

          In addition, as what Google says, content is king, so as to commenting..

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