On Constructive Commenting

Comments. They are some of the magic sauce of ds106 that knits participants together. Giving and getting feedback is what makes this different from just a self paced online experience.

It’s not that difficult to do, but in the rush of all the activity, creativity, connectivity, it sometimes gets lost in the rush. Constructive comments are utterly valuable because they are like the gift of conversation.

What is a constructive comment? It should be more than “Nice work” or “I agree”. It ought to be a few sentences, and include useful feedback or suggestion for improvement. You can explain why you like what was written or agree. Or explain why you disagree. You can offer relevant contexts or links. Or offer additional resources or links that might benefit the writer. For every bit of opinion you might start writing, think of including an “and…” statement.

One approach if giving criticism is to put it inside a sandwich- open with aspects you praise or agree with, offer critical statements, and close with a positive. Maybe the best advice is to comment in the style and mood that you would like to receive.

When you comment, show that you are listening. Respond to specific parts of what the author wrote. As a form of acknowledgement, when someone replies specifically to a point, it means they are listening. Do not be the commenter who just uses it as a means to talk about their own stuff.

For some more advice, see:

And when you get comments on your site, by all means reply if it merits a response. Think of this as a conversation; one side conversations are not interesting, right?

For registered students you will not get credit by your teacher counting the number of comments you made – but how you are able to summarize your comment activity and what you gained from visiting other people’s vlogs. When summarizing your work include

  • A summary of what you saw interesting or maybe influential in the blogs you looked at. Did you get ideas you could use by looking at someone else’s post? How did your work compare or differ from theirs?
  • A summary of the feedback you got – what was useful? Would it change your thinking? What was helpful?

As new comments come into your blog, you will sometimes need to approve them so they will show up on your site. You should be getting emails whenever a new comment is submitted and/or needs approval. Please moderate these comments! The conversation can’t happen if it is never published!

Like many things, you get in proportion to what you give.


  1. David Roy

    March 30, 2015

    Hopefully this will be considered a useful comment. :)

    The author of the Whatever blog that you have in the “For More Advice” section above is John Scalzi, not Scalzo.

    However, I do have to say that this is a valuable post that will hopefully have others commenting better in the future.

    I’m going to be passing this along on our Twitter feed.

  2. Reverend

    March 30, 2015


    Fix made, and thank you for your very constructive comment :)

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