Wednesday, January 19, 2011

WotW: Replying to blog comments

Happy Wednesday! Today we're talking about replying to blog comments as a blog author. Many of you may have read Mamarazzi's post wherein she started the Enable Email Movement and shared this awesome button with us all:


So what is the Enable Email Movement? A revolution to eradicate the "No Reply Blogger" epidemic. As Mamarazzi pointed out, you may be a no-reply blogger and not even know it. EEEK!
If your email isn't enabled in your Google profile... you're a no-reply blogger. That means that when your comment is emailed to the blog author, instead of coming from your email address, it comes from a no-reply-blogger email address... so that the blog author can't reply via email. 

If you've asked a question that others might also have, the author can (and should) reply in the comments of the post or edit the post, but... if you're like most commenters (me included) you don't check back in the comments for a reply. So, to reply, the author has to track you down and if you don't have a public blog... that can't happen. EEEK!

So why is this a big deal? Because, like we talked about here before, replying to comments is the difference between boring one-way communication and a pleasant, two-party conversation. You can read this previous post for instructions on enabling your email -- it's really simple and it will change your blogging world. Promise.

Today I want to show you how to set up a separate email address for your blog comments (and commenting) and use Gmail to manage both your personal and blog emails. A separate email address is nice to separate out blog comments from regular ol' emails and to be able to NOT use your personal email address (which commonly uses your full name), if you're a privacy person like me.

I chose Gmail because I'm a big fan. I just think that Gmail is how email should work. Hotmail and Yahoo have come a long way in recent years, but I heart my Gmail now and forever. :) (You can also use a program such as Outlook to manage two email addresses, but Outlook and I don't really get along, plus I prefer my web-based email.) 
Quick update: Jill asked "Do you really only need this if you don't moderate comments?" My answer... kind of. Really, this isn't a necessary step for anyone. Just nice. :)

I don't moderate comments myself, but from what I understand, if you moderate comments through your Blogger dashboard, you can't reply to comments there anyway. So having a separate email address is unnecessary since you're not communicating with your readers via email. But, if you are moderating comments through your email (and therefore are able to reply to those comments via email as well), then, yes, you might want to do this. Just to keep things separate and private like mentioned above.

However, everyone -- let me repeat that -- EVERYONE should enable their email in the Google profile, regardless of whether you moderate comments or not. An enabled email is a tool for you as a commenter, not as an author/blogger. Having your email in your profile allows the blogger whose post you comment on to touch base with you, such as answering a question or saying thanks for your kind words. Ironically, Jill, your email isn't enabled, so I can't answer your question via email, so I'll be coming by your blog as well. :)

First, set up a separate email account for your blog email -- I use so that my email address correlates with  my blog name and URL. 
  • If you already use a Gmail account for your personal email, you can set up another Gmail address or a Hotmail or any other service address -- just not Yahoo because you can't forward mail from Yahoo without paying to upgrade.
  • If you're using an email service other than Gmail for your personal email, I'd suggest setting up your blog email address in Gmail because, as I said, I heart Gmail.Then you can use Gmail to run both email addresses.
Next, we'll forward the messages from one account to the other account.

To forward one account to another:
  1. Log in to the account that you will be forwarding.
    • This is the email account that you won't be logging into, so I'd suggest forwarding the address that ISN'T the Gmail address. 
    • If they're both Gmail addresses, log into the account that ISN'T the one you sign into your regular Google account (for Blogger and such) with.
      • I log into Blogger with my personal account and forward my new iamjustlu address to my personal address. So for this step, I log into my iamjustlu account.
  2. Open the Fowarding settings for the account by clicking on Settings (usually toward the top right corner) and then Forwarding or Email Forwarding or something similar.
    • From your Hotmail inbox, click Options and then More Options.
  3. Select the button or option to Forward Your Mail or Add a Forwarding Address and enter the address of your other account.
    • Since I am logged into my iamjustlu Gmail account, I enter the address of my personal account. 

If you're forwarding from Hotmail, your messages will all be forwarded! If you're forwarding from Gmail, you have a couple more steps to confirm the foward:

  1. Log out of this new Gmail account (such as iamjustlu) and into the other Gmail account (for me, my personal account - probably the Gmail address you use to log in to Blogger) to retrieve the forwarding confirmation code
  2. Log out, again, and log back into the new Gmail address (such as iamjustlu) to enter the confirmation code and tell Gmail what to do with the emails that it forwards - I archive mine, but do whatever you feel like.
  3. Now you can log out of the new Gmail address (such as iamjustlu), since all of the messages for that address will now be forwarded to your other Gmail address (the one you log in to Blogger with). 
Phew! That gets a little confusing with the two Gmail addresses, but you're done forwarding!

If you want to import the old messages and/or contacts from your other non-Gmail address (so that you can use Gmail exclusively as I command, mwahahaha!), go to the Accounts and Import settings in your Gmail address. All you have to do is click the button to Import Mail and Contacts and enter the account (address) and password and you're set. 

Just one more step to complete the email perfection: sending mail from the new, forwarded account. Once you set up your Gmail account to send mail from your other account, no one will be able to tell that you are using only one account to manage multiple email addresses. Sneaky, eh?
  1. Log in to the Gmail account that you forwarded the other account TO. (Grammatically incorrect, but hopefully still makes sense. :) For me, this is my personal email account, the account I use to log in to Blogger.
  2. Go to Gmail Settings (at the top right) and select Accounts and Import
  3. Click Send Email from Another Address.
  4. Enter the other address, the one you just forwarded your mail FROM (such as, and the name you want attached to that email -- for mine, I put my first name and my blog name. 
  5. (if your other address is not a Gmail address) Select Send from Gmail unless you have a good reason to choose the other. :)
  6. Click Send Verification. Then log in to the other account and follow the instructions in the verification message.
  7. Once you've verified, log back into Gmail, go to Settings > Accounts and Import and select the option to Reply from the same address the message was sent to, so that when you reply to a blog comment, the reply comes from the correct address instead of your personal address:

Two finishing touches: make a visit to your Blogger profile and update your profile email address to the new email address so that when other bloggers reply to your comments via email, the message comes to the new email address.

This is also a good time to make sure that the Show my email address box is checked to enable your email. :)

Then, pop on over to your blog's comment settings and put the new email address in the Comment Notification Email field so that all comments on your blog will come to that new email address as well.

I use this system myself and the only glitch I have found is with subscribing to comments by clicking the little "Subscribe to follow-up comments" link by the comment thread. For some reason, those comments go to the email address that I use to sign in to my Google account with instead of the email listed in my profile. But it's no biggie -- when you reply, you can change the "from" address of your message by just clicking the drop-down menu.

Questions? I know you've got 'em because that was a lot of steps and a bit of confusing footwork there. Leave me a comment... I'll email you. ;)

Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of one squirmy boy and the wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She is the proud author of this weekly Wednesdays on the Web (WotW) segment here on Housewife Eclectic and spends the other days of the week blogging about crafts and whatever else comes up at just Lu.
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