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Sep 20 / Will Leivenberg

Get involved in comment threads: Good for readers and writers

Active participation in comment threads is the type of investment that can positively impact your writing, your following and your future in journalism.

Bleacher Report is a proven platform for writers eager to gain exposure for their work, and actively engaging with readers can play a dual role of cultivating a loyal readership and building your personal brand.

The benefits for writers who consistently interact with readers in comment threads are numerous and rewarding. Andrew Brining, B/R’s Writing Internship Managing Editor, is an advocate for being a constant presence in comment threads because “it advances the conversation and gives the audience another reason to visit your articles (i.e. to engage with the author).”

Interacting with readers also makes you more relatable. Without participating in comment threads, you exist in readers’ eyes as nothing more than a byline. Responding to comments presents a vital opportunity to connect on a more personal level with the avid sports fans who make up B/R’s vibrant community.

Don’t take this privilege for granted. Consider the fact that in traditional journalism this interaction would’ve been almost entirely impossible. Writers would write, readers would read, and that was—excuse the pun—the end of the story. But that rigid formula, often known as “Voice of God” journalism, has been transformed by the digital space and luckily for you, you write for one of the most dynamic sports communities on the Web. Over 100,000 comments are posted each week!

The dynamic between writers and readers is also about mutual appreciation.

B/R’s Featured Columnist Coordinator, Sean Swaby, says, “You’re putting your opinion out there and they’re putting out theirs—a friendly back-and-forth, whether you agree or not, sets the groundwork for future debates and varying opinions. It’s no surprise that some of the most-followed Twitter accounts are from users who consistently respond to tweets.”

Being active in comment threads is good for you and the reader, just like a batter hitting a home run pads the player’s stats and benefits the team. It’s a win-win scenario.

Don’t get me wrong—this doesn’t mean you need to engage with the trolls out there; those commenters who choose to be divisive, choose to violate site policy, and ultimately choose not to be a positive addition to the conversation. But remember, anyone who chooses not to be civil with you does not deserve a civil response—or for that matter, any response at all. If you encounter any comments that you believe violate B/R’s Community Guidelines or Terms of Use, please do not hesitate to flag the comment and/or contact me at

So the next time you write an article, try placing an emphasis on engaging with commenters. You will find that you can clarify specific elements of your work for readers, pose questions to continue a fervent conversation and, best of all, receive constructive criticism that may positively effect the way you write.

The majority of commenters are avid sports fans who feel compelled to post because something you write resonates with them. Return the favor and become an active participant in the B/R community.

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Will Leivenberg is Bleacher Report’s Community Coordinator. Follow him on Twitter @golfforthesoul.

  • Kay Jennings

    I can honestly say that the single most enjoyable aspect of my b/r job is interacting with my readers. Our readers seem to be more civil than on other sites, and while they are avid fans of their respective teams, the debate is, for the most part, reasonable and occasionally even intelligent. I have been invited to other teams’ tailgates, and have been lucky enough to meet some of my readers at games this season. There is so little “community” left in the country these days; I believe b/r fills an important void. Take advantage of every opportunity to connect with your readers and the payoff will be yours!

    • wleivenberg

      Thanks for the comment, Kay. It’s terrific to hear that you’ve found and worked to cultivate a sense of community on B/R!

  • JD

    I try my best to respond to every comment I get on my articles, even if it’s just to say “agreed.” Common courtesy. Also, whenever I notice that a certain writer doesn’t respond to reader comments, I don’t even bother clicking on their article.