I understand language barriers. I understand misunderstandings. What I don’t understand is ignoring something that is very clearly labeled: the name field in the comment form.

If you want to join a discussion, use a real name or even an alias if your worried about privacy issues. Be as real and as transparent as you can be. If not then you’re going to be mistaken for a spammer both on this site and on many others.

I Want to Talk to You…Not Your Superhero Alter Ego!

Who am I talking to? Probably you, but to be more clear, let me share a few personal notes to some of you.

  • cHeaP VIagRa: I don’t want to talk to a product, I want to talk to you.
  • Web Design Services: I don’t want to talk to your industry, I want to talk to you.
  • The Big Internet Guru: I don’t want to talk to your superhero alter ego, I want to talk to you.
  • The Greatest Online eZine: I don’t want to talk to your website, I want to talk to you.

It probably sounds like I’m coming across rather harsh in this post. I’m not. I’m providing you with a principle that will help you to connect with people online. Chris Brogan popularized the concept of ‘being human at a distance.’ This concept is at the heart of that.

Being Human at a Distance

The most effective means of communication is face to face. Look a person right in their eyes and a conversation’s impact will be magnified. Since we can’t literally speak face to face on a blog, we should still be working to provide our readers and our followers an experience that is as close to that as possible.

  • Name: As I mentioned at the beginning, use your real name. If privacy is a huge concern and you feel compelled not to share your real name, then create an alias, but ultimately you need to be working toward expressing yourself as a real person to other real people.
  • Avatar: You will not find a more effective means of branding yourself online than by having a big portrait of your beautiful smiling self. You might think that using a logo for your avatar will help you with your branding but let me be clear: you’re wrong.
  • Conversation: Speak plainly, directly and stay on topic. Comments are conversations…they’re not an open ended invitation to build back-links. They’re not a source of self promotion. They are designed to allow intelligent people to carry on thought-provoking conversations.

It’s about open, honest, fluid, friendly conversations. It’s about being a real live person who interacts and genuinely connects with people. Let’s go folks. Let’s change the way that we do business online. Let’s clean up the way that we communicate.

Stop being confused as a spammer and start allowing people to get to know you for the smart, funny, informed blogger that you are.

Ready… Get set… Go.

Now let’s have a conversation.

Nicholas Cardot

About Nicholas Cardot

It's my personal quest to enable every person that I can to unlock that dormant potential concerning their online influence. Also, I'm a geek.

53 Comments

  • Mars Dorian says:

    Hey Nicholas,

    I can agree with you on this one – digital space already comes with its distance feeling, why strengthen that by hiding behind a title ?
    I hate those people on my blog, especially if they spam my page with their services. In today’s age, we have to be better than that.

    I use a logo for my avatar, but it’s a picture from myself.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: The 4 Magic Traits that Summon your Online Influence =-.

    • Thanks, Mars. And as the comment from Shawn below can demonstrate, you’ve been promoting the site here so a special thanks for that.

      I hate being spammed or having my blog used to sell someone’s product. People would get their products noticed so much more effectively if they would just demonstrate themselves as intelligent and personable.

      And as far as your avatar goes, I love it. It gives me a perfect image of what you look like and that allows me to see who I’m talking about. I think that it fits exactly with what I described.

  • I am actually using my real name plus my keywords while commenting everywhere, sometimes I remove the keywords when I see that no body is adding it or it’s not necessary , but I never comment with out giving my real name and lead to my blog where people simply can check my Bio in the about page!

    I don’t care about privacy because I believe I am not doing anything wrong.. and if there is no freedom you will not see my comment anywhere!

    I even sometimes feel it’s annoying when you deal with aliases, I prefer to deal with real people (real names)

    One thing came into my mind now.. I think people should also use their personal photos.. I started to hate avatars and the other graphics/draws images, I started recently to ask guest bloggers on my blog (kindly) to use personal images on their profiles.. and latter I will not accept anyone to blog behind a mask!

    Nice post Nick!
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Is Your Blogging Taking Over Your Life? =-.

  • Great post! A ‘Be Human’ mantra seems to spreading quickly across the net. perhaps it just the places and people I frequent.

    Honestly – hoping to get lots of traffic as a boring commenter isn’t a very good strategy anyway. Just be you, be smart, and be part of the conversation.

    Good post, and just discovered your blog from Mars on Twitter. Cool.

    • Thanks, Shawn. It’s as though there are two giant viruses spreading through the net. One that is influencing people to be human and one that is driving people to throw it all away and do whatever it takes to build spammy backlinks to make an extra 3 pennies per day from Google Adsense.

      It sounds to me like you’re getting caught up in the good virus and I invite you to join the club. Be human.

      And Shawn, welcome to the site. I look forward to seeing you around.

  • I have to admit I am guilty of this from time to time. Not intentionally. But guilty none the less.

    In my case when it does happen, it is in good faith in the hopes of build my brand and recognition. But at the same time I understand where you and many others are coming from.

    Going forward I will ensure to add my name like I have on this post.

  • Gurl says:

    Can we get an AMEN in here.. I was nodding my head and woulda been in the amen chorus if this had been a sermon.

    Comments with “names” that are just promoting their business, brand, or whatever tend to end up in Askismet spam and deleted on the Asylum..and will continue to be that way. Even the most well thought out comment will get deleted if you aren’t going to put a name or alias (like mine) that makes some kind of sense. I want a community of people, not promotional robots.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: When Is Blogger’s Block not an actual Block? =-.

    • Exactly. Who wants to talk to someone when before you even start reading their comment, they make it obvious that they are only interested in self-promotion? I know that I don’t.

  • Keith says:

    Actually Keith is my keyword and my name is “Blog Tips”. I did it that way on purpose so I could get away with using my keyword more and spam comments for links that don’t really matter anyway….
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: 3rd Party Apps Blindsided by Twitter =-.

    • Derek Jensen says:

      I personally think that Keith is one of Jordan’s bots. Haha I thought it really was him without reading your name, Keith.

      I do have the same thoughts for just putting in your real name because that is where the real branding (personal branding) occurs and it won’t really matter what site your running. Plus attaching keywords or your business name is just tacky. If you want to promote yourself use your own gravatar.

      That is another thing… please go to http://en.gravatar.com/site/signup if you don’t have a picture when you comment.
      .-= My Latest Blog Post: Be Discovered with YouTube =-.

    • It’s all makes sense now, Blog Tips. Have I ever told you how hot you are. You are smokin’ hot, Blog Tips. I just want you to know that.

  • Nicely done. I have changed all of my old aliases to at least reflect my name somewhere. It does seem more legit that way. I went from @delphiusbogue on twitter to @dboguejmatthews so I had both.
    Great post!
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: I am a kid in the Blogistan Candy Shoppe =-.

    • I’m glad that you did that, Justin. Seeing your ‘Git R Done’ hat, your big smile, and knowing your name makes it incredibly easy and comfortable for me to reach out and connect with you in conversation. In fact, just seeing that, I feel like we already have something in common. I’m glad that you agree and that you’re embracing these concepts. I promise that they’ll help you in the long run…and in the short run.

  • Yes! Can totally agree with you on this one Nick. The more real and transparent you are, the more people are going to be attracted to you.

    And no, I’m not talking your looks kind of attraction, but wanting to listen to and build a relationship with you.

    (Btw, I’m totally kidding about the name. Had to do it!)
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: The Caring Conspiracy =-.

  • Don Power says:

    Well, I decided when I started blogging and creating a social media presence that I am my brand…so it’s always nice to see confirmation that I made the right choice in naming all my outposts donpower!

    Cheers Nicholas!

    (By the way – I arrived here via a tweet from Keith, below).

    – Don
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Using Social Media as a Networking Tool for Your Business =-.

    • That’s great, Don. I’m glad you’ve discovered the site and that we’ve discovered each other. I think that if a blogger has the ability to express themselves and carry on real conversations then it’s always better to brand yourself. I’m all for it.

  • Amen indeed brother, welcome to the club.

    Myself and countless others have been trying to get this point across for, literally, YEARS now.

    I started out using just my name. Now after a year or more of commenting on mostly the same blogs, I use my name and keywords.

    It’s still me though, and most blogs nowadays use the keywordluv plugin which encourages name+kw anyway.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: I asked – You Answered – 4 more Social Icons Added =-.

  • Well done. I love Keith’s comment. lol

    When I started social networking, I had a hard time making friends because I used my site name and site avatar. I was told to change all that if I want more interaction and for people to take me seriously.

    I did that. I can’t say that it’s helped much, people don’t go out of their way to interact with me in the least… But I do feel better about it. 🙂

    • Keith is my comic relief. He’s like an irritating step-brother…or rather an irritating case of athlete’s foot…take your pick.

      Seriously though, your comment right there got me to take notice. It was substantial. It was honest. It was transparent. You came across as intelligent and personable. It helps me to communicate with you. Even if nobody else does, I’ll take notice.

      P.S. Keith was not harmed in the writing of this comment. We’re actually good friends. We can pick on each other.

  • Come on Nick this is absolutely boring and irritating. But when I get a very little amount of comments where 90% of total commentators fill up the Name field with their keywords, I can hardly delete those comments for not mentioning their name instead of the keyword or the anchor they want to link with.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Google Wave is now open for Everyone =-.

  • Steve Youngs says:

    Hi Nicholas!

    Thanks very much for writing this article, mate. I was toying with the exact same idea for an article on my site just last week (not sure why I didn’t write it up).

    I don’t always delete a comment from someone not using their real name, but I’ll always investigate it as thoroughly as I can to determine if a real person is there instead of a spammer.

    Another thing that I do for those rare cases I let them through is to make a point of using their real name in any followup comments I make to them. (yes, that means if I can’t figure out what you real name is, your comments probably will never see the light of day on my site)

    Kind regards,
    Steve
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Twitter And WordPress Can Be Best Friends =-.

    • I understand those ideas. The bottom line is that we all want to interact with as many people as possible. I know that I don’t want to turn people away. I would rather talk to every person that I come into contact with. My only point is that this blog is my platform to educate and promote best practices and by encouraging (rather strongly) that users present themselves as themselves, I believe that I’m helping, guiding, and developing the bloggers around here to be more effective in their communication efforts.

  • Geoff Crane says:

    Fabulous points here, Nick. In all the hubbub of trying to make ourselves appear successful and solution-savvy and all kinds of other great things, we forget: our online personas don’t automatically make us successful just because we say so.

    Incidentally my name is Geoff. 😉

  • ChickenFreak says:

    I’m glad that you mentioned the option of an alias, even if you’re not crazy about that option. I see the value of identifying myself as an individual, rather than a corporation or a spambot. I rarely see the value of identifying myself as my real, live, name-on-my-birth-certificate _name_.

    I’ve always felt that as long as it’s not abused, the ability to be more than one person online is a valuable one – and is actually more like, rather than less like, real life.

    In real life, unless I live in the smallest of towns, the people in my book club don’t know what I said to the people at the grocery, who don’t know what I’m like when I play paintball. I have different relationships, and to some extent different identities, with different groups. Even if I do use the same name.

    This isn’t a matter of secrecy, it’s a matter of subtly shifting identities and behavior based on context, and I think that everyone has that. I think it’s a good part of human behavior and interaction. Online, if I use my real name in all locations, then much of that is flattened and lost.

    So, yes, spambots bad. But in my view, aliases are just fine.

    ChickenFreak
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: SOTD: Parfumerie Generale Aomassai =-.

  • I always put my blog name in too to increase brand awareness. I don’t think that’s rude but agree that leaving only a keyword it. How can you reply to that person?

    Anyway Nicholas, this is your place and I think people here should respect your rules (esp as you look so tough in the pic) so if you want me to just put the name and not the blog name say the word. Your wish is my command:)
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: The Tao of Blogging =-.

    • I have no problem at all with the way that you write your name, Annabel. Who could argue with that beautiful smile, right? Honestly though, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Your gravatar is an excellent picture that presents you as friendly and personable. They say that a picture is worth 1,000 words. An image like yours makes it very easy to carry on a conversation with you as though I’m speaking with you face-to-face.

      My only wish that you can use as your command is that you keep on being awesome!

  • Mick Morris says:

    This is a great topic Nicholas… I’m also interested by the fact that all of the comments are from “real people” (even when they want to throw a bit of sarcasm in).

    The relationship feels so much more authentic when you are obviously dealing with a person and you can see their smile/personality in their avatar.

    Thanks for throwing it out there!
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: How to build a successful tomorrow =-.

    • You’re welcome, Mick, and as far as the sarcasm goes, unless it’s rude, crude or inappropriate, I would say go for it.

      Be who you are.

      I think that statement is almost redundant in it’s simplicity but I’m serious: be who you are.

      Have fun online. Create and be a part of real conversations that interest you. Don’t be deceptive. Don’t link-hunt with your comments. Build real relationships.

  • Mary E. Ulrich says:

    Love the ideas and energy in this post. Also loved the way you ended it with a call to conversation. Great job.

    • Thanks, Mary. Your zeal and encouragement is really tremendous.

      And, by the way, my desk is incredibly clean right now. I have almost nothing on it. A keyboard. A mouse. Two monitors. A glass of pink lemonade and a book called Linchpin by Seth Godin that an amazingly generous lady named Mary E. Ulrich emailed me.

      Thanks again for that Mary. I’m not finished reading it yet. Every time I read a few pages, I have to stop and think about what I’ve just read. It’s really a powerful read. I really appreciate you, Mary. Thank you.

  • Great post Nicholas! instead of face to face how about avatar to avatar! I completely agree with you, I want to see a person to build community with not the link spamming robot!

    Thanks

    Mr X 🙂

  • Hi Nicholas,

    You are absolutely right here!

    We are humans and we also want to speak with humans, not a website or a product.

    I hate seeing comments that is written by a product or company (;)) and I take those people less serious. Anytime I see a comment with a picture and a real name, I feel as if I am right there with the commenter.

    Thanks a lot for the great post,
    -Onibalusi

  • Trece says:

    One thing I’ve always loved about your site and a key reason for my following you first among the blogs I sub to, is the call to conversation. You know what kind of provocative questions to ask to get the ball rolling.

    Beyond that, however, you stay in the conversation, which keeps you engaged, and in return, keeps us engaged with you.

    Somebody should tell Emma her dad’s pretty smart.

  • I reckon if you are promoting a product, you should at least have the decency to have a separate account that you use for ‘serious’ commenting.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: How to Land a New Gig with Twitter =-.

  • U can see my real name above.

    So, this topic makes me feel strange.
    Now i doubt if i was right. Maby my i could be more effective using the real avatar and my real name.

    So, i just need to try being clear to everyone. Thank u for my eyes opening.

    And u have a great blog. I read every article but post comments not often.

    That’s because of my english.
    I wanted to know if my speech is clear to understand.

    I need u to give me an advice, sir.

    Please tell me should i post comments making mistakes or it’s better to grow my english level and post only after that.

    Thank u for the answer. I need it.

    And everyone who see this comment – tell me if i need to post this time or not.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Мотивация, самоконтроль и планирование. Берусь за себя. =-.

  • The one thing I don’t agree on here is the Avatar. That is assuming you are talking about the Gravatar. I have my real photo up on social networks and other places and I find it looks better to have a custom Gravatar for my blog. Nothing wrong with that. If you want to see how sexy I am, check out my about me page.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: The SEO Book for Bloggers… Make these changes for greatness =-.

  • Mark Johnson says:

    Lol, I like this post. It always amazes me how bare faced some spam artists are.

    You get comments which are literally just lists of links and you have to wonder, does this really work? If so, who are the bloggers out there who are actually publishing these comments?

    It baffles me, still, you gotta laugh…

  • […] Your name please, it’s asking for your name @ […]

  • Great post !
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Types of Dividend =-.

  • Olusegun says:

    Hey Mars. Word!!

    Many of us just do not get it. Glad you wrote this and expressed the minds of some of us. It is first about the person. Everything else comes later.

    Kudos dude.

  • Mike says:

    It’s good to see you bring this point up. It’s seems like a rampant disease these days all the spammy blog comments. So many keywords used than names as you point out. I can imagine how frustrating it must be moderating a popular blog of these. I have a pretty sad underutilised blog at the moment, and the only comments I get are obviously all for link building if they are not just straight out spam posts to begin with. Luckily I only get a couple a month!

    Anyway, good on you putting it out there, and people here seem to respond well to you posts with real ongoing discussion which is great to see and follow.

    Cheers,
    Mike

  • I use my real name on my blog, though because I’m only 15 I use a cartoon avatar for every website that I’m part of. Anyone who sees the cartoon will be able to recognise it’s me without actually giving away my identity.

    As well as being a ‘human’ blogger, begin transparent and honest is important e.g giving our truthful opinions and putting stories in our posts to show who we are and to give a little more depth to our sites.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: JSX Bulletin (Launch Week!) =-.

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