It is possible to get a reputation through your comments that can be helpful to you later, even though the comments do get deleted. The trick is to make the right sort of comment often so that they’re visible enough, and then have something else which can help you preserve the community you’re in effect creating.
1. Ask people for more info when they’ve posted a story or commented, as if you’re genuinely interested. Plenty of people famous in high society were good at this, once upon a time – if you could make people believe that you genuinely cared about what they had to say, no matter how trivial it was, you would win their esteem. Obviously, this is an art – there are people who will talk your ear off about how their cat meant so much to them for days on end. You want to put yourself in a position where you’re engaging people who do interest you, and who you would like to help eventually. An article that describes what this art might look like, if refined.
2. Post links, provide relevant information, don’t just attack. If you see something wrong with another user’s information, just say “there’s a problem with that,” quote an article, cite the article. I know the temptation is to go off on other users for being dishonest and willing to say anything as long as they don’t get caught. And I realize you’re going to get attacked just for speaking the truth: I’ve been online long enough to know that all that’s left of “truth” nowadays is 9/11 conspiracy theory. But I say keep calm, because it increases your chances of keeping your comment from getting buried, and helps your credibility among those that would read a buried comment no matter what. If you can’t get bullied, then the 3rd point works in your favor…
3. Be funny when you can, not nasty. Everyone wants to be the guy who makes jokes and gets tons of applause when he rips some loser to shreds over a bad argument. I don’t know why everyone wants to be that guy because he was a loner in high school, an alcoholic in college, and probably stuck on the Internet… oh. I get it now.
Point is, if you spend your time trolling or just going for laugh lines, you’re wasting your time. Trolls only destroy, they can never create anything for themselves. Most people who try to be joking come off as awkward more often than not; it rarely sounds natural. But think about what you could do with a new fan every week, one who was really excited to see what you had to contribute.
4. You don’t need to blog, but you need an online presence other than social media. You need something – maybe just a Google page where you state your philosophy, a flickr, a delicious, Squidoo lens – anything. Ideally that page should have some content which would appeal to a visitor and they’d want to bookmark it. You also want to get e-mail addresses or links from people who are fans of you so you can keep in touch.
So let’s say you have no ambitions as of yet. Should you still do this? Absolutely. The second you feel passionately about an issue and need some help getting your views out, this group will be there. You might even be able to drag them into an online gaming world and have an instant guild – that’s actually something I want to do when I have a bit more time.
A network is a really awesome power. The most incredible thing I’ve been able to do is get attention for others, and one reason why I’m ticked about my pagerank right now is that I’d like to get still more attention for others.
5. Post often, don’t give up. There’s a lot you can do wrong online: there are a lot of people here who will take offense to you merely because you seem different. If you want to build a network almost passively, just by commenting a lot, you’re doing something wise because it isn’t clear how much looking like you want attention helps. This is gonna take time, but the neat thing is that your progress is measurable. If you make a few fans in a week or two trying this approach, as opposed to sounding like nearly everyone else online (when was the last time you saw anyone ask a question earnestly of another in a thread?), you might find yourself in Congress one day. Being social is harder to do nowadays, partly because of increased communication devices.
What right do I have to post these tips? I think what I do online is really difficult – I mean, think about how many people would rather work for minimum wage for their entire lives than read a book once. It’s a lot of people, and for some reason, quite a few of them are online. I can safely tell you I’ve gotten a few really good readers because of comments, and I think you owe it to yourself to find like-minded people who are happy to correspond with you.