Constant Comments

by Abby on October 19, 2011

Comment bubbleRecently a couple of friends have started new blogs. Welcome to the blogosphere, JKR and CMcC! This got me thinking about comments, a big topic for bloggers. I’m constantly seeing articles on how to get more comments, how to comment on blogs, and how NOT to comment.

Since I consider myself a journalist first and a blogger second, I have a different perspective on the subject than many bloggers. I realized this when I happened upon an interview with renowned Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan. She said that the great columnists of yore (OK, she didn’t say “yore” – who does? – but that’s what she meant) wouldn’t even recognize the world we live in today.

“[A columnist would] write a column, go to lunch with a source, and then a few days later he’d get some mail from readers who sat down, wrote a letter, got an address and a stamp, and sent it on. He’d read it, maybe answer, maybe not. Now reaction to columns is immediate, public, and anonymous, and comes in great numbers.”

Noonan went on to say that columnists today may have to choose between answering their readers or doing their main job, which is writing their column. Now, not all bloggers consider themselves columnists, but I kind of do. I started a blog because I love to write and I wanted people to read my writing. I structure most of my posts as stand-alone 500-750-word columns.

Although I was hoping to get feedback from readers, it was a shock when I got my first comment from a stranger. Even now, I don’t EXPECT people to comment. I love it when they do, of course, especially the thoughtful, funny, and kind comments I get from my regular readers. (Thanks, guys!) But getting lots of comments is not my main motivation for writing.

I know lots of bloggers feel bad that they don’t get as many comments as the next blogger, or that they don’t comment more or respond to comments every time. (A surefire way to get more.) I understand; I wish I had more time for that, too. But I don’t think you should measure your worth by how many comments you receive. Because here are some reasons why I might not comment on a blog post:

I’m reading it on my phone. And I can’t be bothered to tap out a comment with my thumbs on a tiny screen.

I intend to comment but I get distracted. Say, by a toddler who has ripped off his diaper and is running around naked.

I respond elsewhere. I don’t know why, but I get lots of e-mails, tweets, Facebook messages, or people who respond to me directly about a post instead of commenting on my blog itself.

I have nothing to add. It doesn’t mean I didn’t read it or enjoy it. I just have nothing more to say about it. And who wants a generic “great post!” comment? (OK, maybe some of you.)

I’m scared. Have you ever read the comments on the NYTimes.com? Those people are VICIOUS, I tell you! Especially in response to any article on parenting or “mommy blogs.” The commenters even attack each other. No way am I getting involved in that.

You’re not inviting feedback. Now, I am guilty of this. Sometimes I just want to speak my mind. And if your post reads like a manifesto, maybe there’s no room for discussion. But if you DO want feedback, try ending your post with a question. (A wise blogger who gets tons of comments gave me that tip.)

So what do you think, readers? What’s your opinion on commenting on blogs? (And, yes, this is a shameless plea for comments. 🙂

LINK O’ THE DAY: Some newspapers are considering dumping unfiltered, anonymous comment boards. I’m all for it.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathleen Basi October 19, 2011 at 6:51 am

I wish I got more comments. I have a feeling I’m a “manifesto” person, because often the comments at the end of a post make me roll my eyes, because they seem forced or Barbie-plastered on to a complete thought. I leave a *lot* of comments around the blogosphere, because that’s what you’re “supposed” to do to get people to come visit you. Sometimes it works. More often, in my experience, it doesn’t.

I also don’t respond to every single comment, because that, too, I find annoying on blogs. I want someone to respond with thoughtful discourse, not “thanks for commenting!” And I hate seeing blogs where every other comment is from the writer. What I really love is when people get into discussion with each other. It doesn’t happen very often on mine, but I LOVE it when it does. Then I can join in as an organic part, not as some benevolent Higher Blog Authority. 🙂

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Kathleen Basi October 19, 2011 at 6:52 am

OOPS! Read that first sentence as the QUESTIONS at the end of blog posts, not the comments! (Ouch, that was kind of a big oversight!)

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DB October 19, 2011 at 7:28 am

I agree with everything you have said here. When I first started blogging I was a little turned off by the ‘comment thing’. It was all about comments. I had a hard time with that whole concept and felt very differently. But to so many people out there, that is all it is about – comments. It is funny because I have found if I don’t comment on someone’s blog regularly, they stop visiting my blog. It is all kind of crazy. I do think everyone blogs for their own reason – some for comments, and some not. I think everyone eventually figures it out.

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neena October 19, 2011 at 8:14 am

I think we all wish we got more comments. I only tend to comment, though, when I feel I have something to add to a discussion or I want to lend support for something specific. Forcing comments is just as bad as not leaving room for discussion.

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Nadine Feldman October 19, 2011 at 10:43 am

A few months back I had dinner with an old friend whom I seldom see, and she mentioned that she kept up with me through my blog. She said she never missed it! And yet I had never seen her comment, and she didn’t subscribe, so I had no idea. I realized then that some people just aren’t into commenting.

Since I blog, too, I try to comment whenever possible — but you’re right, sometimes I’m busy or get interrupted, and I follow so many blogs these days that it’s harder than it used to be. Still, I like to get comments, so I figure other bloggers do, too, and I want to acknowledge their hard work.

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Marina October 19, 2011 at 11:24 pm

I don’t write a blog, but I read lots of them off and on. For some reason, your posts are the only ones I ever comment on. Something about them makes me want to tell you how much I just enjoyed reading it! But I’ll make sure never to just say “great post” 😉

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Abby October 20, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Thank you, Marina, I feel honored. And if you want to write “great post!” don’t let me stop you! 😉

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Angela Hale October 23, 2011 at 3:23 am

I love your blog Abby! I started reading Diary of a New Mom shortly after I had my son and was trying to adjust to my new life as a SAHM. My son will be 5 in a few weeks, and I also have a 6 month old daughter! I am a stranger living hundreds of miles away in Salt Lake City, Utah, but feel like we’re old friends. It was interesting to see a photo of you on this new blog after reading your old blog for so long…I have to say you look exactly how I imagined. What a talented writer and authentic soul you are. Just wanted to tell you how much I love your work and thanks for making this SAHM feel a little less crazy.

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Abby October 23, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Thank you so much, Angela! You made my day. 🙂 It’s so nice to hear from longtime readers — 5 years is some serious dedication!

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Melissa {momcomm} November 1, 2011 at 4:41 pm

That’s a great quote about how instantly things happen in our world compared to years ago. I love how you lay out your reasons for not commenting. I have the same things happen, especially reading from my phone. Although this time it was intending to but getting distracted… I read this post the second I saw the pingback but never commented until now… talk about major distraction. HA!

Anyway, thanks for giving my Comment Vomit post a shout out– I appreciate it!

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Abby November 3, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Thanks, Melissa! For your comment, and for tweeting out the link, too. Good for you for tracking who’s linking to you — smart!

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Christina Simon November 1, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Great post! Thanks to Momcomm for Tweeting it. I write a blog that gets almost 99% anonymous comments because it’s a blog for parents applying to private elementary schools in Los Angeles. It’s a super-competitive process and parents don’t want to say anything that could jeopardize their admissions to a school. But, I get private emails where readers are very honest and give me tons of information, including their names. Of course, every blogger would like more comment, but your post reminds me why that doesn’t always happen. I had a piece run on Salon.com and the comments were like the NYT: mean! Following you on Twitter!

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Abby November 3, 2011 at 1:37 pm

That’s really interesting, Christina. I can see why people would want to keep their comments anonymous on your blog. And interesting about Salon, too. I don’t understand why some people feel the need to be so negative with their feedback. Didn’t their mothers ever teach them that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all? 😉

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Kacey November 2, 2011 at 9:01 pm

So glad to know that I’m in like company. Other reasons to add: subscribing to multiple blogs can make it hard to keep up with just reading the posts and not wanting to come off stalker-ish by commenting all the time.

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Abby November 3, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Lol! re: coming off stalker-ish. I subscribe to SO many blogs, it’s overwhelming.

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