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An Ode to Comments.

November 25, 2009

I’ve been blogging for a long time. Well, not a long time as far as time is concerned, but a long time considering blogging has only been around for about 10 years or so. I have been blogging for about four and a half years. Most of the time, I really enjoy it. Sometimes I love it, but mostly I just enjoy it. I like writing. I like the fact that I have easy access to things I have done in the past and how my life has changed so dramatically in the last few years. When I started this blog, I was a 19-year-old who had just finished her sophomore year at the University of Oregon and now I’m a 24-year-old public relations professional living in New York City.

My blog, unlike a lot of people, was not my first, nor primary, means of meeting others with diabetes. I had been active with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation since I was 15 years old, volunteering regularly during the summers, and I was in charge of coordinating childcare for the quarterly family support group meetings in Portland. At that point, I was also the host of Teen Talk @, which meant I also knew quite a few people online with diabetes, including Scott Strumello (yes, it’s true, I have known Scott since I was in high school – how scary is that?).

Even when I started my blog, I still had dozens of other avenues for meeting and interacting with people with diabetes. There was (and still is) Diabetes Talkfest. There were meet-ups that I organized. There were diabetes conferences and events that I managed to scrounge up enough money to afford. A couple of years ago, I joined this little website called Twitter after my former boss told me about it in a job interview (thanks a lot, Tom), and now Facebook has hopped on board the status update train by allowing people to comment on people’s statuses. I like to think I have a pretty solid following on these two sites and while the idea of being “internet famous” still freaks me out, I like to think these “followers” are for the most part my friends too.

But the one thing I never really seemed to master is the art of comments. Four and a half years into this, and I barely break 10 comments an entry. Often times, I only get less than 5 comments. And they are great comments, and I have regular commenters who are awesome. But sometimes I think, Really? Am I so boring that I’m not even worth like a sentence?

Of course, I am not the most prolific commenter in the world, which is why I don’t usually mention my comments or go around bitching about how no one loves me. Because I know people read me and I know they like what I’m saying (usually) and I know that you reap what you sow. I really don’t have time to comment more than a couple times a day and it’s never consistently on any one person’s blog. So I’ve tried not to make the whole Comment Competition thing a big deal – because I know it’s not fair to complain about not getting a lot of comments when I personally don’t comment as much as maybe I could.

So then the other day I was reading Jane Aldridge’s blog, Sea of Shoes, and she announced that she wasn’t going to have comments anymore. Because she has a personal style blog and she doesn’t really think it’s necessary to have comments when all they are saying are either “hey I love your clothes” or “wow you’re so skinny.” And I get that the fashion community is a little different because there isn’t quite the support that we get over here in the diabetes community. That interaction is crucial.

But then I was thinking about how I have wanted to get away from just talking about diabetes.

I was thinking about how maybe it would be interesting not to have a comments section anymore.

Maybe not forever. Maybe just on some posts. Maybe on some posts that I want where I don’t really WANT to know what people think about it. Maybe I just want to write without wondering what anyone else thinks. Because that’s the whole point of having a comment section – so you can hear what other people are saying. But it’s also an invitation, and it hurts, sometimes, when no one answers your invitation.

Dooce does a mix of comment open and comment closed blog posts and I think that’s an interesting way to do it. I certainly don’t want to shut out people. Email would still be open, and I am very active on Twitter (according to various sources, I tweet more than the average person), and I feel like I get more community interaction throughout the day on Twitter than I do on my blog. But maybe this would help my writing by not focusing all my content on whether or not it’s outwardly pleasing. That’s what happens when you start writing a blog. That’s what everyone tells you to do. There are all these tip sheets for how to get comments, how to get followers, how to get subscribers, how to get your material retweeted and passed along and how to get a book deal and how to get on Oprah. And it seems like sometimes we’re so focused on our “audience” that we forget who we are and why WE wanted to write. Unless, of course, you’re writing to get comments. In which case, you should probably keep them open.

It’s just something I’ve been thinking about for the past, oh, you know, day or so.

What do you think?

Edit: I am an IDIOT! I accidentally deactivated my comment function last night when I was messing around with the setting. I’m NOT getting rid of my comments right now, but I would LOVE to hear  your reactions. 😦 Sorry!

  1. November 25, 2009 5:50 PM

    I personally LOVE getting comments and it’s a big reason WHY I blog so that’s not something I would ever do for my blog. That being said, I think if it works for you then go for it!

    I read and comment on LOTS of blogs on a regular basis. Ya, it takes up a lot of time, but to me it’s worth it because if someone comments on my blog I want to return the favour and read theres!

    Some of my favourite blogs are the “big bloggers” and they already get like 50-60 comments an entry so even though I still read every entry out of my reader I barely comment. Whereas some other blogs that aren’t necessarily my *favourite*, comment on my blog regularly so I do the same.

    That’s just how I do it though! This is an interesting topic 🙂

    • November 25, 2009 5:57 PM

      Amber: You do, to me, get a lot of comments! I would love to get the kind of feedback you do, but you’re right, you need to comment on a lot of blogs and frequently so that you become known and that they return the favor and read you. I suppose I am not very patient!

      But at the same time, I do have a TON of interaction on other places, like Twitter, where I sometimes will get up to 20 responses on a single question I post. So it’s interesting where people seem to be more comfortable taking time and giving feedback.

      • November 26, 2009 7:49 PM

        Some bloggers are against this but, I, as you’ve probably noticed, also ask questions at the end of almost every blog post that I write. This seems to encourage a lot of interaction and discussion among readers and personally, I prefer blog posts that ask questions because it does make it easier to comment! Just a thought 🙂

  2. November 25, 2009 5:53 PM

    I don’t comment all that frequently on the blogs that I read, because I’m not comfortable doing so unless I feel like I have something that adds to the discussion. (Sometimes, I admit, I “add to the discussion” with only a feeble witticism.) Plus, because I’m increasingly inclined to lead my life in a “keep my head down” manner, I’m not likely to contribute to a controversy. When I’ve commented on controversial issues in the past, I often find that I’ve failed to make myself understood.

    I don’t believe that bloggers should be obligated to take comments. All bloggers have to decide how much of themselves they want to expose the Teh Intertubes, and openness to comments does create a vulnerability.

  3. tmana permalink
    November 25, 2009 6:07 PM

    As garrulous as I am IRL, I don’t generally comment blogs unless something really strikes me that day or unless there’s something I have to add to the conversation. Also, some blogs I can’t comment because the blog’s comments are limited to members of the site/community, and others I won’t comment because the set up does not allow me to comment them in the persona (username and/or e-mail address) to which I am known to the blogger.

    That said, pageviews seem to present a better (but not perfect, since they can be forced) idea of how many people are seeing your blog. If your metrics can capture distinct IP addresses, then you have a better idea yet.

    And all of that said, even in a forum, some threads from a poster get hundreds of comments while others are barely noticed.

  4. November 26, 2009 11:21 PM

    I comment on a lot of blogs, and I get my share of comments, though some get more reaction than others. However, the way I see it, if a blog doesn’t allow comments, it’s not a blog, but a diary. And whether it’s talking business or personal stuff, if there’s no give and take participation I personally won’t read. That includes Seth Godin for me; he doesn’t accept comments, I don’t read.

    It’s not that I comment on everything, but when I want to, I’d like to have the opportunity. However, overall, each person has to make the decision, especially when they’re paying for it in some fashion.


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