Sunday, December 31, 2006

Comments on Comments

Comments are what make a Blog a conversation instead of a monologue. But along with all other aspects of Blogging, there are simply no rules about when it is appropriate to make a comment, what a comment should contain, or whether it is acceptable to read and never comment. These are all things we are learning as we go.

For well over a year, I’m convinced that no one ever read my Blog. I could have written all manner of 4-letter words repeatedly and the world would have been totally ignorant of my pain.

But then something changed about a year ago when I started meeting Bloggers through DC Blogs and I gradually cultivated what I refer to as my little Blog family. We are dependable to be there for each other when there are tears or celebrations or just a good old laugh. It’s these people who read my Blog on a regular basis and I miss them when they take a break.

There is another group of Bloggers, mostly much younger, who surprise me now and then. I get so excited when I see a comment from one of them. I just added 8 new links based on comments I had received over the past couple of months.

There is yet another group of people who don’t write but periodically read. Two of my oldest and dearest friends, my physical therapist, and my son fall into this category. They occasionally leave a comment.

A final group are readers who never comment and never reveal their identity. I have one in San Francisco, one in Tampa, one in New Jersey, one in Vancouver, and possibly a few others.

But back to the comments themselves. Here are the basic rules I follow:
(1) I leave a comment only if I have something to say in response to what I read. It needs to be more than a calling card that says you stopped by. A sitemeter can provide that information.
(2) Initially I thought it was rude to talk about myself, but I find more and more I am interested in that people have to say that is tangential to what I wrote about.
(3) I never leave a comment on someone else’s Blog that says “please come check out what I just wrote.” Comments should not be advertisements. I usually do go read a commenter's Blog, so I don't need to be invited.
(4) I try to answer most comments, if they seem to need an answer.
(5) I read and savor every comment I receive, often marveling at how people see things so differently.

I find myself wondering what happened when regular comments from a particular person stop. Did I say something offensive? Is the person no longer interested in what I am writing? Did the person quit Blogging altogether? This is where Blogging doesn’t suffice for a face-to-face conversation.

There may come a time when I am once again a Blogging hermit, but for now I love the exchange of information with a very diverse group of people. This world of electronic friends makes my life so much more interesting.


Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I'm certainly with you on all of this. I've blogged for 2 years and still find it very interesting just to see where I fit into the scheme of everyone else in this world and to appreciate the slice of life they present.

We all seem empathetic. You are one of the few who blog daily and I seem to always be 2 blogs behind, some of that being the time difference.

Was it you who brought up the issue of having someone who could blog a message to all readers if someone died or was really sick? It is a good idea. I don't think my husband could do it but if you suddenly never hear from me again, please could you e-mail and offer to walk my him through it?

11:49 AM  
Anonymous media concepts said...

Keep up the good work. And the four letter words.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy New Year Barbara!

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading the comments is the other half of the fun of blogging. I like the give and take, the almost conversations, the remarks that make me take a second look at the post. And the comment box is a great place to find new links and new friends.

I will always remember "our" trip through France and all that chocolate, courtesy of comments :)

Happy New Year, Barbara!

6:26 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I feel guilty - I actually just had a few minutes between Times Square and a bar. While my friends freshen their makeup, I'm checking on a few of my blogger friends and planned to leave a calling card. Well, more than that. I wanted to wish you a happy new year.

7:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have time to read because I'm trying to wish as many people "Happy New Year" as possible, or, honest, I would've given this post my full attention. ;)

Happy New Year, Barbara.

1:01 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

MOI -- I hope we don't have a need to send out a prayer-chain this year, but it's a good idea to keep in the back of our minds.

MediaConcepts -- I just realized it isn't 2007 for you yet in California. I look forward to reading about more of your adventures out there.

Wendy -- Happy 2007 to you too!

Pauline -- Tonight's food reminded me of eating my way through France. It was fun to have you along electronically.

Kristin -- You are too funny! I can't believe you're online while everyone else is fixing their faces. You might have been in the Time Square crowd we just saw on TV! Your "calling card" is definitely appreciated!

MalnurturedSnay -- I'm happy to have made your acquaintance. Please promise me that in 2007 you will explain to me what your name means!

2:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Commenting is awesome. It's a good way to keep in touch with other bloggers, and is also a form of feedback.

9:01 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Like you, I only leave a comment if I have something to say. So when I don't leave a comment, it is because I have nothing to say - this is not to be construed as not having found the post of interest, but let's face it, not every post spurs me to want to say something.

I always struggle with whether or not to use the word "I" in a comment - invariably I do. Afterall, the post inspired me to leave a comment. I just hope that I am never too far off the topic when I do comment.

I occaisionally leave comments with a link back to my blog (only if I think I had posted a topic that might be of interest). But, yeah, I think it is gauche to simply leave a comment saying, "Hey! Come by and check out my blog."

I think answering comments is essential. However, sometimes coming up with a good answer is not always easy.

I don't worry too much about whether people leave comments or not. If site traffic is down, then that is a possible reason (another reason the site traffic may be down is because people have ... sniff ... suddenly found my blog uninteresting).

Sometimes I try to guess which blogs will garner comments. Often I Am wrong. Posts I reckon might get 1 or 2 suddenly get 14 and posts I thought would get 8 might get 1.

I think the biggest danger is in trying to blog to an audience, rather than hope the audience continues to enjoy your posts.

You often have interesting things. I love your posts about you Jewis experiences (but I often have little to say about them).

I think it would be hard for you to return to the days of blogging alone in the wilderness. Too many people know of you.

Your visitors will change, slowly like the seasons. Some will remain a long time, others will come and lose interest, others will simply disappear.

Reciprocity works great, however, it vexes me when I jump to some new commenters blog and find myself unable to leave a comment.

However, while reciprocity is nice, it is not essential. I visit a number of blogs who rarely ever seem to visit mine. Then, of course, there are those, who for one reason or other, wish to remain anonymous. I visit 4 blogs (I think it is four) who wish to remain mostly naonymous (so I have no cross links). Then, of course, are those who visit, but I hav enot yet added to my blogroll. sigh.

There is no need to fret. Just be you and everything will be fine. I view my blog as an intimate conversation over coffee and dessert, but I just post the starter part of it.

7:14 PM  
Blogger steve said...

That countertop Rocks!!! So does Richard in his comments today...I absolutely love to make comments; sometimes they are good and sometimes ..not... but every now and then a post and a comment create a sense of life; and a Value is shared. We are able to relate and find dialogue with so many people these days.

10:46 AM  

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