“Get there early”: That is one thing I strive for but it seems that most of the blogs I follow originate on the East Coast. I’m in the Mountain Standard Time zone which is either 2 (winter) or 3 hours (summer) later than the Eastern. Even if I get out of bed at 6AM and go straight to Google Reader, by the time my brain is up and running, most of the day’s entries have been up for an hour or more, and the comment tally has topped 30. Bransford recommends trying to get your comment into the first five or ten “to get noticed.”
A race to get there first
“Scan the other comments”: I agree with this one, even if it is one of the things that prevents us wallflowers from joining the dance. When reading a popular blog, I do find it rather silly when eighteen comments say exactly the same thing. Unless the blogger is surveying the readers on a particular question, in which case they want to know how many people have the same response.
“Read the post”: Well, that makes sense. Why would you comment if you haven’t read the post? Apparently lots of people forget that step, or they read it so carelessly that they miss the answer to their question, or completely miss the point. Along the same lines is Bransford’s exhortation to “Give the blogger the benefit of the doubt”. So often a writer has an idea clearly in mind, but their words miss the mark or even say the exact opposite of what they intended. Don't jump to conclusions or create unnecessary squabbles.
There are several other suggestions in Bransford’s list, but I thought the most relevant and scary part was “consider a blog comment an audition to show off your own personal awesomeness.” If you’re a new blogger aspiring to grow a career from it, that’s good advice. But for the rest of us, the pressure to be awesome every time we set finger to keyboard is too intimidating. It would be nice if we could just enjoy reading blogs and commenting on them as a way to have conversations about the things that interest us.
I’ll also add one more: “Be civil!” Most blog comment fields have a request from the blogger to please be polite, etc. But I do see insults and attacks, not only against the blogger, but even between the commenters! On one style blog I used to like, the comments became so alarming that I just stopped following after a while.
Where do you place yourself on the blog-comment continuum? Bold first responder, shy follower, or somewhere in between? Or no comment?