Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Comments About Blog Comments

Do you ever feel too shy to comment on a blog you like, so you lurk and keep all your witty responses to yourself? Maybe you think no one will see your comment way down at number 35 or 82 on the list. Or maybe someone else just said exactly what you wanted to say but got there just ahead of you. Possibly you are bursting with clever, insightful comments but you’re afraid of getting rejected by the cool kids, those commenters who are always there first and sometimes even get responses back from the blogger?

Left out of the fun

I have certainly done all those things in the past, and it turns out that my worries are not completely unfounded, according to a post by Nathan Bransford earlier this year. I follow Nathan’s blog because he’s a literary agent and published author himself, so he has a lot of insights into the publishing world that I can certainly use. Here are some of the highlights from his blog post, "How to write a good blog comment" that resonated with me.

“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?



  1. I agree with the author you quoted to a point, but I feel that for most of us, that advice is over thinking it.
    If I feel I have something to say to the blogger I will leave a comment without regard to whether I am 1st or 101st. I know that I want to hear what every reader of my posts have to say, and read every comment. Of course I don't get one hundred! But I would feel the same if I did.
    That said, I always follow the kindness rule, and so far my readers have done the same. I don't want to be told that a certain dress makes me look fat or that my decorating is tacky, and I certainly wouldn't say that to anyone else. This is why I feel that your author is addressing big and aspiring to be big bloggers more than myself; I am happy with a small readership of blog friends who support each other. It gets so catty on some of those big blogs!

  2. Anita those are great points and I too would like to exist at the level where it's a conversation among friends.
    The post by Nathan might have been aimed at people who were blogging as a means to a larger end, like becoming a well-known name. Still, doesn't that take the fun out of everything and just make it another item on the to-do list.
    Thank you for your comments!

  3. Katrina,
    You are so right! And my to-do list is long enough already; I don't need to add one more thing I'll never have time for!

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