Comments on Comments

When I look at my WordPress Stats Window, it seems apparent that the number of visitors to Bud’s Blog per day is much greater than the number of comments on my posts.    That is to say, a substantial number of readers either comment only rarely or are lurkers.   While the latter may sound sinister, in internet parlance, a lurker is someone who reads discussions on an interactive internet forum (such as a message board, blog or chatroom) but never participates by adding content.  This sort of lack of participation has been observed by bloggers Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba and dubbed the 90-9-1 rule which suggests that internet content in such a forum will be created by 1% of the participants, while 9% may edit or modify content, and 90% will view the content without contributing, that is, be lurkers.   In information sciences, the Pareto principle, also known as the 80-20 rule says that in any group activity, 20% will produce 80% of the activity.  So I guess it would be expected that many readers might not participate by commenting … but that doesn’t keep me from wondering why they don’t.   Readers are, after all, more than statistics.

I have to admit, I don’t comment on every post I read.  Sometimes, I arrive at a post via WordPress’ Possibly Similar Posts … or by searching posts in the same category … that is poorly written and I just leave rather than leaving a negative comment.  Sometimes the blog is just too personal for my tastes.  Don’t get me wrong … one of my favorite blogs, Into the Mystic, is very personal, but Terri writes about her life in a way that touches on life in general, too.   Sometimes, I’m just not interested in the subject matter of a particular post and leaving an innocuous comment seems tantamount to saying I was here but I couldn’t think of anything to say.   If the post seems to be a sales pitch, even if it’s for a point of view, I’ll rarely reply.  And even if I’m interested in the material, a rambling post that’s poorly organized will almost always stop me before I reach the comments section.  I will admit to a double standard, though … if you’ve taken time to comment on Bud’s Blog, I put in extra effort to relate to your posts, which usually means I’ll comment.

When I Googled Why don’t people comment on posts? I found two excellent articles, Ten Reasons Readers Don’t Leave Comments and Six Reasons People Aren’t Commenting on Your Blog, that added significantly to my list.  If you’re interested in the subject, I’d recommend both articles but I want to focus on two reasons I hadn’t considered.

(1) You rarely respond to comments.   Now, for almost a year and a half, I’ve tended to respond to comments on my blog by visiting the blog of the commenter and reciprocating.  This works most of the time because the vast majority of my commenters are also bloggers.   I know of successful bloggers that respond to every comment and others that don’t.   But I’m going to try to respond to more comments directly on my blog and see what happens.  Maybe by doing so, Bud’s Blog will seem more like a forum for discussion than a soapbox.

(2) You haven’t showed your readers how to comment or encouraged them to do so:  Bloggers don’t need to be told to comment, which explains why most of my comments come from bloggers.  But maybe casual readers who don’t blog don’t know that they can scroll down to the bottom of a post and add a comment.  Maybe they think that their email will show up on my blog …it won’t!!! Maybe they think I don’t care if they comment or don’t want their opinion … I do!!! The Thirty-One Day Project recommends adding step-by-step instructions on how to comment to your blog.  I’m going to do that … but not tonight.

In the mean time, I’d love to hear from you on the subject.   If you’re a blogger, thoughts and suggestions would be welcomed.  If you’ve been visiting without commenting, I’d love to know why you haven’t commented or what you think.  And whether you comment or not, thanks for coming.

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12 Comments on “Comments on Comments”

  1. Sajib Says:

    It’s really discouraging when nobody comments on a post. Unfortunately, most other readers don’t take the time to at least say a Thank You (or the opposite) in the comment field.

    • oldereyes Says:

      I do appreciate your comment and made a short visit to your site. I’ll be back when I have time to respond fully. I found your post on licensing of blogs very interesting … and some of the comments you received … very interesting.

  2. I’m one of those who frequently lurks about, reading blogs but not commenting all that often. Frankly, quite often, as I work through the blog posts on my reader, I just don’t have the time to comment all the time -even on posts I really enjoy. The past couple of days now, if a blog is through WordPress, I can comment okay but if it is through Blogger or Blogspot, for some reason or other, the comments won’t go through! Which irritates me then because I have just spent extra time then writing a comment and it was all for naught. But that still doesn’t tell another blogger that I was there and read and enjoyed the post, does it? Someday, maybe I’ll return to just blogging -no Facebook, no E-mailing, and certainly no crafting to take up my valuable time, huh? Yeah, dream on too! (But your posts I have to say -whether I comment or not -I always read (thanks to Terri’s pointing me in your direction) and like Terri’s blog, I always enjoy reading your words, your thoughts.

    • oldereyes Says:

      I’ve had those problems with blogger and blogspot, too. The problem for me has been if you don’t get the Captcha code right, you lose what you wrote. It seems like it’s such a balancing act, blogging, commenting and … oh, yeah … living the rest of our lives. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to blog for a living?

  3. territerri Says:

    I’m not one to respond to comments much either, whether on my blog or by email, as I know some bloggers do. Cultivating an abundant comments section is a LOT of work! I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum, and when I had time to respond to comments, I received multitudes of comments in return. These days, there never seems to be enough time and I always feel like I’m skimping on my writing and skimping on keeping up with all of my favorite blogs too. It shows in the diminished number of comments at my place.

    I guess, in the end, knowing I don’t have the time to do it all, I tend to feel that what is more important is that I keep working on my writing. But those comments are fuel for me to keep working at it and doing it better, so I just try to find as much balance as I can between writing, reading and commenting.

    p.s. Thanks for the mention! 🙂

    • oldereyes Says:

      I guess time is a problem for most of us. Our friends here in Eden Prairie have been keeping us going all day, so I’ve been squeezing in a few posts … and tonight’s comments … after everyone else is in bed. It helps to be a night owl. Tomorrow, it’s a Vikings game.

  4. undividing Says:

    I know what you mean Bud – thanks for sharing your thoughts, as well as the links 🙂 I’ve been thinking about this topic as well.

    Personally, most of the time when I read a blog, I want the author to know I’ve read their post, but I don’t really know what to say. Can I simply respond with a hearty “well said”, “yeah!”, or “me too!”? I feel bad not contributing something thoughtful/deep to their work. I also have trouble finding time to comment, as I often get caught up in another round of “the itsy bitsy spider” with my little one, but that’s just the way it goes 🙂

  5. It is only to be expected that most visitors do not comment. If we look at me, e.g., I tend to go through roughly this:

    1. Open a blog entry based on a short description.

    2. Form an impression, whether the entry is worth reading. If not, go somewhere else.

    3. Read on, gathering thoughts—with the constant option to go elsewhere, if the entry turns uninteresting.

    4. Make a decision to comment based on whether I actually have something worth-while to say and what else I have to do (writing a comment can take longer than the actual reading, after all).

    Even if we generously assume a 50 % chance of going through all steps, there is only a 1/8 chance that I will begin to write an entry—and I occasionally change my mind during writing…

    As a note on my experiences as a blogger (rather than commenter): The correlation between comments and visitors has been extremely low so far. The most visited post does not have one single comment, while the most commented is mid-range in visits.

    • oldereyes Says:

      That is a great summary of the process that (I think) many of us seem to follow. Personally, I like to have a cadre of regulars in addition to those just passing through, which is why I’m inclined to try harder to comment for some bloggers. But I agree … given people as they are, most won’t comment.

  6. Wolfbernz Says:

    Sorry bud but I have to admit I am a lurker, I do enjoy your posts 🙂
    This is a good one too. I am going to read the link you posted it sounds very interesting. It would be nice to have the regulars that follow and the ones that are passing through to comment also.
    I agree with Terri when I have the time to comment I receive many back but I have to spend so much time on the web working it’s hard to find the time to read my favorite blogs (yours included) and then leave a comment.


  7. oldereyes Says:

    You get cut a lot of slack, since you provide a base for so many of us to indulge our peculiar avocation of talking to the world via our blogs. This clearly puts you in the 1% that do contribute on line, so you’re a lurker in name only.


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