Wednesday, July 15, 2009

To Comment or Not?

There was a post on the BlogHer web site recently discussing whether or not to leave comments on your own blog, and what it might convey to your readers. One blogger says she always had the last word as it seems like a courtesy to her commentors. Another said totally the opposite - that it felt like she was rendering the comments somehow less worthy of merit, (I think).

Do you know, I've never really thought about the whole question, which is now worrying me since I usually go out of my way to make people feel at ease. I have to admit that whether or not I chip in with comments depends totally on how much time I have. With three kids off school and not much in the way of "entertainment" arranged for them, I haven't been blogging or commenting much because they are like moths to a flame, looking over my shoulder and making sarcastic comments about "Expat Mummy" (said in overly-dramatised English accent.)

I always comment on the Pond Parleys blog I co-host with Mike Harling, but it's set up as a debate forum and there's usually at least one person who has misinterpreted what I've said (as opposed to me not communicating clearly, of course). I have even resorted to the delete button on one occasion, after several warnings I should note. Not something I enjoyed doing, but if the same person had been in my house they probably would have been shown the door in no uncertain terms.

Even when I do leave comments on my own blog, I don't do it uniformly. I notice a lot of bloggers respond to every comment left on their blog, which is incredibly polite, but what if there's nothing to say? I always think that if I share a joke with say, 5 commentors, then come to number 6 who said nothing of note, what do I do? And what if you have over 800 followers like Vodka Mom, who has at least 60 people commenting on every post, and who always leaves me a reply when I comment. AND she works - in a classroom where she can't pretend not to be using the computer. Actually, given that most classrooms seem to have a computer hidden in the corner these days, I wonder how many teachers are either blogging or selling their stuff on E-bay these days?

Anyway, I am just curious about everyone else's stance on this issue. Have you even thought about what it might convey to comment or not comment on your own blog? And if so, what were your conclusions.

Anxious, of Chicago


  1. Hmm, I'm in a similar situation to you in that I respond to comments if I have the time. Also, fellow bloggers might ask a question based on the post and I might comment to reply to that.

    I think, if I have time, it's nice to respond to several people in one comment.

    I don't think people are bothered either way are they?

  2. I don't work outside the home right now and I still don't have enough time to respond to every comment whether I comment on my own post or send them an email directly. If I did that, I'd never get any writing of my own done.

    All that said, sometimes I do both, but many times I do nothing. It's the best I can do and I try not to worry about it. The way I see it, I read the blogs I do because I enjoy what is being said and it nourishes me in some way. I read a variety of blogs with a wide range of topics. I frequently comment myself, but not always and I'm always pleased when someone is affected enough by my words to leave a comment for me on my blog.

    Sometimes through comments a series of emails follow that can lead to a friendship of sorts and occasionally I've met some fellow bloggers in person. These new friendships have been one of the really good parts of blogging, but I blog because I have something to say not because I need it for kudos or as a way to make friends.

    If people choose not to read me because I don't respond to their comments, then they're looking for something my blog was never intended to deliver.

  3. dear "expat mummy" (I roared at that depiction of your kids taking the mick. I could just visualise that, mine would've done the same back in the day.)
    anyway, I don't get THAT many comments but still for the most part feel obliged to answer some of them so I try to do it in one response. I am not offended if people don't respond to MY comments tho; some do, some don't tho' many respond to every comment they get.
    was this helpful?
    don't feel the need to respond to that question. ;-)

  4. Hmmm that's always debatable... But i think that depends on blogger, afterall it's their blog and it's upto them how they want it to be... Same as frequency of blog posting..

    I usually comment back to those who comment on my blog... I don't know why do i do that but i just do it... May be 'cos somewhere i feel oblidged and like to acknowledge that it means to me.

    But yes sometimes it's something I am not sure what to say in return ... then normally i put a smily with a thanks...!

  5. I agree with ~Lopa - it's your blog, and you can do what you like. I rarely comment on mine because although people are kind enough to visit and comment, I have trouble believing that they'd visit a second time to see whether/how I responded. I do, however, occasionally repudiate a slur, or correct a fallacy. Well, I would, wouldn't I?

  6. I've always thought it rather presumptuous people commenting on their own blogs, that they think people will come rushing back to read follow ups. Maybe rather sour of me. Now and again I put a cheery something up just to show kindly intent but not the listing per blogger (which seems, sorry (!) rather American). I'd rather say thanks for the comment by going to their blog and commenting on their story. Sort of means more and is less all about me then. Oh, I'm just so nice.
    (Kids VERY rude about Country Lite, too. Bloody children. Go and tidy your room. Entertainment, indeed, your whole life is entertainment, Gedouddhere.)

  7. Yikes! Weird, husband and me must have been writing comments at the same time! freaky.

  8. I do respond to most every comment eventually, but, then again, I don't get a slew of dozens of comments so responding to 10 people isn't overly time consuming. Sometimes I won't respond for one reason or another, but if someone asks me a questions, I always respond - it's only polite! I do it because I appreciate discussion and encourage discussion to continue, and because I appreciate people leaving comments on my blog and taking time out of their day, so I want to let them know I do appreciate it. It's certainly nothing self-serving or presumptuous! - Limey

  9. I've read several times (from professional bloggers) that it is important to converse with your followers, especially if you want to increase your readership. Of course, if you have dozens of comments you can't be expected to respond to every one but you should make an effort to respond here and there to show your followers that you do read them. If you don't make an effort eventually your commenting could drop off. But it's all about what is important to you. I love having conversations with my followers so I really enjoy reading their comments and responding to them. But I have the time and not everyone does.

    There is the option to have any follow-up comments emailed to you when you comment on a blog so sometimes readers do want to know if you have responded to them. I sometimes check back on a post after I have commented to see if the blogger responded, so it doesn't always hold true that readers don't care about responses. I feel as Limey does, that if they have taken the time out of their day to read my blog I think I should show them my appreciation. To each his own, as they say.

  10. I think everyone is saying that you do what feels comfortable to you - so I will continue adding little comments (like this) as and when. I do read everyone's comments though, especially just before the next post goes up.

  11. Toni,

    This article is interesting. The first part is about comments, the second is about responding to them.

    (you might have to copy and paste into your browser)

  12. Oh, "as and when" -- I love that expression. And it's probably a good one to keep in mind, here.

    I tend to obsessively reply to each and every comment, partly because I obsessively return to see if people have commented back on MY comments. Ugh. Just writing that makes me realise that I have far too much time on my hands and need to get a life.

    *self-conscious cough*

  13. I also reply to every comment. I learned this from my favourite bloggers, who also do this. And I do like it that there is some kind of conversation going on.

    I don't think this is presumptuous, as I don't expect anyone to come back and check. It's there if they want to see it.

    When I leave comments myself, I will sometimes go to see if there was a response as well.

  14. Ok, I am now waiting for my reply ;-)

    Actually I have iften wondered if bloggers who reply 'in' the comments to every single comment, are just upping their comment count LOL!

    I reply when it merits a reply and often I don't reply, due to time. I certainly don't have the time to reply to every single comment personally. I would rather spend any time I have visiting their blogs and commenting, which is what I tend to do most.

  15. Yeah, I was advised to comment on my own blog because it shows that you are personally involved in the conversation and interacting with the commenters. It creates a sense of community. I don't think, though, that it should be like "having the last word".

  16. I don't get a huge amount of comments so I like to respond to each one in one follow up comment. That said, I bet they hardly get read! I also look at their blogs and comment on their posts. I'm too nice and polite and I think it's the friendly thing to do!

  17. to be honest I never give it a thought- or rather I hadn't until now. Sigh. Something else to ponder.
    I expect a comment about this please? a personal and elegantly crafted witty response

  18. I started off by replying to every comment & eventually I got out of this habit. If someone says something that merits an answer or asks a question, I sometimes email if I know the person & have their address, but mostly I don't reply to individuals.I sometimes leave a message to EVERYONE.
    I feel that occasionally there is nothing to say and that makes that person stand out if you reply to all the others except that one.
    I think much depends on time and how you feel.
    I don't think there are hard & fast rules, are there?
    Maybe break all the rules & if so then I am sorry! I am grateful for all comments, I really am.

  19. I reply to every comment because I am a people pleaser. I feel they won't come back if I don't respond. Silly really as one of my favourite blogs very rarely responds to my comments and NEVER comments on my blog. How rude!

  20. Ha ha - this is turning into quite the therapy session - lots of unmasking of reasons why we comment.
    Ding - your time is up; that'll be $200. See you next week!

  21. I usually reply to most, if not all, comments simply because I view comments as if they are a conversation and I would be impolite if I ignored them.
    But from what I see of the comments posted so far, the majority indicate that it could be construed as an ego trip for the blogger? Now I'm confused. I'm booking an emergency session with my therapist and life counsellor.

  22. At the end of the day, to use a cliche, there are no rules for blogging. Bloggers are a society that exists solely online and who police one another and follow trends until they fade away or become the norm. Blogging hasn't been established long enough to warrant set rules and nor will these rules ever be officially created, in my professional opinion (I'm a Web communications/"new media" specialist). The Internet is always growing and warping and blogs change with it. That's the joy and excitement of the online world! Although the norm for smaller blogs with a handful of comments on each post among our network seems to be to respond to comments, in other circles it is not - and that's fine. Now, although blogging rules do not exist, a fairly strongly understood commenting etiquette does exist - though, again, it is only among other bloggers that we can police it. Whether we should police one another is an important ethical question, but, for good or bad, we do. In the end, it's nice to be polite to people, but not responding isn't necessarily a rude thing if that is your self-imposed rule.

  23. Interesting post - everyone seems to have such different opinions. My penny's worth is that I reply to every comment because, yes, it's like having a conversation, being part of a community and making people feel like what they say is worth something. I don't expect people to comment back on everything I say, but I do check back and it's nice if they have responded.

  24. I usually reply to every comment - and I sometimes go back to blogs I've commented on to see if they've responded, but not always. I like the little dialogue that it creates, and sometimes I really do want to thank people for their advice or for making a witty remark. But I don't hold it against people who don't reply to comments. And it's never occurred to me that commenting in your own blog is simply a way to up the comment count!

  25. Agreed, if I have both time and something to say, I say something. Else I tend to let them go. I thought maybe as an experiment I'd try to comment back more often, but I got bored of trying to do it, and found it is more fun to comment on other peoples' blogs, like yours!

  26. Time is also my determining factor, plus what the conversation has been about. I do try to comment when new readers leave a remark though.

  27. I am a bit like Milla. I tend to go to the other person's blog to comment on their blog rather than necessarily commenting back on my own. Partly for the same reason that it seems presumptuous to assume that they will come back to mine but reasonable to think they will be reading their own comments! Sometimes I do respond if it is a question or something which clearly needs a reply but like Maggie it is a bit erratic! I love to get comments and certainly don't mean to be rude in not replying. Aargh, you have got me worrying now. I don't have time to respond to everyone. I'd never leave the computer!

  28. I too haven't given it much thought. If I have the time I love to respond but always think it's a bit weird to leave a comment on somebody's blog thinking wow they've had lots of interest only to find that AT LEAST 50% of the comments are self penned....saying that, it's totally up to the owner of the blog how they wish to interact with their readers - each to their own. If only I had more time....Lx

  29. At the risk of sounding just like most people here (but for the purposes of an unofficial poll I'll contribute!) I like to reply to comments because I figure if people take the time to comment, then it's nice to reply. They may or may not stop by again, but in case they do then they know I am interested in what they've had to say.

    I don't usually reply on their blog, it seems more relevant to reply on my blog where they first commented. I try to combine several replies in one.

    I enjoy commenting on other people's blogs but I don't feel obligated to do so, I only comment when something has inspired me to do so. I know it's nice to get feedback so I try to do so if I have time. If the blog owner replies, cool, but if not I don't mind. We're all busy people!!!

    My only irritation is when I have seen negative comments on people's blogs. It rarely happens but when it does I just think to myself 'why bother commenting if you have nothing nice to say?!'

    Thanks Melissa (above) for the link--useful tips!!

  30. Toni, this was a secret ploy to get more comments wasn't it? Nice one. And look at me, checking back to see if you responded. Imagine that?

  31. Michelloui- I agree. If you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything at all, unless of course you are specifically asked for an opinion.

  32. I always reply to any comments I get on my blog, and I'm not being presumptuous by doing that and don't expect the people to rush back to read any of my replies... I do it more for myself really, and I do it because I feel that if someone has taken the time to visit my blog and leave a nice comment that I can at least say something nice in return, even it's just a simple thank you, something to share, but then that's me, maybe I'm too polite hahaha!
    It's all a thing of personal taste I guess and as we all know there are no rules in the blogging world! XX

  33. I'm with everyone else. I like to reply to people who have taken the time to comment on my blog. But, sometimes there is nowhere to go. I wrote a post about Srebrenica the other day, which got a lot fewer comments than normal. But, there really isn't anything you can say that doesn't sound trite, and I can't think of anything to reply to those that did comment, so I didn't.

    I do check back to see if people have responded, but especially on those blogs where I know that people do respond. I don't take offence at those who don't respond and if I don't have time to do it myself then I don't worry!

    I'd never really thought about it though, so good topic for consideration. I wonder if there is a difference between British and American bloggers?

  34. I guess it depends. On the comment itself and also on how much time I have. I would love to comment back on every single comment, and although there are not of overwhelmingly plenty, sometimes I just can't.
    Just like Maternal Tales, I like the little conversations that sometimes develop. And I do come back to read what others had to say. I don't expect a reply on my comment, but I am happy to read one. And I like to show my followers this little bit of appreciation.

  35. Thanks all. I think I'll just stop over-thinking this subject since we all seem to be more or less of the opinion that there are no rules in blogging.
    Normally I would have put another post up by now but I'm dashing around today doing doctor and dental check-ups (yawn). This isn't an attempt to get the most comments ever, but if I ever need to do that I'll know what kind of question to post.
    tee hee.

  36. Bit late in the day here.

    I do like it when people comment on my comments. It feels like a conversation. But when I started blogging and was pondering this question, I decided I wouldn't do that, as it's a whole extra process, and I felt I would rather spend that time reading blogs or writing.

    I do occasionally comment on comments, but then I wonder whether people see what I've written, since I normally don't, so they wouldn't know to check back.

    I really like the fact that blogging is so personal. There are so many different styles - each blog is full of the personality of its writer. This is one of those small variables that contributes to the picture you build up of the blogger behind the words.

  37. Hey, I've returned to look, and you haven't even commented on my comment - although you've posted a new post so I know you've been back too.

    I am deeply offended, and will probably never read your blog again. See, the dangers of elevating your readers' expectations...

  38. Total, utter and complete devastation. But I will survive. Don't worry about me... Little me...

  39. Oh please - I personally went over to your blog and commented. What's that phrase - Can't do wrong for doing right? No - that doesn't make sense.....

  40. Catching up much too late - but this one obviously hit a nerve I guess. I do like to reply to friends who've taken the trouble to comment - but I must admit I don't have nearly as many commenters as you do, Expatmum, so probably wouldn't be as good as you at finding the time to do it! M xx


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