Tuesday, February 9, 2010

. . . . Care to Comment?

LEFT: Sign on bathroom door at local coffeeshop

I recently read a list of things a blogger hates about other blogs, which got me thinking.

First, here's how I judge blogs: on their content.
Content, content, content.
Automatic music or ads that jump around are annoying, I agree, but if your content is good, I can take it.

But, second, there is something that changes my relationship to a blog:
when bloggers never, or almost never, reply to comments.

Now, I cherish the fact that blogs are whatever their bloggers want them to be. Each to her own. This radical freedom is precious, so I don't condemn much less hate non-response, but I don't understand it.
I guess the non-responding blogger is working from a different model than I am--maybe they see comments more like Letters to the Editor, which need no response?

I see comments as words spoken in public, or a fist bump or a high five:
things which call for some flicker of a reply.
Further, I see the comment section of a blog as a public forum, so while I like it when conversations move off-blog to a private place (e-mail or face to face), I still see and enjoy the comment section as shared conversation, ideally.

Bottom line: If people don't reply to their comments, I may keep reading and loving their blog, but I stop commenting. Maybe they don't care. I feel they don't, anyway.

Further, I was surprised to read among the many comments on the "things I hate" list that some people hate one-word or net-speak comments, such as "awesome" or "LOL."

Let me tell you right now, I am a praise hog.
If you tell me something I wrote made you LOL, I am thrilled.
Further, I am just thrilled that you are here. If you have criticisms, I welcome those too (though please don't yell at me, like on youTube).

I ran into a couple models for blog comments recently:

1. Zhoen, at "One Word", whose sidebar reads : If you don't have a comment, please leave a "stone." (o) So I know you were here.

I love this image of leaving a stone--it's something hikers do that I find incredibly touching--leaving this little message in the wilderness: I was here and I know you are too.

2. Charles, at Razored Zen.
I'm not a regular reader, so when I commented for the first time recently, I clicked on "e-mail me follow-up comments." I was impressed that not only did he reply briefly but thoughtfully to my comment, but he went on and replied to every single one of the 40-some people who commented on that post, even if only to say, "I hear you."

So-- I wonder:
What do you want to happen in a blog's comments section,
as a commenter or a blogger?
Or even as a cyborg.


ArtSparker said...

I generally go over to the blogs of people who comment and comment there. I do this more often than I respond to comments. I'm an introvert, and frankly I can feel overwhelmed at times by feeling I have to respond to every comment, particularly to the ones where the person is trying just to say something to show they've been there.

ArtSparker said...

You are right that Charles is a very gracious host.

Fresca said...

Thanks for saying, ARTSPARKER.

Actually, I could have used you as a wonderful model too---your kind attention to a whole range of bloggers and regular comments on our blogs is like a loving glue.

But you *do* respond regularly to comments on your blog too, even if only a little reply, and not to every single one of 23, or whatever--(I feel overwhelmed sometimes just with 5!).
If you *never* did, I probably wouldn't comment on your blog, even though I would love talking to you on mine.
The presence of the blogger on her comments section, for me, makes it a live connection.

But honestly, I don't think I could keep up like Charles does, even though I would want to!

ArtSparker said...

Thanks for responding to my comment in the way you did. I had an ongoing dialogue with another blogger a few months back on a related subject, followers. I tend to follow blogs I like rather than trade links. I am in some tremendous funk at the moment which is why I reacted to your post rather strongly. Perhaps I need to limit my online time, the whole thing is feeling rather Sisyphean at the moment.

patricia said...

I only sometimes comment posts, and only sometimes (even less times) respond to comments to my posts; the thing is that I don´t always have something really worth saying/writing, that I´m shy, that I sometimes lack the appropiate English terms and it takes me too much time to find them... but I also believed (no, no I believe) that invisible threads of tenderness and kind of mutual care and good whishes feelings exist among the bloggers who visit each other frequently, and I feel confidence in that threads which not necessarily need to be put in words... :)

Marz said...

*fist bump* (It seems like there should be some internationally known greeting/handshake reserved for fellow Trekkies. Hmmm....)

Ideally, I want everyone who reads my blog to comment, but I realize that's unrealistic, especially considering many of my posts have to do with Star Trek and/or Shatner. When someone does leave a comment, I'm usually super excited and can't help but respond.

As a commenter, it's nice when the blogger replies to your comment, but it doesn't break my heart if they don't. I'm just glad knowing they will have read it and considered it.

As a Cyborg....

Fresca said...

Don't let that big rock of funk get on top of you! Your sparky presence online is nothing but a gift to me and surely most bloggers you touch.
The idea of you as a "non-responder" is laughable.

I might write about the whole blog roll/followers subject next, which I agree is related.

ALEPH: Thank you for writing! I appreciate that you and others have to write in this foreign language, and I am grateful for your communication.
I love what you say about "invisible threads of tenderness" among bloggers who visit each other.
Yes, I feel that too.
I'm just a very wordy person, as you can see, and want to talk more! : )

MARGARET: Hey, we should come up with some symbol or code for the Vulcan hand gesture that goes with "Live Long and Prosper"!

My expectations of blog comments might have been skewed by the experience of fandom---like, over on Live Journal, where everybody comments like crazy.
But most bloggers I've met here are more subdued, and Blogger doesn't even have threaded comments, where commenters can reply to other commenters...

Basically, I'm extremely happy with the conversations and connections (heavens! even presents in the mail!) that I've had and hope to continue to have through l'astronave.
(Resistance is futile...)

Marz said...

Yes, something subtle enough that a non-Trekkie wouldn't take notice of it, but unmistakable enough to be immediately recognized by Trekkies.

Livejournal is an entirely different experience. Because it centers around fandom, EVERYONE IS ALWAYS REALLY EXCITED AND TYPES IN ALL CAPS AND USES MACROS AND GLITTER TEXT AND WEIRD HYBRID GRAMMAR AND TENDS TO NEGLECT PUNCTUATION AND SWEAR OFTEN IN AN ATTEMPT TO EXPRESS THEIR ENTHUSIASM. It's a different language, really. They have even started a dictionary that's specific to ontd_startrek. If I were to show my mom a sample of the comments on that site, they might as well be speaking Hebrew. And it's such fun to experiment with! For example, a common phrase on Livejournal is "oh my god I don't even" or "yes. just...yes" I saw an interesting one the other day: "I WILL CARRY THIS POST IN MY WOMB" It seems ridiculous, but that comment was extremely effective in communicating their level of enthusiasm. When you so graciously passed on those links the other day, my initial reaction was to hit all caps and start speaking in abbreviations, fragments, and strange analogies. It becomes a natural response. To me, it's absolutely fascinating how humans adapt and tweak written language to express strong emotions. It's completely abstract. It's amazing. Or as the fangirl within would say: OMG GUISE. ITS F****** AMAZING. NO SERIOUSLY GUISE. I DON'T EVEN. JUST, YES. KTHXBAI.

Fresca said...

*dies laughing*

I am in the public library (trying to write an index) and I almost smothered myself so I wouldn't scream when I read that.
While it may have all the rigorous intellectual content of a bag of marshmallows in the summer sun, I do relish the unalloyed enthusiasm of fangirls (of which I am one, of a sort).
Though I do think "I WILL CARRY THIS POST IN MY WOMB" is some sort of genius, actually.

Thank you for that.

[That's my attempt at a Vulcan hand symbol!]

momo said...

I love that sign!

I am sad that so few of the people who read my blog every comment. And I know they read it because sometimes they'll tell me IRL and my Sitemeter stats are fairly steady. So I really appreciate it that YOU comment from time to time, and I also appreciate those bloggers who respond, if not to every comment, then at least to the conversation.
Some blog comment sections are like clubs where commenters hang out together and the blogger chimes in once in a while. That's fine with me because I like the interaction with other commenters, not just the blogger.
I love fan sites.

Fresca said...

Hey, MOMO:
I like it when commenters talk to each other too; but it's hard without threaded comments for that to happen here...

Sometimes it happens in the way topics move through the blogs of bloggers who read each other.
ARTSPARKER is an amazing example of someone who nurtures that kind of connectivity.

Jen has set up a threaded comment form on her Blogger site, but I'm reluctant to do that:
I'm worried the elaborate form you have to fill out every time would put people off.

I don't even check Sitemeter--I think it would trigger obsession on my part!

deanna said...

1. Love the picture.

2. To quote Toy Story, "I have guilt." Guilt feelings, that is, when I don't get around to answering comments or to leaving them, especially after reading wonderful, thought-provoking posts. My thoughts often carry me away, and then it's time to go somewhere or stop typing because my shoulder's sore. Oh, my.

3. We all muddle through somehow, though, and it's good to hear what you and other bloggers think of this phenomenon. I hear from friends that they've read and enjoyed my blog. Now I receive comments on FB, after reposting there.

4. I'm off to answer a comment...

bink said...

Can't help but see the new pix as a portrait... which I can't help seeing as some sort of deranged looking dalek...

Dania said...

My favorite sign at a local coffee shop was: "Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy."

Sometimes I do respond via email to friends of mine and do wait until I have more time, but think it's important if someone takes the time (like you) to let them know you read and appreciate it.

femminismo said...

You have certainly made me rethink commenting and replying to comments on our own blogs. I comment on almost every one I see, but I don't reply nearly often enough to those on my blog. (Not that many comments, although people tell me they stop by.) But I keep telling myself, "the blog is for me, the blog is for me." So I'm doing it for myself to "name all my days." (o) stone - I like that

The Crow said...



Fresca said...

DEANNA: Eek! I hope I haven't added to The Guilt! Not only are you a thoughtful and generous blog-friend, but I agree with FEMMINISMO that "the blog is for me" and therefore s/b declared a guilt-free zone--
though *not* a muddle-free one! : )

BINK: So now the Guggenheim looks like a dalek? I must think: what other sci-fi entities does it look like...

DANIA: I love that sign too!
You put your finger on an important point--we're all maintaining different tiers of conversations and connections. It's a lot to juggle, sometimes.

FEMMIN: I 100% agree: a blog is what the blogger wants it to be! I love that.
If I don't love the blog, I don't have to read it.

CROW: Thanks! Back attcha! : )

deanna said...

No, you didn't add guilt upon guilt. No worries. :o) I'm glad you brought these things up.

Unknown said...

I was here, visiting from Deanna' place,
and clicked back there to leave my comment ( yes , I see the irony) , but her comment section wouldn' t open.
So I am back.

I think there is so much about blogging to learn and relearn. Like you said, blog without obligation, but there are still some etiquette issues I grapple with.
I understand that isn't necessary and extremely time consuming to answer posts with a lot of comments. And I understand how sometimes one can really be left without words, or without anything to say. Sometimes a comment on a comment can start a whole conversation, and I for one would find that so time consuming.
I would think that if I really wasn't planning on acknowledging the comments, or the people who leave them by visiting their blogs, I would just blog with comments closed. My first click in the morning is to a blog with comments closed (Holy Experience),
and I totally get and respect her decision.
I find I leave comments more frequently when I am able to subscribe to follow up ones, and when I can have my info saved. It is tedious retyping url and email and in a pinch I pass.

Deanna is a thoughtful and authentic commenter, and an inspiring and beloved blogger.

I don't follow this Star Trek thing, but I'm guessing you are sharing with integrity and beauty.

Fresca said...

Hi, DEB:

Deanna is a blogger who truly feels like a friend.

You bring up a good point:
the *number* of comments a blogger gets.
I do wonder at what point I would stop being able to respond to every comment, if I was getting dozens (as I see you do on some of your posts).

It would be a weird problem, having "too many" commenters, but I suppose it's something popular published authors have to deal with--no longer being able to respond to each reader.

I too read a blog that doesn't take comments, and I find it sort of restful! Like reading a published essay---no expectation of any social exchange.

I always wanted blogging to be more conversational, myself, but there are a lot of challenges to that.
As you say, there's a lot to learn, and relearn--or apply anew, anyway.

I'm not sure "integrity and beauty" are the right words for my Star Trek ramblings, but I like 'em! : )

Thanks for writing.

From the Kitchen said...

I am relatively new to blogging (although if you "visit"--and I hope you do- you'll see that I've been a sporadic blogger for over a year. I'm still looking for my voice. I'm happy to find blogs that give blogging tips and etiquette. I leave comments frequently on blogs that I follow and only a few ever respond. I very much appreciate those who do. Thanks for some insight into the world of blogging. I've "bookmarked" you and look forward to visiting frequently.

Jennifer said...

OMG I DON'T EVEN. *Squees* *flails*

I'm still laughing so hard at Margaret's comment! I was just chatting (online chatting) with a friend yesterday--we are approaching our four-year-anniversary of contact and we were looking at our first emails to each other and cracking up, because they used PROPER PUNCTUATION and FORMAL GRAMMAR and NO CAPS, and now our emails are this crazy mishmash of sentence fragments and such--not perhaps as extreme as ONTD-talk, but a good reminder that fannish-speak is very much a...different thing than blog-speak.


(Also, I should probably get rid of the comment-threading on my blog, I do think it's limiting! But it burns my soul to not have it, lol)

Fresca said...

I see you did change your comment format--I love the threading, but I haven't seen commenters really use it to talk to each other unless the topic is pretty hot--politically or in fannish terms...

*dies of happiness*