Thursday, January 04, 2007

The "comments" debate....

I am putting this topic out for general conversation and, yes, I am looking for input.

What is blogging all about? We put out our innermost thoughts and sensitive experiences, generally to be read by complete strangers. I don't know most of the people who read this ~ and most of you don't know me. If I disappeared tomorrow afternoon, it would be nothing of significance in this particular venue. That part makes sense.

Yet, there is a question I have... and I would like to know realistically what it means...

Do comments matter? If so, what leads people to want to comment? How come some people can write "I went to McDonald's for lunch" and end up with 150 comments and someone who writes a heartfelt, substantive post ends up with 2?

This is something I think about.... and feel a sense of failure when the comments are minimal, thinking I didn't do well enough or haven't written something interesting enough. Much of this... hell... most of it ... is my own old crap creeping up. Still, I think it's a good idea to get a reality check. It's good to know what is my own old crap and what is truly indicative.

So.. is anyone willing to tell me? Do comments matter or do they not? Are they a gauge of success or failure? Am I making more of it than should be made?




Laurie said...


Please don't stop. Your blog is an oasis.

I think that posts like "I went to McDonalds for lunch" get more comments because deep thought and introspection isn't required. I think that some people are afraid to respond to heartfelt, substantive posts for fear of sounding foolish. I know there have been times when I haven’t commented because I don’t feel I can add anything new or significant to the dialogue.

In one of her posts, KC, (Where’s My Cape), mentioned that she uses statcounter. She wrote a hilarious story about her most frequently visited pages. It sounded like a good idea so I added it to my blog. I was astounded to see that people actually read my posts. Amazingly, even my son reads them! If every person that looked at my blog actually commented, I’d have almost as many comments as you do.

As for building community, I’m not sure how that comes about. All I know is that there are blogs I read every day, at least once. Yours is among them. I feel great affection for the people who write them and would miss them greatly if they stopped posting. I do not think that silence means shut up. I really don’t. The stats indicate otherwise.

Anvilcloud said...

The popularity of some blogs mystifies me too. There are those who simply chronicle their days and get comments galore. Somehow, they've accumulated a circle of blog friends. Perhaps they are simply very good at commenting back and forth and drawing people into their embrace as it were. It's harder for others. In the beginning, I wrote for months with hardly any comments. Back then, more than now really, I think I often said worthwhile things too.

I'm not a great commenter, and I'm not very good about following up on comments made on my blog. I really wish that everybody would reveal their email address, so I could respond personally (if I were to choose to), but they don't in the Blogger system of things. I don't really think that commenting back at your own commenters is a great system, so I don't do it. However, it works for many.

What matters more than the number of comments is that people do read you. Some of us are not up to commenting all of the time, and if people are pressed for time as many are, they would be very tempted to move onto the next blog after a deep post, as many of yours are. (I think that's good btw.) Anyway, if you get ten comments one day and two the next, chances are that ten people (or more) actually read that second post. And that's pretty good.

KC said...

chani- I love and eat up every comment I get. I try to comment regularly at all of my haunts (like yours) but find it hard to keep up with frequent posts. (I'm staying up late now, trying to catch up but in the end, will fall behind with my bloglines.)

I agree that sometimes you think a post is well-written and lovely but you don't have a comment to make, or maybe don't feel comfortable making (don't know that blogger too well etc).

It's certainly not a sensitive marker of quality.

I know that a lot my close friends check out my blog but never comment. JP hardly ever comments. Some would rather sit back and admire than jump in.

Comments are nice but whether they are the gauge of success depends on how you define it.

meno said...

Hi Chani,
I can only answer for myself, of course, but for me blogging is about me. Doing some writing. bad or not, i enjoy writing. It's about observing myself and the world.
Is it important? I don't think so. I enjoy very much the comments that i get. I feel like i have penpals from around the world. I feel genuine affection for the people who read my blog and comment frequently, and whose blogs i read and comment on (you are one).
There are some VERY famous blogs out there that i don't care for. No need to mention names, unless you want them.
I don't take it personally if someone who i read and comment on never reads or comments on my posts. In the words of suebob, i am not everyone's cup of tea.
I do not believe that comments are a sign of success or failure. I refuse to do the kind of self-promotion that becoming popular would require.
I am having fun. That's enough for me. I hope you are having fun too.

jen said...

i already emailed you my thoughts on this, so i am coming back to comment only to say that your voice is pure and lovely, and many of us drink from it every single day.

oh, and hey meno, i really like what you had to say. no surprise there, though.

Patricia said...

Chani, I removed my blog's comment-capability after receiving goose-eggs for years. Got to be a bit discouraging, actually. So I decided to let it go and get on with my life as a blogger. Without comments. I always post my email addy so readers can respond that way if they're so inclined.

I haven't a clue why some blogs have to fight off all the readers wanting to post comments and others get nary a bite. Kinda reminds me of junior high--if you're pretty enough, you get invited to the party...

Actually, I've always felt you got a lot of comments! And you deserve them. Your posts invite reflection and response. This is the only place where I post comments if that's of any help.

Anonymous said...

As a blogger myself, I know that comments matter a lot, even though we are supposed to blog for the simple pleasure of writing only and for some personal discipline as well.
Comments may be flattering and make you think even more too.
I enjoy reading your blog where I can find wisdom, even though I don't agree with everything ( for example the blog about who is the favorite mom in American TV series that you erased finally)
If people don't comment, it may be because they are shy, not comfortable with the language ( as I am), or think they have nothing more intelligent to say.
I must say that I enjoy comments which are done here as well : for example the one of Julie Pippert about divorce, because it was real and coming fomr a personal experience, moved me. As a teacher, I could see so many children, most of them adolescents, who suffered so much from their parents' divorce, and the damages caused by this thing which is supposed to be now benign and frequent.

Pam said...

The first thing I want to say is that I visit your blog because you are a person with heart who thinks deeply and expresses her thoughts extremely well. Your words, whether I agree or not, give me interesting subjects to ponder.

As for commenting, I think it's a good thing because it sets up a dialog and brings in many points of view, but I don't think how many you get is a gauge for how a post is received.

For me, blogging would loose some of it's appeal if I felt obligated to do it or to comment on the one's that I read. I paint and write about things that touch me, profound or silly, and enjoy the chance and the freedom to express myself. Likewise with commenting.

Blogging has given me a little neighborhood of interesting people to visit. They are fun, interesting and thought provoking. Their presence and input help me through difficult days and add light to the good ones.

I hope you remain in the "hood" because I look forward to our visits.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chani,
I think your readers would definitely notice and be personally impacted if you "disappeared" off the blogosphere. If one of the bloggers I read regularly doesn't post for a while, I find that I'm thinking about her often, even worrying a little and wishing I could get in touch to find out what's up. Ultimately waiting because even though I care a lot, the person might think I was being intrusive.

I like to get comments. If I didn't get any comments, I would probably not blog. I'm sometimes disappointed if the comments don't address something about the post that was important to me. Not often, as 99% of what I write is fluff :).

I attribute the readers/comments I receive to the comments that I put out there. This is frustrating for me because I don't have as much TIME to put into blogging as I would like. In fact, I have been thinking about setting a time limit and then only visiting a few blogs each day, meaning I wouldn't make the rounds to everyone on a daily basis, thus delaying comments on some older posts or missing them altogether.

Further, as someone pointed out, a heartfelt, substantive post requires more time & thought as well as an appropriately substantive comment. I sometimes feel guilty when I'm the first one here because my comments are often rushed and one-dimensional.

Specifically, about your blog, you write so deeply about such a variety of topics that you probably have quite the assortment of readers. Some of the matters you address, I can't comment on, and that's probably true of many of your other readers; they only comment on certain posts.

I have one friend in real life who blogs. EVERYONE else I mention it to looks at me like I have two heads. There's a reality check for ya.

Gobody said...

Obviously, you are making more of it than you should ;). If I would judge the success of my blog, or even worth, its content, on the amount on comments I receive then I would declare my life as nonsensical, but that I would not. Comments only reflect the amount of readership you have and how many of them want to communicate with you on a regular basis. If you are a teenager, you blog most probably is visited by everyone at your school who have plenty of time to comment on nonsense. For adults, time comes at a premium ;)

Bob said...

I think that it really depends on what your reasons are to blog. Meno states she does it as a writing exercise, others as a place to express themselves - I'm sure there are as many reasons as their are bloggers. But to complete the thought, I think it depends on why you're blogging as to whether comments matter. I enjoy leaving comments because I like the interaction. Someone says something and I usually have something to say back. But sometimes I can't think of anything to say, at least not at the time I've read the post, and when the post is substantive I don't like comment just for the sake of it. I like comments on my blog because I'm interested in what others' reactions are to what I've said. I read blogs (some of the famous ones that Meno alludes to) that don't invite comments as I would a magazine article. I read others, like yours, because I enjoy the interchange of ideas. I tend to prefer the latter.

I am here (in the blogging world) because I am a people watcher. I like to find out about them and this is the perfect place for that.

I think ultimately that you will have to decide why you blog and if that urge requires feedback.

Cecilieaux said...

As a working journalist, I've long learned that what you publish is read mostly by your mother. Well, not mine, any more as she's dead, but you know what I mean.

I've also learned that the absolutely simplest topics draw the most response. No one knows enough to comment on the second law of thermodynamics.

Another one: get someone's name wrong. The drama!

Finally, if I had a dime for everyone who claimed they were "misquoted" ... even though I reproduced the exact words I had on tape. (Some, mostly clergy, have claimed I misquoted something they provided in writing!)

You influence more than you think. Eventually someone tells you that X was fired, or got a promotion, or the dream job, because of something you wrote. I'm sure people write to tell you how grateful they are for your expressing something they couldn't quite put in words, something significant, important, that could change their lives.

So, yes, writing in public is taking a chance -- and a responsibility.

Thailand Gal said...

Laurie, thanks for the confirmation. I knew that none of this is rational on my part. My stats aren't really all so bad.


Anvil, I see your points. I do know that sometimes I spend up to 3 or 4 hours a day leaving my designated number of meaningful comments. Most of that time is spent trying to decipher the security words, to be honest about it.:) Still, I try to do it. That's another thing I might have to stop being obsessive about. That three hours is time I could be spending on exercise.

As for answering the comments, that is really part of the pleasure for me.. but I do understand that it doesn't work for all.


KC, I appreciate your scientific mind. :) Sometimes the simple statement of inaccuracy changes thinking.


Meno, naturally I am curious about those "famous blogs". Must have missed them or perhaps didn't like them when I saw them ~ so I'm not too familiar.

Thanks for mentioning the self-promotion aspect. That is something I'm very clear about being unwilling to do. I recognized that truth immediately when I read what you had to say.


Jen, thanks. I'm truly glad that I have something to contribute. The hardest part is admitting my many flaws ~ but it's so necessary. Without that, there is no authenticity.


Patricia, there's a lot here. I need to answer you in private email. You struck the core.


Mayou, I appreciated Julie's post, too. That is part of the value of this style of interaction. We can learn from each other, discover we are not alone and that so many of these things we hide in shame are actually common experiences. There's nothing more liberating.. really.


Pam, thanks. I do want to get rid of the perfectionism surrounding this. I'll do my best. I tried blocking all access to numbers and statistics but that didn't work, either. Rather than protecting myself from any potential disappointment, I really need to just buck up and learn how to deal with it when it's not what I'd hoped for. This is an ongoing effort. :)


De, I know that many consider blogging to be an exercise in ego. I do not. I think of it as a learning circle, a place to learn from the experiences of others and share our common histories. Without comments, I wouldn't write. I know what you mean. That is something I also recognize as truth.


Gobody, I get you. I do obsess over some weird things sometimes. :)


Cecilieaux, I remember the "professional journalism" days well enough, the pressure to perform and the controversy it required to keep readers. I don't want to go back to that mindset here.. and won't. Journalism seems to require a "tear it down" mentality that I don't have anymore.

I really do like your blog though. You're brighter than I am.. and I don't always understand what you have to say... but, oh, man, do you ever make me think! :)


Thanks, everyone. :)



Thailand Gal said...

Bob, I definitely do it for the interaction. I'm totally clear on that. If there was no interaction, I wouldn't do this.




Dogwalkmusings said...

I'll add my two cents worth here. Considering the millions of blogs out there, that you have a following is terrific.

You might get a better handle on your following by adding a site meter. After a few days you may find you have visitors from all over the world. I do. And what I have to say can't possibly be of interest to most of them.

Bloggers are probably the most insignificant populace around. All our thoughts and ideas are floating around out there but in a singular sense mean very little. Collectively they have great impact but individuals like you and I are not a part of that.

Take it for what it is to you. An outlet for philosophy, frustration, a cry for help or just to know you and what you think have company. Comments are gratifying but to me they are the icing on a cake I'm quite satisfied with without the extra sweet.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I didn't see your last couple of posts because I was sick last night. Now I'm back. I'm visiting my friends.

I have also noted how some people get a million comments every time they write anything, and I don't. But most of the ones I get, I enjoy. I almost feel as if I know some of those who read my posts, and I read some of theirs as well.

I think it's the old thing about quality versus quantity. The "funny" blogs get the most response because everyone loves to laugh, and also, maybe, because they are safe. Deep thoughts are not being disclosed so nobody need feel uncomfortable. Or think too much.

I feel a kindred spirit in you, and would miss you greatly if you stopped blogging. I always love your posts, and I'm grateful for your comments to mine.

Believe me, Chani, I know it's easier said than done, but your mother does not deserve to still have an influence on your self-esteem.