The Art of Leaving Comments

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As bloggers (most of us) we know, or should know, that comments are generally seen as a method of conversing. So when I post something on this blog, anyone who wants to chip in with some advice, a story, or a continuation of the theme is free to do so (within the commenting guidelines of course). All good, right? And yes, I’m over-simplifying, but that’s the crux of the matter, no?

Personally, I generally try to only comment if I have something to say, a specific viewpoint on the topic, or have something constructive, helpful and within the spirit of the post to add. But sometimes, and this is more often than not, I find myself just wanting to say “Well said”.

Now, that’s not really adding to the ‘conversation’, is it? It’s not moving things along, so by my own self-imposed (if vague) rules I shouldn’t really add the comment. But that, in turn, goes directly against on aspect of blogging that I’m fond of quoting, it’s the whole “just getting it out there” thing the act of which is beneficial to a lot of people. Sometimes you just want to say something, and you aren’t that bothered if no-one comments, the mere act of writing the post, and publishing it for the world to see, is cathartic enough, comments are a bonus.

Admittedly, in those instances, you could just turn comments off but that’s far more hassle than it’s worth.

Once you have had a blog for a while, you’ll find you build different relationships with different readers. Obviously the people who comment are the first to get a reaction, most of the time. After that you may get a few emails from the occasional person now and again, and finally, and in my experience this is the least popular form of interaction, you even start to chat with them via instant message, at which point they are no longer “them” or even “a reader” but you have establishment a new acquaintance, a new buddy, a new contact.

It becomes obvious, then, that the value of a comment lies largely in the relationship between the writer and the reader but, whilst regular comments are always welcomed, don’t we all get a little tiny thrill-shiver when someone new comments on your blog?

Anyway, back to the matter in hand. If all you are adding to a comment thread is a simple “here, here!” or “well said!” (“you go girl!”, whatever…) then does it really warrant a comment? Wouldn’t another mechanism be useful? A checkbox or a separate “I agree” link which counts those who liked your post, but don’t really have much to add to it? Not only would it allow people a quick and easy way to register their preference about the post (hmmm would you need a “boo, rubbish, get off” link as well?) but it would give the writer one thing that is can be easily missed, if people don’t comment, how do you know if people are actually reading what you write?

Of course, none of us do this for the fame or the money, few of us will make it into print, let alone end up with a book deal (but I will suggest that those that have, have deserved it), but wouldn’t it be good to get just a little more feedback… validation… whatever.

Would YOU vote for this post?

2 comments

  1. Hmm – interesting. I know my small audience pretty well and one chap occasionally emails me and says in passing ‘BTW Loved that post on Persian cats’ but he is reluctant to add such a trite ‘Great post’ comment.

    But you’re right – any and all feedback (even hostile) is most welcome.

    Of course, now we can feed our blog to all these social networks (FriendFeed, Posterous, Tumblr) which has a ‘Like’ button or add the hateful ‘Share This’ button to allow people to vote for a post on Digg, Reddit et al but I think that smacks a little of desperation.

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