On commenting

A couple of weeks ago I asked if everyone who visited my site would leave a comment, and quite a few of you did. Thanks to you all, even the cheeky ones who decided to buck the trend and email me. It was all quite overwhelming and lovely and.. well.. ta! I do appreciate you taking the time to both visit and comment.

When I wrote that post I knew in the back of my mind that every blog goes through a lull, as does every blog reader, but I was genuinely curious to see who responded. It wasn’t JUST about stroking my ego, honest.

As ever some of you posted some very insightful comments and with some consideration I’ll admit that it was incredibly cheeky of me to “call you out” when my own commenting ratio has been slowly plummeting for some months now, but that was another reason for the post, could I ‘force’ people to comment? (guilt, what a wonderful tool).

There does seem to be a consensus though, and this is backed by my increasing use of Google Reader to read other blogs (on that note it’s very much a case of “if you don’t have an RSS feed, you ain’t getting read”), that we read too many blogs to be able to keep up. It’s hard enough reading the damn things, without having to visit each and every one to add a comment, presuming that you are moved to do so at all.

Is this the demise of blogging? No, I don’t think so, but I do wonder if it’s shifting from being a discussion or conversation, to being an open window or voyeuristic opportunity. You’ll happily stand there for days on end, soaking up the events and words as you peer in, only responding if prompted. No?

I guess it’s one of those things that ‘depends’ (ok ok EVERYTHING ‘depends’ but bear with me) on the number of blogs you try and keep up with. Beyond a certain point the basic logistics of commenting becomes too hard so you just stop trying to comment at all. “I suspect that people are reading more blogs than they used to, which leaves them with less time to comment. Which is a shame.”

And it is a shame, after all, it’s not very fair if you only comment on certain blogs but not others. I do find myself looking at my ‘blogroll’ and trying to remember who I last commented on, and whether I should ‘spread my comments’ around like they are rationed or something. Then I give myself a shake and remind myself that this is a hobby and certainly no-one will be offended if I don’t comment on their site as often as I do on others, right?? Ohh but I do hate to offend… and so on and so forth.

Thinking about it, this internal dialogue may be the REAL reason I don’t comment on as many blogs as I used to, “I don’t leave comments anywhere anymore. I’m shit at it. Busy things – sorry. Do read everything on GoogleReader though. But I suppose that doesn’t count. Boo.”

“Do you leave comments as much as you used to?” Is a valid question (although it’s “as many” not “as much”) and the answer is no. How can I? I’m far too busy to read AND comment, sheesh.

Perhaps the way that comments work is to blame then, after all if their primary aim is to create and further ‘conversations’ then surely it should be much easier to see what has been said, how far along the debate has been moved, before you delve in to add your own opinion. Or perhaps that is a little too grandiose a view of the content of most blogs, the ones I read anyway.

Ultimately I’ve reached the point, actually I reached this point sometime last year, where I don’t really care what my readership stats are, nor do I care if they are new people or the old faithfuls who’ll return here just because I’ve posted something (bless, they don’t get out often). I know people are visiting, and I understand why comments are down, and yes I’m taking the ‘summer lull’ into consideration.

My own habits have changed, my approach to this blog, and others is different today and it will be different tomorrow. The fun part is trying to figure out where it’s going to go next. Is twitter setting a new ‘micropost’ standard that blogs will head towards, or will it allow us to be free to write longer posts? Will comments die and discussions end? Or will we continue to observe and share, collaborate and discuss and reach the utopia some think this part of the interweb holds? Have I started wittering on and should stop drinking so much coffee first thing in the morning?

As the bloke with the funny accent who does the voice-overs for Big Brother says: “You decide”.