Friday, January 06, 2012

Blog Comments

If you're not a football fan or don't live in Dallas, you may not recognize this picture. It's of Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, having a "conversation" with his coach during a recent game. Personally, I (and most sports fans in the area) think he's just showing off his authority before a national TV audience. Of course, there's an old adage that there's no such thing as bad publicity. Which leads me to the subject for discussion today.

There was a time when I had no idea what a blog was, and frankly, I didn’t care. I discovered the word was a contraction of “web log,” and apparently people were interested enough to read these and see what was going on with strangers connected to them only by a thin strand of fiberoptic cable. It wasn’t long before people began commenting on blogs, thanking the blogger, agreeing or disagreeing with the points they made, and in general turning what had been a monologue into a dialogue. Utilities like Disqus make commenting even easier and allow people to comment on comments.



My blog is a Christian writer’s thoughts on writing and life in general. My readership is composed of both readers and writers, along with a few people who apparently don’t have anything better to do than to see what that crazy guy in North Texas has to say today. I get a notification when someone leaves a comment. The comments have been civil, appropriate, and I’ve tried to respond to most of them when I can. I enjoy the interchange. It's been fun. Occasionally, there'll be a spam-type comment left, but once I see it, it's easy enough to delete it. In summary, you guys are great. Keep it up.

Unfortunately, some bloggers haven’t been as fortunate. Some of them moderate comments, to weed out objectionable ones.  In those cases, a comment must be approved by the blogger before it makes in online. That requires more time and effort than most of us have to spare. One friend and fellow author has decided to close her blog to comments because she no longer has the time to moderate comments, and unmoderated ones had gotten out of hand. I miss the opportunity to dialogue with her, but still read her thoughts because they inspire me.

Recently, I've noticed a few people who seem to want to make a career of leaving multiple comments, especially on blogs with a huge following. It could be that they are really into the subject. Then again, it might be because they feel a need to get their own name “out there,” and figure that commenting on a blog with thousands of followers is a good way to do that. Maybe that's not their motivation, but seeing one person post their own thoughts ten times out of ninety comments (as I saw a couple of days ago on a blog) is sort of suspect. And I wonder if their attempt to get name recognition, if that's what they're after, may not backfire on them.

So, what's your take on blog comments? Do you leave them? Do you read the post but hesitate to put your own feelings out there for others to read? What do you think of people who seem to want to take over another person's blog by excessive comments?

Please leave a comment. I promise I won’t fuss at you.

37 comments:

Bryce Daniels said...

Hi Richard:

I follow a lot of blogs but only comment on a few here and there. I do follow yours, obviously, as well as your agent's. (I comment on hers every now and then, as well. But only once. Smiles.)

Unfortunately, I find myself having to moderate the comments on my own blog, for reasons I won't get into here, except to say it's my small way of dealing with the evil I've encountered in the blogosphere.

The rest I leave to my faith in Proverbs 20:22.

Blessings and a belated Happy New Year to you and yours!

Anne Mateer said...

I read (or at least skim) a lot of blogs every day. I comment on two or three. Mostly that is just my personality. I don't say something unless I have something to say! I tend to comment more on blogs where there is interaction with other commenters or with the blog author. In other words, where I know my comment hasn't just fallen into a black hole. I don't get tons of comments on my own blog so I haven't seen the need to moderate them, but even the occasional feedback is something I enjoy about the blogging process.

Richard Mabry said...

Thanks, Bryce and Anne. I, too, read lots of blogs but only comment on a few, and then only when I have something to contribute.

Comments are a great way for the blogger to know they've posted something of interest to their readers, and I appreciate your leaving yours.

Heather Sunseri said...

Hi, Richard. I'm so wondering if the commenter you mention is the same commenter I noticed the other day. This commenter seemed to have a mission of rallying the troops on a certain issue.

Anyway, I like to comment on blogs for purposes of community and discussion about topics that are useful.

Richard Mabry said...

Heather, it might very well be the same person. And, as I said, sometimes things like that backfire.
Like you, I think blog comments for discussion and community, as well as to compliment the poster for a well-thought-out post, are good. Unfortunately, sometimes the option turns out to be a two-edged sword.
Thanks for dropping by...and commenting.

Suzanne Snyder said...

This isn't about your blog... but I just finished a medical suspense you wrote... Dr. Gardner - suspected of mercy killing - great book! Hope there's more...

Richard Mabry said...

Suzanne, I don't think there are rules, but if there were, complimenting the blogger's writing would not only be allowable, it might be the price of admission. Thanks so much. Glad you enjoyed Diagnosis Death. There's a story behind my writing that, and maybe one of these days I'll post the various reasons I wrote each of my four novels of medical suspense.
Happy you're looking for more. Check my name at any major bookstore, online or brick-and-mortar, and they can direct you to all the Prescription For Trouble novels.
Meanwhile, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Terri Tiffany said...

I read a lot of blogs and get a lot of comments back--rare is the spam but I have it set to block those. I love blogging and the community of writers I've met through it.

Cassandra Frear said...

Comments are one of my favorite aspects of blogging. I enjoy the dialog and taking in the various personalities and histories. People are intriguing. Sometimes I even think in my head about a story I could write just from blog comments!

I treasure the comments that people leave on my blog. I used to leave very few comments myself, because I didn't think other writers wanted me to take up space (or their time) with my thoughts. But then one day I read from a blogging friend that bloggers need to know you were there; they want to know they aren't writing into a vacuum. Now I leave comments more often than I used to, just to encourage the blogger. Still, I don't comment on every post I read. And I try to only leave positive comments, not negative ones. If I have something negative to say, and it's worth saying, I will do it privately through email. Blogging is a public forum and therefore isn't the place for it, in my opinion.

Laura in Texas said...

I read a lot of blogs but seldom comment. In my internet wanderings, though, I've learned that there is a whole community/industry of bloggers who blog about blogging, and particularly about how to make money blogging. One of the consistent recommendations from these people is to comment frequently (but "thoughtfully") on blogs in your "niche," so that (a) the audience for your niche will get to know your name, and (b) the bloggers whose blogs you comment on will follow your blog as well. All about "building a platform," which seems to mean generating followers so that your blog (or your book, or whatever) is more attractive to advertisers, etc.

I don't like such a mercenary approach to what I'd prefer to keep as a healthy conversation. But that's just my opinion. :-)

I seldom have comments on my blog, so no worries about moderating them. :-)

Marcy Kennedy said...

I comment on other people's blogs because (a)I feel like I can add something to the conversation or (b) I want to support them. I love when people comment on my posts even if it's only a "this was great."

My own comment moderation policy is to require approval for the first comment someone posts. After that, they've been vetted, and their comments show up immediately. I can always remove them if they're inappropriate, but I haven't yet found this to be a problem. I use Wordpress, so most of the spam gets filtered automatically.

Carol Moncado said...

On my personal blog, I have a filter so I have to approve someone's first comment, but after that, they're free to comment without approval [if they use a different user account or IP or something sometimes I have to approve someone more than once]. I did that after another personal blog started getting porn type comments and I couldn't figure out how to delete them :/.

Very rarely does my spam filter actual catch someone who really isn't a spammer but it does happen every once in a while.

There's one blog that I comment on almost daily - usually several times a day, but it's a community of friends. I can't tell you how many friends I've made in the writing community because of that blog and the dialog in the comments. The number is easily in the dozens.

That said, the same [or similar] comments over and over is spammy and I try not to do that. I follow lots of blogs and comment here and there but that's the only one with any regularity.

It's not to get my name out there. In fact, it started because they were giving away a Kindle and every comment got you an entry. But they were real comments, not spammy-entry-only comments. At least on my end. In the end, I stayed long long after that giveaway was over [though I've won a number of other prizes from them over the years].

I still have your 4th book sitting here waiting to be read :). One of these days I WILL conquer my TBR pile!

Er, probably not, but I will get to yours ;).

Anonymous said...

I write a book blog for a newspaper's website. It doesn't have a large following and seldom gets comments. For me, I'd like more of them. It helps me to know I'm connecting with readers. That I'm writing something that someone is interested in. It would also give me a clue as to what areas to branch out into. However, as a blog reader I too don't write a lot of comments so I understand the reluctance. I've also seen where the commenters argue back and forth. It's annoying to read some of the national blogs and see the unmoderated comments. If you wouldn't talk like that in a discussion with co-workers or friends/acquintances shouldn't write it.

David A. Todd said...

My writers blog got the attention of a word-spinner/auto-blog-commenter. I added the Captcha code and that ended that. I haven't had any problems with grandstanders.

But, my two blogs receive almost no comments. I have almost no followers, and hence are somewhat jealous of your 135. Sometimes I feel that I'm talking to my self, my cousin, and a college buddy, with the words otherwise vanishing into the blogsphere.

Richard Mabry said...

Wow, I turned my back (okay, I took a nap) and when I came back there were a bunch more comments. Sorry not to have been here to acknowledge each one.

I agree, some comments are obviously mercenary (good description, Laura) and some are heeding the "blog about blog" that encourages commenting on every blog every chance you get. On the other hand, I'm delighted to read comments. They let me know that someone is actually listening...er, reading.

And Carol, try reading one page of Lethal Remedy every night. You'll be through in less than a year.

Thanks to all of you for your comments. And not a spammy or commercial one in the bunch. What a group. Appreciate you all.

Ellen Painter Dollar said...

I only comment when I feel I have something valuable to say. But that said, being an active presence on certain high-quality blogs is definitely part of platform-building for me. I have "met" a number of really important writing colleagues via their blogs. I left a few comments, they responded to them, we discovered mutual interests, and voila. In one of those cases, my relationship with another blogger has led directly to two paid blogging jobs. So while getting more work isn't the primary or only reason I comment, it's definitely a nice by-product. Of course, in order to make those kinds of connections, you have to be the type of commenter that bloggers like--say useful or interesting things but don't hog the comment board or overly self-promote.

Richard Mabry said...

Ellen, the type of commenting to which you refer is a perfectly acceptable sort of networking--the operative phrase here, of course, is having "something valuable to say." That something valuable may be an opinion, additional information, or just along the lines of "Amen, preach on," to let the blogger know you agree.

You have it right--getting name recognition isn't the reason to comment, but done properly it's a nice by-product.

Thanks for dropping by. Hope to see you back here again often.

Joe Pote said...

Richard, I may be the guilty party you were referring to when you wrote this. If so, I was not grandstanding...just truly misunderstood the intent of the question posed.

I later apologized, but not sure the apology was seen...

Oh well...

Richard Mabry said...

Joe--No, you didn't inspire this post. Breathe easy, friend, and come back (and comment) again.
Now about those library books you kept out past their due dates...
Seriously, thanks.

Howard S. said...

I view commenting on blogs much like hearing conversations at a party. You hear many conversations at a party but you don't hop into all of them and start talking. Now and then, one grabs you and you participate.

Unfortunately, not everyone at the party is always nice. Some commentators seem to want to cause a scene. Some are hateful to other guests. And, as you noted, there are those who try to badger you into buying something.

The blogs (and other social media) I enjoy most are those where the blogger responds to at least a few commentators. That shows me that they are interested in their audience as people and not just as advertising targets.

Patricia Donahue said...

Hi Richard, I read blogs and comment when I have something to say or just to add some positive confirmation to the message. The comments on my blog are usually serious being it's about the topic of reconciliation and I've had to edit only a few. What I noticed was some comments get lost 'in translation' (from Russia for ex.)and those are a challenge to figure out. Yes, it's a wonderful tool for dialogue.

Richard Mabry said...

Howard, well-said and a great analogy. Thanks for sharing.

Patricia, thanks for sharing your experience. Wondering how you got those followers who speak Russian. There's a story there, somewhere.

Michelle Dennis Evans said...

If I read a complete blog, I used to always comment, but now I seem to be short of time and only comment sometimes.
I find a lot of spam coming through my blog from Anonymous - so I think I might stop allowing comments from anonymous - whoever that may be.

Richard Mabry said...

Michelle--wise move to hold off on comments unless you read the entire blog. I've heard it said that it's better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.
There are probably a few instances where someone will comment as Anonymous, but when people start hiding behind that screen to voice their hurtful comments, that's when I go to my Blogger dashboard and delete their comment.
Thanks for yours, though.

Carol Moncado said...

/shakes head sadly/

Doc, Doc, Doc...

You and I both know I'd never be able to read just a page a night.

[Okay, maybe YOU don't know, but *I* know...]

And I have influencer books to read/review before ones I'm reading JUST for fun [not that the influencer books aren't fun too mind you, but they're not JUST for fun...]

To, uh, stay on topic...

I think I've only had a couple 'anonymous' comments come through and they were all signed so not TRULY anonymous. I hate the spam bot ones though. My spam catcher dealie catches all of them though - at least to date...

Richard Mabry said...

Carol, You got me. I know that if you start reading, you'll want to finish the book.
But anyway, it's on your TBR stack, and that's a start.

Teressa Ryan said...

Hi! I appreciate your post. I am a newbie blogger as of this past year. Once I publish a post I all but hold my breath in anticipation of my readers comments. Not because I want to be noticed. I am like yourself interested to know if I connected with my readers. Although my few comments have been positive, I have noticed people commenting on other blogs in what appears to be an attempt to grab the audience's attention. Sad: ( BTW, I just followed your "well written" blog.

Richard Mabry said...

Thanks, Teressa, for the comment and for becoming a follower. I won't overwhelm you with posts (twice a week is my norm), but I will read and respond to your comments.

Karen (Mabrey) Finster said...

I don't blog, but I LOVE to read! I rarely leave comments, but might do so more often now that I know some bloggers really appreciate the feedback. I especially like the fact that you make the effort and take the time to respond to comments you receive.
I am now reading another of your novels (my 2nd one), Code Blue.
Thank you,

Richard Mabry said...

Karen, I hope you enjoy Code Blue and the rest of my novels. I appreciate your comment, and hope you'll stop by often.
Although time and circumstances sometimes keep me from responding to every comment, I do read them all. Comments on a blog and emails from readers are the things that keep authors in touch with their audience, and I think that's important.

Bethany said...

I definitely enjoy following blogs. I don't comment on all of them, but do enjoy interacting with authors I like and friends of mine who blog. While I'd like to reply to all the comments on my blog (and there are not many!) I just don't have the time. :)

Mocha with Linda said...

I generally try to comment on the blogs I read, because I know how frustrating it is as a blogger to have "lurkers" - to see in stats that I've had a lot of visitors and maybe only 1 comment. Having said that, I don't always comment on every blog that I read, and I certainly don't leave negative comments; that amazes me that people do that. I haven't experienced folks leaving multiple comments. That seems kinda weird to me unless they're just having a conversation with the person, but that seems more like something that happens on FB, not blogs.

I will say admit/agree that time is a factor and sometimes I will skim a blog in my reader and not take the time to click through and leave a comment. But it's through comments that I've become friends with some wonderful authors and blogging friends.

Richard Mabry said...

Bethany and Linda, Thanks for commenting. I lurk, too, but as a blogger I know how nice it is to know someone's really out there reading. That's why comments are appreciated.
Hope you'll come back often.

Kathryn Elliott said...

Terrific post, Richard. I’m a “one and done” kind of gal on the comment front, but I’ve seen the situation you describe quite often. And as a blogger, I truly enjoy reader comments (excluding sales pitches or SPAM), but I agree - there are those who comment for the sole purpose of self-promotion.

Richard Mabry said...

Kathryn, I was very hesitant to do this post, but apparently there are a number of people out there who agree with me that there should be not place on blogs for comments made for obvious self-promotion.
Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Katie said...

As a blogger, I like to get comments, so my rule of thumb is: if you take the time to read it, take the time to let them know you read it. Once. If there's good dialogue happening, I'll jump in a few times.

<>< Katie

Richard Mabry said...

Katie, I agree. I can't always respond to every comment, but I try to let people know I've read and appreciate what they wrote. And I do...including yours. Many thanks.