Bloggers Who Ignore Comments

I was listening to an NPR reporter interviewing a famous music producer. He noted that many songs are now coming from obscure writers, because they tweet a producer, the producer listens to a track online, loves it, cuts a deal.

The plus side of Twitter is that it is a very large Algonquin Round Table. One shaped as a pyramid. At the very top of the heap are the celebrities, the famous authors, sports stars, the movie stars. I don’t play on that top level. The second level down is the influential writers, directors, famous mommy bloggers, food writers, design buffs, chefs, wits, and just all around excellent masters of the art of the sharp, concise, terse yet powerful tweet. A lot of us play around with this level, and rarely get responded to. But if you do, it makes your day. If you don’t get a response, oh well. Then, there are all of the people who you follow based on your interests or blogging connections. These buddies are on your level. They are your peers, your friends. They commiserate on unique problems you may face (like infertility) or share your interest (*cough* obsession) with “Sherlock” or “Game of Thrones.” I admit that I sometimes feel like a loser when certain people I admire on twitter don’t respond to my tweets. But that’s unusual.

Blogging is different. I rarely comment on “the big blogs” unless I feel I have something unique and special to add to the discussion. Some of those blogs get hundreds or thousands of comments all with people saying the same thing over and over. But, then there are my bloggy friends, whose blogs I try to comment on as much as I can. Those blogs I have a special connection to (either because of interests or just friendship), and I comment often on them. Then there are other blogs, which I don’t comment as frequently on, but monitor and read and value.

Then there are the two or three smaller blogs that I really enjoy, whose posts always make me think differently about some issue. Sometimes I will spend 30 minutes working on a response, but the blogger either never responds to my comments nor do they comment on my own blog. I always wonder about them. Have I said something to offend them? Do they not appreciate comments? Do they not want discussion? None of these blogs get very many comments. And it makes me wonder if comments are, indeed, necessary to everyone?

To me, every comment is like a sparkling jewel. All of them make me think, and they all make me feel connected in a great sense to the world. I do try to either respond to comments or comment on people’s blogs who comment. Sometimes, I probably fail at that, and if so, I’m sorry. Is that what you think should be done? Or are comments superfluous, not necessary to your writing? Regardless of whether the blogger responds, what they have written matters to me and has made an impact. Maybe that’s enough?

What do you think?

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51 Comments

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51 responses to “Bloggers Who Ignore Comments

  1. chhandita

    Comments mean a lot me…they mean i was heard. i try to comment just to show ‘i m reading.’ but i realized i was taking this commenting business too seriously when i started expecting this particular blogger to comment, n felt rejected when they didnt…

    • For me, it’s the blogs that I have commented on many times, who have never responded to me in any way, that puzzle me. These are not bloggers who have tons of comments either. I’m guessing they don’t blog for the interactions. What I don’t get is why blog if you don’t care about the community aspect? Maybe there’s a reason that I don’t know about…or, you know. They hate me 😉

      • cookedheads

        ha! good lord we’re all so human..i have the same “they hate me” thing, but give it the misbehaving and know better look you give your kids when they need it. it goes away..

  2. Mo

    I absolutely LOVE when people comment on my blog, but I admit that sometimes I slack on responses. I think it depends on my mood. Sometimes I’m just too depressed to be eloquent. Sometimes I feel weird, because I have something to say in response to some comments, and not to others, and just writing something like “thanks!” feels weird, and I don’t want people to be hurt because I responded to some people and not to others. Does that make sense? I think someone needs to write up a “comment response etiquette” post…. 🙂

    • You usually respond to people in some way, I’ve noticed. And you comment on other blogs.

      I think you have a good point about the “Comment Response Etiquette”. We should call in Peggy Post’s granddaughter 😉

  3. I’ve been blogging for years on a different platform, and commenting and RESPONDING to comments is a norm there.

    When I started the IF blog here, I was really surprised that people would leave a comment – and wouldn’t even care if I responded to their comment. That I would comment on their blog (and not just a “good luck” comment – but something thoughtful) – and they wouldn’t even bother responding.

    To me, that’s just plain rude.

    • That’s interesting. What blogging platform did you use?

    • I believe the etiquette in the ALI community used to be that if you commented on someone’s post, they would go to your blog and comment. But it sounds as if this might be changing. Did Livejournal make it easy to track responses you would receive from your comments?

      • yes, you receive notification by email (without having to remember each time to check the stupid :send me a notification” box) – there are ALWAYS lengthy discussions, often they break out in a forum-like format, with other people getting involved in someone else’s thread. I always liked that.

      • oh, and the best thing is that I receive notifications only if someone responds to my COMMENT, not the whole thread like here (with this thread I feel like I am getting dozens of emails with all people commenting on your blog)

  4. I honestly think that comments are what makes the internet such an amazing tool. I don’t really speak as a blogger (I’m really new to this aspect) but more as a reader, and commenter. I love reading comments, whether on blogs or on more traditional material like the NYT. However, smallish blogs whose authors respond to comments lead to the generation of discussion and the building of communities. That’s where the the magic is, in my opinion.

    Perhaps those who don’t respond are not blogging for that reason?

  5. cookedheads

    love this post. if I leave a comment, unless it’s someone i “know” I won’t even bother to look back to see if they respond, not because I don’t care, but because I care too much and I see that need to know as stroking my own ego. It’s plenty big enough without the “help”. The other aspect of this is the “”Great Post!” thing. I get that, but I won’t do it. It’s time consuming for someone to go check it, if they do, but it feels like a waste of precious time.
    As to my own blog, I must be cashing in some good karma because the people who leave comments always have something so provocative, or thoughtful to say, that it’s easy for me to respond.
    One thing I’ve gotten from reading the comments here is that I need to read comments more than I do rather than assuming I’ll start to ‘check” myself and compare “my” to “their”. ah sweet neurosis… mmmmm…crazy.

    • It is easy for our ego to come into play about comments, I agree 🙂 I was referring to a few blogs who never respond to any comments, and don’t engage in the community at large…but the larger question about the etiquette of when to respond and whether others should respond is an interesting debate.

  6. I wish blogger had a better platform for responding to comments … I always wonder if people will get my responses if I do respond! So I usually go the “comment on the other blog” route instead, but feel like that’s not really what I want, either, because it doesn’t address the reader’s comment on what I wrote.

    Anyway.

    Comments are my lifeblood. I think the reason we write out in a public space, instead of in a private journal, is for people to join us in the conversation, support us, make us feel like what we wrote matters. I so appreciate how you end posts with a question … I try to do that but it feel artificial, for some reason. I need to work on making dialogue more open, in both direcitons. 🙂

    • This seems to be a problem for many with blogger. I always thought that you didn’t have to respond to every comment, but you should visit other bloggers who comment, and respond to them on their own blog. Now, I’m not sure…

      • eep6

        I’m chiming in on this discussion mostly because I’m guilty of – not *ignoring* comments – but not responding to them overtly, if that distinction makes sense. I have sometimes felt a little hurt when I’ve commented regularly on a mid-size blog (say 25-30 comments per post) and never gotten a comment back. On the other hand, when I DO get a comment on my blog in response to a comment I left for someone else, and it’s not from a regular reader, and I know they ONLY came over because I left them a comment, then I feel like they’re just being polite and it doesn’t feel genuine. I guess I feel like they might feel like I’ve COERCED them into commenting on my blog by leaving them a comment. Now that I actually write that out it sounds incredibly dumb… and what’s wrong with being polite, right? After all, we’re talking about etiquette here, right?
        I do like the wordpress “reply” option but then a lot of times I forget to check back on someone else’s blog to see if they’ve replied to my comment, and I don’t want to clutter up my e-mail inbox with notifications.

      • The notifications are the main problem with WordPress. There are just too many! Wait, so mid-size blogs get 25-30 responses! That’s a lot…I didn’t realize that.

  7. Mo

    I just wanted to add one more thought: I always leave comments on people’s blogs when I have something to say, but very rarely check back to see if they’ve replied. Maybe that’s just me, but unless I have a specific question or there’s a particularly interesting discussion (like on this post!), then the comment is left for the benefit of the writer, not anything else, really.

    • Totally. Blogs on WordPress allow you to keep track of all comments after you comment on a blog, but I find that unwieldy and hard to manage personally.

  8. Lut C.

    Euhm, I didn’t realize that replies were expected to comments. No, honestly.
    I read and commented on blogs for about half a year before starting my own blog. I don’t remember getting much replies to comments in those days. And I didn’t expect any, because mostly the ‘comment’ was an expression of support. Not the same as an ongoing discussion.

    When I did start my blog, I didn’t reply to all comments either. Actually I rarely do. What I did do then is follow people back to their blog.

    Replying to comments in the comment thread escapes me too. I don’t return to posts once I’ve read them.

    Do I appreciate getting comments? YES! This is why I try to always leave something to show I’ve read a post.

    Rude? That’s a matter of social convention. Seems to me the social convention on blog commenting is not quite fixed yet.

    • I feel like this was the “proper etiquette” in the ALI community: I think I even read that that was what you were supposed to do. Stirrup Queens maybe recommended this somewhere on her site (although I can’t find it now). But now, I feel like things are changing and people are responding more to comments. Upside: more discussions. Downside: maybe people are blog-hopping less?

  9. I agree with a previous commenter that Blogger’s commenting format sucks. I wish I could reply directly to comments like people can on wordpress, it’s so much easier to follow it as a discussion that way.

    I usually only respond to comments if there was a question directed at me in the comment (and likewise, I hate it when I ask a question in the comments and the blogger never answers), or if someone says something that really provokes a different or stronger opinion in me, or to correct something someone misinterpreted. Generally speaking. And I always go check out the blogs of new people who have commented. But I do love getting comments. I know when I first started my blog and had like 8 followers and never got comments, I came really close to throwing in the towel a number of times. The comments are good reinforcement. I had a post a couple weeks ago that elicited a lot (for me) of really good, long, personal comments from people; it’s one of my favorite posts simply because reading the comments made me realize that this particular post really made people and think about their own experiences and want to share them. And that’s what it’s all about.

    • I love the quality, long comments too.

      I feel like maybe there’s a technology solution that needs to happen here. I’ve heard good things about Disqus, that they aggregate your comments and keep track of the discussions you are involved in. Maybe something like that is the answer…

  10. Esperanza

    Oh, I’m so glad you retweeted this so I remembered to come back and comment. I have to say, for about a year of blogging I didn’t realized that people responded to comments. Then I started seeing it in a few places (but not commonly) and I thought it was a great idea. Then I actually became involved in some wonderful comment-dialogues and I decided to start responding to comments on my own blog. Of course, on my blog I don’t get a prohibitive number of comments and I “know” almost everyone who comments, as they do so frequently. Sometimes I am really inspired to write back (as I was this past Friday) and sometimes I struggle with something new to add. It does require a lot of time, especially if I’m going to make my response thoughtful and meaningful. I usually try to reply with about as many words as they commented with (make my response equal in length to their comment) but sometimes I just can’t do that. I like the blogs that you can subscribe to responses, that way I get them in an email and don’t have to go back and check for them.

    I don’t think that a blogger should feel obliged to respond to comments. Some comments are just there to let the reader know they are being heard and they don’t have a lot of substance. The only response to those is a quick “thank you” and the commenter probably doesn’t care to even see that. Some blogs get WAY too many comments to expect responses. I know Mel gets crazy comments, but she still emails people sometime to respond to them, which I really appreciate. The first time she responded to a comment of mine I was SO EXCITED! It really meant a lot. I think the only time a blogger really should respond to a comment is if the comment includes a question.

    Thanks for starting this conversation. As someone who has committed to responding to comments I’m curious to see what others think.

  11. Esperanza

    Oh, I forgot to mention that it really bothers me when I comment for many months on a blog and they never visit mine or comment on mine. I usually end up ditching that blog because I don’t understand why they are ignoring me (it seems that way to me at least). I feel like I’m trying to talk to someone at a party and they just keep walking away. I just don’t get it. So I usually stop following those blogs, because there is no relationship there, it’s too one sided for me. I would love to ask some of the people I followed a lot why they always ignored me though. I really, really would love to know.

    • THIS situation is what I was originally referring to, although I am really enjoying the wider discussion that has opened up here. It’s really fascinating. Darcy thinks there’s some million-dollar business idea to solve this problem of tracking comments and responses. He’s probably right.

      But, yes. There are a few bloggers who are not big, don’t get a lot of comments, and I’ve commented on their site more than five times (I went back and checked, because yes, I’m that petty) without getting a response or a comment on my blog. They don’t seem to respond to many people, so I don’t think it’s a personal issue (although, maybe it is): it just made me wonder: do some people just not care about the comments? One of the bloggers is a particularly insightful writer whose posts I really enjoy, so I will continue to read her, but it seems odd not to be able to discuss the points she brings up. Maybe people just like seeing that people care and that’s enough for them. But then why participate in events like ICLW?

      I think in the end maybe the answer is just simply: these people don’t like what I have to say. I remember once Chris Martin talked about what a genius Thom Yorke was. Yorke’s response: “Who’s Chris Martin?” Just because I’m a fan of someone’s writing doesn’t mean they’ll be a fan of mine.

  12. very interesting topic!
    I think we all love to get comments, but everyone uses them differently, some just offering a simple statement of support, others engaging in a dialogue, etc.
    I rarely go back to read comments after I’ve left one, unless it’s an issue of ongoing interest and I actually remember to check. but my reader is so full that I often don’t go back. I assume (perhaps wrongly) that if someone wants to respond to a comment, they could do it in an reply email, or cc me as they respond online. I also track a lot of ongoing dialogue/comments on twitter.
    if I notice someone commenting that I don’t know and see they have a blog, I will often click over to leave a comment. but I admit if the blogger is in a completely different space as me (i.e., undergoing treatment or ttc #4, for ex.) I may not return often, except to leave an occasional note of support when mel calls it out through the LFCA or something like that.

    • I think that this:

      “I rarely go back to read comments after I’ve left one…” is that main problem with using comments to answer readers. Either you get too many notifications (WordPress), you can’t respond to comments in the first place (Blogger) or you use a more advanced platform like Intense Debate or Disqus.

      Another option: the blog author emails the commenter directly. I have to admit here that I’m an idiot and don’t know how to do that…I’m sure it’s possible. But that may squash the cool discussion going on in the comments.

  13. Personally I try to write back whenever someone leaves a comment for the first time, but via email rather than as a blog comment response. I only respond via the comment section if I think my response would be interesting to others (in which case I also copy and paste into an email to the commenter, because I assume they won’t come back to my post again), or sometimes if the comment asks me a question. I used to try to check out most commenters’ blogs at least once, and often used to follow people back, but now I just don’t have the time. When I don’t, it’s really nothing personal.

    I greatly value the comments I get, but I don’t see it as a series of individual conversations between me and each person. Rather, I am trying to start group conversations in my comment section.

    I’ve commented on a few blogs where the blogger emails back after every comment I write. I always appreciate that, but it’s just not something I can do with my commenters.

    In the non-ALI blog world, there’s a blog I read regularly (it’s related to what I do professionally, and I’d consider myself a professional peer of the author though we are in different fields) that has a couple of thousand subscribers but gets zero comments on most posts. I have commented there several times, as the only comment, with extremely substantive and interesting things to say (if I do say so myself). I have never heard back. I haven’t stopped reading, because I just don’t think he responds to people, but I have stopped commenting.

    ICLW is another story. I haven’t done ICLW in a long time, but I used to do it regularly and reached Iron Commenter a couple of times. It really annoyed me when I left thoughtful, substantive comments on a blog month after month and never heard from them once despite them being on the ICLW list every time. You’d better believe that I stopped visiting their blog unless I was going for Iron Commenter in a later month, and that they appeared on my mental bloggy sh!t list.

    • Yes, the email solution. I need to figure out how to do that. I know it’s possible.

      This: “…they appeared on my mental bloggy sh!t list” cracked me up. I think a lot of people have one of these 😉

  14. This is a fantastic post and a reminder about what it means to blog. It’s not all just shouting out into the void. It’s about interacting with our readers. I admit that I’m *terrible* about responding to comments. I’m also terrible about responding to emails and voicemails. Some of it is laziness and admittedly, selfishness. But it’s important to take the time to invest in that relationship of author, reader/commenter. It makes the blogging experience valuable for ALL involved.

    I also find the mechanics of Blogger make it somewhat prohibitive (and yet ANOTHER reason I’m working on moving to WP this summer). But again, that’s lazy selfish Keiko talking, easy to point and blame someone/thing else when really, the burden of responsibility falls on me to take the time to actually reply.

    Great post. Thanks for the reminder. Think I’ll spend some time trying to reply to comments this afternoon 🙂

    • I think it’s hilarious that you think you are lazy! I always see all the cool stuff you are working on either on Twitter or on your blog and it makes me feel like a SLUG 😉

  15. I love comments, but don’t usually get too upset if there aren’t many unless I’ve posted a plea for help. I try to remember that a lot of times when I don’t comment it’s either because I don’t feel like I have something useful to say or because I’ve been so damn busy I just can’t. 🙂

    • This is the right attitude to have. I think I have become too reliant on expecting an immediate reaction every time I put time and effort into responding to someone. Real life isn’t like that. I’m not sure why I have such high standards online.

  16. Mel

    Love this post and the discussion. I respond to a comment when someone asks a question or when I have time for a conversation — many times I WANT a conversation, but then time slips away and it’s either read someone else’s post or keep talking about my own 🙂

    I almost never respond in the comment section simply because many times people don’t return to see the response. I only do it when I want to clear up a misunderstanding that many people have or answer a question that keeps popping up. Or chime in with a me too.

    I prefer to go back to a person’s blog, though, again, sometimes it comes down to time. I also surf a lot. Someone will leave a comment and I’ll read their top post, leave a comment, and then jump to a blog I don’t really know well from their comment section, and read another blog, so on and so on. That feels like an old tradition since the beginning of the blogosphere — using the comment section to find new blogs.

    And then there is my Reader. That is where I do the bulk of my reading. There are a handful of blogs in my Reader that I’m certain don’t read me. There are a handful that used to read me, but no longer do, though I still read them. And then the majority are people I read who I think read me. I try to leave comments as much as possible, but I read a lot more than I comment on. It’s a terrible habit now from reading in bed on the iPad vs. reading on the computer where it’s easier to leave a comment.

    I love reading everyone’s thoughts here!

    • Thanks for letting us know how you comment. I love the inside look at how a really successful blogger interacts with her audience. I am amazed at how responsive you are, given that you get so many comments! Most impressive.

      It’s hard to imagine that there are bloggers who don’t read you!! That bowled me over.

      I am having the same problem with the iPad. I found it makes me comment less. The keyboard is weird and cumbersome.

  17. I’m on blogger and am thinking of changing platforms for this very reason. I often want to comment on other people’s comments to my posts, but I don’t believe they’ll see it. But on wordpress blogs where the author often replies back to comments (like Mommy Odyssey, for example), I make an effort to go back and look at the comments later because I know there’s likely to be something directed to me. Since I can’t reply like that on my own blog, I usually visit the blogs of people who commented, but it never becomes a dialog that way. Great post and great prompt!

  18. Interesting. This is why I changed my commenting platform, to be able to respond to comments more easily but still using blogger for my blog posts. It’s not advanced at all to install and it’s working okay, just a few hick-ups so far.

    I always try to respond to comments but doesn’t necessarily comment on every single post from the blogs I read, although I still read them.

  19. What a great discussion you’ve kicked off!

    I think my commenting patterns are similar to yours. I read a whole lot of posts, comment on many (the ones that I think matter, which means rarely do I comment on Big Blogs), and respond on occasion to comments left to me. I do try to visit someone who has taken the time to leave me a comment, unless I’m in a particularly busy time in my real life.

    I once asked a FB group of bloggers what their webby currency is. I assumed it would be comments for everyone because it’s comments for me. It surprised me to find that to many of them, Stumbling or tweeting the post or sharing in on FB were of higher value than leaving a comment.

    Kind of like that 5 Love Languages thing. What is most meaningful to YOU may not be most meaningful to someone else.

    But that’s not really what you’re talking about. You’re talking about being ignored. Which I don’t like.

    • That is REALLY interesting about the FB bloggers. I feel like our community rarely tweets a post. And a lot of us are anonymous so we don’t really want our posted to be linked to on FB. I personally think tweeting a post, or liking it on WordPress, is as valuable as a comment. I remember when you retweeted my Perfect Moment post. I thought that was so cool 😉

  20. i try to respond (by email, because i’m on blogger and not using something like discus, so by email if they leave one) – not always, but often enough. it just feels right to me. and if it’s someone new to me, i definitely stop by their blog and poke around and comment (most of the time, once in a while i just can’t bring myself to comment).

    • That’s an interesting way to interact with readers. Do your readers always get the emails you send? I have problems with my account (which is Hotmail) getting blocked.

  21. Ah, the comment debate! I love comments on my blog – but I’m kind of an attention whore like that 😉 I kid…sort of. I am not the best at responding to people’s comments, which seems wrong considering I love them so much. But I figure much of the time, I’ve started the conversation with my post, and they’ve added on to it. I do appreciate every single comment and the person behind it. Sometimes I am guilty of not showing that appreciation, though. And I should probably work on that.

    Interesting conversation. And even more interesting considering how we found each other’s blogs! I left you a comment that really, I typically don’t leave. And then we had a good conversation come out of it, and found new readers. I think it’s what happens when people have respectful, insightful conversation 🙂

    I wouldn’t assume that your comments are not resonating with those blog readers. I read blog entries and comments all the time that warm my heart, or really force me to think, and sometimes I don’t speak up. But it doesn’t mean I wasn’t affected.

    • How we “met” is so cool, and really, it’s what I love about blogging. The discussion part of blogging has actually changed my mind about how I see things sometimes, and challenged me in a lot of ways. You’re right: it’s what happens when there are respectful, insightful conversations.

      I love this:
      “I read blog entries and comments all the time that warm my heart, or really force me to think, and sometimes I don’t speak up. But it doesn’t mean I wasn’t affected.”

      I think this is what happens with a lot of people.

  22. I love comments, and try to comment on the blogs of those who comment on mine, even if the comments aren’t inspiring. I wrote about commenting on my everyday blog here. http://aseparatelife.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/what-to-say/

  23. Pingback: Blog Etiquette: When Bloggers Ignore Comments, Part Two | Too Many Fish to Fry

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