Blog Etiquette: Should Bloggers Respond to Every Comment, Part Three

OK, so it turns out that there is more to say about why people comment or don’t. A lot more.

One of my favorite bloggers is Lut Cass. She has a wonderfully dry wit, and I’ll never forget when I was trying (and failing) to use philosophy to feel more joy, she told me this:

“I’ve decided long ago that philosophy was invented by men with too few household chores.”

Hee!

She has at least a few times provided a voice of sanity on various issues I’ve brought up here over the last year. Today on Prompt(ly) she brought up another group of people who don’t comment: those who can’t read a blogger without being pained. (For example, commenting on pregnancy blogs when you are dealing with infertility.) Or a blogger thinks they would cause pain by commenting. (For example, you are pregnant or trying to conceive a second child, and you think bloggers wouldn’t appreciate your comments.) It’s a valid point, and I know that I have not commented on some people’s blogs because I feel I might cause hurt. And I admit that it’s very hard for me to read about bloggers celebrating their third or fourth pregnancies.

3) So this phenomenon would be the third category: Conscientious Avoiders.

I think there might be a partial solution for this. There was a fantastic blogger who seems to have disappeared into the ether. Her name was Miss Ruby, and she liked to say that if you couldn’t think of something to say to her, please leave her a pebble. That way she knew you were thinking of her, even if you didn’t have the words. The pebble was this, I think (.) In addition, WordPress offers the ability for a reader to “like” a post. I personally would love to see people use the pebble or like function more. What do you all think?

In addition, blogger Moandwill offered the thought, echoed by others, that reciprocity might be disingenuous. She works 70+ hours and struggles to make the time for blogging and commenting. Many, many others are in this same dilemma. Surely we don’t want to penalize bloggers for not having as much time to write and comment as others?

Finally, Mel reminded me of another category.

4) Established Bloggers. These bloggers have an established tribe and social circle.

As Mel articulated this category:

“(There are also) those who want comments, but they feel that at the moment they’re full-up on support and have their tribe. They are fine receiving comments from others outside of their tribe, but they’re not going to add more people to their commenting/reading world.”

Justine suggested maybe bloggers should state what blogging intentions are in their bio (or categorize themselves even). Maybe this would reduce hurt feelings and misunderstandings, which based on the comments I’ve received so far does seem to be a legitimate problem within the blogosphere.

So what do you think about all this? What I DON’T want to happen is this, again from Lut Cass:

“I see a danger in promoting a blog etiquette that puts high expectations on ALI bloggers. And that is that the bar for entry will be raised too high.”

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Blog Etiquette: Should Bloggers Respond to Every Comment, Part Three

  1. Esperanza

    Wow, I’m really, really, REALLY enjoying this dialogue. A LOT! As someone who used to get almost no comments I have always struggled with this aspect of the blogging community. I remember reading somewhere (I think on Stirrup Queens, but I could be mistaken) that the best way to build a base was comment, comment, comment! Because when you comment people come to find you on your own blog, either the people whose blog you commented on or the people who are reading the comments. But as a WP blogger mostly commenting on Blogger blogs I knew that people couldn’t find me through my comments, so I started adding my url at the bottom in a kind of signature. I also started noticing comments a lot more, as in reading the comments on other people’s blogs, which I used to just skim or skip altogether. Now I value the comments as much as the original post and look forward to participating in a dialogue with not only the original poster but also the commenters. In that way I started noticing who followed whom and where to find certain bloggers. I started recognizing groups and alliances within the ALI community. At first it was difficult because I felt like I was always on the outside looking in but eventually I found one of those groups and I finally feel like I’m a part of a real community both in the blog-o-sphere and on Twitter. But I don’t think that happened until about six months ago and it was mainly because of me stepping up my commenting. I attribute a lot of my blogging “success” (and by “success” I mean my own personal happiness and sense of belonging) to the fact that I leave thoughtful, meaningful comments when I can and reciprocate comments when possible.

    At the same time I really understand what Lut Cass was saying on Prompt-ly – I don’t think there should be some written set of rules or etiquette that we expect people to follow lest they be shunned. I think it’s like most social niceties, people will probably respond positively to conscientious commenting which will ultimately benefit the commenter. If you don’t have time to comment much or you just don’t want to, that might affect your readership and it might not. I know I have sometimes continued to read blogs despite silence (towards me personally) from the blogger and other times I’ve specifically stopped reading because it felt like a one-sided relationship that I wasn’t interested in pursuing. Neither time did I feel angry towards the blogger (well, I have felt slighted before but I’ve know personal insecurities, not any real mistreatment on the blogger’s part) because I don’t believe there is any way a blogger *should* act, I just know there is a way I want bloggers that I have relationships with to act and I make decisions on who to read accordingly.

  2. Lut C.

    Gosh, you’re making me blush.
    There were many interesting points made here and on Promptly (and probably elsewhere I missed). I read your new post after writing my reply to Promptly – and then thought, well, most of it has already been said.

    I’m not sure about a disclaimer though. I’ve gone through various phases, sometimes I comment a lot, sometimes less. I’ve had an established phase, but now less so (because many of my circle have moved on from blogging). I wouldn’t want to pin myself down to any particular style.

    I agree with Esperanza. People will naturally gravitate towards people that have a compatible style with them.

    A disclaimer may unnecessarily turn people off from blogs they might have liked if they had given it a chance. A loss for both writer and reader, because even a withdrawn blogger may make an exception for someone they really connect with.

  3. So, to go off on a kind of tangent here, what IS it with us ALI bloggers and categorizing? I think you’re making a lot of good points, but the more the discussion fleshes out, the more it starts to feel like the “levels” of infertility and loss that people try so hard not to publicly establish (even though we all know we’re thinking them). You know what I mean. The infertility vs loss categories. The infertile vs more infertile-est categories. The loss vs more lossiest categories.

    I’m aware that this comment doesn’t really add anything to the conversation, it just struck me as I was reading the most recent 2 in this series of posts.

    • I think you just hit the nail on the head. This is why I have been feeling increasingly uncomfortable about my posts. The discussion fleshed out just as you said. I hate the pain olympics. This sort of became the pain olympics.

  4. Hi,

    I’m a little late to this party, but I wanted to throw my $.02 in.

    I think you were spot on in differentiating between different types of bloggers and how they approach commenting.

    I think personally I have a sort of hybrid approach. Ultimately, I blog for myself, and to have an outlet for my streams of thought other than my poor husband.

    But at the same time, if it was really only for myself, I wouldn’t make it public. I do want to share with others, and I would love to get feedback and comments.

    Which brings me to another point I wanted to make…which is how new bloggers might have even more layers of complexity when it comes to commenting. (Although reading the comments above have given me some great insight in that respect).

    I started my blog just this May after a lot of deliberation, and a lot of private writing. I decided to throw it out there and make it public and dive in to the discussion via Prompt(ly) and, for July anyway, ICLW, mainly because I wanted to be part of the collection of voices, but not necessarily because I was seeking a dialogue. But at the same, being new, I pretty much don’t get comments anyway, and I’m totally fine with that. And that’s what I’ve been used to because for so long I only wrote privately.

    So, all that is to say, I’m still finding my voice and figuring out what works for me, and I imagine that that process is ongoing, and even if you’ve been blogging for years, I’m sure there’s fluctuations in commenting-styles.

    I do want to say thanks for bringing this topic up. It definitely got me thinking and encouraged me to comment (in a good way, not a pressure-y kind of way 🙂 ).

  5. Pingback: Unrequited Blog Love | Too Many Fish to Fry

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