Day 18 and some comment forensics

The Wisdom of Crowds

Image: thanks to Stephen Downes

Which of my posts have attracted the most comments, and which have kicked off the best conversations? I thought it a worthwhile exercise to track back over all of my posts to get a feel for this, not just those during the current 31 Day Comment Challenge. Whew!

OK … well I have to ‘fess up that I received very few comments at all during the first life of my blog. This blog Spinning a Learning Web started as something else altogether, and got a makeover during 2007 into its current focus on adventurous e-learning, and with a big nod to good design and Mac things.

The first comment I received (do you remember how great it felt to get a comment … at last) was from Sue Waters. Why am I not surprised about this? Sue’s curiosity about e-learning, what works and what doesn’t as well as her relaxed style make her a prolific and always readable blogger and a great responder to others’ writing. Spinning … also changed platforms a couple of times to where it now sits proudly on its own domain in a self-hosted WordPress site. Boy have I learned from that exercise … but I digress somewhat.

So, the most comments to posts have come in response to my video postings … no doubt about this. I think the format had as much to do with the reaction as did the content. I’m not sure whether it’s curiosity about what the writer looks like, technical stuff … the newness of the whole thing … but up to now video posts have been a drawcard. And this has been from posts that predated this challenge. However judging by the responses to my postings about the use of Sesmic as a way to comment as well as to post, I doubt many people will take up the idea, as the fear factor is a real issue. Still … I’m going to stay interested in how this very personal way of communicating pans out over time.

Michele Martin touches on this from another angle in a reflective post:

One of the biggest reasons people don’t comment is fear. They’re worried they have nothing to add to a discussion or that they’ll look stupid to the blogger, other commenters, or both. And the idea that their mistake will be forever enshrined online only adds to the pressure people put on themselves.

Indeed! In my work as a presentation and performance coach I find that people suffer real anxieties about presenting themselves. Standing up in public is torture for many. And so when it comes to commenting on how one feels or thinks about an issue, words are far more preferable to the ‘naked’ face and voice because apart from anything else, they can and do work as a ‘mask.’

As to patterns … well apart from the aforesaid … ask a question, ask for help in your niche area and I’ve found that you will get it.


9 responses to “Day 18 and some comment forensics”

  1. Ken Allan Avatar

    Kia Ora Kate.

    Interesting point you made about the popularity of video-clips. Also Seesmic, new to me, though you may have read John Larkin’s most recent post about it. Looks like it could be about to take off, so hang on a bit.

    Ka kite
    from Middle-earth

  2. Sue Waters Avatar

    What surprises me is the fear factor in commenting. I can understand fear for someone who isn’t already active in the online world. But it has caught me by surprise that people who writes blog posts and uses twitter has this issue with commenting. Did that surprise you?

  3. Kate Foy Avatar

    Ken Allan There’s quite a bit of chatter out there right now on this one, and the jury’s out. The ‘speed’ issue i.e., it’s quicker to scan than to watch crops up a lot, but most balanced posts concede that it’s early days and that the personal touch of the video comment could just become a goer. One writer put it this way: Seesmic is to YouTube what Twitter is to Blogging. A bit pat, but the word’s out there.

    Sue Waters Actually no, this didn’t surprise me. You can fudge it with 140 characters and edit and re-edit a post (and of course you can edit a comment too), but I suspect a comment requires the additional effort of engaging with the point of view of the original post and then cogently adding your own 2c worth. You’d think this wouldn’t be an issue, but I think it is.
    I’m used to trying to get young adults to comment on issues in tutorials. It’s often like pulling teeth … and it’s a challenge for me to find a way to get them to want to make a comment!

  4. Britt Watwood Avatar

    Kate: Thanks for the nice comment back on my blog. We are seeing similar things on our forensics – and NO, it does not surprise me that Sue Waters was your first commenter. She has been cheering me on as well.

  5. Sarah Stewart Avatar

    I too understand this fear. I have been out and about commenting but have had a couple of experiences that have made me uncomfortable so now am thinking about withdrawing back into my shell. I just feel that I have to be so careful what I say that I am not enjoying my online experience as much as I did. So this challenge is turning into a challenge.

  6. Christy Tucker Avatar

    @Sarah, I’m sorry to hear about your bad experiences. I think I was lucky; the first few blogs where I commented were all very positive experiences for me. That gave me confidence to continue.

    Perhaps part of this is a good less to be extra gentle with first-time commenters (something I think everyone in this conversation already does). On Wikipedia, this is usually called Don’t bite the newbies.”

    Sarah, through this challenge, have you found places to comment where you do feel safe, where you don’t feel like you have to watch every word you write? Are there any blogs where you do enjoy commenting?

  7. Bonnie K Avatar

    I have yet to move into these challenges and I was looking for some thoughts and ideas.
    I have to agree with those reluctant to comment in the early days of blogging. I created my bloglines, began adding lots of cool sites and read regularly, skimming but never leaving anything behind. I had a few buddies where I was comfortable to comment after I got my first few.(I remember Kate).
    But it’s only been more recent , once I became a part of communities that I feel free to share something and with this challenge I think my comments are getting more thoughtful and longer.
    Also, I did see Kevin H. experimenting with Seesmic and I joined on right away, so that’s on my list of new experiments. I do notice that with Kevin’s Weekly Boil Down Your Week…the most popular prompts are the simple: 6 words…got a ton of responses.
    Okay, that’s enough from me.
    Thanks for the conversation, Kate.

  8. Kate Foy Avatar

    The Little Things {seesmic_video:{“url_thumbnail”:{“value”:””}”title”:{“value”:”The Little Things “}”videoUri”:{“value”:”″}}}

  9. Bonnie K Avatar

    So cool Kate,
    I am almost ready to leave a chat. It’s coming but right now my hair is plastered to my head. Just washed it and I do think about how I look. Photos are easier for me. I can control it better.
    But I loved seeing you talking and moving…

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