To comment or not to comment … that is the question

Image: thanks Aslakr

Image: thanks aslakr

I’m also pondering the same question: whether or not ’tis better to respond via a blog post, acknowledge the stimulus, and create pingbacks, or to converse via comments. For me it depends on the nature of the post … its content and tone.

Whilst I’m doing my best to rise to the comment challenge, I have to admit that firstly I don’t do it much outside my niche areas … in fact I have to make an effort to do so. Secondly I prefer to respond via a blog post of my own to expand the conversation. I tend to operate this way with a few bloggers in my inner circle (hmm … echoes of homophily here I know). I would pretty much always drop by someone else’s blog on their recommendation. If I’m sufficiently engaged I’ll leave opinion or just a congratulations … I rather like the quick comment routine even if I haven’t got much to say. Yet an email fired off with a quick personal comment works just as well. As we all know, it’s nice to know someone is reading especially if you’re not swamped by comments on your blog.

This week I’ve surfed by a couple of blogs I would normally not visit; they were linked via the 31 Day Comment Challenge feed. I’d pick up an interesting-sounding blog name, or a random provocative phrase and snoop on by to catch the debate. Some of the comment threads were inordinately long, and resulted in what I’d call the ‘Chinese Whispers Syndrome’ … the final comment bears little if any relation to the original topic. I know this is how conversations go, but the derailing and misunderstanding that can result kind of disprove the inherent value of this kind of comment discourse. In a live conversation with a large group of people we do at least get to see expression, hear intonation, and ‘read’ body language. There’s no such thing on verbal blog posts, where subtle nuances can be lost on a reader. I guess that’s why emoticons were born.

And on my other sites … yes I comment on Flickr photos in 366photos a group I’m currently contributing to; on Facebook … hey that’s what the Wall’s all about … and of course, the ultimate comment-beast Twitter.

Would I turn off comments? I doubt it. I’m not swamped, and I like the social aspect of blogging. Like most WordPressers, I also have the trusty Akismet to catch spam.


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2 responses to “To comment or not to comment … that is the question”

  1. Adrienne Avatar

    Hi Kate,

    I’m not sure that ‘quick comments’ are always engaging. Yes, of course they are useful and mindful so that the blog owner knows you are reading, and that you appreciate the post, but I actually like the tangents that many comments go off onto.

    You said,
    “the derailing and misunderstanding that can result kind of disprove[s] the inherent value of this kind of comment discourse”

    … and I’m afraid I disagree. I often find myself more interested to read a blog post if there are plenty of comments already — I want to know what’s going on in the “hive mind”! The discussion that results in various people commenting is what really gets me thinking. But perhaps this is simply a difference in preference? For me, I tend to like things very inter-connected, with a tangled, messy web of thoughts and ideas, where almost anything is possible (I thrive on “what if” scenarios). But I can appreciate that other people might prefer things to be more clean, obvious, and controlled. And when it’s your own blog, you can create / allow which ever mode is your preference, right? 🙂 So there is something for everyone.

  2. Kate Foy Avatar

    Thanks so much for your comment Adrienne. I guess it’s the old academic in me that makes my preference for a line of discussion to be more ‘clean, obvious and controlled’ as you put it than off the point i.e., derailed. On the other hand, something out of left field that spices up the conversation is always welcome.

    But it’s odd really, because I work in the theatre where the creative hive mind is the real fuel for the work. Your use of the word ‘scenario’ got me thinking. On a rehearsal room floor I love the randomness and purposeful ‘play’ of the what-if scenario.

    Thanks for getting me mulling …

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