With Blaugust fully rolling now, I thought it might be ok to post a meta post about blogging - or more specifically questions about blogging and commenting. (I guess this could be better asked on the Blaugust Discord, but I don’t really use or get Discord, and anything posted there is only visible to the Discorders. Which is why blogging is so great - it’s public and a permanent record).
One of my biggest confusions with blogging is commenting. Whenever I see a post that stirs the imagination, I think about commenting, but then decide it would be better to make a full post here. The logic is normally that there is too much to write in a comment, and comments tend to be seen by a tiny fraction of blog readers. On the other hand, comments can be the heart of a blog. It’s how you know people are reading, and reading enough to care to respond. Veteran blogger and Blaugust mentor Bhagpuss is pretty clear on the matter:
I one hundred percent recommend and advise any reader to comment, whether or not they also blog or plan on starting. Comments are the life-blood of blogs. Bloggers love comments and commenting leads to blogging. Do it!
But! He also goes on to say:
I’ll start commenting and within a few sentences it will occur to me that a) the comment is going to run long - most likely very long - and b) it would make a perfectly adequate blog post! At this point, out of blogging solidarity and politeness, I usually change the comment to something along the lines of “Great post! I was going to comment but then I realized I ought to make it into a post over at my blog”.
This is exactly what happens. Though I rarely get as far as starting a reply.
Is the best etiquette to post a reply, but link to your post if you make one? That sometimes seems like it might be a bit rude, hijacking someone else’s post, but it does seem a good compromise? I certainly like seeing a link posted as it leads me to find great new bloggers, or great posts from existing blogs. It might also be the only way to guarantee the author knows you have posted a response.
The state of link-backs seem perilous at best, which is a real shame. There could be terrific post somewhere engaging with one of yours, but you may never see it. Interested in thoughts on this - feel free to comment or post a response! And then comment. With a link. Argh!
Eden Rabatsch -
As a person who loves a dialogue, I am always disappointed that even when I put up a popular review there are few comments..they are the lifeblood of a reviewer/commentator. So I always try to put a few words in so the person knows their work is considered
I find it interesting with YouTube comments how there seems to be a tipping point between a good amount of comments and too many. Popular vloggers (is that still a word?!) seem to be able to reply to the first few comments, but the discussion quickly becomes overwhelmed with filler or ‘can you review x please’. I guess it’s a good problem to have!
Sorry I haven’t commented on yours - I’ve rarely seen the movie in question so hold off on watching to avoid spoilers. But then I often never get around to the film, so don’t ever get a chance to watch/comment!
I think the challenge for me is… do I want to write the comment now and attempt to edit it down to a few paragraphs at most, or do I want to mull on it until tomorrow morning. I only post in the mornings and really don’t like doing more than one post in the same day. So my commenting is either in the moment enough to make me want to say it right then and there… or sit on it and talk about it the next morning. Ultimately I think it depends on just how much fuel there is for a post there.
You’re right, that’s the balance, is there enough fuel. Sometimes I think there is, but the idea gets lost or time runs out and it becomes a bit redundant to post about the topic. Which are good arguments for at least posting a comment when the iron is hot. Nothing wrong with then expanding that to a full on post, again given a minority of readers would have seen the comment.
My stance is this: if I have something to add I try to comment on it. If the comment is too long though then I try to write a blog post about it, with a link to the inspirational post, and then link it in the original posts comment. I usually add a note too like “I was going to reply here but it was turning to big so I turned it into a blog post. Hope you don’t mind it” Most people are fine with it as they are more interesting in the discussion. In fact, I don’t think I’ve met anyone yet who got angry about it.
It’s a great point that people don’t get angry - it’s a compliment in many ways as it’s shows your post has been a catalyst for another.
I think it’s up to the individual to make the call. For myself, any acknowledgement that someone read the blog post and found it worth adding on to (agreeing/refuting/expanding/random sidetrek/whatever) is heartening. It can come as a comment, link-back or even just a mention - it’s just nice to know that more than bots are reading your thoughts and that they aren’t echoing into an internet void.
So I try to do unto others what I would be happy with, and accept that everyone does it their own way. Trust that enough will reciprocate in a way you like, and try not to fault others who like it a different way. (e.g. I’m personally not a fan of the “Like” button, but others more used to the ways of social media do seem to appreciate it.)
Acknowledgement seems to be the key, as you point out. Especially given the pretty random nature of page view tracking. And I guess whether that acknowledgement is a comment, or a post, or a comment pointing to a post about the post(!), they all count and all help sustain the author’s enthusiasm and the blogging community in general.
Yeah, 100% the same for me - but I don’t do it *that* often. I guess subconsciously I mostly divide my comments into “I will just post a quick few sentences where I agree, disagree, or show some other aspect” and “this inspired me to do a blog post” - but I guess that depends on what topics you’re blogging about. I usually don’t write opinion pieces or deep thinking. I’m making lists, bragging about my achievements, and in general it’s mostly a diary - not so much a pamphlet that tries to persuade anyone to do anything. Thinking about this I guess I’m leaving my opinions much more widespread in people’s comments than on my own blog :)
That’s an interesting observation - your thoughts are scattered all over the internet! I wonder if it might be good if there was a tool to consolidate comments on other blogs onto your own. Kind of like the microblog posts at Barely Readable Diary. I guess it would be weird because there would be no context, but maybe if it showed a link to the original post, and then your comments. That way people could have a record of scattered reply thoughts on their own blog.
Well, there’s ActivityPub https://www.w3.org/TR/activitypub/ (the basis of Mastodon), and in theory if enough websites would support it you could think of your comments as distributed text snippets that are still coming from your website. There have been some efforts to standardize this before, if that’s interesting to you you might want to read up on ActivityPub and on “IndieWeb” :)