A Blog Around The Clock

Do you comment on your own blog?

Comment threads on blogs are an important aspect of the blogging culture. But I disagree that it is a defining aspect – there are many excellent blogs out there with no commenting allowed. Such blogs usually have a prominently displayed contact information for direct e-mailing to the author. One can always link to and trackback on one’s own blog in response: blog-to-blog conservation is just as important to the blogosphere as a whole, if not more, than comments on any individual post. Other blogs have their feeds exported to LiveJournal or FriendFeed where one can post comments as well.

See how Dorothea Salo explains (not for the first time) why her blog has no commenting function. John Hawks explains it at the end of this post.

Then, there are hybrids – for instance some posts have comments and some don’t on Leiter Reports. Or, you cannot comment on Talking Points Memo, but you can on other parts of the site, e.g., on TPMMuckraker, TPMDC and TPMCafe.

But if you allow comments on your blog, how do you, yourself, behave in your own comment threads?

This post tries to make a classification of commenting tactics of blog owners. I think I mix them up, using one or another as I see fit, depending on the context, etc.

What do you do on your blog? What type of host’s behavior you prefer to see on a blog’s comment thread? Do bloggers who never respond irk you to no end?

Comments

  1. #1 John
    February 2, 2009

    I generally try to respond to any comments that address the subject of the post or pose questions. I respond to other comments less frequently – only if I have something to add to the discussion. I tend to prefer blogs where the author interacts with the readers, either in comment sections or by writing new posts in response to reader comments. (I think Josh Marshall does the latter effectively despite the lack of a comment section.)

  2. #2 Coturnix
    February 2, 2009

    Erm….am I supposed to respond to that? ;-)

  3. #3 ekzept
    February 2, 2009

    What I’d really like to see is more portability for blogs. Google’s noise says it’s heading that way, but it’s quite ridiculous that for an XML-based medium, y’can’t move posts, comments, and layout all from one hosting service to another transparently.

  4. #4 Coturnix
    February 2, 2009

    You are right. Not many blogging platforms yet allow one to import, for instance, FriendFeed comments back – there is much more discussion of this post on FriendFeed than here, for instance, and it would be nice for people on both sites to see both commenting threads in the same place.

  5. #5 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    February 3, 2009

    I try to comment on most relevant posts, but don’t always make it. Sometimes I can’t think of anything to add to the commentators’ commentations.

  6. #6 Glendon Mellow
    February 3, 2009

    I’m with you, Mike. I tend to post at least a “thanks for the comment” for my commenters. I like to acknowledge that they said something, whatever it may be. This doesn’t mean I necessarily expect the same from blogs I throw my 2 cents on though.

    As Dorothea puts it, it’s everyone’s own plot of Earth, so the rules differ from yard to yard.

  7. #7 Ian
    February 3, 2009

    The issue of whether to have comments and whether to reply is entirely within the purvue of the blogger. Having comments is not an essential requirement for a blog by any stretch of the imagination.

  8. #8 Cannonball Jones
    February 3, 2009

    I almost always respond to comments, I just see it as polite. Then again I get about one comment a week :)

  9. #9 Henry
    February 3, 2009

    I comment in response to comments, as a way of thanking them, and also as a way of taking the discussion further.

  10. #10 Kjerstin
    February 3, 2009

    I must confess that bloggers who never respond, irk me to no end. Since I only post comments when I feel I have something substantial to add, it’s very demotivating not to have any sort of reaction to my comment. The way I see it, a blogger who doesn’t respond to comments, might just as well not allow them. By not responding, the blogger cuts the debate short, signalling that it was never a very important feature of the blog anyway. I don’t mean to say that a blogger should necessarily respond to every comment, but s/he should be active in the comment thread. Especially when I post a comment on a blog for the first time, it’s nice to have my presence acknowledged. You never know for sure whether your presence is welcome when you post on a new blog – sometimes it feels a bit like crashing a private party. If I get no response, chances are I won’t comment again on that blog. (Of course, I’m talking about blogs that get a manageable number of comments here. If a blog attracts lots and lots of comments, there are typically different dynamics at work.)

  11. #11 Epicanis
    February 3, 2009

    I always try to participate in my blog’s comments, even if for no other reason than that I’m grateful when people not only read but care enough to say something in reply.

    From my perspective, blogging isn’t for mere “consumers” – blogging is a medium for participants[1]. I therefore try to be responsive wherever I think it might help encourage participation.

    [1] Then again, this applies to most of life in my opinion, not just blogs…

  12. #12 Eva
    February 3, 2009

    On easternblot I tend to only answer if something is a question or otherwise needs a reply. On my blog on Nature Network I’m better at answering comments, because many of the other bloggers there do, and I took over the habit. I still don’t always have something to say, and will not answer every comment. It’s difficult sometimes! Like, this comment of mine here, that isn’t really something that requires more feedback from you. There was a question in the post, I answered it, end of discussion…?

  13. #13 Coturnix
    February 3, 2009

    Size of the blog matter, as does the tone. If there are lots of commenters, they can answer each other’s questions, destroy trolls, etc. and only occasionally the owner needs to come in. But then, sometimes I feel I am the one responsible for baiting someone into trolling and thus my responsibility to duke it out in the comments myself.

    And sometimes, I have a particular strategy for the post that involves my repeated commenting, keeping the discussion going in the direction I want it to go, not off on tangents, or in the direction someone else wants it to go.

  14. #14 Darren Naish
    February 3, 2009

    My advice on this matter would be: do what the hell you want. The blog is your toy, and exists to serve you. If I can’t be bothered or can’t find the time to address a question or respond to a criticism, that’s my choice. Usually, however, I want to engage, and do so because it’s fun. I’ve built up what I consider to be a very friendly, brilliant community of like-minded people, all of whom I ‘chat’ with regularly in the comments, hardly any of which I’ve ever met. It seems odd to me that anyone would want to miss out on this but, again, it’s their choice.

  15. #15 george.w
    February 3, 2009

    I often hold back a bit, sometimes a day or to to give other commenters a chance to respond. But I do appreciate bloggers who respond earlier, so maybe I should be quicker on the draw.

  16. #16 Coturnix
    February 3, 2009

    It’s context-dependent, methinks. Sometimes timeliness keeps the intriguing discussion going, but sometimes a fiery debate is better approached cooly, perhaps by sleeping over it and then deciding to respond or not.

  17. #17 Greg Laden
    March 14, 2009

    Work/Family stuff/sleeping/writing projects/blog writing projects/going to gym/making dinner/other maintenance tasks/reading/getting my stuff done/cleaning up my stuff/commenting.

    I really do put commenting on my blog last. There are posts that I know I’ll be more likely to comment on, and others not. I (and many other bloggers) also spend time dealing with comments that is not necessarily making comments. I think PZ spends hours per week dealing with comments before writing the first response, for instance.

    What I don’t like is being forced to comment. I may start a policy wherby if someone forces me to comment I make the comment invisible until I get around to it, if ever.

  18. #18 Greg Laden
    March 14, 2009

    Bora, I can’t believe you have not responded to my comment yet. DO YOU NOT CARE ABOUT ME????

  19. #19 Neil
    February 13, 2010

    Regarding comment portability, there are tools to integrate a FriendFeed comment thread into the original post at self-hosted WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr blogs. And some people employ Disqus quite effectively. But for people not using those platforms, it can be quite frustrating. I just assume that most discussion around my blog posts will happen at FriendFeed these days.

  20. #20 biochem belle
    February 14, 2010

    I respond to most comments on my blog-part out of courtesy and acknowledgement (especially if it is from a first-time commenter), part to establish community, and part to continue the conversation. I typically post 2 to 3 times a week and typically 5 to 10 comments, so it’s not too difficult.

    As for other blogs, I generally prefer those who respond in some fashion, but if there is a large number of commenters (such as seen on ScienceBlogs), then the conversation often continues even in the absence of the author responding to comments. I think having a conversation (or debate, in some cases) is the major objective to blogging in my mind, so as long as that continues through commenting or blog-to-blog threads, then I’m satisfied.

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