Blaugust and Making Comments on Comments

In which I try to write another post that is somewhat relevant to the spirit of Blaugust.

Blaugust Reborn

I have admittedly fallen completely off the writing prompts for the event.  I think we’re supposed to write something nice about developers or something this week, but I don’t have anything for that, so I am writing this instead.  This is why I write a blog solo and not as a collaborative effort or, heaven forbid, for a site run by somebody else.  I will write about what I damn well please when it damn well pleases me.

So I am going to write about comments.  Blog comments.

As noted elsewhere, getting a comment on a blog post… at least a comment that isn’t trying to sell you Cialis or a school public address system… why are there even spam comments for school public address system… does a lot to keep a blogger motivated.

Page views are nice, but they are sterile.  A large percentage of the traffic that comes to this blog arrives via Google and is likely made up of people who, if not here by a complete mistake, are unlikely to stick around and become fans of the site.  By my own estimate there are maybe 80 to 100 regular readers of the site, not all of whom visit every day.  So if I have a day with a thousand page views I am pretty sure at least 90% of that are people who are just passing through, never to be seen again, an estimate sustained by how often “gay elf porn” shows up in the search terms that bring people here.

And 90% is probably optimistic.  As like as not that number could close in on 99% some days, and it might as well be 100% if the only feedback I ever see is page views.

But a comment… a comment if affirmation that somebody showed up and read what you wrote and was invested enough to write a response.  A good comment can be a motivator, inspiration to carry on blogging, a source of ongoing topics, and a reason to check your notifications.  Comments help sustain blogging.

So as a blogger, and one who has some level of feelings for blogging and the local neighborhood of blogs, I ought to be out there leaving comments.  I am pretty sure I’ve brought this up before, but most recently Syp mentioned it in a Blaugust post of his own.  He is, by his own admission, a hypocrite on that front, but at least he admits it.  A Syp comment is a rare item indeed.

I am not as bad as him on that front, but I do feel I could comment more often.  Whether or not I comment often depends on my mood, the time, and which device I am using to read a post.  I am extremely unlikely to leave a comment from my phone.  On the other hand, if I am sitting at my desk at home in the evening and trying to write a blog post for the next day I am very likely to wander off to other blogs and leave comments in an a not too subtle method of avoiding the work at hand.

But, as a blogger, there is a whole different aspect of comments to consider, which is the reply to comments on your own blog.

I am, again, not as good at this as I probably should be.  Going back once again to last year’s Syp-scaring statistical nightmare of an anniversary blog post, I write about 13% of the comments on this blog.

Viewed from the “motivating me as a blogger” point of view, that seems like a lot.  It is me typing away more than one in ten times, like I don’t spew enough words in my posts to begin with.

On the flip side, as somebody who leaves comments, that seems like it might not be very much at all.  I likely do not respond to comments often enough, and I measure that from my own experience and reaction to the affairs on other blogs.

To pick on Syp again, because he is a famous actually-gets-paid-to-write person in our blogging neighborhood, as well as a convenient scapegoat, I often pass up leaving a comment over at Bio Break because I know he almost never replies.  What the hell is up with that?  He rarely even leaves a comment on his own blog.

And I have to admit if I go to a blog and leave comments on any sort of regular basis and never see any response, then my motivation to keep it up diminishes over time.  I mostly comment on Syp’s blog because I recognize most of the people who also comment and it is more to have a conversation with them than to respond to Syp who, so far as I know, rarely even reads the comments.

I compare this to leaving a comment over at Inventory Full where I know that Bhagpuss will respond to nearly every comment left.  By his own admission this is directly related to his pre-blogging time when he used to just comment on blogs and explained how much getting a response motivated him to continue leaving comments.

So, while not the worst at responding to comments, I could stand to improve.

Part of my issue there is a general problem with acknowledging praise.  If somebody goes negative or disagrees I will dive right in, but if somebody says something nice I am silent.

And that sort of applies to leaving comments as well.  It isn’t all that common for me to just say something nice unless I have something to add to what was written.  I feel as embarrassed leaving just a compliment as I do when getting one.  Generally I will try to find a way to link directly to a post I like as a sideways way of acknowledgement rather than a comment.

Anyway, I have meandered around for a thousand words now to say that we should all leave more comments, myself included.  And replies.  More replies.

Also, if you’re going to leave a response to a comment and you’re on a blog that doesn’t have threaded comments that sticks replies directly to the comment in question, at least give some hint as to the person to whom you are replying.  If you don’t like using “@heyyou” in your comments, at least mention the person in passing.  The tidy aspect of me hates the ambiguous reply where you aren’t sure who the reply is aimed.

Finally, to get to this week’s real prompts; game devs, thanks for doing your thing.  Sorry some of the community goes nuts every so often or thinks that you have to tailor every single game ever to their needs.  But that is ever the flip side of passion.  Everybody loves when people are hyped up about their product, but hates it when that goes wrong.  If you ride the lightning you’re bound to get shocked now and then.  Also, sorry about the crappy pay and that I likely didn’t buy your game.  But if you wanted money you could have sold your soul to enterprise software like I did.

24 thoughts on “Blaugust and Making Comments on Comments

  1. SynCaine

    Biggest factor for me regarding comments is blog platform. WordPress is easy, Blogger is not, as more than half the time it eats a comment for random login reasons, especially at sites that require a login.

    Beyond that, fully agree, seeing and interacting with people who comment is one of the better parts of blogging (getting rich off Darkfall being the other of course).

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Shintar

    an estimate sustained by how often “gay elf porn” shows up in the search terms

    I see what you did there; more views incoming!

    I have great respect for bloggers who reply to every single comment they get, and it certainly does make one feel appreciated, but I just can’t get myself to do the same. Replying to someone who basically commented “I agree; great points” just to say “thanks” is just too weird to me, as if I’m trying to artificially increase my comment count or something.

    That said, there’s a lot of middle ground between that and Syp. (Though looking at his last couple of posts, I think he’s decided to make an effort now!) It only bugs me when bloggers don’t reply to comments that are actively looking for a response, such as direct questions.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Alunaria

    Good topic. A comment can be the fuel of inspiration too.
    It is important to keep in mind how different we all are as bloggers too. Some just write for themselves. Some do it to connect. Some care little for comment, and some rely on them.
    But I certainly agree, as someone who comments a lot, I like to get a response to what I write. If I “just” write without a direct question, a like on WordPress is fine. Then I know my comment has been seen.
    I do think that some improvements could be made to the system too. Sometimes the notification that someone replies goes missing, and that means I might miss out.
    The reason I cherish blogging is the ability to connect with other bloggers. I dislike many social media, when all they seem to do is encourage the scroll and like without reading and move on behaviour.
    Long comment sorry, it’s written from my phone, not the most optimal setup!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Marathal

    Yo dawg, we heard you like comments so we are going to leave you comments on your comments, on your comments. :0

    I know what you mean there. I don’t have a large base of followers, even fewer that have commented or even given a like to a blog post. SO when I do get that email telling me someone has commented, I will knock over furniture to get to a phone of the PC to see. When people do comment, I, at the very least, try to like what they say, even if it is critical of what I have said. Sometimes I am at fault in that I will read something and think, that isn’t what I meant, you read it wrong, but rather than get into a battle of words in the comments section, I will think on it, and on a few occasions have written a followup blog post addressing it. Like you said, seeing stats is all well and good, knowing someone read everything and felt the desire to comment on it, is really a nice thing to see and experience.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Data_Error

    100% agree with comments being a huge motivating force, way outside view numbers.

    I personally find it much easier to respond to positive comments; it can be tough to find a balanced way to engage with counterpoints on your own blog, since there’s an implicit power imbalance in those conversations.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Bhagpuss

    @SynCaine – there was a fairly in-depth comment thread on my blog recently about the difficulty of leaving comments on Blogger blogs. It’s far harder than it should be. Also, even when the blog owner switches off all the security options, as i have done, Blogger still applies some of them anyway. It definitely is easier to comment on Blogger blogs on a Blogger account, just as it’s easier to comment on WordPress ones with a WP account, as I do. If you actively want to comment on both types it’s worth making an account on each just for that.

    @Shintar – I do struggle to find a way to reply to very short comments. I will just go “Thanks!” if I can’t think of anything better but sometimes I do let a comment slide because there’s just nothing I can think of to say that doesn’t sound forced. Mostly, though, as I’m sure you know, I tend to treat replying to comments as an opportunity to write another mini blog post. Not sure that’s ideal either…

    @Wilhelm – I agree with all of that, unsurprisngly. I have another, historical reason for commenting too, which I’ve mentioned before. When I used to write and publish apazines there was a very strong convention that every member should comment on the zine of every other member. Mailcoms, as the comments were called, were often the heart of the apa and anyone who shirked them was likley to be looked at with suspicion. When I stared reading blogs that was so deeply ingrained in me that I felt uncomfortable if I didn’t leave a comment. I’ve toned that down a lot but I still would prefer to comment if I can – I just don’t always have time.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. atherenlightrunner

    I always reply to comments as I see them. I’m glad someone stopped by and thought to talk games, which is the reason I have a games blog. I’m just used to Blogger and don’t have trouble commenting on those, I just log into my own blog and I’m off. If I comment elsewhere, I always look back to see if my comment was acknowledged. Some always acknowledge, and are happy you stopped by, some, not just Syp, never do. I never noticed the WordPress “like” thing in particular in the comments section before. It isn’t as noticeable as a Facebook like or a Twitter “heart”. I have two WordPress blogs, but it seems kind of cold and sterile beside Blogger.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Vigo

    Yeah, I get that. I don’t write a blog, but I may or may not be a published (assuming the internet counts) author. Reviews/comments are great, even for an author like me whose motivation is entirely self-contained.

    On the flip side, I don’t comment unless I have a… comment, a worthwhile one. Which isn’t actually that often. It’s something of a self-inflicted quality control.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    Thanks for all of the comments on comments. Of course, another aspect of all of this is knowing when, as the blog owner, it is time to inject yourself into the comments and when it is best to leave the comments to run their course, either to not throttle a thread by overwhelming it or to let a thread die that has gone far enough.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Isey

    Like right now? :) I do think “like” buttons were a nice addition for those times that you can’t really add to the conversation, but want to let the blogger know you read the post and enjoyed it. I had to leave way too many “nice post!” Comments in the past (which are hard for authors to respond to.)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Alunaria

    Another thing I want to add is also, that it takes time to get to know your fellow blogging “sphere”.

    Some people prefer to not engage a lot with their readers, and that is okay too.

    I kind of catch on after a while, getting to know who wants a comment, and who prefers none.

    I live by the “Treat others the way you want to be treated” and imagine others doing the same, and if I see bloggers being very active in the society and on other blogs, I – at least part of me – assumes, they want to connent on their own blog too. But I of course can be way off, and wrong – we are all different :)


  12. Gevlon

    I don’t know. In my EVE time I got lots of comments that were trying to inspire me … to kill myself. So “commenter” is somewhat equal to “hater” to me, I like silent readers better. I even like those more who write their replies as a full blog posts on their own blog with a nice link that gets me their readers.

    Also, I have some Cialis to sell if you need it to deal with all those gay elves.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pasduil

    Wilhelm has done the community a service by bringing up the whole topic of comments, and Bhagpuss also with his detailed investigations of problems with commenting on Blogger.

    It’s surprising how much technological factors are affecting commenting or not. Reading blogs via RSS or on a mobile device makes commenting that much harder. Even on a PC for me commenting on WP blogs is easy, on Squarespace it’s a hassle, and on Blogger it’s often downright painful. Some WP themes don’t have like buttons for posts, and plenty have them posts but not for comments.

    Another important thing is whether you can keep track of whether people replied to your comments. On there is a handy method for seeing new comments on any posts that you’ve commented on yourself or have liked, which greatly enhances the possibility of having an extended conversation. On other platforms there is no easy way to keep track that I know of. You can sometimes ask to get emails to let you know of follow up comments, but I don’t a flood of emails pouring.

    One reason why there is a lot of back and forth on Twitter and not so much on blog posts nowadays is that all of this is extremely easy on Twitter.

    I wonder if there are any tech solutions that help. Does anyone know of any RSS readers or mobile apps that are particularly good for not only reading but commenting on blogs, and for keeping track of conversations that you’re having?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Gevlon – And I oblige you by rarely ever leaving a comment on your blog. You, like Tobold, seem more interested in making pronouncements rather than engaging in any back and forth on a topic. And that is fine. You run the your site the way you see fit. But even if I see you have made a verifiable error in fact, I just shrug and move on. I see no point in bringing it up. If I want to argue with you I’ll do it by posting here, as I have done in the past.

    As for haters, I have had less than my share probably, since my topics tend to be less controversial, but I still get them. As with you, EVE Online seemed to spark a good portion of that, though I have had people angry about various aspects of WoW and LOTRO. During the Casino War I had a pack of people who were angry show up on my doorstep. There was Jester, of course, who was also in the pronouncements category of bloggers; he brooks no disagreement and isn’t open to discussion, especially when it comes to Goons, who are to blame for most of the game’s ills. He and his inapt WWII analogies showed up. And then there was Rob Kaichen, who just wanted to troll and who would post links to here on Reddit to incite the mob.

    That was the only time I seriously wondered whether blogging was worth it. It was certainly the era when I deleted the most comments. You get the /r/eve mob throwing obscenities and threatening to dox you and your family and it gets old pretty quick.

    But then the war ended, we lost, and /r/eve moved on to other things, Rob Kaichin crawled back into whatever hole he emerged from, and that was that. And then Goons won the peace, something which the hate I received made me appreciate all the more.

    Finally, I am mildly disappointed that Askimet didn’t at least put your comment into moderation since you mentioned Cialis. But I guess it knows you by now.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Pingback: Making pronouncements – Greedy Goblin

  16. Solf

    Sometimes I really want to comment on your blog… however — since that time that you’ve removed option to subscribe to comments (receive e-mails when new comments are posted on the post) — I usually don’t.

    The reason for this is that I use ‘push’ methods to read the web — most of the content (including your blogs) I read through RSS reader; the rest comes from push notifications for the stuff I’ve subscribed to for one reason or another. I hardly ever go to the sites just to see if something new has been posted.

    If I leave a comment, I’d like to know if someone responds… but given my usual browsing habits it’s too much bother to manually check your post to see if anyone replies — so I usually skip the commenting part altogether.


  17. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Solf – Yes, I have explained this to you before, how from my end of things subscribing to comments encouraged bad behavior that exceeded any possible benefit to me from the feature. So that isn’t going to change. You can blame a few people who felt they needed to “win” the comments for that. I’ll take fewer comments as a reasonable price to avoid that.

    Sometimes a comment can just be disposable. For me, much of the time, I leave a comment and don’t look back. I also have that self-imposed rule about not filling up somebody’s comment section. Something that needs more than a comment or two might as well be a post here instead. If a comment is important to me, I make the effort to return. I have never subscribed to the comments feed. I also often click through and visit blogs even if I read the text in Feedly.

    You have to make that call for yourself. If it isn’t worth it to you then that’s the way it is going to be. You do what works for you.

    As an side, just because it popped into my head as I wrote this, one of the funniest comment moments on the blog was Tobold getting angry because I did not respond to a reply he left for me on his blog. He felt he had to come here and leave a comment to tell me to respond to a comment there. That was before he decided that disagreeing with him was disrespectful and he began deleting comments that did so.

    Anyway, sometimes it is enough to have your say and move on.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Solf

    Yeah, I do remember your response and I understand your point, it’s your blog, you do what’s best for you :) Just thought I’d pop in with my perspective on things since you’ve raised the issue of comments.

    I could reasonably make a bot that’ll check specific comment sections for me and let me know if something new gets posted… but so far I’ve been far too lazy for that :)

    P.S. Obviously I’ve made an effort for this post to check for responses :)


  19. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Solf – Thanks for the return visit. I’m not sure a comment fetching bot would necessarily be worth the effort around here of late. I have started in on my blog anniversary post for next month and I will say that comments have pretty much fallen off a cliff here in the last twelve months. Such is life.

    On thinking about it though, there is another comment tracking options. If you have a account and use the WordPress Reader, something it does beyond showing posts and letting you search on tags and categories platform-wide is keep track of your comment conversations. You can see and reply to comments there. The interface is… imperfect. Sorting and tracking isn’t how I want it. It keeps track of comments on every post I “like” even if I haven’t commented, and the sorting is semi-chronological. But like a lot of things that does I suspect that it will slowly evolve into something useful.


  20. Solf

    Looking around for a ‘bot’ that I wouldn’t need to write myself, found this —
    Free version is only for 5 URLs and once-a-day checking, but might be sufficient for tracking e.g. comments here.

    Posting on the off chance someone might find this useful — in a few clicks you can select part of the page (comments section on this page in my case) and be notified when it changes — it successfully detected change by Wilhelm’s latest comment.


  21. Solf

    And in case anyone might care, I thought I’d share.
    I found — this lets me to use Firefox plugin (also available for Chrome I believe) to use my own browser (which is open 100% of the time anyway) to check websites for updates. I don’t even use their online login/account system (mostly because it seems there’s some bug somewhere and I can’t make use of templates anyway).

    This is pretty great — since it uses my own browser, it has access to my own cookies, so, e.g., I can use it to check Facebook pages for updates — I don’t use Facebook at all myself and there’s apparently no real way to RSS Facebook, so plugin that lets me keep track of a few Facebook pages that I care about is pretty damn great!

    Works for tracking comments too :)


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