February 5, 2007
Thanks for listening. No pressure to comment.
I've noticed a trend lately in blogging, most notably over at Indie Bloggers: posts without comments - including several of mine - abound. Now, to me, an entry without comments smacks of the 7th-grade party to which no one shows. Even the nerdy neighbor kid who has pursued you since elementary school doesn't come. And as the birthday girl you've put on your finest outfit and invited both the cool and not-so-cool kids and broke out your Casio keyboard. So after you change into your pajamas and curl up on the couch you're left with nothing to do but drink sherbert punch with your mom and watch Falcon Crest. It doesn't say anything about you or your coolness, bday girl, but you might feel like it does.

The thought of this makes me ache. Just as a full roster of partyers showing to your event makes you feel great, blog comments feel good. They are fun. They are validating.

I know that many already argue that we aren't writing for other people, so comments are really just gravy, but I don't buy it; bloggers, by our very nature, are putting thoughts out there for public consumption. If we weren't writing for others, we could just as easily type up our drama and rants and neverending cat stories in Wordpad and let them sit in an unlabeled folder on our desktops. Or we could turn off comments, which very few bloggers actually do, and the thought of which makes me break into a cold sweat.

So I submit that most bloggers write, at least partially, for the interaction with our readers. We like to get feedback and hear what others think about our experiences, our writing, our thoughts and my our neuroses. And since it's fair to say that most of our readers are also bloggers, why is it that so many of us - myself included - don't comment when we visit a site?

I have a variety of award-winning excuses I've crafted over time, just as I do for not holding a co-worker's baby when it's held out like a prize in front of me. Eh, I just don't have time right now what with Pat Sajak and Vanna coming on - I'll come back and write something later. If I admire the blogger's humor, it's likely that I feel I have nothing sufficiently witty to say. If the subject matter is serious, writer's block sometimes sets in, rendering me with nothing remotely meaningful to add to the conversation. Occasionally I won't really understand a post, like an entry on supply and demand (which shall never make an ounce of sense to me) or education policy in Transnistria (which frankly I didn't know existed before I Googled it). More often than that I won't relate to the content, such as those on testicular self exams or the beauty of child and/or lizard rearing.

But I often leave feeling like I owe the blogger something anyway. That because he or she made the effort to lay these thoughts bare to the world, my showing up and not writing something is somehow rude. I'd never show at a party, eat a plate of Swedish meatballs and down a cocktail or three, and leave without at least greeting the hostess, would I?

Then again, most hosts I know don't invite the entire Internet over for their Tupperware parties.

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61 Comments:

Blogger playfulinnc said...

I've always read in awe at your staggering number of comments on this site.

Honestly, the rest of us, not that we are as good as you, get by with 7 or 8 from the really dedicated readers out there. Maybe the site just needs time to develop those ties...

Blogger Kris said...

that is a really good point, pnc. interestingly, i see it everywhere, even with really established bloggers. they'll have 80 comments and then nothing on one particular entry. interesting . . .

Blogger wallofdenial said...

I don't get a lot of comment's. But I assume that is because not many are interested in what I have to say,,,whatever.

Blogger merry said...

Hi Kris,
Usually, yeah, I only comment if I have something to add to the conversation. But I do try to occasionally leave comments on sites I visit regularly. I just found yours a week or two ago so I really haven't been lurking for too long!

Anonymous Jorge said...

I have to admit to not checking IB as often as I would like to.

I don't know why that is.

Probably because most of who I read on there are already in my daily "blog chekkin'" sweep.

Perhaps it's fair to consider that IB could be too much of a good thing.

I actually clicked the all posts filter and was overwhelmed by the amount of content.

I haven't even checked my own articles for comments.

I am a bad person.

By the way, thanks for saying I'm so funny. :)

Anonymous sween said...

What I find utterly perplexing is the variance between the posts that get lots of comments and those that have none.

While there may be a multiple of reasons for why one elicits comments and another gets none, the absence of comments leads me to think one of two things:

- 4% of the time, I think, "Well, I must have crafted that post so perfectly that any comments would just be extraneous."

- 96% of the time I think, "I feel like I just farted in a packed elevator. And I have 73 floors to go."

In all likelihood, it's probably somewhere in the middle...

Blogger Frankly, Scarlett said...

Now I feel so bad! While I read religiously I've been amiss lately in commenting.

MUST....DO....BETTER!!!

Seriously though, you KNOW i've been a fan forever and hope you know the writing can stand on itself without feedback!

Blogger Matt said...

I love how bloggers think of their sites as their "place" and thank others for "stopping by."

And then they think they can banish me from their Web sites, which are part of the public sphere.

Anonymous zandria said...

That's a good point, Kris. Some posts seem to attract tons of comments, while others may get just a fraction. I've noticed that it's usually the "serious" posts that get fewer comments -- probably because, like you said, the commenter feels they have to add something substantial and meaningful to the conversation.

Blogger Kris said...

You are awesome, sweet readers -- I didn't write this to make you feel badly! I do the same thing . . . I'm more interested in the why of this happening . . .

Good points about those posts that get many comments while others do not. I will say that most of the posts of my own I like most get the fewest comments. Interesting!

Must. have. Diet Coke. before more thinking.

OK, I just went to post a comment on why I don't comment, but then deleted the entire thing. I'm not worthy. However, I am an avid reader of your blog and appreciate ALL of your posts.

Blogger mamalujo1 said...

I just turned my comments off, because I'm sick and tired of the feeling that I need them to validate what I write. Notice I'm not saying that I do or do not need the comments for validation-I'm just sick of feeling like I do. I'm tired of struggling with the warring notions of writing my posts for myself, but posting them on the internet with the hope that others will read them and feel compelled to comment. It's my issue, I know, and I shouldn't care, but I do. By the way, I read evey post of yours, but I don't comment that often. Why? Lots of reasons. I enjoy everything you write though.

Blogger Kris said...

Thanks for all of your thoughts. I've often thought of turning comments off too, but can't bring myself to do it. I struggle with the balance between feeling like I want that validation, and just plain loving to hear what you say about things.

Blogger StupendousWoman said...

Reasons I sometimes don't comment:

1) Lack of time (no really, if I had to comment on every post I read, I would never work).

2) On some blogs, I feel like I have stepped into a very close-knit family gathering where everyone is going on about old inside jokes; it does not make me feel welcome. (Obviously, I am not talking about your blog here!)

3) Some posts are very beautiful, very intimate, and I don't feel I could add something to them. I just hope that by showing up on the blogger's site meter they will know I was there.

To me, a blogger who seemingly “does not want comments” is like a rock star complaining about his fame. I just don't buy it: I mean, there are still paper journals out there, you know. ;)

Blogger Kris said...

ALL good points. I hadn't thought about the cliquey aspect to some sites . . .

Blogger Michele said...

Guilty.

I am using Bloglines as a scapegoat. Its so easy to check all of my blogs that way, but it's hell on the commenting.

Of course we like comments. And I love your analogy of the party no one came to.

Anonymous bloggadocio said...

guilty for both not leaving comments and then wondering why some of my posts don't garner any at all. In the end, I put myself in readers' shoes and realize that I don't leave comments when and where I don't have anthing enlightening to add and maybe that's how my readers feel.

Blogger Gwen said...

Well, I would probably come to your seventh grade party, but I would be wearing the designer knock off jeans (which were actually called "Fast" back when I was in 7th grade; and yes, that did make for very painful exchanges on the bus, especially since I was a strange missionary kid who had no idea what sexual innuendo was all about) and instead of "wings," I would have oddly placed barrettes in my hair. Then I would sit in the corner and not talk to anybody.

And that pretty much explains why I comment so much less than I read.

I get so sad when I don't get any comments. I'm almost to the point now when I expect at least 2 per entry which probably isn't what I even deserve. Getting comments is the sweetest thing ever.
I love IndieBloggers. I should read it more often and make a point of commenting even if I don't have anything to say 'cause comments really make a person's day. :)

Anonymous Anne Glamore said...

I read a lot more blogs than I comment on, because of either time constraints or the facts that everything's already been said, mostly.

When I find a beautifully written post I try to say so, though, because I care about that.

Anonymous Neil said...

I think Bloglines and Google Reader are having an effect as well. It's not uncommon for a blogger to read 100 blogs in one day now -- off site -- making us more into blog "readers," than "commenters."

Blogger missbhavens said...

Oh, yeah. Feedreaders killed the comment star, no doubt about it.

Actually, I had been a fairly regular commenter on the zillions of blogs and videoblogs I subscribe to (seriously: zillions), but I have an inordinate amount of free time. My commenting overall has slowed tremendously because the new house has no internets yes, which means sitting in the idling truck in front of the local hotel to suck up their wifi. Those days I'm lucky to dash through my feeds at all! Dood: it's COLD upstate in that truck!

But, yeah. it's the feedreaders. Helpful, but with a catch.

Blogger Bob said...

As to why we don't leave comments, is it because some of the blogs that we read leave us speechless? Then there are those of us who live with 5 hits a day to their blogs and wonder, "Is it my breath or should I use something different under my arms?" What it comes down to is this, "I Blog, therefore I am."

Blogger janet said...

Seeing that you never get less than 20 comments on your own blog, I'm going to venture a guess that IB is just not getting a ton of traffic? Or just perhaps people are using it to find new blogs to read, but doing most of that reading after leaving the IB site? I signed up for IB but basically have done nothing else interactive there. I should though, I know...

Blogger Chantel said...

I would so go to a cocktail party ,eat food and drink cocktails and then leave without greeting anyone if I could.
I'm fun that way but, I don't comment as much as I used to. Maybe its because my brain isn't tracking as fast as it used too or, I really think I'm so close with a blogger that we're psychically connected so there is no need for a comment? Or, sometimes or most of the time - I don't have anything good to add to the conversation.

Blogger Woman with kids said...

When I don't comment, it's usually because I'm not sure what to say. When I do, it's usually something terribly witty like, "Yeah! I ...uh... agree!"

Blogger Marisa said...

I rarely leave comments, and don't think twice.
But I also rarely receive comments, and, yeah, feel a bit loser-ish.
;)
Great post topic!

Blogger Kris said...

I hope you don't feel loser-ish. :( There's all these wonderful folks here detailing while they don't leave comments on blogs they love and visit frequently!

Blogger steve said...

There are two reasons why I don't comment:

1. My comment is often idiotic, and I catch myself before I hit "Publish" and mercifully delete it.

2. Posts with more than 10 comments intimidate me and I feel lost in the shuffle with my idiotic comment.

So there you go. See? Idiocy!

Blogger Beth said...

Like a few other people have mentioned here, I blame Google Reader.

Blogger Love Monkey said...

wow, after all those comments I fell kind of commentless. I love to get comments - I love hearing what others have to say and yeah, it's a teensy bit about liking that others like me.

And although I love writing, I love blogging too and blogging wouldn't be blogging without the "community."

I try to comment as much as I can except for the times, like you say, when I don't feel "connected" to the subject matter. I'm always afraid that if I just make a short polite comment it will be misunderstood as a ploy to get someone to check my own blog out!

Blogger Just Dawn said...

I would be happy to have readers...comments????what are those?

Anonymous deana said...

I always feel slightly snubbed when I leave a comment and it doesn't get a follow up comment from the blogger - silly I know. I suspect it's probably similar to how bloggers without comments feel.

Blogger Kris said...

Really good point, D. I read comments religiously, possibly ridiculously so, but almost never write back. I can promise that each comment on this site is read and appreciated. Unless you're pushing ED meds on me. Then not so much.

Anonymous deana said...

Thanks for the follow up! It has earned you at least five future comments of the non-spam variety.

Thanks for reading and appreciating my comment!!!

Anonymous girl and dog said...

If the post is particularly funny or deep, I find myself at a loss for words that would be fitting.

Also, there are some rude commenters out there who should keep their thoughts to themselves. If you can't say something nice...

Blogger Miss Scarlet said...

Sometims I do feel the pressure on a really popular blog/post that I need to be equally eloquent or witty, but I try to at least leave something, even if it's just a "haha!"

Anonymous Alison said...

Lately I've felt overwhelmed, and have just been reading in Bloglines. On the other hand, I love getting comments on my blog, and I understand the kind of give-and-take aspect of commenting.

I hope that makes sense! I'm really tired. ;-)

Anonymous gorillabuns said...

well, you can most certainly be assured, when i comment, i have had one too many cocktails and i feel that my "not so witty comments" are sooo appreciated.

Blogger JordanBaker said...

I made a promise to myself awhile ago that I would stop commenting if I didn't have anything substantive to say. EG: I'm never going to be comment #57 on a post where the first 56 comments are all variations on "LOL!!!! U R right on!!! This is soooooooo tru!!!"

Now, I break this all the time in cases where I feel my absence is going to be conspicuous (bloggers I know well-ish in the "real" world; blogs with a defined set of regular commenters), if a post has been up for a few hours without drawing any sort of response, if I haven't commented on a blog in awhile, or if a post screams "desperate cry for help where the author may off him/herself if s/he doesn't hear a LOT of affirmation posthaste."

Blogger kitkat said...

I try to leave comments often, but I rarely will post a comment when there are 15 or more comments already there. What else can I contribute to the conversation?

Someone probably already commented this very thing.

Blogger PaintingChef said...

The analogy is perfect. Quite often it seems to me that the posts I really work on, lay my heart bare in, elicit few, if any comments (speaking of my 7 or 8 regular readers...) while the ones that I'm almost embarrassed to publish because they are nothing more than pointless drivel will spark all sorts of conversation.

But I'm guilty of sometimes not commenting. Usually its because I'm in awe of what someone has said and I think that adding my two cents worth would be like some lame ass jumping up after the fact and being all ME TOO! ME TOO!

I'm trying to be better about commenting though...because you're right. I don't care who says it isn't true, as bloggers we DO write for other people to read. And we want to know when people are reading and what they think. None of us should deny it, we need the validation.

Otherwise we'd be all "Dear Diary..."

Blogger themikestand said...

Holy hell, do you ever know how to throw a comment party, Kris. :D

Anonymous Mama G said...

Ditto. All of it.

I tend to feel that I've failed just a little bit if I don't get comments ... but then I'm guilty of not always leaving comments. I can't tell you how many times I've started typing out a comment and then decided that what I had to say was probably not something the writer would be interested in reading - too blah - and so I delete. I'm working on my creativity ...

Blogger Lovely Lelaina said...

Apparently commenting about comments is the most popular thing to comment about. I've never seen so many comments. I, for the record, try to comment as much as possible. And I'm pretty sure only 2 people have ever read my blog postings. Which sucks. How does one promote a blog, anyways?

Blogger T.L. Rice said...

You're my favorite.

[I was trying for something wittier, but that's all I've got. I'm too busy watching Falcon Crest.]

Anonymous nabbalicious said...

Oh, the comments issue. Sometimes I'm alarmed at how much I care. At my most sensitive, I've actually cried about a lack of comments (ahem, it's PMS, usually, but the pain is very real) in a post I worked hard on. But I appreciate every single comment I get, and it's the part of any post that I most look forward to. I love seeing everyone together, talking, trading thoughts, sharing opinions. When it doesn't happen, it feels like complete and utter rejection.

Conversely, I do try to comment at least regularly on the the blogs I read, but sometimes I just don't have anything to contribute.

Great post!

Blogger Jon said...

Those of us that are a little more.. uhhh..."low brow" than you, may just feel intimidated by your writing. I mean, would it kill you to throw in a fart joke every once in awhile?

Blogger Melina said...

Kris, this is a post near and dear to my heart. Sometimes I write a shitty post and expect nothing, but there are times (granted, few and far between lately) where I wonder where I went wrong that no one loves me. It's like getting pig's blood dumped on me when I win prom queen. Ok, maybe not that bad, but still.

Blogger Newt said...

You sort of end up reading the same thing over and over again. Not the posts of the blogger, but all their commenters. If they agree with you or disagree.. it's all the same comment.

On blog I love to read, for example.. it's always the same thing.

"Oh girl.. I know how you feel" or "You go girl!"

Can ony read that so many times before I want to throw things.

Blogger whiskeymarie said...

I WOULD go to a cocktail party, drink a bunch & leave. I always greet & mingle with the hosts, but lately I seem to just leave parties with no goodbyes as I feel like I want to avoid the big fakey-sincere scene at the door with all the...hugging. Also, by the time I leave, the hosts usually don't notice.
I'm fairly new to this blogging thing- I've been reading a couple for a long while now, but just started commenting.
Not sure why.
Hope that helps.

Blogger Bill said...

I saw this earlier and couldn't comment because it would have taken a week and a half and it would have been 98% exposition explaining why I was commenting as I was.

One day I'll blog on this and the 18 other notions it brought up that I wonder about.

One reason I don't always comment is because sometimes I just don't have the oomph. And sometimes it's because I'm just a stupid man with nothing worthwhile to say but enough brains to know I should just keep quiet.

Blogger egan said...

The irony of 53 previous comments on this post is a little thick.

Blogger Samantha said...

Funny I hadn’t been getting any comments; I totally blamed it on the new beta blogger thingy. Thing is I have those same excuses (ie that entry was funny, I couldn’t possibly have comment good enough for that.) Guess I should stop analyzing my comments and just put them out there.

When I wrote daily, I also read lots of blogs and commented frequently upon them. As my output decreased, so did my attention to other wordsmiths. My site withered, both in frequent content and in reader comments upon my occasional entries.

Sure, I like attention. After craving it and feeding it for two years, though, the lustre dimmed, and nowadays I'm ever so casual about it.

I wandered over from Angie Uncut, btw.

Blogger mitzh said...

COMMENTS

--it's always been an issue in any blogger's site/mind.Even if we don't shout it out loud, deep inside we always wonder if our entries suck that's why we don't get comments. Or nobody reads our blog which is just as sad.

But in the end what really sums it all up is if we really love blogging that much, maybe, just maybe comment should be the last thing in our minds(?)...

OK who am I kidding? (^_^)

Blogger mitzh said...

I totally agree with what stupendouswoman wrote... :)

Blogger AP said...

Hi Kris: Just delurking to let you know I am here. I found you awhile ago through Janet the Blonde.
I like your writing and occassionally forward your posts on to friends. Thanks for all you contribute to the blogosphere!

Blogger AP said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger crinkled said...

This doesn't apply everywhere else, but previous blogging experience on a social-networking site tells me that the ones who post the most butt pictures on their blog get the most comments.

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