I find myself reading more and more blogs these days, but recently, commenting less and less. Everyone everywhere says that if you want to get more blog traffic for your own site, you should comment more, and I know it’s true. But more than just racking up traffic, I like the interaction and the opportunity to acknowledge someone’s post-how it may have interested or amused or even inspired me.
The enemy to commenting is of course, shyness-it’s so much easier to lurk-and then, most importantly, time. If I had endless amounts of time and energy I would be writing more, reading more, commenting more. taking piano lessons-you name it. My only excuse for not leaving a comment is that I’m doing the best that I can, trying to hold up my blogging end as well as all the other ends in my life. A real conundrum towards leaving a comment came up recently when I was catching up with some older posts on a blog I like and I was suddenly struck by something in a post that made me want to comment. But how useful is it to comment on a weeks-old post? I know the internet never really expires. There are some old posts on my blog that still get a perplexing amount of traffic, mostly due to images and pop culture subject matter, I guess. But should I be polite, still drop a line, to say I’ve stopped by? Late as it is? Or will the blogger’s traffic-meter tell them that story? I know that for me, sometimes a quick check of my stats is enough, to know that I am not just a voice crying out in the wilderness. What is the proper blog comment etiquette in this situation?
Being an artist, a writer, is first and foremost, a solitary activity. When all is said in done you are basically doing it for yourself, because even if no one else, not even your mom, reads it, you’d still be drawn to do it anyway. That’s what being an artist is for me. Being compelled. BUT … the other side of this is the need to communicate. So when you find that folks have seen or read your work it is extremely gratifying. Even if at first it is just a handful of loyal or coerced friends and the googlebots. It still helps.
So you steam on, inspired by that teeniest bit of encouragement, as well as your racing mind, which inevitably jumps from one topic to the next-“if they liked that, then they’ll love this”-or just the desire and ability to share. I have often wondered, in my new, internet life, at the plethora of forums available to me and whether I should expand or contract, or to concentrate. I don’t have any definitive answers. I think with ” new” media there really aren’t any limits-anything goes as to where you should post or connect. But the same questions have come up regarding my content, too. Different forums require different types of sharing. Some folks have counseled me that I should make my blog about something quite specific. I have thought long and hard about that. Is it a diary? A platform for pop-culture review? A way to keep friends and family up-to-date on my family’s doings? Yes, yes, and yes. Sometimes it’s just a photoblog, sometimes it’s a rant. Sometimes a nostalgia piece, sometimes a critical review or opinion piece. Just like me. Like others in my jack-of-all-trades family, I just can’t and won’t be limited to one style. And I’m OK with that. Anyone who just wants to check in for some recent photos can get that. If those bore them and they prefer a critical take on a book recently read or a movie recently seen, they can skip ahead.
But back to the commenting. A work colleague told me that she attended some web 2.0 conference last year where one of the speakers was saying that comments were “over” and that most blogs would be disabling them in future. I’m not sure what future that speaker was talking about, because I haven’t really run across any blogs where you can’t post a comment, or this non-trend. If anything, the ability to comment is what is driving blogging and social media. The comments section is the new letter to the editor. If you know the person, and are commenting on their blog or their facebook page, you are replacing email. Lots of the blogs I read, I read expressly for the comments-to gauge if other folks think like me about what the writer is saying. Many blogs I used to check out I have also ceased to read for the same reason-the comments. Blogs mainly centered on celebrity, like tmz or dListed, I once considered entertaining, but now I no longer visit, because their comments are just an excuse for anonymous folks to get nasty or stupid. Salon, which used to have interesting articles, now seems to have stupid articles with interesting comments.
I guess this is a long way of saying that I am going to try to take the time to comment as much as I can in the future. If I can read, I can comment. Again, I think I should be commenting for myself first, because I think that’s the right thing to do. If someone comments back on my comment, or clicks my name to check out my blog, my writing, then that’s just icing on the cake. In fact, I think I am going to take it a step further and when I find a blog or a post I like, I’m going to not only comment, but feature that post or blogger on my blog. Blog it forward.