June 4th, 2008
I’ve seen a few discussions recently regarding blog comments and whether they constitute “a conversation.” Since I have been on Twitter, and have been writing for Talent Zoo, the number of comments on my blog has gone up. There are a couple of dozen regular readers of this blog that often comment, and their insights have always helped round out the discussion.
Last night I posted the Tale of Little Weasel and Big Weasel, a cautionary contrast of two stories of ethical misbehavior in the blogosphere. Little Weasel’s story came from a blog post written at the beginning of this year by Sabrina Dent, a popular Irish blogger. Sabrina left a comment on my blog indicating that she did not think I had accurately related the story. We both started out with rather critical comments, and as we “discussed” things, both of us began to see each other’s point of view, to learn new facts, and to come to a fundamental agreement on the most important aspects of the story. While perhaps there are better ways to get to know someone, I can honestly report that I know more about Sabrina now, and that I respect her opinion, candor and analytical thinking. I would like to think we are “friends.”
I respond to comments from time to time, but generally tend to write my post and step aside to let commenters weigh in. Often, comments will reference other comments, and additional conversations will go on. I love it when that happens.
I also love to leave comments on blogs. It might surprise you to know I am very opinionated. A comment is also a compliment to the person who wrote the blog, and it is a courtesy to show that you read and understood the post, and that it elicited a reaction strong enough to encourage a response.
I’m not suggesting making a habit of leaving comments just to make people feel better about themselves, although that’s a perfectly fine idea, too. I am suggesting that we all take better advantage of comments, by leaving them more often and going back and continuing the conversation when we receive them.
There is one case in which, clearly, blog comments are not part of a conversation. When an A-list blogger writes a popular and/or controversial post, and the comments can run into the hundreds, I see no value to adding a comment except to say, “hey, I talked to Michael Arrington!” I generally don’t bother commenting on these blogs.
As for the many comments on my blog, there are so many missed opportunities here for me to continue the discussion. If you write a blog, how many times have you asked yourself, “what in the world am I going to blog about next?” There are a couple of really sharp comments that I should have used as guidance in this regard. There is a conversation going on, and if all I do is count comments without responding, I’ve wasted my time and everyone else’s, and I’ve failed to understand and take advantage of this wonderful communications tool.
What do you think? Are blog comments part of a conversation? Do you comment on blogs? When you do, does the person writing the blog respond? Or are comments merely a badge of honor for a blogger to wear?