Comments On Commenting…

I think while I am off deeply engrossed in reading more books than normal, and ones that I can’t talk about, when I am not talking about some of the shorter books that I plan to read I will just behaving some radio silence here or there or posting random ramblings about this that and the other to do with books etc. Today I thought I would talk about commenting because it’s been at the forefront of my mind of late, not because I have been getting any rude comments by the way, let me explain…

A while back Cornflower Books did a really interesting post on ‘the thief of reading time’. I left a comment saying one of the things that can take up what could be reading time was blogging. Not just the writing, maintaining and responding to comments on my own either, but making sure I pop by my favourite blogs and leaving comments there. Not in a moany way, I would never do that, its just fact. I actually timed how long responding to commenting on my own and then doing the rounds on others takes, and every day it’s about two hours. I was really surprised as the time whizzes by, but that is still two hours. There was also this post that I stumbled upon too.

I freely admit I don’t comment on every blog post I read. If it’s a book I am reading soon I don’t read the post, I used to pop a comment saying ‘oh am reading that soon so will comment later’ now I just make a mental note to go back when I am done. If it’s on a book that the reviewer found a little bit ‘meh’ I am not really sure what value me adding ‘oh yeah that does sound a bit meh doesn’t it?’ has for the blogger who wrote the review?

I would rather say something a little more in depth, unless of course I just want to say ‘great review’ but normally if I think that then I have something to add to it. Though I am also aware that if I ramble on too much in someone else’s comments as a) it can get misconstrued and b) I might sound like a right know it all. Isn’t that weird as if I was chatting with you in the flesh I would go on and on with enthusiasm.

I was rather guilty of not responding to any when I first got comments on Savidge Reads; this wasn’t because I was being rude but because I just didn’t know what to say back. I couldn’t believe people were even reading it let alone what to say to the ones that were. Getting some feedback, way, way, way back though my not always commenting back came up as not an issue exactly but something that maybe I could tweak, I think that’s the best way to put it. Now if I miss responding to a comment I feel really guilty. Yet this has a flaw sometimes, I can end up saying the same thing ‘thanks’ etc over and over and start to worry people just think I am commenting lazily. Wouldn’t it look bad though if I didn’t answer everyone who has taken the time to comment? It’s a tough one.

I don’t want you thinking that I have been thinking about this overly, just now and again here and there. I do think over the next few weeks and months I might be doing less of both commenting back on here and also commenting on other blogs. Not full stop, just a little less. I do hope you wont think I am being rude, but if I don’t comment back either I completely agree or I am saying thank you for commenting mentally, or is that just lame?

What are your thoughts on comments? Do you comment on every blog post you read? How do you find the time to respond to comments and comment on other blogs? If you don’t have a blog what makes you comment on one? You can comment on all these questions and thoughts… or not, ha!



Filed under Book Thoughts

41 responses to “Comments On Commenting…

  1. I don’t comment on everything I want to — sometimes because my comment seems redundant and sometimes because I’m just feeling a bit dull. I’m more likely to comment if I see that something hasn’t been commented on at all and I want the blogger to know that their post was read and appreciated by someone. The more comments you already have, the less likely I am to comment.

    I reply to comments on my own site for the most part but sometimes, like you said, it’s just a repetitive thanking and I choose not to do that every time.

  2. I definitely don’t comment on every post I read – sadly I subscribe to too many blogs for that to even be possible! Sometimes I don’t comment because I can’t think of anything much to add, other times I’m in a hurry, and others I feel slightly intimidated (this happens more often than I’d like to admit). As for responding to comments, I’m with you on the guilt when I miss any. But as my life is also about to get much busier, I’m trying to learn to let go – to just respond with a single comment to everyone, or to miss it for a day and not worry about it. Of course, this is all easier said than done. But at the end of the day, I don’t think anyone cares as much as we do ourselves about whether or not their comments get a response. I do worry endlessly that people will think I’m snubbing them, being rude, etc., but hopefully they all know what it’s like because they struggle to fit the demands of blogging into a busy life as well. I’ve been reluctant to time how much time I spent at this every day, but two hours sounds about right – and still they fly by and leave me feeling like I’m perpetually behind. Lately I’ve taken to getting up earlier in the morning to have a bit of quiet (ha!) internet time before work. Which is what I’m doing right now.

    Oops, sorry for the ridiculously long comment.

  3. I’m shamefully lax on commenting. I generally don’t comment on books I haven’t read unless I have something to add to the discussion. I have found that teh interwebz have been stealing my reading time over the last couple of months, which is one reason why I’m also blogging less frequently. I feel like I need to spend some time getting back to the books, thinking about the books, and not immediately logging on to see what everyone else is saying. If that makes sense.

  4. bookgazing

    Being a blogger with a small, lovely commenting audience I can respond to the comments at my blog, but if I had as many comments as you, Nymeth and other big bloggers I know I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the conversation. I kind of like my small group of commenters (hope that doesn’t sound cliquey) because it feels like we’re all getting to know each other a little bit more and we can take the conversation past my own ideas. Sometimes I look at my discussion posts and wonder why they don’t seem as exciting as I remember and that’s because all the best ideas are in the comments.

    But I can’t comment on every post because I read too many(gah and just remembered must add more blogs I found to feed reader)! And I don’t feel like every comment I leave needs a response.

    Sometimes I wonder if there’s a way to encourage commenters to chat away between themselves in the comments of the big bloggers so that the conversation goes on, but it doesn’t suck time from the person who started it. Kind of like a bulletin board thread after the main post. That would be lovely.

  5. I dont comment on every blog I read as Id do nothing else all day. I will only comment if I can say something constructive or of value.

    I have to admit that when I started blogging I had no idea of the amount of work which goes into it. I used to think that it would be quite easy writing a short post and then replying to the comments. But it is much more work than that, writing posts can take ages sometimes and then maintaining all the comments and getting back to people and keeping up-to-date on other peoples blogs, it takes ALOT of time.

    Im not moaning about it as I enjoy it and if I didnt love doing it then I would stop tomorrow but it did take me by surprise at first.

  6. Brenda

    Not going to comment if I can’t be first!

  7. I just read that post you linked to and I can’t believe people are sad enough to want to be the first commenter and post comments solely to get blog traffic. I must say neither of these things ever occured to me before!

    I don’t comment on every post I read as I don’t have time. There are certain bloggers I always like to comment on because their posts are always interesting, and other bloggers whose posts I will always read but don’t necessarily feel the need to comment on EVERY time. There are also plenty of blogs I enjoy reading but merely ‘lurk’ on. If a post is about a book I’ve read or something else I am interested in, I will happily comment and enter into conversation, but if I haven’t read the book or don’t know anything about the subject matter and can only say ‘ooh sounds good’ I usually don’t bother commenting. Life is short and most of my blogging time is when I’m at work (tsk tsk!) so I prioritise and only comment when I am particularly moved to do so.

    I love getting comments and starting conversations within comments. I don’t like bloggers who don’t respond to comments or try and enter into conversation with their readers – what’s the point otherwise? It IS time consuming but anything worthwhile is!

    I think you’ll get an interesting discussion about this, Simon!

  8. I like to show appreciation for a good post by commenting, but only if I have something to add. Or if I have a different take on the subject.

    I have not felt the need to respond to every comment on my own blog, but now I will pay more attention to whether they need a response.

  9. Simon, I think you do a fab job around the blogosphere and I am always enormously grateful for your comments on my blog, and equally plagued by guilt that I don’t get here often enough to comment in return, even though I read you daily on google reader.
    I am also amazed but sometimes phased by those blogs where there is a threaded response to every single comment, as you say sometimes a bit of a banal ‘thank you for commenting on my blog’ type thing, and sometimes wonder if it’s about working some magic with blog stats? I don’t know, I’m a stats klutz, but I tried it for a while and it nearly killed me, until I had an e mail from a very wise person who said ‘You already offer enough of yourself and your time on your blog, don’t break the back of your good will by doing this, it’s not needed’ and so I heeded that advice.
    I love getting comments, I’ve always said they are the oxygen of my blog but I see them as a conversation that people have with each other, not just with me, I’ve just facilitated that space. I dip into the discussion whenever I can rather than being a slave to it, and now tend to do one round-up response to them all at the end of the day, or the next day,drawing in all the opinions and perhaps stimulating a bit more debate.
    It’s perhaps about finding a healthy balance too, I marvel that some bloggers must be fixed to their screens all day long, which is fine if they want that but it wouldn’t suit me, because I have life to live and work to do (which most people do!) and like Kirsty, I want a larger period of my reading and other life to be lived in the real world rather than the virtual one.
    And you’ve got a prize list to judge too so off you go:-)

  10. Simon, what a fascinating (and pertinent!) post for me right now. I thought, it being Summer and all, that I’d have so much time to read. In fact, I did read 24 books this Summer which isn’t as many as some, but enough to suit me.

    What I haven’t done is been able to post lately, or certainly comment enough. It drives me crazy that I’ve been so lax in my commenting, but somehow, I can’t summon the energy. I need time for my personal reading, and as you say, reading others’ blogs and leaving comments, can easily take several hours a day.

    Now I’m back to school next week, and gone is the extra time for reading literature and blogs. Still, I’ll do my best. It’s comforting to know that others struggle, I’m not alone. This post deeply resonated with me, just so you know.

    (p.s. I loathe the comments sometimes left on my blog which are meaningless, only a brief sentence to show someone was there. I’d rather have a thoughtful interaction than a trite few words.)

  11. I comment less than I’d like to for a lot of the reasons other people have said, as well as the fact that my computer is quite old and takes a while to load internet pages. And I am frequently too shy to say anything on new blogs.

    One of the things I value most about book blogging is how cool and smart and interesting the people on my blogroll are, and that’s a huge reason that I comment, even if to say nothing more than “You’ve really made me want to read this book.” I always want my fellow bloggers to know how great I think they are. 😀

  12. Very interesting. Actually, like Kirsty, I’ve also been pondering the time I spend on the computer doing other things instead of actual reading (I’m so easily distracted!) I tend to lurk on blogs (as I read way too many blogs) but I normally comment on posts where I want to say something, even if it’s just to let the blogger know I really enjoyed their post. But I don’t really expect a reply back unless I’ve asked a specific question and certainly don’t get offended if it doesn’t happen. We’ve all got busy lives and we’re supposed to be blogging for fun, right? I try to reply to all my comments because that’s just what I like to do and I don’t get that many comments in the first place so it doesn’t take up that much time for me.

  13. Case in point: I wrote you a long comment this morning and then my internet played up for an hour (when I had things to do) as I was posting it and now life is in the way and I don’t have time to repeat what I wrote earlier!

    Suffice to say, I empathise and a healthy balance/prioritising is required and understandable.

  14. Merenia

    I answer as a ‘commenter’ ie. don’t have my own blog (due to the presence of tiny children and time constraints thereof. Two hours for blog reading and commenting – what bliss that would be!).

    The discussion and ‘community’ that occurs around book blogs and comments is so enjoyable for me. The chances of me having such chat with real people are so VERY low – there just aren’t that many people around in my part of the world, where most people are crazy about surfing and netball, who want to chat say about English middlebrow domestic novels of the 20thC and the lessons from life that can be derived from them. It is a real joy to find such kindreds, even if ‘virtual’. I think the commenting attached to book blogs is what creates this ‘community’. And, slowly getting to my point here, some form of acknowledgement of comments does motivate me and inspire me to continue commenting and be part of the community. A collective reply to all the comments is fine, an individual reply absolutely gorgeous, but no acknowledgement whatsoever does definitely lower my motivation to comment again.

    As a commenter I think I could do more, to make myself ‘known’ and will do so in time via a librarything profile as I think that would help the bloggers and readers know me a little rather than just be a name that pops up.

    Thank you for your candid and varied blog and the ensuing discussions – I am grateful.

    • Merenia – I just wanted to say how much I treasure people like you and Susan in TX and Nancy, and many others I’m sure, who comment but don’t have blogs. It’s always so lovely to see you on my blog and on other people’s – I am quite remiss at replying to comments quickly (and can’t do threaded comments) and I’d hate to think you didn’t realise how lovely it is to see you! The non-blogging blog readers are the life behind blogs – more power to you!

    • I completely agree, Simon! Merenia, and others like you, who take time to read and post thoughtful comments despite not having your own blogs, are what make blogging such an enjoyable and worthwhile experience. I always love it when I see a comment from you, Merenia!

      I also think your point about being discouraged when not responded to is a perfect example of why I think bloggers who don’t bother replying to comments are missing out – if you don’t engage with the people who read your blog, they won’t keep coming back, and you’ll also lose the opportunity to forge lovely friendships with like minded people. I know people with big followings and lots of comments must find it difficult to keep up with it all, but frankly, I think it’s rude to not even acknowledge someone’s time and energy in reading your post, thinking about what you’ve written, and then posting a comment. Not replying to comments is the equivalent of ignoring someone who’s speaking to you, in my opinion!!

    • Just to reitterate what Simon and Rachel are saying… thanks to all the readers who pop by whethere they comment or not who do not have blogs as I think sometimes with all the chatting between us bloggers we occasionally miss giving credit to you all and actually you are probably the ones who read the most blogs and are a very important part of the book blogosphere so BIG thanks from me too.

  15. I don’t comment on EVERY post I read, but almost. I am guilty as charged…if I don’t have anything insightful to say, then I just say something encouraging. Very typical for my personality. IRL you can’t get me to shut up. I guess it all goes back to when I first started blogging, and I so appreciated each and every comment, and I compulsively want to give back now. It gets harder and harder to do that now though. I have so many blogs I follow and before I know it, the whole day has passed, I’ve not read a single word of my books, and have not written my reviews. Something has got to give…

  16. I’ve just discovered you through Rachel’s booksnob blog so I still haven’t got into your own blog. Give me time!

    I find my own blog takes very little time to do, being largely text around photographs, one of my big interests AFTER reading. I have a ‘contact me’ button but no comments box which cuts time a bit.

    It’s a problem, this blog thing. Not only reading what everyone has to say and maybe responding but also reading the other commenters comments! Am I repeating what others have already said? I ask myself.

    Blogging and blog reading can get out of hand so I’m staying with ones that feel like friends, like booksnob – who is unusual in that she answers EVERY comment in a most generous way.

  17. I would like to comment on every post I read, because I know how happy it makes me when other people comment on mine, but to do that I’d be leaving some rubbish comments. So I just try to comment regularly so that the blogger knows I’m there and reading their writing.

    I generally reply to comments on my own blog, though not all because some don’t really warrant it.

    I thought of the timing factor yesterday when I realised how much of a book I’d got finished before I’d turned on the computer that day. But then you can’t only read, you have to do other things too.

  18. I do try to comment on most things I read, just because I know how much I like receiving comments myself – so I’ll often say something fatuous! And I supposedly reply to all comments now (although I can’t do it line-by-line like WordPress does) but often forget for weeks. At the moment I’m doing a mammoth reply session, and finding it quite tiring…

  19. Oh, and I’ve just followed the link to the Copyblogger article, which made a lot of sense – but how sad that it’s all aimed at getting as much traffic as possible! It’s fun to check stats, but just being desperate to get readers is quite sad (and I know that you’re not one of those people, of course!)

  20. I definitely don’t expect a response on a comment if it won’t really add to the conversation.

    I post comments on my own blog because I’m new and glad that anyone reads my blog and especially if they comment.

    As for longish comments – I LOVE THEM! That’s why I love this whole blogging community. It’s sort of like being in a really great lit class with fabulous discussion. Those longish comments are its bread and butter. If you know more about a subject than me, I want to know about it. I don’t see that as being a know it all, particularly because you don’t come across that way.

    I love engaging discussions of books. That’s why I’m here.

    P.S. I’ve been meaning to tell you (no response necessary) how pleased I am about the Carnation Awards. I think it’s a worthy endeavor. I know it must be a lot of work, but bravo!

  21. I think you’ll get lots of comments on this post. I used to comment on every post I read, but not anymore. Nor do I read every post on every blog I follow anymore. I’ve a list of blogs I follow, I try to stop by them all once a week and I leave a comment if I find I have something to say. I suspect my comments are on the longish side, too.

    I like getting comments of all sorts, but I do prefer the longer ones. It takes time to make a serious point or to make your case if you disagree with something.

    What makes me nuts are all of the spam comments I’ve been getting lately. Is this happening to other bloggers, too? I find every post gets at least two spam comments now. I’ve had to enable moderation as a result.

  22. I only comment on some of the blog posts I read, mostly because I don’t always have anything to say about them, e.g. reviews of books I haven’t read and don’t plan to, and so on, although if a review strikes me as being exceptionally good or very funny, I usually comment.

    When someone comments on one of my blog posts, I try to reply, even if it’s just to say thanks for liking my post enough to comment. I also have a rule to visit the blogs of those who have commented on my posts and leave a comment in return.

  23. If I read something interesting on a blog, I like to acknowledge that I’ve been there, and seen it, even if I don’t always have something long and serious and interesting to say. I may be in the minority, but I think the commenting back-and-forth is the greatest pleasure in blogging. I don’t always think (enough, I guess) about responding to the comments on my blog…I’d rather go to that reader’s blog and forge a connection that way. It’s nice when people respond to a comment I’ve left, I would rather they came by and returned the favor.

  24. I don’t get out and comment as much as I would like–I read most posts via Google reader but I do try and leave comments as often as I can–often am catching up on several posts at once. I do always respond to comments anyone leaves me. I know how pressed for time people are–working or going to school or taking care of families–if someone has taken the time to chat I hate to have them think I’ve ignored them in any way. Like BookSnob the whole reason I blog is for the book discussion–and with some bloggers I feel like I know them a little bit more than just by the books they read, so there is more to ‘talk’ about. That said more often than not I only get a handful of comments on most blog posts so maybe it is easier for me than others–I will just leave one long comment in the evening but always a response to each commenter. And like Audrey–I am trying to get out more and visit people who visit me–I know that can be hard to do since time is so limited and we all want to read our books, but it is nice to be part of a reading community and not just feel like you are always only just looking in.

  25. I don’t comment on all of the blog posts I read. I actually read yours all the time and have only commented once or twice (maybe) that I can remember. Like you, I don’t always have something particularly compelling to add so I don’t bother. I do find that commenting on blogs and responding to the comments on mine takes up quite a bit of time. I do sometimes feel like I should be reading more than commenting. I guess it is the balance we all have to strike.

  26. Hmm it all depends…..i have my days when I hate to view and run withut leaving a comment and if its something I have read a will write a looong comment, If I haven’t read it I skip the review unless I know the blogger is strait to the point with no spoilers and then i write feedback….but hey comments are nice even if it is Hey, Great Review ;o)

  27. gaskella

    It’s all about balance. There are some blogs I read and comment most times, others I read and comment occasionally, others I just read – But if I can’t think of anything useful/interesting/fun to say I tend not to comment most times.

    On my own blog, I have aimed to reply to most comments, but again sometimes it’s difficult to reply interestingly – and I’ve been guilty of a few banal thank you for reading type comments before now.

    Feeback is nice especially if you have time to do it, but it’s not compulsory at all. It’s heartening enough really that people read your blog.

  28. Heidi

    I will comment as someone who doesn’t have a blog- and has neither the talent or the time:). I occasionally comment when I have read the book and like others feel I have something to say that is different or adds to the previous comments. Also if I can answer a question the blogger posed. I tend to read more than comment- I believe I have commented at least once on your blog perhaps twice but I usually read it a few times a week. Also as a non-blogger I often feel I have less to add on certain threads. I very much appreciate and admire the time commitment and the great job book bloggers do. It has increased my love of reading and given me many more books to add to my TBR list. But I always feed so bad when I read the guilt written blogs and apologies that they can’t comment or don’t write enough and or are stressing out. No worries your blog is a delight and just to put this out there is impressive. I have said the same to other bloggers I enjoy- your creativity and effort is appreciated. Thank you so much!

  29. winstonsdad

    I try to comment on as many blogs as I can ,but have start to try and flesh out my comments sometimes think I come accross as a little bland and maybe disinterested with half dozen words ,but not sometimes time is a factor that can not be avoid and it can eat in to my reading time ,I tend to comment more on writers I know well or books I ve read ,and try and reply to most comments on my blog ,as you do simon ,all the best stu

  30. I get relatively few comments on my blog for the most part, Simon, but I really appreciate the level of detail they often include, the kind words and/or the in-jokes from “regulars,” etc. That being said, it’s also particularly exciting for me to get a comment from a newcomer to the blog or a comment from one of my Spanish language readers since I still can’t believe that readers in foreign lands are willing to negotiate my posts in schoolboy Spanish. Very exciting! Hence, I try to respond to all comments left on my blog. As for comments I leave on other blogs, I REALLY REALLY appreciate those like you, Nymeth, Bellezza, CB James, Danielle, and Stu (from the previous commenters above whose blogs I’m familiar with–hope I didn’t leave anybody out) who take the time to respond to comments, individually or as a group, most of the time. This makes my exchange with them feel like more of a mini-conversation and less like an act of internet graffiti. P.S. Wonderful discussion topic today, Simon!

  31. mee

    I definitely do not comment on every post of every blog I read. That’s just inhumanly impossible! Another reason is that I read blogs mostly on my iPhone and only comment when I’m in front of a computer. So I comment only on post that I remember to comment on when I find a computer (which means I actually have something to say), does that make sense? I second a couple of people above that said they would be less likely to comment when there are already many comments on one post. In that case I just think they don’t need another comment from me (or do they? do you? :).

  32. Deb

    You have to pace yourself when reading blogs & commenting. I comment when I believe I have something to share that might be relevant to the topic in the blog. If the entry interests me, I will usually read the related comments, even if I have nothing to add.

    Everything in moderation, I suppose–even blogging & commenting.

  33. henrietta

    There is lots to interest me in your post and all the comments. I am an occasional leaver of comments on the blogs I visit, sometimes just a line or two to say that I have enjoyed their post, occasionally more detailed. On other occasions I may be restricted with time, and then I merely lurk. Like Merenia, I relish the opportunity to be part of these discussions, something which is harder for me on an everyday bassis at the moemnt. I have no wish to be “first” in a list of comments, and think it is rather sad that anyone might mind about that sort of thing. Some comments need no replies, and any continuing of threads, or replies always gives me a little lift.

    Occasionaly I have been led to a new blog by their authors comments on someone elses. I can see that for anyone putting a blog tegether they are probably quite important. WHat about lurkers? Do they help a blog?

  34. I don’t actually comment on that many blog posts, but the comments I do make vary. Sometimes I’m just in a chatty mood and if it’s a nicely written post I feel inspired to give some kind of response. Other times I’ll literally sit down and type out a ten-minute essay (and then feel guilty about the length).

    I comment on your blog more than most because you have some good old-fashioned book ponderings that tend to be quite interesting to think about!

    Like you, though, I do often skip blog posts with books that I want to read in the near future; which is why I skipped your recent post on Muriel Spark!

  35. I’ve the same issues as you, Simon, about time. I used to reply to every commenter on my blog. But lately I really have no time, literally. When I started blogging, I had no job. But now I have a fulltime job and three kids and I had to choose between responding to all comments on my blog and never being able to read and comment on other blogs, or vice versa, sometimes. Or, responding to all comments and never be able to post any entries on the blog. I do respond to comments that need to be answered, but now when someone says to me something like “Loved that book, too.” I just hope the commenter doesn’t take offense when I don’t respond, because while I don’t reply I’ve read and appreciate the comment very much. Just need to do time management or I won’t be able to blog at all.

  36. Thank you to everyone who commented on commenting, lovely to hear all your differing thoughts. As there are so many, and in taking some of your pearls of wisdom, I will simply say thanks to all of you at once. I feel much better knowing many of you all have the same juggling issues. Is also lovely to hear from the none bloggers, thanks too you too.

  37. I’m not the first to comment therefore I am not going to get blog traffic therefore I am not going to post a meaningful comment!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s