Wednesday, 12 December 2012

On Commenting

This might seem like a navel-gazing post, but I'm going to try hard to make it more general.  It's responding to something I've noticed in the literary blogosphere at large - I think it is a wider phenomenon - which is the decline in comments on blog posts.


Speaking specifically about Stuck-in-a-Book, the number of comments I anticipate getting, particularly on a book review, has actually decreased slightly from four or five years ago, despite the fact that my stats counter tells me I'm getting ten times as many readers now.  I'm lucky if 0.5% of the people who visit each day leave a comment, which seems an extraordinarily low percentage - and I've seen this trend around my favourite blogs, whether they have large or smaller audiences.  Perhaps nobody else thinks this is the case, in which case this post may end up discussing something unique to my blog, but do let me know (ha!) in the comments if you do or don't agree with my observation.

Personally, I always find it hard to realise that people have read a post if they don't comment.  Although I see that my blog is getting however many thousand hits a week, in my head it's only the tens of commenters who register.  That's not intended to be a gripe, it's just an illumination of the curious way my mind works - but perhaps yours does too?

I want to write in praise of comments.  Like many bloggers, I am passionate about the community in blogging - I beat the drum for community, and try to get involved as much as possible.  That's why I join in with readalongs, or start my own; that's why I have run three series of My Life in Books so enthusiastically, and why I celebrate people like Kim, who is currently running a series of Bloggers' Best Books of 2012.  Obviously a lot of blogging is necessarily done alone, and presents an individual's take on their personal reading life - but the reason we're all writing and reading on the internet, instead of jotting our thoughts in a notebook, is because we want to share the experience with others.

When I'm reading other people's blogs, all too often I forget how important the comment box is.  Today's post is directed at myself, as much as anyone else.  I read the post with interest, and appreciate the bloggers' perception or humour.  I might well jot down the title of the book somewhere, or even head straight off and buy it.  But, although I comment a fair amount (as do many of you), too often I move off somewhere else without having written anything.  It's a bit like leaving a party without thanking the hostess.

The comment box is a portal.  It stops the blogger being isolated, and brings the reader to their side.  It makes what might seem the loneliest of pursuits into a two-way conversation and a bustling world of long-distance friends.  Sometimes it adds information to the exchange, and that is wonderful; mostly it just adds appreciation or recognition - or even contradiction, which is, in fact, another form of recognition.  Sometimes I think, "But I don't have anything to say."  And what I probably mean is, "I don't have any personal knowledge on this topic", which isn't the same thing at all.  A comment needn't be the product of research.  A comment, any comment, demonstrates the time, energy, and thought put into writing is worthwhile - but is also rewards the reading time; it puts the reader in dialogue with the writer, and it elevates them both.  Even a humble "this sounds interesting" feels like a warm smile, and a "great review" like a bearhug.

Perhaps it is because there are so many blogs now, and people don't want to scatter their responses too prolifically.  Perhaps (more prosaically) it is because signing up and word verification have got so much more complicated.  But, on behalf of myself and every other blogger out there, I want to champion the commenter and laud the comment box.  It is the lifeblood of the blogosphere, and I apologise for forgetting that myself.  I'll be making a New Year's Blog Resolution to comment more often as I read around the blogosphere, and maybe some of you will too.  Perhaps some of you have never commented on a blog before - perhaps 2013 can be the year you step across the great divide!  I'd love to know the thoughts of any blogger or blog-reader, on the topic of comments?  I'd hate for that side of blogging to slope away - let's continue to support one another, and make blogging the wonderful, intelligent, friendly, joyous, constructive conversation it can be.

170 comments:

  1. It's interesting to hear your perspective on this, because as someone with a very small blog it's interesting to hear that even with a bigger blog people feel the same way about comments. Without comments it is hard to feel like anyone has read your post, so I have tried to become a wider commenter myself, but I also know the feeling of having nothing to add to a post.

    In a way, writing a blog post is more like writing for yourself, whereas a comment is a more personal communication, and it can feel hard to write a good one out of all proportion to the size/content. Or maybe that's just me?

    Anyway, thanks for the reminder to keep commenting! :)

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    1. I think every blogger probably feels quite similar - well, it certainly seems to have touched a nerve with people! I do wonder how popular people on Youtube, with thousands of comments, cope - but none of us book bloggers ever get quite there.

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  2. First, I'll start by saying that as a frequent reader of yours who has only commented a handful of times, I completely see the irony in the fact that I'm commenting on this post! But I completely agree with what you say here and have noticed a similar decline in comments on my own (quite small) blog. I often pass up on leaving comments if I think I have nothing new to add to what other commenters have already said. I think part of what fuels that thinking for me, and maybe for others, is the backlash I've seen from some bloggers against people who leave brief, generic comments, like "nice post", as if that kind of comment means that the reader isn't fully engaging with the blog or is only trying to drive readers to their own blog. I think there's definitely a happy medium, though. A short and sweet comment to show that you enjoyed a post might be better than holding back until you think of something brilliant to say. I think I'll join in your New Year's resolution and try to be more diligent about commenting.

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    1. I wasn't aware of this backlash, and I'm sad that it's happened - I'm quite happy for anybody to use the comment box to point to their own blogs, so long as it's not just spam, because I want to make blogging about community. If I get a larger audience than a new blogger, then I'm happy for them to try and use the comment box for their advantage!

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  3. Good point, Simon. I must admit I’m not the best in commenting as very often I feel like I don’t know what to say, what else to add. But, like you said: “A comment needn't be the product of research” so I promise to comment more often. I do enjoy your blog very much and look forward to reading new posts every day. But you are right – if there is no comment it’s hard to believe that the post was read.
    And one more thing – another great cartoon! I admire your blog, but I love your sketches.

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    1. Thanks so much for the comment on the cartoons :) It does mean a lot.
      And thanks for adding your thoughts to this discussion - glad you're joining in with my resolution!

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  4. I do not blog, although I read many blogs on a variety of subjects. I do comment occasionally when I feel that my contribution is worth making or when expressly invited to do so, as is the case here.

    Typically, as with you, I comment when I believe my personal knowledge would add something to the discussion or when I feel strongly about something. That said, I don't feel strongly enough about anything to want to blog myself. I wonder whether a number of other people would also fall into this category and whether therefore we are always going to be those who hang back whilst you bloggers race on ahead?

    My favourite blogs are the ones where the bloggers are passionate and knowledgeable about their chosen topics, can communicate that well and where they permit and encourages comments, even when those comments may on occasion (but not as a rule) be critical of their positions. By "critical", I mean that those comments disagree with the subject matter of the post; I am not advocating discourtesy or even "robust debate", which is often used as an excuse for attacks aimed at the writer, rather than the post.

    However, not everyone is like that. Some bloggers only want the right kind of comment. I would characterise them as only wanting a meeting of minds with their favoured followers. Either the comments section becomes such a love-in that I feel like I'm intruding when I read it or any comment even slightly critical in tone is rebuffed. There is, or ought to be, room for saying, "I disagree with you" or "in this instance, you are inaccurate or incorrect". Neither point of view, however carefully and courteously expressed, tends to be welcomed and so you are either left with uncritical agreement or with no one saying anything at all.

    I wonder sometimes why those bloggers choose such a personally revealing and potentially vulnerable method of communication when it necessarily leaves them open to the unwelcome views of strangers. Wouldn't a private diary be better than a blog in that instance?

    Now, if I may ask a question directed outwards rather than inwards, I need recommendations for books for my six-year old niece who is worried that her extrovert twin brother reads better than she does and who is therefore discouraged from reading at all. It should be something where he isn't going to be tempted to butt in but not something so sickeningly twee and pink that I can not bear to sit through it. with her So far, I am thinking about Julia Donaldson, but does anyone have any other suggestions?

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    1. I workecd with young children for 35 years and I don't think the book choice is as important as making sure there is a special time just for her to read what she might choose w/out him being around. She needs to have one on one time about her day or book while her brother is off doing something different and praising her for her own skills, interests as an individual separate from him would probably go quite far with her. Happy reading. Pam

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    2. My suggestion is the Tashi series of books. Of five children, I only had one reluctant reader, and these were the books which gave him the confidence to believe that he could read on his own (my girls loved them as well).

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    3. My stepchildren, neither of whom are enthusiastic readers, LOVED the Tashi books. Geronimo Stilton books were also very popular with my stepson.

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    4. Thank you, Karyn and Gemma for your suggestions. Those books look perfect. They're in my basket now.

      Travellin' Penguin - Pam, no doubt you're right. Twins do tend to be treated as an interchangeable pair and my brother is a single parent so childcare generally tends to be easier if they're dealt with together. However, I shall bear your very sensible advice in mind and see if I can put it into practice over Christmas. Thank you very much.

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    5. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment mq,cb - I'm glad that others got here before me, and offered some suggestions. My knowledge of children's books is rather poor, but I do wholeheartedly agree with Pam - I found reading more difficult than my twin, at an early age, and valued time on my own (with my parents) to practice. As you can see, it hasn't held me back with reading in the longterm!

      Going back to the rest of your comment - really interesting on so many issues! I'm always impressed by the selflessness of blog readers/commenters who don't blog themselves - you are very wonderful! But I suppose you (plural) do entirely fall below the radar if you don't comment - which may be exactly how you want to be, I suppose.

      As for negative opinions - I'm not going lie, I do prefer an "I agree!" if it's about a book I love, who wouldn't?, but I'm also happy to get disagreements. I leave disagreements on enough blogs!

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  5. I love your blog, but I don't usually comment. (I've only commented once, actually.) Perhaps I will more as I actually read 3 Men on a Bummel before you apparently did! I dont usually feel as if I have anything very intelligent to add. And all the registering does get to me (as does not having an easy way to see if there were any replies to whatever I babbled.)

    FWIW, I didn't like 3 Men on a Bummel as much as you, although that, and the Caravaners helped me see why WWI was probably inevitable.

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    1. Thank you, hekates! It's so nice, to hear from the shadowy blog-readers on this post - it really does make a difference to see people's names, even if it's just a hello.

      There used to be a box you could tick to get all replies, is that still there? Maybe not, now comments are inline...

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  6. I am not a blogger, but I do visit your blog and many others. As others have mentioned I usually only comment when I feel like I have something useful to add. I appreciate what bloggers do, since it is clearly a real time commitment to blog regularly. So keep up the good work and I might make more comments in future, though they could be rather unintelligent comments.

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    1. Thanks, Ed! Unintelligent comments more than welcome ;) I'm more than happy to put up unintelligent posts, sometimes, so I don't want to be the only non-intellectual around here!

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  7. Mea culpa. My days would not be complete without my visit to Stuck in a book but I rarely comment. I avidly read many of your recommendations and delight in linking to other bloggers also. Personally I only comment if I feel I have something to add but I wouldn't want you to feel that your Antipodean visitor is unappreciative. As we draw to the close of a year let me thank you for widening my horizons in reading and particularly for the introduction to Guard Your Daughters which I loved.

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    1. I'm so pleased to hear that you loved GYD, and your kind comment! I hope it was clear that I wasn't trying to make anyone feel guilty about not commenting - just wanted to open a discussion about it, and express how much I appreciate it when people do comment :)

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  8. When I started blogging, I thought that maybe the euphoria I felt whenever I got a comment would wear off with time. It hasn't. I get excited over every single comment, no matter how brief it may be. Even a simple remark about someone enjoying the review but not feeling the need to read the book (Harriet is fantastic at leaving this kind of comment) is greatly appreciated, letting me know that the hours I spent thinking about and writing the review weren't entirely for my own amusement. And Simon, you must know how much I have appreciated your comments on my AAM posts this year, especially since you are frequently the only commenter and certainly the only one who has read the books!

    I try to respond back to most of the comments left on my blog and do my best to keep up with my commenting on other blogs. It is important. It is through the comments that we get to know one another and form friendships that, for me at least, are what makes blogging worthwhile.

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    1. How well you express it! The euphoria doesn't die down, does it? And I agree, Harriet is wonderful at just the right sort of comments.

      One of the many things I appreciate about your blog (my favourite!) is your timely responses to comments. I do reply to comments now, but perhaps not in as timely a fashion as I ought...

      And, yes, friendships! They really are - which shows that being impersonal has no place in the blogging world.

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  9. Receiving comments often feels like a sort of validation of all of the work I put into writing my blog. Admittedly, the stated mission of my blog is to work out for myself connections between various genres and themes, but it is so nice to spend a long time pondering exactly how to write down your thoughts and then find comments proving that someone read your post and found them interesting enough to chime in.

    Does anyone else find that you're more likely to leave more comments when you get more comments on your own blog? For me, the excitement at having someone to respond to reminds me to pass it along.

    Samantha (A Musical Feast)

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    1. Oh, definitely! And, practically speaking, I'll often hear about a blogger first by them commenting - and then I'll click through and comment on their blog, in turn.

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    2. I do too! I get so few comments that anytime someone new comments, I make a point to go through their blog and say something nice to them in return. :-)

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  10. I've noticed a slight decline in commenting as well, but I don't think commenting should be the most important metric - just one of a few. Now that people can read blogs on various devices, it's not always as easy to comment - eg. when on a mobile phone, or reading through a feed reader. It's good to have the engagement of comments, but if you can see that more people are visiting your blog, and/ or adding it to a feed reader or subscribing to get emails - well all that is a part of engagement too.

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    1. I hadn't thought about that, Tanya - it must be much more difficult to comment on a phone. I don't understand how feed readers work in practice, but it must be trickier there - and it must affect overall stats too? But yes, comments aren't the only barometer - but it is the most personal.

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  11. I have also seen a decline in comment numbers but I feel that it has been more of the "this looks good" type that have dropped off and the more meaningful ones have stayed. Maybe other bloggers have just gotten tired of typing something trite or short just to prove they were paying attention? Anyway, just like you, I find it hard to believe that anyone is reading my blog past my 5-10 regular commenters even though my stats say otherwise.
    (By the way, my copy of Cheerful Weather for the Wedding is waiting for me at the library. Yay!)

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    1. It is so difficult to believe that anyone else is reading! Glad I'm not alone on that.
      Yay for Cheerful Weather! I'm looking forward to re-reading it.

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  12. I don't have my own blog, but I'm a regular reader of yours and always enjoy it! I don't usually comment unless I have something interesting to say or if it's about something that really caught my eye. It's hard to keep up with all the blogs in my google reader, and so I don't always have time to comment. But I'm still here reading. Just wanted to let you know! :)

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    1. thanks so much, Amy!
      You pinpoint two of the biggest issues - less free time, more blogs!

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  13. I love your blog, but I don't have time to read the comments, let alonecomment myself. Didn't someone say he or she was ridiculed for saying, "Nice blog!" Yes, I've made comments like that before.

    Do you think Facebook and Twitter are taking away commenters?

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    1. I think some blogs are losing commenters to Twitter - and getting feedback there - but, while I have Twitter, my readers don't seem to do as much over there, as regards my blog. I think my demographic is a little more old-fashioned than some blogs'!

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  14. I've noticed the same thing, Simon. I've been getting more visitors but fewer commenters. I removed the verification thingy, thinking it might be deterring potential commenters (I know it deters me as i often can't decipher the words/numbers)but the numbers are about the same if not declining. I think it's probably a time problem as I find I struggle to keep up with reading all my favourite blogs let alone leaving a comment. I do comment if someone has reviewed a favourite book or if I've especially enjoyed a review or if I feel I can add something.

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    1. I removed the word verification again, as I mentioned - even if it doesn't increase comments, at least it makes the commenting procedure less annoying for people!

      I think I have more free time than most people, so I don't have their reasons about commenting :)

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  15. I completely agree with you, and have been wondering the same thing myself. Why my views are so high, but my comments far fewer. It's rare that I ever visit a blog without commenting. If it were to happen, I can think of two reasons. There have been times that I had to sign off unexpectedly, or I've already posted.

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    1. You are a good soul, Karen! I hardly ever commented when I started reading blogs, and have increased since then, but I can still do better :)

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  16. I enjoy hearing from people mainly because it helps me to get to know them a bit better. I try to comment as often as possible but I seldom get replies back. Some are better than others. I don't worry about it as I think time is a big factor. Many of us read many blogs and just don't have the time. If I commented every day on every blog I read I'd have no time to read anything except blogs and I need to be getting through my library of books!! Good blog!!

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    1. I'm lucky to have more free time than most people, so I have no excuse! But I agree, getting to know each other in the comment section is lovely :)

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  17. So much of what everyone else has said applies to me. I agree that the word verification can be a pain, especially when using it on mobile devices. The comments that are left are more meaningful rather than the short three word comment. Time is another issue for me. Generally not enough!! Should I be reading and writing on my blog or reading other blogs and commenting. I know nothing would end up being on my blog. But then I should reply more to the comments on my blog too!

    I do sometimes wonder why I don't get many comments, but I think everyone is just as busy as me! I just carry on. As writing my blog is quite a cathartic experience and a great outlet.

    I wonder Simon, whether this post will get the most comments?

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    1. It has got the most comments of any of my posts, as far as I can remember! (Blogger doesn't let you order those.)

      I think you're right about meaningful comments - I'd be happy for shorter ones too, and would never want anyone to feel they couldn't comment because they weren't being clever enough. But, as you say, time is a factor.

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  18. I'm sure the number of blogs I'm reading contributes to not leaving a comment. After reading a post many responses come to mind, but it seems an effort to to go through the process of a response. I've just come to accept that blogging is a lonely process. The positive side of not receiving comments is that I get to enjoy writing as I like and not trying to hone content to readers tastes

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    1. The number of blogs is definitely my main reason - there are so many to keep track of!

      Your point about not needing to hone content is really interesting - it's making me wonder if I do... Sometimes I've not been catty, in case it alienates readers, but when I have been (with Dewey, or Mary Webb) people have loved it!

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  19. Using aggregators like google reader means it's easier to read more blogs but commenting takes more time. Plus I've lost track of how many comments I've lost trying to post onto a blogspot blog. So I often don't even try .....

    Wonder if this comment will make it through the defences ....

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    1. I really don't like the idea using feed readers myself, because it seems to depersonalise blogs a bit - but I can understand that it makes it easier to keep tracks of things. Hmm. I would never use it myself, but if it helps people!

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  20. I do agree Simon though I can understand the comment above about the number of blogs visited reducing the number of comments one leaves. I do comment here and elsewhere but also read many excellent reviews I don't comment on. But I love getting comments on my blog and don't get nearly enough -- so many thanks to anyone reading this who does comment -- it's much appreciated.

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    1. As Claire says above, your comments are so encouraging, Harriet!

      I do think it's a case, for me, of not realising quite how similar we all are in terms of loving getting comments. If we realised how happy our comments made people, I'm sure we'd all write more!

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  21. I tend to read your blog (and others to which I subscribe) through Google Reader, Simon, so I suppose in that format posts tend to come across more like articles than the beginning of a potential discussion. Although my blog is on a much smaller scale than yours, I notice the same phenomenon and do wish people would comment more, if only to say that they've seen such-and-such an exhibition too, or that if I enjoyed x then I should give y a try. When people do comment, it makes me incredibly happy, but so far I've noticed that I've only really had high numbers of comments when blogging my way through Dorothy Dunnett's two series - which I guess shows the level of engagement of her fans rather than anything to do with blogging etiquette. Each time I write a blog post it takes me about three hours to compose and polish (like everyone else, I'm sure) and it can be a bit dispiriting to spend that much time on something, send it out into the ether and not know that anyone has really read it. I don't use word recognition but I do moderate all my comments, because unfortunately the only kind of comment that's becoming more frequent is the spam kind!

    Speaking more specifically about your blog, Simon, another reason I tend not to comment too much is because I see your posts as a window into a wonderful world about which I know very little. And you are so knowledgeable! But perhaps from now on I will make an effort to say hello now and then. :-) On that point, thanks to your enthusiasm I bought We Have Always Lived in the Castle and Cold Comfort Farm in Oxfam over the weekend and am looking forward to curling up by the fire with them both over Christmas. So thank you for those (rather long ago) recommendations!

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment - I do agree, even the speediest comments make things feel more worthwhile. And I always feel so inadequate when people say how much time they spend on posts, especially polishing them - I never polish mine, I just schedule them to post as soon as I'm finished! I do put work in, but not as much as exemplary bloggers...

      As for your second comment, please don't ever feel like you can't comment! I hope I reveal enough of my ignorance to make everyone feel able to comment ;) But so pleased you've got the Jackson and Gibbons - enjoy! They'd both be perfect by the fire, for different reasons.

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  22. I've noticed it too! But if you think comments on blog posts are going down, try getting ANY comments for a podcast! I wonder if the sheer number of book/reading-related blogs is creating a sense of ubiquity for readers. They might be regarding blogs now as more of a service like a newspaper to which they might never consider responding to, rather than a one-off, unque, personalised view which is the blog. Personally, I don't comment unless I've got something to say, and even if it's just 'I liked this', I will say that. However, some blog posts do not make me want to say even that! I might not be interested in the thing under discussion, or enjoy/like/respond to the tone, the views, the reason for posting; it all makes a difference.

    Kate

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    1. Kate, having recently discovered your podcasts (which I like), I tried leaving a reply, but couldn't work out how to do it!

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    2. A very good, interesting, point, Kate! And podcasts must be tricky to comment on, if accessed through iTunes etc.

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  23. Hi Si
    I guess that those of us who stand 'six feet above contradiction' in pulpits on Sundays have a similar feeling. Far more likely to get comments from the 'occassional services' (weddings, funerals, baptisms) then from the regular Sunday people. Sometimes there is the temptation to be provocative, sometimes an encouragement to react. I did get two people come to me after a sermon last Sunday to point out that I had made a mathematical error (based around the fact that there is on year 0 (the calendar goes from 1 BC straight to 1 AD)) - they knew I was a Maths graduate. I suspect I could have preached heresy and not had much reaction! (but I don't intend to try that). Thanks for the blogs Si

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    1. I hadn't thought of vicaring as being like that - I hope you know I always think your sermons are good! But I will comment more - I did memorise your mnemonic today :)

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  24. As a reader, sometimes I comment, and sometimes I feel everyone else has expressed what I want to in a much more erudite and cohesive fashion than I could hope to achieve. And I worry in case I am breaking some kind of blogging etiquette.

    As the writer of a small blog, I am thrilled when people leave a comment(apart from spam, of course). When I was reporting I always enjoyed feedback from readers, but it was usually the lightweight, fluffy or wacky pieces that provoked a response, rather than serious issues, which probably reflects the experiences of many bloggers. Strangely, when I started blogging I didn't think about people reading the posts - I wrote for myself, because I had been made redundant.

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    1. Ditto what Christine has said here - and I also started blogging for myself, and found the interaction to be a *marvelous* bonus! Still figuring out the etiquette - as someone else has posted there *is* that whole "stalkerish" aspect to over-commenting, and I sometimes wonder if I'm saying too much/too often on the blogs I really enjoy. I like the like function - it is a great way to say, "I was here, I read, I enjoyed - thank you!".

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    2. I would never have thought about looking stalkerish! (I probably have, on numerous occasions...) When it comes to my blog - and I can't speak for the wider blogging world - there isn't anything which could breach comment etiquette, except for outright spam.

      Without comments, I don't think I could continue to put the time and energy into blogging - I really admire those bloggers who persevere through the first months before they get comments, just for their own sake.

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  25. Yours is one of the few blogs I visit each and every day, and I probably comment once or twice a week. The blogosphere has become so much larger since we started, and I find it hard to keep up visiting all the blogs I enjoy reading. I don't have time to comment on every post I read, but if I have something to say I will always comment, but don't often have time to just say hi or thank you.

    I agree that comments and the dialogue they generate are part of the lifeblood of a blog, but you should be reassured by the number of readers you get!

    It is always wonderful to get comments though, so I shall try harder (play silly FB games less and read/comment more!) Thank you. :)

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    1. Thank you, Annabel, that's a lovely thing to hear! And hasn't the blogging world grown since we started?? It's so vast now.

      I'm definitely determined to try harder in 2013 - so pleased that others are on board.

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  26. Such an interesting post, Simon.
    I hadn't thought much about the trend of comments on my blog but I do know that numbers vary considerably with the type of post. Straight reviews get fewer than more general, chatty pieces to which everyone can contribute if they wish. The reviews may be of books so new that few have read them, and thus there is nothing to say in response other than perhaps registering interest if they appeal. I do feel, as you do, that when a post gets few or no comments, it is rather like speaking in company and being met with silence - quite disconcerting and likely to make me then shut up and go away!
    That said, this morning I got the nicest, most generous and appreciative comment (about the blog as a whole) which I've had for a long time, and it truly made my day. So yes, comments are the lifeblood of blogs, and while I fully understand and share the reasons for not always commenting, I know how much the effort made to leave a remark of some kind means to the person who has put thought, time and effort into the making of a post.
    Well done you for raising this point.

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    1. Thanks, Karen!
      Oh, yes, the review posts never get as many comments, do they? That can be especially dispiriting, as they take the longest. Maybe people feel they can be more informal and quick on a chatty post, and that a review 'requires' a more thoughtful response?

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  27. I feel really discouraged that my book blog gets few readers and fewer commenters. My business/language one does a bit better, and I'm always thrilled when someone is helped by one of my posts and comments to say so.

    I do try to comment on blogs, but the hoops to jump through (esp with blogger) really frustrate me and I'll usually only try once or twice.

    Interestingly, I got more comments when I used to use LiveJournal, but only from my actual friends and no one else could ever see it. Now my viewing figures on the bus / word blog are up every month, but the same number of comments, and those on the book blog stay small and constant. Maybe my reviews aren't detailed or good enough, I don't know.

    I do get annoyed that people don't comment as I make an effort to reply to each comment. I know you do, too (or a big reply to several) as do people like Dovegreyreader, but too many people don't bother, and that does put me off.

    Interesting reading these comments, too!

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    1. Oh, Blogger does seem determined to stopping people commenting, doesn't it? They make it more and more difficult...

      Nicola, from Vintage Reads, was the first blogger to point out to me (here, or on her blog, I forget) how important it was to reply to people's comments - and I haven't looked back!

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  28. Aargh! Just did a proper response to this, went to post, decided on a quick edit, tried to post again and it disappeared into the ether. So you're spared my thoughts on the subject, but just to say I do enjoy the blog, but don;t always have anything particular to say...

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    1. Oh dear! Sorry it disappeared! But thanks for your comment :)

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  29. Hi Simon,
    A thought-provoking post! I only started blogging in the summer so I have no sense of the decline in comments, but I do know I appreciate every comment I get. I did set up my blog with the intention of starting a conversation about the books in our collection, and really do want to know what people think of the books. Negative responses are just as valuable as positive. I would love to have more comments.

    It took me a little while to understand the ettiquette of commenting, and to have the courage to do it. Most book blogs are so knowlegable and erudite that it can be a little intimidating! I have been very impressed with the sheer quality of book blogs - it often seems to me that the blogosphere is a better place to read about books than newspapers or academic articles.

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    1. If it took you a while to understand the etiquette of commenting, then it's taken me longer - I didn't even know there was such a thing!

      I think a lot of academics would be surprised about the quality of book blogs - and the quantity; how much is being discussed, and how the influence spreads - it makes the world of journals and conferences like very slow!

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  30. Hi Simon, second go at leaving this comment, I enabled third party cookies so that might do the trick. I do have problems leaving comments on some blogs, enjoy reading yours.

    Merry Christmas to you and your kin.

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    1. I don't know what third party cookies means really, but this got through! Thank you for your Christmas wishes :)

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  31. What Clare's said here: "When I started blogging, I thought that maybe the euphoria I felt whenever I got a comment would wear off with time. It hasn't." I feel exactly the same. No matter how many or few comments I get every single one is appreciated so much (except spam of course, but who counts that?) I think a lot of the lack of commenting is due to time, and I actually wrote about commenting on review recently, which while not everyone would agree I've found to be true in several cases at least - when you comment you want, as you've said, to have something to say and if you don't have much knowledge of the subject it seems easier to walk away than write something that may make no sense.

    It's incredibly important to comment and keep commenting in order to keep the "feature" alive and well. As you've said, stats are great, but they can't beat comments. At the most basic level, comments show someone actually read your post, stats demonstrate only clicks.

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    1. People don't often comment if they don't know about the book in question, but I'm coming round to thinking that, as far as the blogger is concerned, they/I would much rather get a comment along the lines of "I didn't know about this; now I'm intrigued", rather than silence.

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  32. I also noticed this trend as well but put it down to there being an increasing number of blogs and not having enough time to read everything you want to including all the books we have. I've spoken to other bloggers who have new things happening in their lives and so have less time generally to do the things they used to do before. But yes, I agree getting comments is still thrilling and I do try and leave comments when I particularly feel like saying something, even if it's just to say I liked the post (sometimes it's hard to be witty!)

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    1. I suppose it is time, which is not my excuse!
      Sometimes it is hard to be witty, indeed ;)

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  33. I love your blog, Simon, but I know I'm guilty of not commenting very often (on all blogs, not just yours) and in my case that's usually due purely to lack of time. I follow so many blogs and while I do read most of the posts I just don't have time to comment on all of them immediately. As a consequence, by the time I do get round to commenting I often find that other people have already said what I wanted to say and I find it difficult to think of something new and constructive to add. I'm quite happy for people to leave "great review" or "sounds interesting" comments on my own posts, but sometimes it's hard to know whether other bloggers like to get that type of comment or not.

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    1. Thanks Helen!
      Perhaps the principle as do-as-you-would-be-done-by does work here - I certainly love any comment, and can't imagine getting cross if people aren't thorough enough in their comments.

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  34. I have noticed an especially big drop in comments in the past couple of months. This has corresponded with more people tweeting my posts or 'liking on them facebook' It seems people are moving away from interacting with others, even online. Such a shame as conversation/interaction is far more interesting.

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    1. Agreed! And Blogger doesn't even have the 'like' option. But commenting has to be the best sort of interaction - and can hopefully become a multi-way conversation, sometimes.

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  35. I was about to read this and then slope off, but I felt guilty enough to pause to say that it was interesting and made me think. Thanks.

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    1. haha! Well, thank you, but I didn't want anyone to feel guilty! But thanks ;)

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  36. The perils of coming late to your post - all my points have already been made more eloquently! As a reader, I sometimes feel at a loss for something to say, either because the book or author are outside my reading experience, or I don't feel like I have anything to contribute to the conversation. But on the other side, as a blogger, I feel validated by comments - as you've said, in a different way than the stats, because a comment means that someone has engaged with what I've written, to the point of wanting to respond. Now the "conversation" usually ends with my response to the comment - but still, that's one of the most satisfying things about blogging. Interesting to consider - I enjoyed the post & all the comments.

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    1. Yes, getting a long-running conversation is nigh-on impossible, but a comment and reply is much better than nothing, isn't it? I'm interested by your word 'validated', and will have to ponder on it - it is a sort of validation about the time we spend, isn't it?

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  37. Like Lisa May, I feel much of what has already been expressed but didn't want to slink off without commenting! I follow your blog religiously enjoying your take on the books you read as well as your weekly features and of course My Life in Books. I don't always have something to say in response, and I don't want to leave a banal comment like "Great post Simon". WordPress has a "like" button which as Jackie says can decrease the interaction but I've come to appreciate the "likes" I receive and have begun leaving them too, like a calling card, simply to say "I was here and enjoyed your post."

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    1. Thanks so much, Laura! The like button would be useful for Blogger, it's better than silence, but I still like the seemingly banal comments - like a calling card, as you say.

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  38. I wasn't going to comment (!) but then realised that I had something I wanted to say as well agreeing with pretty much eveything said here. I quite often find new and interesting blogs via the comments on other people's - as here, where I've bookmarked a couple to read later, people I've seen commenting on here before but I realise I haven't looked at their blogs. Comments are a large part of what makes us a community of bloggers rather than just a bunch of people shouting into the ether. Even if someone simply says "I liked that" it helps to build the relationship which makes book talk so satisfying, and I, at any rate, started blogging and continue to do so because I want to share my pleasure in what I'm reading. So I'm going to make much more effort next year, and be much more willing to simply say so when I've enjoyed a post, rather than hesitating because I don't think I've got anything intelligent to say.
    Thank you for making me think about this!

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    1. I'm really glad you brought up the point about finding new blogs in the comment section, Jodie - definitely true for me, whether my own comment box or someone else's. It's the way to get known as a blogger - and although some people seem to think that's a bad reason for commenting (and it probably shouldn't be the ONLY reason) I think it makes good sense.
      Thanks for your comment :)

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  39. I must confess that I am one who has fallen way off of my normal commenting. :( Not by design so much as a lack of time. I like to at least keep up with reading to see what everybody is up to, but many days I barely have time to read the posts. I think it is a "seasonal" thing (not Christmas, but the "teenage season"). I have missed commenting and especially feel as a non-blogger that comments are a way that I can encourage those of you out there writing who are providing me with reading material. :)
    I shall try to be better as time allows. I also appreciated OV's comment. DH preaches every other Sunday and we always have a round robin at the lunch table to discuss "what we've learned" -- if the kids have picked up anything, then the hope is that someone else has as well -- whether or not he actually hears from other people or not. That to say, I appreciate the reminder about giving feedback!

    (Must add that the verification box is frequently very hard to read -- don't know if they want to make sure I'm a real person, or a real person with perfect vision -- can't figure out why they blur the word so much??)

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    1. Oh, Susan, you definitely don't need to feel bad, you are excellent at commenting! I so appreciate your commenting, especially since you don't have a blog.

      What a good idea for a "what we've learned" time!
      And comment verification has gone :)

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  40. I've noticed it too. I get a lot more 'likes' but far fewer comments, particularly on book related posts. The only way I get comments is to write personal pieces, and frankly there is rarely much of general interest going on in my life! :-) All this being said, I've been a dreadful commenter this month because of the beast of Christmas. I read somewhere someone saying that Christmas is for organisers these days, and oh that is so true. I am not an organiser so creating the magic of Chrimbo drives me half mad. Can't we go back to it being just a spiritual celebration...??? Then, I'd get around a lot more blogs.

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    1. You do write very good personal pieces, I have to say! Mine don't come very often, and I'm not good at sharing personal thoughts about my own life - you balance books and life better than any other blogger.

      And I have to say that I'm one of those terrible people who love Christmas to pieces, but rely on the organisers to keep it going!

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  41. I've only recently started blogging, and really enjoy reading your blog and, through it, finding links to other peoples'. I've commented once and have often wanted to make other comments but often feel underqualified in comparison to the breadth of knowledge displayed by you and your readers! However, your post today has encouraged me to be bolder in making comments in future rather than worrying whether I have anything sufficiently insightful to say...

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    1. Oh, don't feel underqualified, Claire! So long as you like reading, you're very qualified :) I look forward to seeing more from you around the blogosphere in the future.

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  42. What a thought-provoking post, Simon. First of all, let me thank you for such an excellent and entertaining blog. Thanks to your reviews and other recommendations, I have kept the people in our central library's archives very busy (who is this crazy person who is checking out all of these books that haven't been touched in decades??)--not to mention many used book sellers. My reading world is far more interesting because of your blog and others like it (e.g., Claire's The Captive Reader).

    One thing I really appreciate about you is that you almost always respond to comments. In my experience, not many bloggers do that. I've donated funds for a children's library to a blogger who wrote about her charity activities and requested help. I explained why I had purchased the books I did, but I never even got so much as a thank you. Other bloggers specifically ask for advice/recipes/etc. and when I have responded, I hear crickets. For those of us who want to be part of the "community," I find that disheartening. In a weird way, I revert to school days and feel like I'm clearly not one of the "cool kids" or my response was somehow inadequate. You never make me feel that way.

    Another thing I appreciate about your blog is that because of the time difference (I'm on the US East Coast) when I can't sleep in the wee hours of the morning, I can read your latest post on my iPhone without turning on the light and disturbing husband, dogs, etc!

    Thanks, again, and Merry Christmas!

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment, AEH - and I'm glad that you're making use of the library archives! I used to do that a lot in Gloucestershire library system, which had very good stores. But then the bug for buying kicked in...

      As I wrote to someone above, Nicola from Vintage Reads for the first person I saw mentioning how important replying to comments was, and it taught me a valuable lesson!

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  43. Google Reader makes me so lazy about commenting! I don't have to "click over" to read the post, so it's rare that I comment. I understand, though, because I love getting comments, too! It's a good way to interact with readers, and it's even better when readers interact with each other. Keep up the writing!

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    1. I hadn't thought about the effect Google Reader has, since I don't use it, but I can see that it would make a big difference. Thanks for your comment, Tiffany!

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  44. Well, you have certainly struck a nerve with this post, Simon.

    I have gotten so many great book recommendations from you although I have only commented a few times. Let me take this opportunity to thank you for your good work and to let you know how grateful I am to you for introducing me to so many wonderful authors. Especially from your 50 Books You Must Read list.

    I am just coming to the end of my first year of blogging and yes, the comments make my day. At first I thought 'Oh dear, why am I doing this when I doubt if anyone is reading,' but then I had to tell myself that Belle, Book, and Candle was something that I enjoyed writing for its own sake. About the time I came to that realization I started getting comments!

    I tend to leave a comment if I have something worthwhile to add to the conversation. Otherwise I just read the post and enjoy. I will perhaps rethink that policy in the coming year.



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    1. Thanks Belle, I'm so pleased that you highlight the 50 Books list I'm building up - I always wonder how much people pay attention to that, and it was one of the things I was excited about setting up when I started blogging. I only wish it didn't put some of my early, poor reviews so prominently!

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    2. Oh, I love your 50 books you must read list. I haven’t heard about any of those books before and once a month I pick one completely at random (my another little reading plan), and so far I wasn’t disappointed. Last week I finished Lady Into Fox and I really enjoyed it. Thank you for doing this list, Simon.

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  45. Like Clairethinking I'm a recent blogger but I've been reading them for a lot longer and I do try to make the effort to comment - I think it's important to give feedback when people have gone to the trouble to write posts and we have read them. Having said that, the times I don't are if either I don't feel qualified or if I can offer anything new in response - but mostly I do try to respond and I love it when people make comments on my blog - it's nice to know people are reading what you've said and can share your interests!

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    1. You are a wonderful commenter, Karen, and I appreciate it so much - as I'm sure other people do :)

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  46. Oh I so agree, stats generally up but comments down. I have been finding that a lot of the interaction now seems to take place on Facebook pages or Google Plus where readers can scroll through things quicker than calling by individual blogs and commenting. I am always loathe to comment if word verification is enabled as that is indeed a time waster for me!

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    1. It is a nightmare - and it has gone from mine now, due to popular demand!

      I do like the idea of blogs spreading out into other media, but not at the expense of comments. At least we're not all teenagers with our tumblr spin-offs (don't understand tumblr at all!)

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  47. When blogging began I thought that it took the substance out of reading group listservs. Perhaps social media is now doing the same thing to blog comments? Our attention span gets shorter, we read a few lines, make a quick quip or like or "twit" ?? No one takes time.

    For me, usually, I come late to the blogs and find that what I think has been expressed for me, better than I might have!

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    1. The doves goes strong! Maybe without as many review-type emails as before, but just as much bookish chatter :)

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  48. Ah Simon, it is the combination of nothing meaningful to add coupled with the time crunch. I love your blog, it has expanded my reading horizons and even when I don’t add a book to my TBR after reading a post, I always find them entertaining and worthwhile. I do really appreciate the fact that you respond to the comments. As noted above, many bloggers do not. So thanks very much for your time and effort. I will try to comment more regularly from now on. Happy Holidays!

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    1. Thanks for your lovely comment, Ruthiella! Maybe other bloggers, seeing in this thread how important replies are, will do it more often now.

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  49. I think I could comment more I have notice a decline I must admit I bad a replying recently ,I had also thought in new year I d try to comment more than I do ,all the best stu

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    1. Let's do the 2013 resolution together!

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  50. Now, Simon, how could I not leave a comment on this post, even though I have no time for a thoughtful reply. Have read, taken to heart, will apply.

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  51. My blog occupies quite a small and quiet part of the blogosphere (I average about 10 hits a day)and so comments are very rare (I shudder to think of what my own visitor-comment ratio is); but I agree with the person somewhere above me who wrote about the euphoria of receiving a comment: Opening my inbox to discover a "someone has commented on your blog" e-mail is pretty exciting!

    Unfortunately, I've also been subject to the, er, darker side of blog comments: rude, vitriolic stuff that doesn't engage with my writing on any critical level. I also get frequent accusations that I'm wasting my time by writing a blog that reviews(mostly) sci-fi/fantasy/horror/Weird Fiction: as if these genres are somehow beneath analysis.

    But in general I very much agree: commenting is awesome! - Discovered many of my favourite blogs by clicking comments on other people's reviews.

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    1. And I've just discovered your blog, Tomcat. Lots of interesting material on it - but I want to tell you something that may (or not!) be helpful. That is, I won't read a blog that's got a solidly black background. It hurts my eyes! And for every one of me, there may be many others who feel that way. It also seems a little depressing, but that's just a matter of your personal choice and taste; you may like that nihilistic feeling. So I wouldn't mention that, except for it being so hard on the eyes. Best of luck with it.

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    2. Tomcat - how awful to get vitriolic comments! I got a few mean ones earlier in my blogging days, but thankfully they went away. And to tell you that you're wasting your time! How rude. I hope you don't even start to believe any of it.

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  52. This is comment number 55. No shortage of comments on this post then! :-)

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  53. Like many others, I struggle to find the time to comment. Sometimes I get so far behind that I just give up. And sometimes I have to schedule a block of time to get all my commenting in! It is important to me, however, to let my fellow bloggers know that I've read and appreciated their posts. I am always grateful when others do the same for me. Let's make 2013 the year of commenting frequently!

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    1. I do have more free time than most people, it seems, so I must make sure to do more than my fair share in 2013 - the year of commenting, indeed! Lovely :)

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  54. Comment number 57. The pleasure is all ours!

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  55. The word verification thingies are a HUGE issue for me. I have trouble making them out with my increasingly-worse eyesight. I have to be particularly moved to comment when I see it enabled. I'll rarely bother with it just to say "Nice post." I read your blog regularly, but count me among those that won't be commenting much.

    I have disabled it on my own blog, and don't mind deleting the spam myself if it makes it easier for my readers to comment.

    P.S. It took five tries refreshing the CAPTCHA before I got one I could make out. Now that I'm editing, I'll try it again.

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    1. Mine have gone now, you'll be delighted to know! They were only back for a few weeks - they're just too annoying.

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  56. Look at them come out of the woodwork, Simon! This reminds me of when Danielle (A Work in Progress) had something like 40 comments when she asked how to make a decent bowl of porridge. Her fabulous bookish posts don't usually get near that number but we did share a laugh about it in an email.
    Sometimes I wonder if it looks stalker-ish to comment too frequently on a blog but you, Rachel and Mary are like 'blogger family' to me. That means you get taken for granted, Simon, but I do love that you have everyone chatting here today!

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    1. I know! So lovely to see lots of names I haven't seen much.

      I've never worried about being stalkerish - all bloggers feel like family to me ;)

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  57. I'm just really amused that your post about having no comments has no comments! I'm such a five year old!

    I have noticed the exact same thing recently. My visits have gone up massively in recent months, but by and large comments are down. I can usually rely on the same core group of people leaving comments, which is lovely (thanks Darlene! :) ) but aside from that, I rarely get new people commenting. I'm wondering whether people feel they can't comment if they're not part of the 'club'? I hope not. I would never want people to think that. I completely agree with you that comments are the lifeblood of blogs, and as someone else said above, they're also a wonderful way to find new people to read!

    Saying all this, however, I rarely leave comments nowadays. Firstly because I have very limited time, and I prioritise reading over commenting, and secondly because often I read on google reader and actually going through the processes of leaving a comment is so arduous. I hate all these number and letter boxes - I'm hardly senile or blind but most of the time I get it wrong on the first attempt and it's such a faff that I get annoyed and then give up altogether. So that's my excuse!

    Anyway you've made me determined to be a little more proactive on the comments. I certainly very much appreciate every single one I get, and love engaging with my readers and having discussions about books and life in general, and knowing how I feel about comments, I need to make sure I am giving other bloggers the same pleasure by reciprocating on the commenting front! Let's see if we can all do better in future!

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    1. No comments? You were comment 60, Rachel!

      I wonder if you're right, about people not feeling part of the 'club' - I do hope not, that would be really sad - and maybe it would explain why the ratio changes over time - people are keener to support new bloggers, perhaps?

      Let's all do better! x Thanks for your fab comment.

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    2. Ha! I meant SO MANY comments! An embarrassing typo!! ;)

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  58. No one comments on my blog. But that's because I can't get the comment box to work.

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  59. Like so many others, I've seen comments go down a bit on my blog, and I've been doing less commenting. I think as the blogosphere has grown, it's become increasingly difficult to read all the wonderful blogs out there (far more than I have time to even attempt to read) and leave thoughtful comments on them. I don't comment on every post that I enjoy--mostly I refrain unless I have something to add to the conversation or a specific observation to make. I don't really mind when people just stop by to say "nice post" but what I love is the conversation that a comment section can spark, and those comments don't add much.


    That said, if I realize I haven't commented on a particular blog for a while, I try to make a point of doing so, even if it is just a quick hello. And I also try to let people know I'm reading their posts by sharing ones I particularly like on Twitter.

    And for those who fail to comment because clicking over from Google Reader takes an additional step, I have a solution! Under "settings," if you click on "goodies," there's a handy little gadget called the "next bookmark." If you put it in your toolbar, you can just click it to go to the next post in your reader! I don't use it all the time, but I do use it when I have a good block of time for blog reading, and I find that I do comment more when I read blogs that way.

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    1. Part of what prompted this post, Teresa, was seeing that wonderful discussion recently on your blog - so nice to have people coming back and adding to conversations etc. That's how blogs should be.

      I don't really understand your Google Reader tips because I don't have it, but I'm sure it'll be useful to people!

      Like you, I love pointing people in the direction of great posts from Twitter, even if I don't have much interaction there. It's all about spreading the love throughout the blogging community!

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  60. I don't have a blog. I read lots of blogs, but really only comment on book blogs that I really enjoy, including this one occasionally. To be honest, I'm only inclined to comment on blogs where other readers are likely to engage in a "conversation", almost like a discussion forum. I don't get much satisfaction out of posting a comment if there is no interaction with at least the blogger but preferably other blog readers as well, otherwise I suppose I have always felt I might just as well keep my thoughts to myself. I suppose I hadn't really thought about the impact of that silence on the blogger - I guess I'm a bit self-centred that way!

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    1. I always make sure I reply now, but I only go back and check to see what replies I've had to comments maybe one in four times... I should do that too, so the conversation can continue!

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  61. (waves hand cheerfully) Hi Simon, just popping up as this is obviously a seminal moment for all your swirling-around-the- blogosphere connections to chime in. Of course, it's mainly the time thing. I only read a few beloved blogs, and haven't time to write considered comments on all, so mostly comment only when I feel uncommonly deeply interested in a subject. However, I do want to encourage fine bloggers whose work brings so much richness to my life, so I try to at least say something occasionally, to let them know I'm still there, still appreciating their work. I know how dearly I love it when someone comments on my own infrequent blog posts! Still, it's a fine line when encouraging comments, because no one needs to write "Nice post!" to everything.

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    1. It's been quite overwhelming, all these interesting and wonderful comments! Thanks for your encouragement.

      Do you know, I think a 'nice post' to everything would still make me happy!

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  62. Simon, I read every single post you put up but I certainly do not always comment. Please rest assured that "no comment" does not mean no interest.

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  63. I always feel rather reticent in commenting but it certainly does not mean that I am not reading, and thoroughly enjoying, your blog posts. It is rather joyous to read of someone with similar bookish interests and your posts often lead me on unexpected forays. (Am currently savouring every moment of "Guard Your Daughters"!)Your post has encouraged me to be braver (hence this comment)and to be a less passive reader!

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    1. So delighted that you're enjoying GYD - and it sounds like you had my approach, of not being able to bear it being over! Do be braver, I shan't bite ;)

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  64. So much of what I would say, others have said and so I won't repeat. I have noticed a decline in comments on my blog (a much smaller one) for quite a while now, but I've just assumed it's because I am commenting less on other blogs (Between work and chasing a toddler around, I get very little computer time) and also because I am posting more sporadically. Knowing that it is a wider trend than just my own blog though makes me wonder if it's more than that.

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    1. Now, if you have a toddler, you have a definite excuse not to comment as much! I'm amazed you have time for a blog at all!

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  65. I agree with everything you say, except that a perfunctory "great review" (or "post") is like a bearhug. To me, that's like thanking the host or hostess, which isn't nothing.

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    1. Perhaps you're right - but I do feel loved when people comment on the review itself, and how it's written, rather than just the topic.

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  66. As with everyone else - all I'd say has already been said! I have noticed the same decline, even though traffic is steady and often going up. I thought it was because I myself was commenting less. I think I ought to make the same resolution as you.

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  67. I like to comment if I have something useful to add to the review or any discussion following the review. Often I haven't read the book in question or if I have read the book another reader might articulate their views so well that I have nothing to add.

    I am very grateful to all those bloggers who make my reading life more varied and interesting and I will definitely aim to comment more.

    sue

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    1. Lovely, Sue, thanks for your comment :) I think repetition can be borne in a comment box - it might even make the other commenter feel better about sticking their neck out!

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  68. This is my first visit to your blog. I agree with many of the others who feel they don't always have something brilliant to add. I'm rather intimidated by those of you who have such deep understanding of books. But I so enjoy reading someone else's thoughts on life, as well as books. I'm so impressed with the intelligent commentary. It takes me a long time to think what I want to say, and then I have trouble proving I'm human! We'll see (or not) if I've wasted my time here! (Not in the reading, but in the commenting...)

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    1. Welcome, welcome Ingrid! I'm sure no blogger would ever want you to feel intimidated, please don't :) Everyone welcome!

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  69. Hmmmm, asking for comments really seems to have worked! :) Yes, I do find comments are dropping, and I am also guilty of the same. Good resolution for next year, and a good reminder from you to think about this. The wonderful community found in blogging really does rely on some chatting back and forth via comments.

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    1. haha! Yes, I hope it was clear that I was talking about the blogging world at large - but it certainly seems to have brought a lot of comments!

      And isn't it a wonderful community? We're a very lucky corner of the internet, compared to the nastier places.

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  70. Hmmmm, asking for comments really seems to have worked! :) Yes, I do find comments are dropping, and I am also guilty of the same. Good resolution for next year, and a good reminder from you to think about this. The wonderful community found in blogging really does rely on some chatting back and forth via comments.

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  71. I get, on a good week, 40 people reading my blog. If I get a couple of comments I'm pleasantly surprised. On the other hand, I've chosen to write about dead authors who very few people read. There is nothing contemporary about my posts. I also write flippantly or layer so thickly literary and historical allusions, that it is perhaps impossible to know what I am trying to say. That's my choice, so I can't complain if my audience of readers is small. I do agree that blogging is a social activity and I do try periodically to comment on the clarity of the writing or the enthusiasm of the writers of the blogs I read. A conversation, however, is something, for me, that is face-to-face, elliptical and hopefully involves drink.

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    1. Haha! Your final line did amuse me ;) I suppose face-to-face conversations are the ideal, but finding people with similar tastes and interests in Real Life is impossible, so I really value the internet for that.

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  72. You make a lot of good points, Simon, and I'm glad to see how many comments this post has received! Not commenting is something I'm far too often guilty of. I'm one of those people who would much rather listen than talk, and unfortunately that carries over into the blog world unless I feel I have something worthwhile to contribute.

    Another element is that I (and I'm sure many others) use a blog reader to keep up with new posts. If I'm checking during my lunch break, for example, I don't always have the time to go to another site and use an additional log-in in order to place a comment.

    I do appreciate what you share on your blog, however!

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    1. Thanks!
      I hadn't considered the blog reader angle,but I think you must be right.
      Sometimes I read a blog and mean to go back and comment, and just forget...

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  73. An interesting post, Simon. You are not alone: the number of comments on my blog drops in inverse proportion to the number of readers I get. On an average week I might get 6,000 views and only receive 6 comments. But, as much as I love receiving comments, I understand that people lead busy lives and it's enough for me that they've visited the blog: they don't need to leave a calling card. While I try to leave comments on the blogs I visit, sometimes I don't bother, not because I don't have the energy, but simply because I don't know what to say. It seems pointless to me to leave a comment that doesn't actively contribute to the conversation, so I'd rather keep schtum.

    PS> Thanks for linking to my posts — I have really enjoyed compiling this series.

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    1. Thanks for your angle on it, Kim - it probably would be exhausting if EVERY visitor left a comment, wouldn't it? But I do hope we can redress the balance a bit. Thanks again for asking me to be in your fab series!

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  74. I agree and yet, like you, often fall foul of the visiting without commenting phenomenon. I guess I don't want to leave a trite "Sounds interesting" so I tend to only comment when a question is asked that I can answer or when I've read the book being discussed. I think that pattern is also true of when I get comments on my blog.

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    1. I think I'm definitely going to try harder to comment, even when I don't feel I have anything concrete to add, because I know how much I appreciate generally-interested comments :)

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  75. Hi Simon

    Always love the blog, and especially appreciate the humour, which quite often has me tittering away to myself at my desk!

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    1. Heehee, thanks Rebekah! That means a lot :)

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  76. Dear Simon,
    I admit I didn't realize how important the comments are to bloggers. I love your blog. I have to limit my time on the computer, and so must be selective about what I read there. Yours is the only blog of any kind that I read with any regularity. Please keep up the good work. Happy Christmas to you and yours.

    Sincerely,
    Renata

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    1. That's so lovely to hear, Renata, thank you! Have a lovely Christmas :)

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  77. I've been away from my book blog for about a year, and I miss it. A lot of what I miss is the interaction with other bloggers. I am making a resolution to blog more this year, and also to comment more. I tend to feel silly leaving one-line comments (because I worry that I'm going to sound ignorant), but I'm just going to have to get over that!

    And by the way, Yours is one of the blogs that I do like to check in on every now and then. The Good Earth is one of my favorites - it makes me happy that you like it so much.

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    1. Oh, how I loved The Good Earth! And, even better, I thought I wouldn't - so it was a great surprise.

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  78. Me only commenting on this now kind of highlights the issue I have at the moment... time just whizzes. If I am not looking after Gran, I am at home working like a mad man in order to go back and look after Gran and suddenly Christmas comes and then I can catch up with blogs to realise... I haven't read any for a month or two. Shocking!

    I have trouble commenting back on my own blog and get cross with myself for that so commenting on blogs is another thing I berate myself for too.

    Part of the problem for me is when I don't know what to say. A simple 'thank you' seems such an arbitrary comment back to a good few hundred word review that I just move on until there is a post I can comment on, does that make sense? The other issue is too many blogs being too wonderful and updating delightfully every day... all lovely, but I can't keep up.

    I will join you in trying harder in 2013, though I want to do more reading than anything in 2013 too... tricky!

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    1. thanks for your feedback, Simon, it was interesting. You definitely have very good reasons for being very busy at the moment!

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  79. This is definitely one of my New Year's Resolutions. I have been a very bad commenter over the past year, and I really hope I will do better this year. As for you, can I mention that I was incredibly grateful to see a few comments of you appearing on my blog lately? I had no clue you read my blog, and it was wonderful to see you comment on a few posts. Thank you.

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    1. Ah, there, you see! The problem with me not commenting enough - because I do often read your blog, and you wouldn't even have known it!

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  80. hahaha - 169 comments! You definitely fixed that problem! Like a lot of people I feel the same. Ive noticed less comments on my posts lately (although they hav ealso been few and far between in 2012 to be fair). I wonder if it is a time of year thing and it will pick up soon?

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Thanks so much for taking the time to comment - my favourite part of blogging is reading your comments!

Annoyingly, Blogger often messes up with comments... try refreshing, or commenting Anonymously (add your name in, though!) or using Firefox/Chrome instead of Internet Explorer. (Ctrl+c your comment first!)

Failing everything, email me: simondavidthomas[at]yahoo.co.uk - or just email me anyway :)

Thanks!