Reciprocity In Blogging

Many bloggers are fans of reciprocity in blogging but I am not one of those. Commenting on my blog isn’t a guarantee that I will read or comment on yours. The converse of that is true as well. I don’t expect that every blog I comment upon will lead to a comment on mine.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate comments or that I don’t want the authors of the blogs I visit to comment upon mine because I do. Rather it is a mature approach and a clear understanding of life. We are all busy and we are all being pushed and pulled in a million different directions. Work and personal responsibilities take up huge amount of time so I have to be judicious in when, where and how I spend mine.

I expect that you are doing the same too.

I also understand that some of you are frequent visitors here and that pushes me to come visit your blog. If you participate here consistently I will come by because I think it is the right thing to do but that still doesn’t guarantee that I will comment. I can’t speak for you but I don’t want to guilt people into commenting. I don’t want you to do it because you are obligated but because you want to comment.

Part of building a community is creating a condition in which people enjoy their time here and feel free to comment. If I do my job properly you will be happy to share your thoughts on these posts, or at least some of you will.

Some of you will remain as lurkers. I am always aware of your presence and am most curious about why you come and what you find interesting. One of the reasons that I turned off Livefyre and installed CommentLuv was to make it easier to comment and to provide an incentive to do so.

In other news I am pushing hard to make my Nanowrimo material into something special. If you have free time and the wherewithal you’re welcome to read through the 25k words there. Take a look and let me know if you love it, hate it or are ambivalent.

I am too close to it so my perspective is skewed. I think that I am onto something, but it needs work. Who knows maybe your comment will give me some sort of amazing idea and it will be the thing that turns it into a best seller.

Ok, it is after 1 am and I have to run. See you in the AM.

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  1. I’ve seriously considered eliminating the ability to comment on my site all together. I haven’t come to a clear decision and don’t know if it would be a good thing or a bad thing.

    At times I feel that it takes away from the purity of the post.


    • It really depends on what you want. I like comments and often find that there are gold nuggets “buried” in there.

      That engagement and interaction makes a huge difference for me so I am in favor of keeping them.

  2. I’m always surprised by the lurkers Jack.. those who RT my blog w/out commenting, or comment on occasion but say the read more often; I had no idea. Which is silly, b/c I am one of those people – I read WAY more than I share/comment. A matter of time/work which sadly means, I haven’t had a chance to check out the book. (Best of luck of course.)

    Comments aren’t currency as you say, but I’d be lying if I said they didn’t matter either. I really like the engagement, on my own blog AND when I take the time on others. So when my (IMO) good comment/silly RT are ‘ignored,’ I notice. It’s not about reciprocity, I get people are busy and overwhelmed. IDK I just think it’s at least professional courtesy (and curiosity) if someone reads and shares/comments on my blog enough for me to notice them, the least I can do is take the time to glance at their tweets/blog, see if it does hold some interest. FWIW.

    • Hi Davina,

      The lurkers fascinate me. That may sound silly but I am always curious about who they are and what brings them around.

      If someone comments here on a regular basis I will make a point to check out their blog. I try to do it with most commenters but there is still no guarantee I will comment. Most of that is related to time but sometimes I don’t know what to say.

      There are commenters here who run blogs that look a bit like spam accounts but they leave solid comments so…

      And there is no doubt that a good comment crew can help build your community.

  3. Theresa Torres says

    Hi Jack,
    You’re right, there is no obligation although it would be nice to also receive a visit even just once. That’s what I do just to have a look-see. If I like the content, I might stay and lurk or leave a comment.
    It’s funny but sometimes if a post speaks out to me, I’m eager to comment but words fail me. I know how busy bloggers are but it really gives me a nice warm feeling when there’s a reply to my comment.
    I know I shouldn’t be but I feel kind of hurt when I contribute something of value and it’s not acknowledged. Some bloggers mentioned that this may probably be because it went to their spam folder so I try my best to keep an open mind.

  4. Excellent post, Jack! I’m working on a guest post for another blogger who specifically asked me to write about comments (how I get them, manage them.) I have to really think about the answer because the truth is, I’m not sure.

    I DO really like the comment luv feature and wish I could use it on I’m STILL using the free site. I just can’t see myself managing all the tech stuff, but maybe one day I’ll switch. I remember when you switched over all of your stuff yourself. You’re a pro now! The newest version looks great too.

    • Hi Nina,

      Nice to see you. You can manage all the tech stuff. It really isn’t that hard and there are a million different tutorials/resources to draw upon.

      I wouldn’t say I am a pro, but I am getting more proficient. It is the same thing with the writing and community side. Practice, practice, practice and you figure out what works for you.

  5. Jack, aloha. Good news/bad news. The good news is that last night I started reading your book-in-process; the bad news is that I did not have nearly as much times as I anticipated.

    Jack, I love it and can hardly wait to read more. Because of you, Jack, I find myself wishing away my day so that I can get to the evening to continue reading your story.

    It’s a definite winner–as, of course, are you.

    Will report back as I continue on with my reading. Thank you for sharing your life with us, Jack. Until later, aloha. Janet

    • Janet,

      You are being too kind and I really appreciate it. I have been working on this story on and off for a number of years- so this year is to get it out of me.

      I am glad that you enjoy it and hope you enjoy what is to come because I am just getting warmed up.

  6. Hi Jack,

    I like this post as it is above all things honest.

    I leave comments for the sole reason to let the writer know that I appreciate their work. I know as a writer you put a lot of time and energy into your work and sometimes it circulates for months before someone leaves a comment positive of negative. Let’s be honest feedback is the only way to improve.

    Even if I do not have much to say beyond ‘good work’ I always leave a comment and if I like the article I ALWAYS click an ad. I feel it is important to let people know you appreciate their work.

    Oh yeah by the way: Good work! ;-D

    Mikel King

    • Hi Mikel,

      I am a fan of leaving comments all over even if they are only a few words. Some people dislike receiving comments that say “good post” but not me. I am appreciative of the response.

      Thank you for sharing that with us. Hope to see you again real soon.

  7. Hello Jack,
    I am reasonably new to the blogworld, and I visit blogs because they entertain, fascinate, provoke me into thinking about a subject – whatever. I do agree with you about comments, although I must say that sometimes I wish visitors would give me a little feedback!
    Thanks for another interesting read!

    • Hi Carol,

      Welcome to the blog. Blogs that entertain and or educate are always of interest to me. I understand what you are saying about feedback. That never hurts.

  8. Boy, I really noticed that culture once I jumped into the “twitterverse” (at the suggestion of another dad-blogger), which I did, in turn, to broaden the reach of my own blog. I’ve found that the reciprocation phenomena extends there too. “You follow me, I’ll follow you”. I was even advised to use twitter that way (“I generally follow anyone who follows me”) by the dad-blogger who talked me into twitter. The result: a totally cluttered, practically unusable twitter feed, and maybe two hits on my blog for every 90 from facebook.

    We blog because we want to connect with people over topics that we find interesting, and I won’t begrudge anyone for not finding my blog interesting. As a new-ish blogger who’s lucky to get ANY comments on my blog posts (I notice you’ve already got 34 on this post), what I’d find just as valuable as a “reply” would be a “link” or a “share”. If your post speaks to me I may not comment below, but I can share it within my digital sphere of influence, and maybe broaden your readership in the process.

    -Dork Dad

    • Twitter really is an entirely different animal. I use Hootsuite and lists to keep thing organized. It makes it much easier for me to stay on top of things.

      But within the blogosphere I work extra hard to try and build a community that enjoys spending time here and interacting with each other.

      If you can try not to get caught up in comment numbers. Comments aren’t currency and it is easy mistake a post with 100 comments as having more value than it does.

  9. I have to admit that I almost disagreed with this post. Then I had to think about it and realize that over time I don’t comment on a lot of blogs, but not for the reason you might think. I won’t comment on blogs that have comment systems I dislike, and if I see those comment systems I won’t even read those blogs.

    However, I do feel an obligation more often than not to comment on a blog I’m going to retweet, or comment on the link when I retweet it to show I actually read it.

    I’ll say this. Since you and I do respond to comments we’re doing what we can to encourage the blogging community; that’s probably just as important as visiting other blogs. Then again, this is my night of visiting as many blogs as I can.

    • Hi Mitch,

      If I have trouble with a comment system I tend not to bother with it so I understand what you are saying.

      Your comment and others about community are important and really should lead to a second post about reciprocity.

      Except this time it is regarding comments on your own blog. If people take the time to comment on your blog you owe them some sort of response.

  10. Jack,

    I really agree with your philosophy on this one. I know I’ve sort of discussed this at Bill’s place before — but if you go into this expecting tit for tat then 1) you’re focused on the wrong things and 2) you are likely to be disappointed.

    I’m pretty sparse with my commenting, so it is easy for me to not expect a lot in return. But I think what you said in your comment to Craig about “Those who love blogging are those who last and grow” is one of the reasons to pace yourself and not burnout. Just remember that others are pacing themselves too, and it’s usually not personal if they don’t comment.

    • Adam,

      Not taking it personally is solid advice and something that many of us sometimes fall short on.

      I have seen a lot of hurt feelings in the blogosphere, including myself and most of the time it is just not worth it.

      More often than not it really isn’t personal and there is simply no reason to waste time worrying about it.

  11. Jack, I agree. I’d love to read everyone’s blog, but I hardly have any extra time to write on my own blog.

    I wish I had more time…

  12. Jack, aloha. Like you and Adrienne, I started out the same way and have evolved as you two have.

    Jack, I read a lot more than I comment–sometimes because of time constraints and sometimes “just because.” Oftentimes when I am reading a post before tweeting, if I am rushed for time, I make plans to return thought sometimes that just doesn’t happen.

    Look forward to reading your 25K tonight. Until later, aloha. Janet

    • Aloha Janet,

      I understand that. I often talk about how blog readers are like an iceberg. Three quarters of the iceberg is located under water.

      Out here in the blogosphere three quarters of our readers never comment- but they are out there.

  13. I agree that there should be no guarantee of reciprocity but I’ve noticed that if I visit a blog repeatedly and offer up comments, to never have a single acknowledgement is kind of off-putting. Maybe it has to do with why I’m out here reading which has nothing to do with the fact that I have my own blog and want people to read and comment. I enjoy the community aspect and there is no community of it’s all one-way.

    • Hi Cathy. I am in agreement with you there too. If someone visits my blog regularly I try to make a point to show up and look around at theirs.

      What irks me is when they never respond to the comments I leave. You don’t have come comment here but if I show up at your place than it is only right to reply.

  14. I know what it means to get a comment on something you work on, so I try to leave comments on posts by my readers. But recently, it is fewer and fewer of those. There is no way to keep up, but out of the posts of thiers that I read, I will comment on the one or two that compel me to.

  15. Hey Jack!

    I actually enjoy commenting, really I do. I honestly wish I had more time to do it. It’s great process, really and sometimes you can extend the conversation to Twitter, and heck, maybe even pick up the phone. I’ve been doing a bit more of that lately. Still not up on Skype, but will be sometime in the future. My main problem is really fitting commenting in, blogging and running a separate business.

    I don’t expect certain people to come to my blog. I have sent a DM to people in the past when I post (when I was an overexcited rook) and sometimes DM if I link to that person’s blog in my post. I’m not sure of protocol, but will learn.

    There are people like you and many who’ve left comments right here who are great, and I love it when a new post pops up I can comment on. Boy, that was kind of a run-on, wasn’t it.

    Right now though, I’m more focused on writing decent content and having a plan for this blogging venture, which is overwhelming in a fun way.

    By the way, you do crack-up my wife. I’m kind of glad you don’t live too close, if you know what I mean ๐Ÿ˜‰ She’s always saying, “That JackB is funny.” or “Jack really speaks his mind,” and I’m like, “Hey what about me รขโ‚ฌยฆ am I chopped liver?” ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi Craig,

      Commenting can be a lot of fun and as you alluded to it is the way some friendships start.

      But it is time consuming and that is why some people start to get crazy with it. I don’t mind getting the occasional two or three word sentence because sometimes that is what you have.

      I appreciate your support and your wife. Tell her to comment occasionally or I’ll focus my curmudgeonly stare upon Washington State and cut off all federal funding.

      Sorry, got a little carried away with the sense of power I don’t have. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Keep on writing my friend. Those who love blogging are those who last and grow and you are well on your way.

      • Jack,

        Yes, oh how time consuming, but fun.

        You are welcome! I’m having a hard time getting her to comment on my blog, so you might just have to be content with a part-time lurker ๐Ÿ˜‰ WA State is not in the best situation, so that would hurt.

        Thanks for the kind words. Nice coming from a veteran like you.

        Congrats on the 25k words!

  16. Dude, I finally have figured out how to get my pic to show up. Just for that, I will have to come back.

    I try to reciprocate when I can; it might not be into perpetuity because I have noticed some who comment at my place only after I have stopped by theirs. This is not tit for tat per se and I don’t want it to be a chore to stop by. I do like to reach out when I can however.

    I also find it humorous when people tell me how busy they are; and they are because I see them everywhere, but I’m posting ONCE a week. Just go ahead and tell me my stuff isn’t compelling enough and I think it would go down better……..:).

    Thank goodness I’m a grizzled veteran at this point and if someone doesn’t want to come by anymore that just leaves room for me to discover someone new. And none of this bothers me; it doesn’t mean I don’t see it, but I could give two hoots.

    Like you, all I can worry about is my own stuff. I’m doing the best I can for now.

  17. Reciprocity is not really necessary and it is a matter of choice. If you have a blog that is very interesting, then most definitely people will find it.

  18. Knowing you the way I do now Jack I know that you do what the heck you want to do and I admire that.

    When I first started commenting I let everyone know that if they stopped by my blog, I would most definitely visit theirs as well. But over time I started realizing that I don’t even enjoy some of the content that they share. It’s not that it isn’t good, it’s just not my thing.

    I no longer have a guilt complex when I don’t return the favor. I just hope the people who stop by my place are doing so because they enjoy my content and want to comment. No other reason.

    Thanks for sharing your views on this.

    • Hi Adrienne,

      I think that most of us start out thinking that we’ll visit those who visit us.

      In the beginning it is really easy to get caught up in that but when you have been doing this for a while you realize that you can’t keep it up. You can’t be everywhere and have a life and like you said you don’t always like you what you read.

      There is no need for us to tell people that their posts sucked. Ok, sometimes there is and I have done it, but only under special circumstances.

  19. Not only am I leaving fewer comments lately, I’ve also pared down the list in my reader. If I want to do my paid work well, and have something resembling a personal life, it’s a necessity. For the people whose work I appreciate, I think they know it. I don’t feel it’s imperative to leave a comment with every post…

    • Hey Joe,

      Same thing going on here. I just don’t have time to get around like I used to and that is ok.

      If the post is really compelling I’ll make a point to say something otherwise I get to be a lurker.

  20. I think you like talking to me. Lo, another blogging topic as a result.

  21. This is funny to me. If I felt that my commenting on another’s blog should or would obligate them in any way, well … I may actually have a few comments on mine, as I’m starting to feel ultra self conscious. ๐Ÿ˜‰ For me, I totally get the รขโ‚ฌล“busyรขโ‚ฌย part as it is a challenge for me to comment on some of my favorites because of time constraints alone. When someone comments on mine, well, Iรขโ‚ฌโ„ขm just ultra thankful and consider it a privilege because I know how valuable their time is.

    Good to bring up here Jack. Thank you!

    Have a great day!!

    Much kindness,


    • Hi Elena,

      That is exactly how I feel. I appreciate their time, especially lately. I am so busy running in circles I am surprised that I get anything done.

  22. Hi Jack,
    WHO is busier than a blogger? LOL I think you captured how I feel with this statement: “Part of building a community is creating a condition in which people enjoy their time here and feel free to comment.”
    I hope my post makes you WANT to jump in. If it doesn’t either it’s not your topic, you’re busy, or I haven’t done a good job. ๐Ÿ™‚
    25k already!? Wow

    • Hi Lori,

      The best comments and community come from people who want to be a part of things. When we do a good job of building that community good things come from it.

  23. Hey Jack,

    In that case I am honored by your visits and comments. I think ๐Ÿ™‚

    Seriously, I would love to be able to read every single post at every single site that I like, but it is just not possible. There are probably a million more sites that I would love to read if I knew they were there, but I am afraid to look because I would then never have time to live life or do a reading again. I would never be insulted if someone stopped coming by because They Are Busy! That’s what life is for right, to live it.

    • Julie,

      I don’t visit or comment on sites unless I want to and am interested. There just isn’t enough time in the day and I am not offended when people don’t on mine.

      There are blogs I love whose authors don’t love nor like mine. Should I be upset by that? My answer is no.

      Life is too short.

  24. Hi Jack!
    I REALLY don’t like it when I sense someone visiting my blog out of obligation. It’s actually worse than getting a negative comment.
    Yesterday (?) I “caught” my son reading my blog. He never comments. But he’s there because he’s interested. The only way I know he has been there is when he tells me. I don’t have fancy analytics that give me that info. Thank goodness!
    Sometimes (most times to be honest) I think there are too many made-up rules to blogging and commenting!

    • Hi Betsy,

      I dislike most of the “rules of blogging” and not because I hate authority.

      Social media shouldn’t be any different than real life. Just treat people like people and let it go at that.

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