Should You Blog For Comments?

Avast maties - The "Black Pearl" is in port.

The Dread Pirate Robert is in search of Comments.

An interviewer asked me to share my dream job with them and I said I wanted to be The Dread Pirate Roberts. They laughed and told me it was inconceivable and I said I do not think that word means what they think it means and we laughed some more.

It gave me that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you feel like you have established a rapport with someone and I figured it would provide some sort of bonus or extra credit for getting the job, or so I hoped.

As it turned out I didn’t get the position but I didn’t worry much about it because there are a million jobs out there and a million different paths to success.

Not long after I sat in a different interview and when I got the same question I provided the same response except the interviewer had never seen The Princess Bride so they just gave me a dead eye stare.

I didn’t want their to be an awkward silence so I provided the reference and we moved onto other questions including what is the most important metric for measuring success in blogging.

The interviewer listened to my response, thanked me for my time and extended her hand. When I asked why she was cutting it short she told me it was because I didn’t understand that comments were the most important part of blogging and she saw it as a fundamental flaw.

Should You Blog For Comments?

I politely expressed my disagreement and refrained from telling her a blog is the whole and the posts are the parts and went about my way.

The 17 long time readers can provide you with references to prior posts in which we discussed why comments are not as solid a metric as some people want them to be.

Comments that don’t advance the conversation, demonstrate interest or provide substance aren’t evidence people like what you are writing or that they actually read it. They are just proof someone posted a remark and sometimes it is not someone, but something that did so.

But like so many other good things in life the answer to whether you should blog for comments isn’t always yes nor is it always no.

We touched upon it briefly in a recent post and in this particular context I do see some value.

“Comments are down throughout the blogosphere adding to the loneliness a writer sometimes feels.”

Most of the time I don’t worry about getting comments because writing is an involuntary exercise like breathing. If I don’t write I won’t die but on the Steiner scale of crazy I move from a 5 up to a 3 or so I guess.

I’d tell you to ask my dear Shmata Queen but she starts at 3 so she wouldn’t notice the difference. Just kidding dear. 🙂

Anyhoo, I cannot say I don’t want comments or never think of them but writing can be lonely and it is very hard to maintain perspective about our own work.

I can’t ask people if they remember where they came from and talk about comments and writing in general because it is tied together for me. If you go back to the dawn of time when the Shmata Queen and I were both blogging she is the one who tipped me off to comments and statcounters.

It is kind of funny because she never liked that kind of stuff and I did. She is the one who initially pushed me to really begin focusing on writing again so if you love my words you can thank her and if you don’t you can blame her.

See how neatly I tried to avoid responsibility. 😉

The Reason Blog For Comments

The reason if such a thing really exists is comments provide a writer with feedback about his/her writing. It helps you understand if what you are publishing is crap that people hate or crap that people love.

There is merit in feedback and sometimes it can be both helpful and useful. Except when it isn’t.

Yeah, that is a contradiction but blogging/writing is filled with such things. I received  feedback about You Shouldn’t Blog About Sex On Halloween and a A Partial Tale of Two Liars that lends itself to this discussion.

Several people said they really enjoyed these posts and a couple asked me to expand the two liars story. A couple others told me they thought the Halloween post was a waste of their time and that I should look for a new profession.

It makes me think of a Tolkien quote.

“There are no safe paths in this part of the world. Remember you are over the Edge of the Wild now, and in for all sorts of fun wherever you go.”― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Once you put your words on a public page you are inviting commentary and since writing is subjective you should plan on receiving colorful comments.

And those comments don’t always show up on current posts, you’ll find people reach back into stuff like The Jerry Seinfeld Blog Post and complain that it didn’t read the way they expected or wanted it to.

Sometimes I make a point to send those people an invoice for their complaint and a note that there is a cancellation fee that you must pay if you choose to stop reading.

But what do I know about any of this anyhow. I am just a guy who thinks Blogging Doesn’t Need To Have A Point.

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11 Comments

  1. Larry October 26, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    I don’t blog for comments. However, I do enjoy them. For my blogging is about a conversation as much as it is about me writing. A conversation is much more fulfilling and potentially beneficial if it is two way.

  2. Jens-Petter Berget October 26, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    I agree and disagree, it all depends. As I writer, we’d love feedback. We want to improve. On the other hand, we need to keep writing regardless of the feedback.

  3. Andy Crestodina October 25, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Interesting post! And a natural post to comment on…

    I don’t agree with her. Of course, comments aren’t the most important metric. Some posts might be hugely successful at driving traffic and inspiring visitors to act, but get few or no comments. Other posts may get lots of little comments, but lead to no successful outcomes.

    Generally, a post with stronger emotion will get more comments. Opinion posts, rants, raves, and posts about current events. That’s fine.

    How-to, instructional posts don’t get comments. They might be “evergreen” and super useful, but they don’t trigger a conversation. Wikipedia is my favorite website, but I’ve wanted to leave a comment there.

    Comments are mostly a matter of topics and tone, but if it’s not the same as the topics and tone that drive results, then they’re not a meaningful KPI.

    Most comments are pretty meaningless… But at their best,
    they’re a conversation, an exchange and an opportunity for new connections. I hope this one meets that criteria. Thanks for the post, Jack!

    • The JackB October 25, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      @andycrestodina:disqus This is precisely the kind of comment that bloggers hope to receive. It is thoughtful, demonstrates engagement and stimulates additional conversation.

      I think of this time frame as still being the toddler stage of digital media. Some toddlers have much greater understanding and control of body and actions than others.

      Translate that as the challenge marketing/PR face trying to provide metrics that prove their worth. It is a challenge that varies from company to company.

      If you work for a company that demands tangible results be tied to each marketing/PR action that can present a sizable challenge. They won’t always accept answers like “it provided great branding value” unless you show support.

      As I think out loud some of it comes back to our ability to state/support the value proposition of what we do in a convincing manner.

      Our analytics tend to be a good starting place. If a post has no comments but a ton of pageviews and you can demonstrate that unique users are spending 3 minutes on the post you have something of substance to work with.

  4. Glasgowdragonfly October 24, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    Nodding along as usual! Not helpful comment but to just click “like” on a good post feels sketchy! Thoughts?

    • The JackB October 25, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      @Glassgowdragonfly It depends on the relationship. If I have one with the blogger and I have nothing noteworthy to add but want to let them know I read the post I will click like. If I don’t know them I try to do more than just click.

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