Actually, I love the discussion, community and relationship-building aspects of blogging, and commenting is a big part of that. (Response posts and linking are the other big part, and I’m all for those, too.) Plus I do like to get confirmation that someone out there has actually read a post, and comments are the clearest indication.
On getting comments
I admit that I am spoiled. I tend to get several comments on most posts that I put up, which I realize is not the case for everyone out there.
If I write a post and no one comments, I actually find it unsettling. I wonder if I said something to offend or made myself look like an idiot. Or (possibly worse) just bored people.
I read every comment that anyone leaves on my blog. This includes those on older posts. I get an email notification whenever a new comment is left. (Occasionally, the email gets eaten, and I discover a comment weeks or months later, but I think this is rare.)
I also read most of the comments on the blogs where I comment. (Do you?)
responding to comments
The blogs I read have varying responses to comments: some bloggers comment back in the comment section, some will send an email response, and some will not respond directly at all. And me, I’m so mixed up, I do all 3 of these behaviors!
I’m a big fan of getting responses to my comments, and I will check back at blogs where the author tends to respond.
Because I like getting responses, I have the goal of also responding to other people’s comments. Sadly, I typically fall short of this goal.
When I do reply on the blog, I try to reply to everyone who left a comment for the particular post. I will sometimes also/instead send an email response to comments. (Actually, I’d love it if WordPress could just send an email to commenters when there is a response to a comment. I believe that LiveJournal did that. There’s now a little checkbox where you can request to be notified of subsequent comments on WordPress, as there is on Blogger, but I only occasionally use this feature. Do other people use this?)
I fully understand why bloggers don’t respond to every comment, especially when they get lots of comments. I’ve noticed that the bloggers who tend not to reply directly to comments tend to leave frequent comments on my blog and around on other blogs, so they keep up a discussion that way.
I generally tend to assume that everyone else feels the same way as I do, and that everyone else wants proof that they are the center of the universe. Or that they at least want comments. Therefore I make an effort to leave comments. I more-or-less always have the goal of leaving a comment when I visit a blog (except on blogs where I lurk).
Sometimes comments come easy, sometimes I have to think.
I make extra efforts to leave comments on blogs or posts that get fewer comments. If I see that a post has already gotten dozens of comments, I am less likely to work at writing a comment.
I also sometimes read blogs when I don’t have time (or two free hands) to type comments. Sometimes I go back later to comment, but many times I don’t get around to it.
I leave comments on blogs whose authors leave comments on mine. If I leave comment after comment on a blog and never get any sort of return visit, I’ll eventually stop commenting.
Every once in a while, I’ll come across a blog where the author does not allow comments, and I find this odd. I tend to move along, because without being able to leave a comment, I don’t expect to be able to establish any sort of conversation with the blogger. (I can understand turning off comments for the occasional post, though.)
How many comments?
I’m not sure how many comments I leave (per week, for example), but I probably actually leave more comments around than I get. The number of comments I leave, though, is roughly proportionate to the number of comments I get. If I go through a stretch where I don’t leave many comments, I tend to get fewer comments; if I go wild with comments, I get more comments.
It frightens me to realize that I have probably left thousands of comments around the blogosphere in the past couple of years.
My WordPress stats page tells me that I have gotten 5104 comments on 564 posts. This is over 2 and a half years. (2 and half years to the day, as it happens.) Of course, the 5104 number includes response comments that I have left on my own posts, as well as pingbacks (most of which are from my own blog). These probably account for a good quarter of the total count.
The biggest number of comments I have gotten on a post (not counting my own responses) is probably 33. I have quite a few posts that have gotten 0 comments. Most get somewhere between 4 and 12.
My stats also inform me that “Akismet has protected your site from 61,870 spam comments.” Yikes! Thank goodness for spam filters.
I have more thoughts on comments, but I should probably just post this, since I’ve been drafting it for over a week now.
By the way, have I ever mentioned here that I wrote a paper on blog commenting for the sociolinguistics class I took a couple of years ago? At some point, I may share some of it here.
Here are a few other questions I may or may not get back to. (If anyone wants to chime in, please do!)
I remember a couple of other posts from blogs on my blogroll on comments:
enkerli offered Solving the comment problem (which was in part in response to my own chart of suggested comment shorthand) and YTSL wrote more metablogging.
If you have more, please leave a link in the comments.
This post has been another installment of my Merry Merry Month of Metablogging, which may well meander out of the merry merry month of May.