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On Commenting

Jackie wrote a thoughtful post on lurkers. Do you lurk? Are you more a commentator or a lurker? I understand almost half of my blog traffic is randomly driven from search engines, which account for transient stay, meaning 2 seconds to about 1 minute. Consider the astronomical number of blogs out there, a random reader who devotes a minute to a blog is very generous. Recently, blog traffic has increased due to information seekers who search for a particular novel or a literature genre. Then the loyal pool of bloggers who regular contribute to the discussion account for the half of the traffic.

As for me, since I do not subscribe to google reader, I click one-by-one the links on my blogroll. Of course, the blogs of my most recent commentators would be visited first. I usually comment on weekly-event posts, such as Musing Mondays and Booking Through Thursdays, and books that are on my radar and that I have read. Sometimes the reviews of books (especially books that are outside of my usual genres) I usually do not comment as much because I don’t have anything to add to the discussion. I might silently jot down titles!

So my question is, what and why the continual/returning lurkers? Shyness? I wonder if that’s one of the reason that people don’t post comments? That even though you might enjoy reading what the blogger writes, you’re not confident to voice your opinion? Whatever the reason, bloggers would love to hear because they write to be read. For this blog, there is an incentive to comment, because the 10,000th comment is coming up. I’m contemplating a prize for the lucky 10,000th!

81 Responses

  1. 10,000 comments! Wow! Congratulations!

    Thanks for linking to my blog! I’ll comment on anything if I have the time, but if I’m in a rush I will only comment on my favourite blogs (like yours) or posts that really interest me.

    I managed to de-lurk two people with my post yesterday. I hope you manage to draw out a few of your hidden readers with this post.

  2. I don’t think I’m exactly a lurker, but I definitely read a lot more than I comment, not just here, but everywhere. I think for me, it’s mostly a lack of time coupled with a lack of something to say that I think adds to the conversation. “Nice review; this book looks interesting” gets kind of old after a while, so I normally only comment if I’ve read a book and have something to add, or if a review intrigued me enough that the book is going on my wishlist.

  3. I read you every day. Sometimes not all the way through but I definitely scroll and skim. You are in the top 2 of the 21 blogs I visit every day. I really enjoy your writing style and what you have to say. Keep it up.

  4. I’m with Firefly. I read a lot of blogs, but I don’t always have something to say (at least not something that truly contributes to the conversation). I’m wirking hard to change that, but when I comment, I want it to be more than just “Great post!” or “Great review!”

    For what it’s worth, I keep you on my GoogleReader and always look forward to your insightful posts. 🙂

  5. Shyness is a big reason. I also sometimes hold back because I feel that the blog is too cool/smart for me (not that the ones I do comment one are not smart and cool too). Yours would be an example 😛 I sound like a high schooler, I know.

  6. I don’t really consider myself a lurker (that sounds so much like stalker!), but I definitely don’t comment on every blog post I read – even on the blogs that I really enjoy, like yours. My commenting policy is that I only comment when I have something substantial or amusing to say; I try never to comment just to say I was here, or to point readers to my own blog. Unfortunately, there are times when life just gets too hectic to allow me to do all the blog reading and commenting that I’d like.

  7. Completely agree with Joy on this one. Matt, I read your blog practically every day, but unless I have read the book or know something original about the topic, I do not chime in. I don’t think me saying that sounds interesting lends much to the conversation. But today I have something to say… 🙂

  8. Yes, I admit I’m a lurker. Just shy, I guess. Fearful of saying something stupid — there are some smart people commenting here.

    But I’ll try to do better. And I really do appreciate your blog.

  9. I follow quite a number of blogs (thanks to Google Reader) and as much as I would like to coment on every post I read, I just can’t manage it. I hate to throw out that old excuse of not having time, but it’s true. For me, it also comes down to not always knowing what to add or not feeling that I can add to the discussion.

    This is a great topic, Matt. I’m enjoying reading everyone’s comments!

  10. Sometimes I seem to lurk because I find that everyone has already said what I would say and it seems silly to repeat. Or perhaps, I just don’t feel witty enough and would rather not look like an ass.

  11. I don’t comment unless I have something specific to add. I quite often see things that I want to read or look interesting but don’t think this always warrants a comment

    My biggest problem is that I don’t read anywhere near the amount of books that people like you and other bloggers do, so for the most part I haven’t read the book and things that grab my attention go on my ever growing ‘to be read’ list.

  12. I’ll comment if I have more to say than just “I agree” and “sounds good”. Unless something truly grabs my interest in a book I haven’t read, it’s kind of hard to add to a discussion. I’ll probably have a couple comments about Woman in White, which I liked a lot.

  13. I wouldn’t want to comment unless I had something witty, original and /or worthwhile to say. And I think others have already made these points in response so Q.E.D! But its generally worthwhile reading what you have to say.

  14. As you are well aware, I’m not the lurking type. I make comments, even when I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. That is probably reflective of my personality. I suspect, though, that many of the lurkers feel intimidated or shy. I’ve got good friends, my mother, my sister, etc. that read my blog daily, and NEVER make a comment. I’m constantly badgering them about it, and they tell me they feel they have nothing to add. I disagree, I think everyone has something to add, but there you go.

  15. I have noticed I have quite a few subscribers to my blog that have never made a comment on it. It is interesting to me. I try to comment every week on at least one post to the blogs I am subscribed to. I don’t have time sometimes to comment on every post, especially those who post 4 and 5 times a day.

    I think it is, however, important to encourage the bloggers to keep writing something you enjoy. I was going to take down my Quote Game on my blog because no one was really commenting. I got a lot of responses saying how much they enjoyed it, but did not know how to add something to it. You never know until someone tells you. I wish more people would just say, “I really like your game and I look forward to seeing new quotes and will participate when I can.” Just something like that will keep a blogger encouraged to continue.

    I know I say a lot of “Nice review.” “Looks interesting.” But that’s because it is a nice review, they wrote a really interesting post or the book really does look interesting. And I am betting, while it is nothing new and fancy, it encourages the blogger and the blogger knows you not only read it, but enjoyed it as well.

    I tend to comment more on posts that are original and posts that intrigue me. Lots of Teaser Tuesday posts do that, as do reviews of books I haven’t seen on the 25 previous blogs on my Google Reader. After I’ve read 25 reviews of Everything is Beautiful, I just don’t care anymore, you know?

  16. I think most of my thoughts have been very well expressed by others already, but since this post is about why we do or don’t comment, I’ll pipe in.

    I have lots of blogs in my reader, and I don’t have the time to comment on every blog I follow. If I’m going to say something, I like to actually add to the conversation, so like others, I’m more likely to comment on posts about books I’ve already read or am planning to read. Or, if I have the time, I might respond to a post that asks a specific question–like this one 🙂

    Rebecca makes a good point about even the “good post” comments being encouraging. A lot of the bloggers I follow (like you, Matt) are already getting plenty of positive feedback. If I see lots of comments already, I might not add a “me, too”/”good post” sort of comment, but I might for a blogger I enjoy who hasn’t built up a steady readership.

  17. I’ve recently started commenting a lot more. A lot of the time it was because, like some have said before, I just didn’t have much to say. But I think after having my own blog for a couple months, it made me realize, that even just a Hey, this is a great review! makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. So by commenting more, I hope I’ve brought that warm and fuzzy feeling to others.

  18. I have a few favorite blogs on Google reader (yours is one) that I like to keep up on because I get so much inspiration from them – be it a new book or a new idea for a quilt or a writing inspiration. I probably only comment about once every 5 or so posts -mostly because I am trying to limit the amount of time I am spending reading blogs and increasing the time I spend reading books or making quilts or writng. I do appreciate how responsive you are to your readers which is one of the reasons I have your blog on Reader.

  19. Jackie (Farm Lane Books):
    Looks like this post is able to de-lurk several readers. I’m amazed at all the long and thoughtful responses to this post. Woohoo!

    By the way, I really enjoy reading your blog as well—we have very similar reading taste!

  20. Fyrefly:
    I agree that there’s no need to chime along with how awesome and nice a book is. In that regard, I’m like you who would just put a book on the list. I also comment on reviews only if I have read the book or if the book is already on my radar. 🙂

  21. wendy:
    Thank you very much for your kind word, which is the utter driving force to my writing this blog. I enjoy reading yours as well, all your insights and the interesting comments from readers that you quote. 🙂

  22. Bibliolatrist:
    Let me extend a warm welcome to you although you’ve been reading my blog all along via the Reader. It always makes my day to learn about readers whom I have not known previously. Thank you for leaving me a comment. 🙂

  23. Nymeth:
    Hey, don’t worry about being shy. I love to hear from you, and I have seen your comments in other blogs. 🙂 I’m sure you would add to the discussion going on around here. I look forward to hearing from you again. The comments are what make the book blogging community so awesome. Thanks again!

  24. JLS Hall (Joyce):
    I totally understand. Sometimes I have to bookmark the posts that I have to go back and re-read, before commenting. I tend to not comment on books that I’m not familiar with and that I will not likely put on my list. When I do see books that appeal, I rather silently add it to my list before I have anything substantial to add to the discussion.

  25. Frances:
    Thank you Frances. I just want bloggers to know that I’m still reading their blogs even if for whatever reasons that bar me from commenting on a regular basis. 🙂

  26. mollygrace:
    Thank you. I enjoy reading everyone’s comment, whether it’s serious or just a random trivial remark. 🙂

  27. Literary Feline (Wendy):
    Thank you so much Wendy. I know how that is when I do not have enough time even to read all the blogs on my blogroll, let alone commenting on them. I try to get through the entire blogroll (at least all the book blogs) during a week’s time.

  28. Amanda A:
    Don’t worry Amanda. I’d love to hear from you. Thank you for dropping a note. 🙂

  29. Flo:
    It seems that you and I share a very common commenting policy. I would comment on books that catch my attention and that I have read (and enjoyed). But sometimes I get a bit busy to catch up with everyone’s posts. 🙂

  30. Mish:
    Woman in White would be up very soon. I just finished Satanic Verses, which has pretty much taken up all my reading time. Stay tuned. 🙂

  31. ms6282:
    Thanks for the shout-out! Sometimes I all think what you said applies to writing a book review. Should I review a book that has been all over critics and bloggers’ radar? Do I add something new to the discussion?

  32. Sandy:
    First of all I have to thank you for always leaving me thoughtful (and sometimes hilarious) comments. Consider that you’re a relatively new blogger, your influence and opinions have been felt in this community. So I thank you.

    My family—everyone at home, knows about the blog and reads it, but they usually do not leave me a comment. I understand books and reading might not be their favorite subject matter, but I would still want them to leave me a word or two. It’s very perplexing how friends and family, and now you have shared the same, don’t tend to be as solicitous in corresponding in blog.

  33. Rebecca:
    During the early days of blogging, I tried to find out what kind of posts would attract the most comments! It never worked! Then I just focus on writing useful, thoughtful and sometimes unique posts. I have to give credit to the weekly event like Musing Mondays and Booking Through Thursday, which allow bloggers to have a peek of personal lives. These posts tend to get lots of hits and comments. review posts usually don’t get as many reviews but the delay factor in getting comments is huge, because I see that people would come back to leave comments after they have read the book I reviewed.

  34. Teresa:
    You have a very good point. Like I have responded to Rebecca’s post, I think review posts generally don’t get a lot of comments when they are first posted. They tend to have delay factor. Some bloggers would leave a comment saying they would come back and read the review after they have read the books.

    I also notice posts that ask question usually get more comments because the post is open-ended. It invites readers to interact and to pipe in. I would like to do more of this type of posts, because I really value in everyone’s comments and building up a community. 🙂

  35. Lu:
    You surely do spread the warm feeling. I believe bloggers write to be read and to be interacted. Regardless of what one’s comment might be, unless it doesn’t show any resemblance of respect and gentility, comments are always welcome. I have noticed your commenting on a regular basis. Thank you, Lu! 🙂

  36. Juliann:
    Thank you for dropping me a note and having me on your Reader. I tend to be commenting every two days or so, making sure I attend to comments bloggers have left me as well. Sometimes maintaining this blog feels like a full-time job. I try to keep posts and comments up-to-date but also realize bloggers would understand if I occasionally slack! 🙂

  37. I am more lurker than commenter lately. I can’t visit blogs while at work, but do read them on my reader. Commenting only happens in the evenings.

  38. I am a lurker, especially on your blog. Sometimes I don’t comment because I don’t have time and sometimes I am just so overwhelmed with your awesome posts that I don’t know what to say without sounding silly 🙂

  39. I read your blog but don’t comment often because, as I said on Jackie’s blog, I only have 30 minutes every morning to check blogs and I only comment if I have something different to say. You seem to cover it all and get plenty of comments! I don’t like saying “nice post” because that’s not a real comment in my book.

  40. I read a lot more than I comment for many of the reasons listed above, except time. Sometimes I just haven’t read the book yet and don’t have anything to say about it. Occasionally I want to tell a blogger that I finally got to a book they got me interested in, but by then I’ve forgotten who it was–maybe that’s where the time comes in. I could be more organized and write everything down.

  41. Matt, I think Violet makes a good point =p

    a lot of my friends lurk my blog! they talk to me about my posts in person but none of them comment 😛 very frustrating.

    This was a very effective way of “smoking them out”, those lurkers 😛

    it’s nice to know that your readers only want to contribute thoughtful, intelligent comments to your blog posts, though, i’m sure.

  42. I subscribe to GoogleReader and I have about 40 blogs that I follow faithfully, including yours. I read for information, ideas, and book reviews. I don’t usually comment, especially if there are already 10 or more other comments on a post. Every once in a while I feel I have something worthwhile enough to say that I will post, or I do it just to let the author know, “Hey, I came by.” Good luck on reaching 10,000. Whew!

  43. Wow, just look at the comments you’ve received! LOL.

    I admit I’m a lurker at times, but that’s because I’ve nothing much to contribute. 🙂

    Congrats on the 10,000th comment!

  44. Mari:
    Thank you for dropping a comment. I’m the same way when it comes to work. I try not handle personal stuffs. But I do check my comments when I take break and have lunch. 🙂

  45. Violet:
    Since this is sort of like my online reading journal, some of these thoughts are more private. I welcome all your thoughts. 🙂

  46. Rebecca Reid:
    I totally understand about the one-word comment. I do not comment in many of the blogs I read, because I do not have anything to say that would add to the discussion. But I am gratified to have learn something new from the bloggers, and more books for my list! 🙂

  47. Jeanne:
    I can relate to you. You have made a very practical and reasonable point. In my head I know some bloggers have pointed the books to my direction but I have forgotten who. I try to ping back people and see what I come up.

  48. Elena:
    yeah…what’s up with friends and family? I never get that. Most of them are on Facebook except for me. I have held off signing up because I’ve got a hand full with this blog and I prefer to stay that way. 🙂

  49. Bethany:
    Thank you so much for following my blog on the reader. I think every once in a while it really makes my day to learn that people have been reading your blog scrupulously. I have enjoyed writing about the books I read and hoping my readers would get a bit out of these notes. 🙂

  50. Melody:
    That lucky 10,000th commentator is coming up…. 🙂

  51. I’m a regular reader of your blog but don’t always post a comment, mainly for reasons already covered by others above. Being more of a lowbrow reader myself and having not read most of the books that you have covered, I do feel a little out of depth sometimes but your blog does provide me with a source of future books to get hold of, if I ever make a sizeable dent in my current TBR piles.

  52. I definitely read/lurk more than I comment. It’s not an intentional thing. It’s more often that I don’t have the time to keep up with as many blogs as I’m trying to keep up with, and by the time I happen upon a post that inspires me to comment, most of the meaningful discussion is already over and I just feel weird leaving a comment on an old post. I do try and leave comments when I have the chance, but usually it ends up just being an accident of Google Reader, as in the “lucky” person who just happened to post right before I opened up the Reader is much more likely to get a comment because the post is new and I’m actually having time to read it right away.

    The rest of the time I lurk simply because I can’t think of anything worthwile to say, and I’d rather leave no comment than a comment that doesn’t really say much of anything about anything.

  53. Thanks for a great post! I discovered Jackie’s blog because of it and commented that everyone delurked for her – looks like they have for you as well!

    I also follow blogs via clicking on the links list on my own blog. I really should comment more but often have only stolen time enough for reading and skimming. Other times I just don’t feel like I have anything interesting to add. I mentioned to Jackie that I figure only about 5-10 people actually read my blog and I do think that is fabulous if true – I don’t know the stats on my blog as I’ve never looked that up or even tried to find out how to look that up. I’m a luddite I suppose.

  54. I LOVED Blindness and Little Bee was great too!

  55. I read a lot and my blog is about writing, storytelling, theater, and I guess it is “regional,” (an awful word!). Yeah, I lurk, because I am looking for ideas and books that I might enjoy. Like you, l enjoy some kind of exchange with my posters, but I have a pitiful number who actually post … probably about one-tenth of what you receive. Since I frequently don’t have the vaguest idea what you are talking about, I don’t post. When I do relate to something that you say, I am so overjoyed to find a kindred soul, I post.

  56. I do almost exactly what you do. I don’t subscribe to blogs. I click one-by-one on the links in my favorites. I have quite a few and check out blogs when I have time. I’m awful at commenting, though. Sometimes this is due to a time constraint; I’d rather check on my favorites and read anything new than take the extra time to post a comment. Sometimes it’s just laziness on my part. Occasionally I tell myself to try harder to comment on the blogs I read.

  57. I use my favorites list like you do. I figure most everyone will be on the visible part of the list at least once a week. I would not be able to keep up with everything in a reader. Limiting it to the most recent 25 posts per day keeps it all fun for me.

  58. cheeky angel:
    When I first started the blog, I had in my mind the thought to promote books that are either not widely read or even heard of by readers. I hope to introduce these books to readers and say a few words about them along the way. I lean toward classics and literary fiction because they usually don’t get as much attention.

  59. Megan:
    Since I don’t have google reader, I tend to click on the first links of the people who have just commented on my blog.

  60. Heather T:
    You may go to http://technorati.com and enter your blog address. They will show you the blogs linking to your blog. As to statistics, I have subscribed to a sitecounter that tells me the paths and ISPs of most of my visitors. 🙂

  61. Diane:
    If you like Little Bee, you might also enjoy Half of a Yellow Sun. 🙂

  62. Gary Carden:
    Well, I’m glad you’re showing yourself and leaving me a comment. I understand that not all my posts shall attract the same readers to comment. Some might attract more comments than others. It’s just a matter of how widely read a book is and how popular a subject matter is. 🙂

  63. Lori L:
    Time constraint would be the major factor for me. I try to read as many posts as I can during my “allowed” time online, since I try to limit my web surfing time.

  64. CB James:
    yes indeed. Especially this book blogging community is growing by an exponential factor every week. I try to keep on top of some of my favorite blogs and then read through my entire blogroll.

  65. I don’t lurk…if I visit I leave a comment…I’m not shy!! 🙂

  66. Matt.. great discussion going on here. I realize that I’m both a lurker and a non-lurker. I lurk on those blogs that are very critical of other books not in the category of how they view real literature. I love reading them, but would be intimidated if I were asked to defend why I love certain books that they would feel (indirectly) unacceptable.

    On the other hand, I love to comment on blogs (like yours) whose personalities are open and friendly to all other bloggers. I love the feeling of having bookish friends, even if only online. 😀

  67. I just found this post (I’ve been so busy I am severely behind on my google reader) but it is so amusing as we have been discussing this lately.

    I just learned there’s a whole section of the blogosphere that doesn’t really care about comments! It completely mystifies me as I have always thought blogging was about the interaction and the ability to get comments quickly was a nice bonus.

    In any case, I am much like Ana in that if a blog seems too cool (I mean that in the best possible way) I feel shy to comment!

  68. You know I comment a lot and that’s probably because I am a chatty person anyway 🙂

    But, I have to say I typically read my blogs via bloglines. I used to click on every blog in my blogroll but some don’t update as often so that would just make me spend more time.

  69. Well you don’t seem to have so many lurkers if the amount of comments on this post is anything to go by. I just wanted to say that my patterns are the same as yours, comment on Meme’s and relevant reviews, however I do use Google Reader as it saves time.

  70. I use bloglines, so it’s an extra couple of clicks to comment and I’m just SO LAZY and read so many blogs that my ‘real’ life would become much smaller if I had to comment on everyone’s posts.

    Also, a lot of the time I skim. This will be our little secret.

    ANYway, I usually try to comment on everyone’s blogs once in a while so that they know I’m still around and still reading. It’s like taking attendance.

  71. I’m bad at leaving comments, and I want to do better. It’s not that I don’t want to comment, but usually by the time I get to a post, someone has already said what I wanted to say! (I haven’t read all the comments above to see if that happened this time!)

    Anyway, I go through streaks of commenting/not commenting. I really wish I would be more consistent.

  72. I try to leave at least one comment every day that I visit any particular blog (usually I have 3-5 posts or more to catch up on by the time I make the rounds again) but if there are already a ton of comment I often abstain. (This post, for example: I saw 71 comments and thought, “nah…” but then I did it anyway).

  73. Staci:
    Thank you Staci…love to have you here and enjoy reading your comments. 🙂

  74. claire:
    Always so thoughtful in your posts and your comments. Thank you, Claire. I tend to comment more on blogs that share common reading tastes and interests, like yours, Jackie’s and several other. Since I focus on the style and language of novels, I also refrain from commenting on blogs, like you have mentioned, about books that aren’t really belonging to literature.

  75. Amy @ My Friend Amy:
    Thanks for your thoughts, Amy! I feel that bloggers believe pretty much like consumers do. They tend to read comments but sometimes would refrain making comments. I believe that bloggers write to be read and to be discussed. So I try my best to response to the comments, although I can be behind. 🙂

  76. iliana:
    Love reading your comments, Iliana. I try to get around reading all the blogs during a week’s time, but I have to comment only on books that I have either read or are on my radar. 🙂

  77. Alaine:
    I tend to comment on memes and relevant reviews as well. This post has brought amazing amount of comments and “de-lurks” a lot of readers! I’m very excited at the turn-out of comments! 🙂

  78. Raych:
    I understand it’s impossible to read all the posts on my blogroll everyday, let alone commenting. Keeping a blog is a full-time job. I try to comment on relevant reviews. 🙂

  79. 3m:
    I understand that we all have jobs and life and that we try to achieve the most when we are online. I try to make my way around all the blogs on my blogroll during a week’s time. I make sure I answer the comments left on my blog, regardless if they people who comment would come back and see my responses. 🙂

  80. alirambles:
    Thank you for your comment. 🙂 I started off with about 5-7 blogs a day. Now the number of blogs I read and the comments I get on my own have both gone up exponentially. I realize bloggers would understand if I do not get to comment on their posts as much. 🙂

  81. I try to comment whenever I have something to add to the discussion, or whenever I’ve particularly enjoyed a post/review and want to let the blogger know. I often stay silent when I have nothing particularly important to add or when all the other commenters have said what I wanted to say.

    I’m also rather shy, and I feel awkward leaving longer, in-depth comments when I don’t know the blogger very well.

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