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On Commenting Practices

I am echoing off Rebecca, The Book’s Lady Blog post on commenting practices. Obviously there’s been some navel gazing about how bloggers ignore comments or commentators feel that their comments weren’t appreciated. This is the perfect opportunity to lay out some of the ground rules and expectations of this blog. You do have to appreciate that different bloggers will have different approaches to comments, and that they can make do with priorities and limitations, such as reading time and this thing called a job.


Blogs I read: about 50+, I do not subscribe to any blogs nor do I use Google or Yahoo reader because I simply cannot keep track of all the RSS feeds, which are overwhelming.
Average time spent blogging on a normal day
: 30-45 minutes, depending on the content of the post. Usually a book review, which has been written on my journal, takes up less time.
Average amount of time spent reading blogs on a normal day
: about 1 hour. I try not to spend too much time online because I rather read my books and not to mention students’ papers. Sometimes I don’t get to read any blogs when I’m away for the weekend.
Number of blogs I comment on per day: around 15. This number highly depends on the number of comments I’ve got on the most current post. I usually reciprocate the visits, plus several of the blogs that are my daily doses.
As you see, I limit the time to write posts, respond to comments, read blogs, and comment on other blogs to just under 2 hours a day. I try to remain offline so I can read books (thank god for that 2 hours of uninterrupted reading early in the morning over coffee). Allow me to be selfish, but other than sharing my thoughts and reflections on my readings, the prime reason to blog is new ideas for reading. I have to prioritize. This is the reason why social networking doesn’t appeal to me as much (although I do use Facebook to keep in touch with friends): people post status updates about every little mundane thing and twitter where they get toilet paper. Unless they twitter about books, I don’t resonate with the twitterings. This blog is my status update. I am avoiding that downward-spiral irony that the more you blog (book-blog), the less (time) you read.

What I Do (and Don’t)

I always read every comment even if I don’t immediately response. I do believe in interaction with readers of the blogs, otherwise there is no point of having comments. I try to respond to them but I do not measure the worth of the comments by whose comments I’m responding to. Sometimes comments can be self-explanatory and close-ended.

I read many blogs but I comment very few. As the number of book blogs multiply exponentially, how can anyone keep up with reading them, let alone scrupulously commenting on them? I refuse to subject myself to an overwhelming feed of 500+ book blogs so I don’t subscribe to them. I go down my blogroll and click on the daily favorites, and work from there. If you leave me a comment, the chance is I will get to read your blog(s) first. I tend to leave comments on book reviews most of the time, whether it’s a new book that intrigues or an old one that I enjoyed. I usually have no difficulty worming my way to blogs that have left me comments months ago.

I do not expect this blog will appeal to every single book blogger. This blog has been known to be eclectic and eccentric. The book talk preponderates on literary fiction, classics, and GLBT literature, which to me serves more to a constituent to the book blogging community than a general book review blog itself. I try to be very consistent in the subject matter and content of the blog so readers always know what they expect here.

Having stated my last point, I don’t expect all the book blogs will appeal to me. That’s just a given. The ones that share my reading taste always and most reasonably get my attention. But I assure you that I do give every blog a chance, and at the end of the day, it’s a matter of time and limitations. In light of this common sense, I do not expect bloggers to respond to any comment I make, although I would appreciate and am burning to know how they react to the selected few comments on occasions. I won’t follow every single blog that has ever left a comment. It’s just reality.

I would like bloggers to expect that this is a personal hobby of mine. I value your thoughts on what I have to share but if I do not respond right away, don’t think that I do not take your comments seriously. In the same way, I expect bloggers not to take everything personally, just work what’s best for him or her; after all, book blogging should be fun and not competitive. Enjoy what you do—book blogging, sharing about your thoughts on books, interacting with others; don’t make book blogging like a chore.

I shall tailor this post to include in the About Matt page. I have also moved the blogroll to a tab overhead. You will find the links to book blogs that I read.

22 Responses

  1. Comments are funny little creatures. Some folks measure the blog post success by the number of comments it gets. As for me, I find that getting the comments that are well thought-out to be the ultimate gauge of success.

    By the way, I subscribe to your blog with Google Reader, just in case you were wondering.

    Thomas 🙂

  2. So glad to see this, Matt! I was hoping my post would start a conversation, and it seems to have done that in the comments section (of all places!), but I would love to see more bloggers just put it out there once and for all so we can finally stop talking about comments.

    Thanks for kicking off the second generation of “how I comment” posts.

  3. Great post. I agree that it is a hobby and I just don’t have time to follow all the blogs out there, let alone comment on them. I can hardly keep up with replying to my own comments on my blog, though I love reading them as they come in. I am just not one of those amazing bloggers who seem to think at triple my speed of thought and who have endless amounts of energy and excitement; I have to accept my snail’s pace and keep my blogging enjoyable. 🙂

  4. Indeed, Matt. I read all the blogs which I subscribed and only comment if I have things to say. I simply can’t catch up with the reading (blogs), let alone commenting on all of them (sometimes, I’m even late at replying on my own blog!). That said, I read and appreciate all the comments. 🙂 I just wish we have more than 24 hrs a day, haha.

  5. I saw Rebecca’s post, and I’ve enjoyed yours as well. Hey, you know, people work and have lives beyond blogging (hopefully!). I guess I don’t have too many expectations of people, and don’t easily get offended. I know you are out there, and you know I am out there, and that is best that we can hope for!

  6. Thanks, Matt. I am envious at your ability to limit your time online. I am trying. I need more reading time. Comments are an interesting thing. I try to respond to comments. I find it easiest with those who provide their emails. If not, then I respond in the comments when a response is required.

    As for leaving comments…it was much easier when I was only visiting about 20. Google Reader makes it a daunting task.

  7. As always you bring the voice of intelligent reason to something that can become quite emotional for bloggers. I don’t measure the success of my blog by the number of comments that I get although I enjoy them all immensely. I’m with you…I don’t want to spend so much time on comments that I don’t have time to read my books. But this community we are part of is so supportive and I think for the most part they all understand that this is a hobby for most of us and we do the best we can.

  8. With you all the way, Matt. It IS difficult to balance life and blogging. So to comment on every blog would be quite daunting.

  9. It worries me a little that bloggers are feeling pressured or feeling a need to post their comment policies!

    On the other hand, I appreciate your frankness about the subject of following a commenter’s blog and how much time you devote to reading posts. My time online has been cut down significantly and I’ve been ignoring my google reader, only visiting the blogs whose interests mesh well with mine.

  10. I don’t think you need to worry about your commenting practices – I think you do a fantastic job of interacting with the commenters on your blog.

    I don’t think anyone has time to comment on every post they read, so that doesn’t even need to be mentioned. Keep up the fantastic work!!

  11. Can I just second everything you said? 🙂

  12. Well done! And I’m with you on the social networking. Not my thing. I was mildly intrigued by Twitter until I learned more about it, so no Facebook or Twitter for me. Like you said, limited online time = more reading time. Well, in theory anyway. 🙂


  13. I have also tried to limit my commenting, just to prioritize my time better. I do read way more blogs that I comment upon. Every once in a while I still try to leave comments somewhere so bloggers know people are out there and reading, but one could really spend hours a day doing it!

  14. Comments are a tricky one. If I havent read the book then I tend to not comment, or sometimes read the post in case of spoilers. Other times just putting ‘Oh I loved this too’ and nothing else seems a little like nothingness. I do try and visit my fav blogs daily but there are a few and with blogging aswell, as you say, theres only a certain amount of time.

  15. My goal for 2010 is to reduce the number of blogs in my feed reader because I am always behind in commenting and it makes me feel guilty. I didn’t start a blog or reading blogs to feel guilty or to feel obligated. I love that you have set personal limits for yourself and hope to emulate at least some of those in the coming year.

    As for responding to comments, I respond in my own comments section most of the time, but if a comment does not seem to require a response, I won’t comment back. I only have so much time to return comments on posts, given that I have a full time job and a part time job, plus blogging. I’m very busy and if people don’t understand that, I have nothing more to say.

    We all spend time online when we can and are online for different reasons. We should just learn to respect one another.

  16. One thing I’d like to point out is that if a blogger responds to comments within his/her own comment section, it’d be nice if they made sure that there is an option to subscribe to follow-up comments. You do have that option, and I’m glad of that :-). I don’t have time to go back to the post and see if the blogger has responded back, or to see what other people have said.

    All in all, we do what we can with our blogs, and you’re doing just fine, I think 🙂

  17. Good thoughts. All of them seem quite sensible to me.

    I wasn’t aware that this was a controversy… I’ll have to click over and read the other post.

  18. I really have been out of the loop lately because I hadn’t read too much about the comment issue but I’m with you on this! I love blogging and reading blogs but let’s face it – we all have a life too!

  19. While I do subscribe to a Reader (and skim titles on busy days to mark as read) I also do jump over to those who comment. But I agree with you: not every blog will appeal to me and if I can’t find a post on the front page that I have a comment on, I simply won’t comment.

    I think your rules and guidelines are understandable! Just do what you can. I appreciate reading/skimming your posts, even when I don’t come out and comment!

  20. I’d like to think that we all have more readers than commenters. Because sometimes I just don’t have anything to say, even when I’ve enjoyed reading.

  21. I appreciate everyone’s thoughts on this issue. I especially thank you for taking time and leaving thoughtful comments on my blog, in general. Just want to show my7 gratitude and know that I read all your comments and take them in consideration for future posts. 🙂

  22. […] who contribute to a very thought-provoking and inspiring discussion. I enjoy reading all your comments although I might not be able to get on top of responding promptly. In establishing a voice here, I […]

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