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Commentary On A Comments Post

Posted by on Mar 3, 2010

I was reading a guest post on Problogger titled 8 Reasons You Might Not Be Getting Many Comments, and as I read it, I identified with a couple of them, and found that I kind of disagreed with the other points. I figured I’d comment here rather than there, mainly because there are already 111 comments on that post, and I applaud the writer of the post, Charlie Gilkey, on responding to comments on his post, something you don’t often see guest bloggers going back to do (y’all need to be cautious of that).

1. Your Posts Are Too Long

If we set the bar at 500 words for what’s long and what’s short, I’d have to say that, based on my own blog, it depends on what someone is talking about. For instance, over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had a few posts that were longer than that, and most of them got a pretty good response. I’ve also written a few short posts, and one of those only got a couple of comments.

I believe as long as you’re not droning over one thing without adding something new to it here and there, long posts are just fine. People tend to gravitate towards one or two lines they really like anyway if you haven’t bored them. And, the post Charlie wrote on this topic was pretty long, and it got 111 comments; case closed.

2. You Haven’t Asked Them to Comment

This one is interesting. If I asked at the end of every post “please comment”, I’d sound desperate. Actually, every once in awhile I do ask people what their opinion is, and I think that’s actually his point here. If you’re writing something pretty technical, you won’t get many comments, but if you offer an opinion, like I do here and there on this blog (kind of like this post), then asking people what they think makes sense.

3. They Don’t Know What To Say

This one seems obvious, and in this case there’s really not much to comment on because there’s nothing you can do to encourage those people to comment.

4. They’re Doing What You Told Them To Do

This is where we talk technical. One of my posts from awhile ago was talking about how to get Google Desktop to index Thunderbird. This is still one of my most popular posts, and it still gets comments. It never got the amount of comments close to how many people have read it, but it got some, and I know it helped a lot of people. I guess this is just something you have to deal with if you’re going to try to help people from time to time.

5. They’re Chasing Links On Your Blog

Here he’s talking about internal linking, saying that people will go off and follow your internal links to other posts without commenting on the original post. Do those people comment on the old posts if they follow it? I think this is an acceptable risk, because we all would like some of our older comment to be read, it’s great for SEO, and I think people who care will make sure to comment on one or both or multiples as they see fit.

6. They’re Following Your Social Media Trail

This is an intriguing idea, and I’m not quite sure I believe this one. I doubt there’s a single person who follows my blog and me on either Twitter or Facebook who doesn’t comment. What I have seen, though, are people who subscribe to the email not commenting, instead writing me directly. I’m not sure I believe this one at all.

7. It’s Hard For Them To Comment

Hello! He’s speaking to, and for, the choir, or at least me on this one. How many times have I written about making it easy to comment on your blog? How many times have I castigated Disqus and Intense Debate and the like for wanting me to subscribe so I can see responses to a comment I’ve written? Heck, sometimes it’s hard to find the link that allows you to comment. And there’s a new trend where a few bloggers have some posts they’ll allow you to comment on, and others where they turn it off because they don’t want to hear your opinion on their opinion. Not sure where I stand on that one in general, but I know those are usually the posts I want to comment on, so I just don’t subscribe to those blogs because it’s irritating to me.

8. You’re Posting At The Wrong Time

Once again, I have decided to take this one with a grain of salt. I have experimented this concept of posting at different times, and what I’ve realized is that it just doesn’t matter. It seems the email feed goes out late in the afternoon or evening anyway, and Twitter has folks on it 24/7, so there’s always an audience that’s seeing your post when you’re not around. Maybe 4 years ago time made a big difference, but not anymore.

And that’s that. Be sure to read Charlie’s post entirely, and of course I’d love to hear your thoughts on my commentary on that post. See, I’ve asked you to contribute! 🙂

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23 Comments »

Totally agree with number 7. I had to set up a Disqus account for one blog I commented on. Went back to it today and I don’t see how to sign in to Disqus from his post. So, I didn’t comment.

People like easy and simple. They also like to interact so I try and reply to most comments and visit the commentor’s blogs.

Great post, Mitch!
.-= Scott Thomas´s last blog ..Winter’s Back is Broken =-.

March 3rd, 2010 | 11:24 AM
Mitch:

Thanks Scott. By the way, suddenly your blog is asking people to subscribe to comments after one is left; what’s up with that? lol

March 3rd, 2010 | 2:06 PM

I don’t know. Using WordPress.com, they do upgrades which change things. I’ll look at the settings.
.-= Scott Thomas´s last blog ..Winter’s Back is Broken =-.

March 4th, 2010 | 6:47 AM

Like you Mitch, I don’t think the time of day for posting has much to say – but it might depend on the niche.

I also dislike Disqus and those annoying plugins that are just too complicated to comment with. Also Google blogger/blogspot that often require a login, I don’t use – unless I really have something important to say 🙂
.-= Klaus @ TechPatio´s last blog ..February 2010: Blog Summary & Income Report =-.

March 3rd, 2010 | 1:01 PM
Mitch:

I’m with you, Klaus. Sometimes you’re just compelled to say something, right? lol

March 3rd, 2010 | 2:08 PM

Hi Mitch
All good points but perhaps the most obvious is “You Haven’t Asked Them to Comment.”

Perhaps it’s too obvious because lots of people don’t do it.

I ask for peoples views, stories, advice… in the hope that they will leave a decent comment.

Am I right, what do you think? LOL
.-= Keith Davis´s last blog ..A helping hand… =-.

March 3rd, 2010 | 2:03 PM
Mitch:

I think you’re absolutely right, Keith. I’ll admit that I find that I can’t comment on every blog. Most of the time I find I can’t comment on poetry, which is strange because back in the day I wrote poetry and song lyrics. Guess I’m waiting for the next “Raven” to appear.

March 3rd, 2010 | 2:09 PM

I appreciate the detailed feedback and criticism, Mitch – and what I didn’t make clear is that not every reason will be at play for every blog.

I don’t think the case is closed about #1 as much as you think. I write long posts, but I try to make the value:word count pretty high, so I still manage to get pretty good comments. That said, my shorter posts almost always get more comments, so assuming the value:word ratio is the same, longer posts yield fewer comments. Again, think in generalities here.

And I also respect that you don’t believe me re: #8, but I’ve tested this, and it does make a difference. I know when my sharers are online and they RT, stumble, and submit, which increase traffic – which has an indirect effect on comments. It’s not *just* about posting, but about all the after-post activities that happen. (I could have made that more clear, but I was already pushing a long post.)

Thanks so much for taking the time to write a thorough response. I’m glad to see that you’re awake at the wheel. ;p
.-= Charlie Gilkey´s last blog ..Why Formulas and Trends are Often Dead Ends =-.

March 3rd, 2010 | 2:23 PM
Mitch:

Thanks for responding, Charlie. I think we agree that #1 depends more on style than length in general.

As for #8, it kind of proves why some testing isn’t scientific at all, since we both have done it and gotten different results. Course, it’s also possible that our visitors are live at different times, although I doubt that has much to do with it. The only time when it seems bad for retweets is around midnight, but that doesn’t seem to impact comments in general.

Hey, if I’m going to comment on something, I’m going to give it my all. Makes for great blogging ideas also. lol

March 3rd, 2010 | 3:26 PM

Hi Mitch,
Of all the points raised, I agree most with the one about Disqus and Intensedebate. I often browse from my phone but doing so is hopeless if I then want to add a comment. There’s always the risk it gets caught and dumped in the spam but diquis has cookie issues and intence wouldn’t even display comments today!

All in, very frustrating. I also get quite frustrated with all comments being moderated. I don’t know what you policy is on that (but will find out in about 90 seconds ;)) but I like to RT posts I’ve enjoyed enough to comment on. If I’m going to do that, I like my followers to feel like they’re joining me in conversation. They can’t do that if my comment is still held in moderation 😉
.-= Eleanor Edwards´s last blog ..Legislation for a weapon? You can help! =-.

March 3rd, 2010 | 3:55 PM
Mitch:

I don’t moderate posts, Eleanor, as you’ve noticed. However, there are a few people who end up in the spam filter for some reason; glad you weren’t one of them.

I actually don’t mind posts being moderated as much, as long as I didn’t have to jump through hoops to be allowed to comment in the first place. I’ll have to get one of those new fangled phones that lets you access the internet one of these days. 😉

March 3rd, 2010 | 4:13 PM

To be perfectly honest, #1 is why I stop frequenting your blog as much as I used to. I really don’t like reading long posts. If people can’t say what they have to say in a couple of paragraphs, they should write an article or book. Also, there is a knack to #2. Most people just write blogs about something that interests them or an experience they had but they really don’t know how to engage the reader. I just wrote a blog yesterday about an experience I had at the Family Dollar. I wanted to know if my actions were right so I just asked and lo and behold, I got responses.

I don’t like moderated comments either but I’d rather moderate them than to have my blog filled with a bunch of spam messages.

Now this is a LONG post I read from beginning to end and ENJOYED.

March 3rd, 2010 | 8:34 PM
Mitch:

Well, I’m glad you at least read this one, Bev. And frankly, I see many blog posts as articles; after all, this blog is called “I’m Just Sharing” after all.

As for having to moderate, you’re on Blogger, so I’m trying to figure out how you’d have to moderate comments from spam since Blogger makes people sign in to comment, which is why I rarely visit those blogs. One would think they wouldn’t have any spam, and if you’re saying they do then it makes me wonder about all other blogs that make people sign in.

March 3rd, 2010 | 10:01 PM
Glen:

One of the biggest turnoffs for me when I go to comment is when masses of people have commented before me.
I read the article, I have something to say and then I have to sift through endless comments to determine if it hasn’t already been said 20x..

March 3rd, 2010 | 10:35 PM
Mitch:

Man, do I feel you on this one, Glen. That’s why I didn’t comment on Charlie’s post; after 111 comments in just a few hours, I figured I’d be wasting my time.

March 4th, 2010 | 12:21 AM

Hi Mitch

Its been a while since I commented on your blog. I certainly agree with the lenght of blog posts being important, also the layout – no more than 3 lines per paragraph. As someone has alluded to already if it is more than 500 words then it should be an article or a book and the blog post linked to it.

As for comments I believe the style of the post has to be structured in such a way that it generates debate (pushes the right buttons) so the comments come automatically.
.-= Peter Davies´s last blog ..Video Marketing Product Review =-.

March 4th, 2010 | 5:21 AM
Mitch:

Hi Peter,

Welcome back. Unfortunately, I guess you and Bev and others will have to just ignore my long posts because I don’t see me changing my style up any time soon, although my next post might be somewhat interesting to some people.

I agree with your premise in some posts being more “comment friendly” than others. I also believe that if people write in their own natural style that it works best for them rather than altering their style to try to be something they’re not comfortable with. Stirring up a little controversy, structured or not, often works pretty well also.

March 4th, 2010 | 10:17 AM

Well point 2,3 and 7 are the key for me. Many of readers don’t comment because they think that the blog is no-follow so use less to comment. 2nd they have no knowledge about the thing. Nice Sharing thanks

March 4th, 2010 | 8:14 AM
Mitch:

Thanks for your comment, SMO. I still wonder if people are really as key on the “nofollow” vs “dofollow” thing, although this is a dofollow blog. I mean, I know a few people are, but I have to admit that, though I’ll check from time to time when visiting new blogs, it’s never been a reason why I haven’t commented on a blog.

March 4th, 2010 | 10:19 AM

I think the topic(and how intriguing the title is) is a bigger factor than the length of the post. If it’s something that sounds interesting I won’t mind if it’s more than 1500 words. If it’s an uninteresting topic it doesn’t matter if it’s only 250 words, I’ll pass on reading.

Some posts are more appropriate for asking questions at the end, but I don’t think that’s always the case or has to be, which is the reason for number 3.

As far as #7, in my opinion if you’re going to call it a blog there should be the ability to comment. From Wikipedia- ‘The ability of readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs.’
Otherwise why not call it an editorial.
.-= Aaron´s last blog ..The Views and Opinions Expressed… =-.

March 6th, 2010 | 12:53 AM
Mitch:

Great stuff, Aaron. I fully agree with you, which is why I refuse to go to Seth Godin’s blog, yet others seem to glorify it. I sure see enough of what he’s written when others quote his stuff all the time, but he doesn’t take comments.

March 6th, 2010 | 4:35 AM
John Dilbeck:

Good afternoon, Mitch.

I’m a bit late to this party, but I thought I’d comment on comments. (grin)

I don’t think that the number of comments is nearly as important as the quality of those comments and whether or not they enhance the conversation.

As far as length of blog posts, I don’t remember seeing a rule book anywhere that said that they had to be short.

Anyone who reads my blogs should expect long posts and, sometimes, long comments.

If that doesn’t fit the reader’s wants, there are plenty of other blogs to read.

I don’t judge a post (or a blog) by the number of comments, or even if someone accepts comments. I almost always learn something from Seth’s blog, or find something to think about, even though he doesn’t engage in a conversation. I think that’s just as appropriate for a blog as one that encourages conversations.

All the best,

JD

March 17th, 2010 | 1:36 PM
Mitch:

Hi John,

Glad to hear from you; it’s been awhile.

I just have my personal opinion on Seth; I’d probably visit if it was a website rather than the pretense of being a blog.

And yes, you were one of my inspirations for just writing what I felt like writing, and not finishing until I was done. You also always give very thoughtful comments, which is always appreciated. And you’re right, there’s something for everyone.

March 17th, 2010 | 5:35 PM