Why Don’t People Read?

A common lament I see when it comes to bloggers looking at comments is that the responder seems to not have read any of the post. Many comments seem to be geared towards the title, which is fine in and of itself, but when the content goes a different way than the title then many comments look, well, idiotic, definitely spam-like.

by Rachel Sian via Flickr

I’ve noticed this as well, but not only in commenting. I’ve talked about my finance blog, Top Finance Blog. It’s the only blog I have that actually makes any money.

Anyway, on that blog I have a written guest posting policy; it’s the only blog I have one of those on. I created it because I get lots of requests to write posts for that sucker, mainly from the UK, which I find really interesting since it’s obviously an American blog, but as long as they fulfill the qualifications as listed in the policy then it’s all good.

However, at least half the requests I get don’t fit the policy at all. I don’t mean articles; I mean how to contact me. See, I put one very specific thing in that guest posting policy to help me weed out people who could care less and people who might have something on the ball. It’s very simple; all the writer has to do is use my name, Mitch, in the email. That’s it; don’t call me “webmaster”, don’t just say “Hey”, but use my name.

Those that don’t use my name also ask me if I accept guest posts. Don’t ask me if I accept guest posts because the policy says I do. And something weird is happening lately. I’m not only getting requests to guest post on my blog, but there’s the line that says if I have content I’d like to post on their blog to let them know. Actually, that sounds kind of good on the surface, so let me post you the quote, which is coming from a lot of people word for word:

If you happen to have some good articles or blogs posted elsewhere, provide a few links so the site owner can get a good feel for your writing style. Ask upfront if there are any requirements the blog owner is looking for such as specific word counts (500-1000 words) or post deadline dates.”

I mean, what is that? You’ve just visited my blog, supposedly, are asking if you can post on my blog, then you add this? Am I supposed to be flattered, encouraged, what, other than kind of irritated?

Anyway, I’d like your opinion on whether you feel very few people actually read what you have to say based on what you’re seeing on your blog. I know it’s not universal, but try to guess how many posts I’ve had to eliminate over the past few weeks that aren’t adhering to the very clearly written comment line just above the comment box regarding keywords.

48 thoughts on “Why Don’t People Read?”

  1. I hear you!

    I mean: I hear you, Mitch! πŸ™‚

    I think many people are just shooting wide and hoping for the best. Either because they don’t know better, or because in the end, it pays off more (for them) to shoot wide, high and low, etc., and just move forward with those replies they get, compared to spending a lot of time on each individual e-mail/contact.

  2. Spammers don’t discourage me, after all it’s their time they waste. Regarding other, that don’t take the time to read the entire post, well it’s their choice, what i can do is to try and come up with interesting titles and a catchy body content.

    1. Mia, I remember when I was an employer and used to read applications and letters from people who weren’t close to qualified for positions I had available and wondered at the time what was up with that. I guess it’s just human nature in one way, but it’s a shame.

  3. I am not keen on spammers as well. I don’t know what is the point to make a comment just to put your site/blog advertising it. I wouldn’t click if I don’t like the opinion and I consider it irrelevant..

  4. The don’t read; they also don’t follow directions. Ask any publisher who still takes unsolicited submissions, Mitch. This, incidentally, is a large part of why they don’t. The second would likely be the sheer volume of unadulterated crap that falls over the transom or slithers under the door. The odds of getting published are NOT as bad as they are for winning the lottery, it turns out. Write interesting, engaging stuff and proofread – that puts you above about 80% of all submissions right there. Read and follow publisher’s guidelines? You probably just leaped right into the upper 5%.

    So, in this case, it’s not just that they don’t read – they could read your blog carefully, but figure IF you’ll let them write something, they’ll get the benefits of guest posting. So what if they don’t adhere to your guidelines? They’re so fantastic – their content is free – why WOULDN’T you make an exception for them? (You can see me rolling my eyes, right?)

    1. LOL! Great stuff Holly. You know, so many people say I’m anal because I will give responses based on what’s been asked for. Years ago I was part of a panel discussion talking about hiring employees. I gave a copy of my presentation to the person putting together the program ahead of time, listed my 4 points of discussion and responded exactly as asked. The other two people didn’t do any of that, and the last guy didn’t even address the topic, he just rambled for 20 minutes, longer than he was supposed to talk. And the people gravitated towards him, saying he was a great speaker. Thing was, it wasn’t supposed to be about him; there was a specific topic on the table, and he totally dismissed it.

      Obviously I’m not perfect and don’t think I am. But when people request certain things, if I want to participate I’ll do it their way. If not, I won’t, which of course leads to why I won’t participate on so many blogs that have comment systems I dislike. I don’t think asking people to send something to my name is all that tough, do you? As you said though, they’re not reading, so they don’t care. And if they don’t care, I don’t care to have them writing anything for my blog either.

      But any time you want to write a guest post for this blog, just say the word. πŸ˜‰

  5. Concerning the commenting, since there is such a correlation between drawing visitors to one’s own blog and comments left on other blogs, I think a lot of people just whiz through a bunch of blogs leaving random comments based on the title or a brief snippet of a blog post, or they leave one of those generic “Nice blog” type of comments–they sacrifice quality for quantity.

    I prefer to leave a relevant comment that has some kind of substance and I can’t do that unless I’ve actually read and thought about the post. It takes more time and probably cuts down on comments left on my site. Honestly though, since it is a reflection on me, I prefer to leave the quality comments and hope to entice quality comments on my blog posts as well.

    Tossing It Out
    Please see my guest post at:
    So You Want to be a Writer?

    1. Hi Lee; hope things have been well. I actually get the spammers, stupid as they are. It’s the people who aren’t really spammers that frustrate me, the ones you don’t already know who just mess stuff up. For instance, the people who miss the “no keywords” thing above the very window they’re about to post in. I mean, how blatant does the message have to be for them to notice it? lol

      1. Mitch, please indulge me and excuse my ignorance if you would. In the context you are using the term “keyword” can you explain what you mean and give me an example. I may be confused about what this is because I thought keywords was a good thing. Or is it bad to use in comments.

        Also, I usually “sign” my comments with my name and a link to my blog and in some cases as above I might link to a special post. Is that related to keywords? Do you think this is a bad thing. I have been accused by a rare few people that I am spamming in a sense.

        To me the link provides an easy way to find me if so desired if someone wants to go to my blog and bypass the Blogger profile. I have encouraged other bloggers that they should do this because I feel it is beneficial. Am I lacking in blogger etiquette in doing this or does it matter? I’ve noticed that sometimes comments go into approval mode when a link is included.

        Just wondering how the blogging professionals feel and how I should interpret some policy.


      2. Lee, a keyword name is something like “Get Cash Now”, which I hate, as opposed to “John – Get Cash Now”. The second might irritate me a little bit, but at least I know the guy’s name is John, so I have a name to refer to if I write a response to a comment. I’m just not addressing someone named “Get Cash Now”, or any of the other names people use to promote their posts more than leave a comment.

  6. Hi Mitch,
    It’s funny, I notice the same trend on my blog with guest posters emailing me as well. I have a full page explanation about how to guest post and my personal policy and instructions for guest posting. Nonetheless, I get people who contact me or submit guest posts that are completely outside the topic of my blog and just not in compliance with my guest posting policy at all. I can’t figure out at all how some guest poster figures that their submission about hotel reservations in deli fits into my blog about seo, blogging, and finance….

    1. It’s a strange world, Richard. But I’ve come to the point where I realize I don’t know these people and thus if they don’t follow the conditions, which are pretty simple, I just delete and move on. I did have one lady write me 4 times, with the final time asking why I wasn’t responding, and I sent her the guest posting link as a response. She got it right the 5th time, but come on now. lol

  7. Hey, webmaster! Great post on reading here. My favorite books are classics like Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. People really should read these classics more. πŸ˜‰

    Seriously, though, Mitch, I agree with you. I still have a relatively new blog, so I haven’t gotten any requests yet. I do like the idea of having them use your name (something I just might borrow for my own policy).

    It’s not surprising, though. People don’t really read the posts or comments half the time anyway, so it shouldn’t surprise us they’re not reading the policy, but if there is one, USE IT, PEOPLE!

    Sometimes, it seems we make these policies just to waste time as often as they are used and followed.

    1. Good stuff Grady. I wrote on this blog some time ago that most of the time we write policies for ourselves, so that when we take certain actions no one can claim they didn’t know. Well, they can, but the policy is there and it’s on them. And it’s not a tough policy either; none of them are, at least in my eyes.

  8. Grady, you stole my idea))))))))))))) I also wanted to write something like this, about favourite BOOKS) and that I do read them)))))))))) it’s a joke of course.
    as about your post, then probably I agree with some people who have already commented it, I think that some people just don’t know what to read, don’t know the topic which you discuss, but still they’d like to be active bloggers) So the only chance for them is to write comments connected only with title. I don’t think that comment like “I liked your post because….” or something like this should be considered as spam (I sometimes can also write comments like this), because maybe some people have already expressed the same opinion as theirs, or maybe they don’t t think that some other words will be necessary here etc. Don’t worry about it so much!

    1. Jeanie, it’s not only reading the posts, but other things, such as policies for things that people say they want to do for you. It’s almost everything across the board in some way.

  9. Hello Mitch! πŸ™‚

    The thing you said about the speaker who went on and on even 20 minutes after his time – I absolutely understand you! I have the same problem. I try to do exactly what is required from me, and I consider it just common decency.

    Even more frustrating is the fact when somebody who made the rules doesn’t respect the fact that you follow them accordingly. Believe me, that happens!

    1. Ana, in my case the woman who set up the program thanked me for sticking to the plan, even though she’d obviously lost control. Her problem was that she didn’t insist that the other two people follow the rules she’d set, thinking people would be professional. I don’t have that kind of trust, which ends up working well for me.

  10. Hi Mitch, I don’t understand why people won’t read what you write because you are really an entertaining kind of blogger! Really, I don’t get bored when I read through your posts because you’re fun to read! πŸ™‚ And to those who want to guest post, they should really read the policy.

    1. Thanks Minerva. It’s not whether people read an entire post of mine, because I know I can be wordy. But if a person wants something specific and the way to get there is listed for them, then they should read the rules. Like Anne said about people who write books, yet won’t follow the rules on how a publisher wants to be contacted.

  11. Mitch, it happens, i personally don’t read the complete post, just read the title and if it something of my interest i read on.. but cant say i read it completely, i read it to the point where i need to, and if i feel that the crux of the post has been read, i generally skip. i don’t think there is nothing wrong with that..

    1. Grant, if that’s a person’s style then if it works for them it’s all good. However, as I wrote, when people miss something because they didn’t read it all, then it’s on them and they might as well not have bothered to begin with. That’s my only point; if someone gets it wrong, it’s on them.

  12. Hi Mitch,
    You are right, sometimes readers just write comments without reading the whole topic and it looks idiotic comments. I think they do comment only to advertise their websites and that is why those comments are not so powerful.

  13. Hi Mitch,
    I also dont understand why people do comments and guest postng without reading the policies.I think, it is a quality of a good reader to read policy first before commenting and requesting for guest postings.

  14. Hi Mitch,

    I think there could be 3 issues here. Since content gets served fast and furious people get used to scan things. You scan the newspaper, probably have an option on most articles but you only read one article fully. We have become information junkies so we read (more likely just scan) a ton of information and let our brains make up the rest.

    The second issue is understanding what you read, well if you let your brain fill in the gaps, rather then probably reading yourself well the chances are you don’t understand what’s written in the first place.

    Finally, following instructions, this takes effort and some people might just have become too lazy or have a this will do mentality.

    Looks like some of the emails, posts and comments you get suffer from all these points.

    There are two extremes, no policies and stringent policies, my view is you should be targeting your policies so they are optimal for their purpose.

    I hope you don’t mind giving you some feedback but once people have written a comment they will hardly ever check out the comment policy. So if you write a 3 bullet point guide rather then the sentence it might actually work better. Something like

    If you want your comment to be accepted then
    – NO Keywords in Name field
    – First name only
    – No links in comments



    1. Nik, you mean like I did above the comment box you wrote this comment in? lol I mean, how much clearer could that one be? As for the guest posting, well, there really isn’t any other way to present it except for having a page linked to it. And the truth of the matter is that people are clicking on either that link or the About link to find my email address, and I have something about the rules for guest posting in both places. And on each page the messages are very short; shouldn’t take any time whatsoever to peruse.

      As I’ve written on this blog, policies are really more for me than anyone else. I keep them simple for those that care; for those that don’t, it probably wouldn’t matter what I say at all. And that seems to be the case.

      1. Hi Mitch,

        I write CV/Resumes for my job. Although your sentence is perfectly clear, people’s attitude has changed and they want the essence in the shortest sentence possible. Some call it laziness others call it time constraints.

        I am not saying your message isn’t clear. I spend a lot of time trying to adapt to the readers since not getting read is missing out on job opportunities for my clients. So maybe that is something to think about.

      2. Nik, I thought about it and I just can’t go that route. I think over the years people have gotten lazy and want everything handed to them. In health care, we have to write rules for consumers that an 8-year old can understand; do we have a lot of 3rd grade dropouts still running around this country? I think if one is running a nursery school we can continue “dumbing” down things. But truthfully, I haven’t written anything that requires a person to be a Mensa member; all they have to do is take the time & look. And as I said, if they don’t even want to do that, it’s more their loss than mine. Kind of like CVs and resumes; if a person misspells the high school they graduated from, that’s on them. And I’ve seen that; what a shame.

  15. Mitch, I get the same thing at my blogs – email blasts from poor folks who have probably paid for a course that says guest posts are the way to build traffic but never taught them how to decide which blogs, and how, etc… or maybe they didn’t listen.

    I’ve also been interviewed by folks who obviously haven’t read what I wrote even tho’ that was supposedly the topic.

    And I’ve been an editor and gotten tons of dreck.

    I don’t know why people don’t read and follow instructions; I have learned to ignore them.

    1. Anne, I’m starting to get that way. What people seem to fail to realize is that we all get lots of email, and more than half of it is junk. Approach me in one way and I’m likely to read it; do it another way and I’m probably deleting it. I had already said that there might be comments on this blog that I’m not going to respond to if there’s nothing that helps to advance the conversation; that’s a break from the old policy but as you know, sometimes a comment just might be legitimate but there’s nothing to say to it. Still, at least I read stuff to catch what’s needed in certain times.

  16. I completely understand you. I also get annoyed when people comment with reading the policy. It made me think that may not have read even the article they are commenting. Then why do they do that? I don’t know..

    1. Anna, they do it because they believe getting links back to their content is more important than blog engagement. There are a lot of blogs I visit where I can see that spammers have taken over, or the blog owner has no idea it’s spam. Spammers count on that; luckily, there’s enough of us out here that see that stuff & get rid of it.

      As to not reading policy… well, at least because I have the policy I know how to deal with those people also.

  17. This is quite true, Mitch. I think most times people are just looking at the title, probably last paragraph and that’s it. Doing deeper analysis on previous projects, for traffic and actually enquiries, I found something really disturbing. I will never forget few particular cases, actually same case repeated by so many people for one year. Example, it is property rental website and every property title end up with number of bedrooms, as well backed up in the bullet points of property features, guess what, so many people asked how many bedrooms and the enquiry form is different for every property. About guest blogging or anything else, I think it is the same.

    1. It’s just a strange thing overall Carl. Like I said, I can understand if someone doesn’t fully read a 1,00 word post, but two paragraphs that are less than 50 words each when they want something? Or the few words above my comment box? That’s just a shame.

  18. Hi Mitch,

    Some people just don’t read, no even small paragraphs. There is so much information on the internet I sometimes feel overwhelmed and eventually bored, that’s why some people just stooped reading all together. Spammers on the other hand develop this new method of reading, just title and a few words then quickly drooping a link, pretty convenient…

    1. They do that, Cristian, but I’m one of those folks not allowing it. It actually helps me get to those people who are serious about their requests. The same on this blog; you wouldn’t believe how many one line comments people have left on this post that I’ve deleted.

  19. Hi Mitch,
    I have not offered any such kind of guest posting feature for my blog yet but i am facing the same problem with my comment section.I receive almost 400 comments daily on my blog but 40 to 45% comments are just spam.It becomes annoying.I can’t understand why people ruin comment policies and do spam comments when they know that we live and genuine bloggers are going to throw those comments directly into the trash box.


    With Regards!
    Samuel Joshua

    1. Hi Samuel,

      I always wonder how blogs like yours, that target specific things, seem to get more spam than I do. I don’t come close to that much spam in a day. Maybe it’s because I use the GASP antispybot plugin; have you thought about adding that? And trust me, adding a comment policy helps you more than anyone else, but it’s a good thing to have.

  20. Hey Mitch,

    Besides the spammer comments that I receive, I believe the majority of them have actually taken the time to read my post. They actually add some value to their comments so I’ve been very pleased about that.

    I will tell you a funny story though. I was commenting on a guest post today and read through the comments. One guy said, I’ll just address this to Mr. Guest Blogger since I didn’t see a name.

    It’s listed in the first and last paragraph dummy. Talk about not reading the post and then they left a lame comment on top of that. I wouldn’t have approved it, that’s for sure.

    I have heard a lot of complaints though from people who do have guest posting policies on their blog that the people do not read them and they are really getting tired of dealing with those people. I can’t even imagine the headache you have to go through on a daily basis. Sounds like you are getting a lot of that too. Sorry about that Mitch.

    1. No problem Adrienne, and I’m glad to see you here again. You’re right, people seem to miss the most obvious stuff and it’s just goofy as sin. From my perspective, as I’ve said in some of the other comments, having the policy makes it easy for me to delete and move on. Almost none of those people ever come back or ask again, which means they didn’t care all that much either, which is a shame.

  21. Well, I would say that if the person seems to be addressing the title mainly, it doesn’t necessarily mean they haven’t taken the time to read your article. It could mean they liked the “big question” nature of your title or found it thought provoking in some way and wanted to add their perspective to the main idea. (like if someone were to respond to this article simply providing their own opinions on “why people don’t read” these days, without specifically referencing your points)

    1. Actually Gregory, if they said “I’d like to address the title” then I’d buy that statement. Truth be told if I’m the writer it makes it seem like all I should be doing it just writing headlines and nothing else, especially in a post like this one where I addressed something specific, that being when people want information that’s readily available to them that they’re not reading, so that commentary in some fashion goes that way instead of just the title. Of course I’m the particular type in that when I do comment on a post’s title, I’ll usually comment on the post first then go back to it. I know, everyone can’t be me, but it’s what I do anyway.

  22. A lot of information in the internet..Sometimes I am very much disappointed because some of them are not reading the policy..Maybe they are not reading also the article before they do the commenting..

  23. Hello Mitch,

    My first visit to your blog. Enjoying it greatly.

    I tell you what, judging by those comments above, plenty of people took the time to read your post. The discussion is great – and it really is a wonderful demonstration of why you should take the time to read posts and make relevant comments. There have been some great points made in the comments section here and there is clearly a lot of interaction going on. That’s why I love to make comments on blogs – and to get them on my own blogs of course.

    I would hazard a guess that you have probably spent almost as much time responding to comments on this post as you did writing the post itself. I bet that, if you were to do a word count, you have written as much in the comment section as you did in the original post!

    Thanks for a great read (post & comments!).

    1. It’s possible Hamish, but at the same time many of the comments I left here addressed the topic more than what I actually wrote in the post, which then makes me wonder how many of them, people I don’t know already, really didn’t read the post. Always a conundrum.

  24. Man, isn’t it unreal. You tell them to pay attention to your comment policy. You leave a note right above the comment box and they still leave a keyword instead of a name! And then you expect them to follow instructions so they can do a guest post? Now you tell me who’s expecting too much πŸ˜€

    1. Sire, I don’t expect too much when it comes to comments, but you know, if they’ve already done some work by finding my email address, the rest of the stuff is before that; how could they miss it? Yeah, maybe it is too much after all.

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