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My Conundrum Over Comments

My Conundrum Over Comments post image

Over the 3.5 years I’ve been blogging, I’ve come up with a relatively consistent way of going about my blogging business. Even if I don’t do it all the time, I have some ideas about what are “best practices” for me in terms of when to write posts, how to write reviews, what books to accept and what books to ignore, and when to take a break from the “have to reads” and immerse myself in the “want to reads.”

This is not to say I’ve got the blogging thing figured out. Far from it, in fact. What it does mean, however, is that I have a good sense of how I operate and some ways to be at my blogging best (even if I don’t always do that…).

One area I continue to struggle with, however, is developing a “best practice” for responding to and leaving comments. I have a way of doing comments that I’ve developed, but recently it’s started to become overwhelming and I think I need a new plan.

Right now, I have a “policy” of responding to every comment on this blog: I try to write a reply to every comment I get. I also have a “policy” of trying to leave comments for bloggers who have left comments here for me. Under this model, if I get 10 comments on a post, then I effectively have to write 20 comments in response – 10 on my blog and one on each of the blogs of the 10 bloggers who left a comment for me.

In an ideal world, every night (or, every time I was prepping a blog post for the next morning), I would spend the time answering all comments on my most recent post plus any others that have been left on older posts. That way, I’d never get behind.

In practice, I end up putting off responding to comments for days at a time, then come at a huge backlog the takes hours to deal with, effectively taking away an entire evening from doing anything else. No reading, no blogging, no bumming around. Just comments. It drains me, and I think that’s a problem.

Lately, I’ve been wondering whether spending time writing replies to all the comments left on this blog is a good use of time. Instead of writing 10 replies here and only 10 comments out in the blogosphere, does it make more sense to shift the ratio to replying to fewer comments here and leaving more comments elsewhere?

Everyone loves to receive comments. That’s basically the single blogging truism I can think of. But do bloggers who leave comments like or expect to receive responses to those comments? I’m not sure.

All I really know is what I myself do when it comes to comments. After I leave a comment on another blog, I occasionally go back to read replies. If I’ve asked a specific question, I’ll often subscribe to the comments via e-mail to see if I get a response. Or, if the discussion is particularly interesting, I’ll come back to the post during the day to catch up (Teresa of Shelf Love’s recent post about Friday Reads is a perfect example of this situation). But if the comment is a simple one, I leave my sentence or two and move on. If the blogger responds, I’ll never know about it.

To me, that seems like a waste of time – not for me leaving the comment, but for the person writing a response to my comment that I will never see.

I haven’t decided what I want to do about this, but I do know something needs to change or I’m going to burn myself out with comments… and I’m just not willing to do that. I’m hoping other bloggers and blog readers will have some advice:

  • As a blogger, what is your policy about responding to comments? Do you have any “best practices” or advice to share? When do you think replies to comments are necessary and when do you think they can be skipped?
  • As a blog reader, what do you usually think about responses to comments? Do you expect them? Do you return to posts looking for them? When do you think replies are necessary and when do you think they can be skipped?

Thank you in advance for any insight you can give! I’ll try to collect the comments and do a follow-up post with some ideas and suggestions in the next couple of weeks.

Photo Credit: Kasaa via Flickr

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Amy December 7, 2011, 6:59 am

    Like you I try to respond to all comments and when I’m not behind I try to go back and comment on those who commented on me. But my first priority is responding to what people have said on my site because to me it’s like a way of interacting and thanking? (And I get behind way. too. often.)

    But then… I subscribe to comments every time I leave one – which can definitely clutter up the inbox but I like watching what comes through (when I have time) and especially if I’ve left some sort of question or etc I like to see the response.

    I definitely need to be better at going to commenters sites and commenting there, I think you have it right and most prefer that.

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 6:59 pm

      That’s a good way of looking at responding to comments — an acknowledgement that a reader was there. That’s one of the reasons I do think responding to comments is an important part of blogging… I’m just not sure if other parts should be more important or not 🙂

  • Julie @ Read Handed December 7, 2011, 7:42 am

    I try to reply to most comments right on my post. If it seems like the commenter was just commenting for the heck of it and didn’t really add anything meaningful to the discussion, I don’t necessarily reply. Yes, that is subjective, but in the case of memes like Teaser Tuesdays, most commenters aren’t looking for a reply, they just want me to visit their post (which I do).

    I personally don’t like it when I comment on someone else’s blog and they comment back on my (completely unrelated) post. To me, that’s like interrupting the flow of conversation to introduce a new topic out of left field. For example, I comment on someone’s post about Jane Austen and she replies to the comment on my most recent post, which happens to be about Russia (or something). It doesn’t make sense to have a conversation about Jane Austen going on in the midst of the conversation about Russia I was trying to promote. I also don’t really like it when a fellow blogger comments on my post and then says “Thanks for visiting my blog” because I feel that he/she only visited my blog out of obligation and didn’t really want to to be there. I’m not fishing for page views when I comment on other blogs, I truly want to add to the conversation.

    I also subscribe to the responses to almost all comments I leave and I definitely prefer bloggers to reply right there on their own blog.

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 7:03 pm

      I’ve tried doing that — skipping over some comments — but I have a hard time deciding on that sometimes. And I do skip comments entirely on some posts (like pictures of my cat!).

      I don’t like unrelated comments either, it totally doesn’t make sense. I didn’t think about the “Thanks for visiting!” sort of comment seeming rude, interesting.

  • Helen Murdoch December 7, 2011, 8:00 am

    I do reply to every comment I receive on my blog, but I don’t then go to that person’s blog to comment as well. I could see that taking a lot of time! And, I only subscribe to responses when I’ve left a question or really want to see what others have said. I’ll admit it drives me crazy to subscribe then get a ton of emails with comments that aren’t relevant to me. Hope that doesn’t sound harsh.

    I do think I should comment more, on some blogs I am definitely a lurker. I think you need to do what works for you and the time you have in your day. Commenting shouldn’t become a burden or something that takes up a huge chunk of your time

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 7:05 pm

      It does take a lot of time, but it often leads me to very interesting blog posts, so I do like doing it. I don’t subscribe to all comments anymore either — just when I have questions or where the conversation seems really interesting. I tend to be a lurker a lot too, which is part of why I started doing the comment policy thing — it forces me to stop lurking!

  • rhapsodyinbooks December 7, 2011, 8:11 am

    I don’t really have time to go back to posts and check for answers, so the effort is wasted on me. I would rather get an email if there is an answer that needs to be given, but generally I don’t expect a comment on my comment.

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 7:06 pm

      I don’t have time either. if I can’t get e-mails sent to me I almost always forget to go back and check for responses.

  • Sara (wordyevidenceofthefact) December 7, 2011, 8:23 am

    I always comment back to my comments because I like to get comments back from those I comment on. When I’m commenting (which is not that often), it is never an effort to garner traffic at my site and always a desire to enter into dialogue with the blogger. And honestly, however much I like to get comments, I’d rather you comment on my blog because you were interested in something I had posted rather than just as a cursory kickback kind of thing. If you feel the need to streamline some part of your process, I would say respond to your blog comments only and leave your comments on other blogs to those things you are really interested in.

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 7:09 pm

      Absolutely, I should have said that. Part of the reason I started trying to leave comments on blogs that leave comments here is because I was start to lurk too much and my blogging circle was getting really small. Going to visit other blogs that comment here helps me make sure I’m not lurking. But if I head to a blog and I don’t feel like I have anything useful or interesting to add, I usually won’t comment.

      I hope it doesn’t seem like a kickback thing because that’s certainly not the intent. It’s more a way to foil my own bad habits 🙂

  • Sara (wordyevidenceofthefact) December 7, 2011, 8:23 am

    Even though it is the topic, I think it’s funny how many times I wrote comment in the comment above. Comment on!

  • bermudaonion (Kathy) December 7, 2011, 8:26 am

    If a blogger leaves a comment with a question or idea that I think everyone needs to know, I respond in the comments. If they ask a more personal question, I’ll email them – other than that, I don’t respond to comments. Like you, I rarely go back to look at posts to see if I’ve gotten a response.

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 7:10 pm

      Good to know, thanks Kathy. You get so, so many comments though — there’d be no way to keep caught up!

  • Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm December 7, 2011, 8:57 am

    As a blogger, I try to answer most comments. But I’m a fairly new blogger and get less comments than you do. I know that through the comment system I use (DISQUS) it emails most people when I answer their comments, and occasionally people will comment on my comment on their comment (now there’s a tongue twister) so it seems like I’m engaging with people.

    As a blog reader, I like getting replies to comments, makes me feel awesome. But I rarely return to posts to look for replies, unless I ask a specific question. Depending on the blog, sometimes I get an email when the blogger replies, and I like that.

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 7:14 pm

      I love when a conversation starts in the comment, which is one of the reasons I like responding to comments! I’ve seen a lot of blogs with Disqus, and it seems to work really well for people.

  • Jackie (Farm Lane Books) December 7, 2011, 9:01 am

    I reply to every comment on my blog and have thought about stopping that practice, but the problem is where to draw the line. Some comments need responding to, others don’t. I think it looks a bit rude if you reply to half the comments and not the others. If someone leaves a really small comment it just needs a really small reply and so I stick responding to all. I’m sure that most people never see the response, but I’d rather that than anyone thinking I don’t value comments.

    Unlike you I don’t leave a comment on the other persons blog every time they comment. I comment only when I have something useful to add and I actually think it can be quite funny when someone tries to comment on one of my more obscure posts just because I commented on their blog.

    Commenting is always a tricky problem and everyone has their own system. In the end I don’t think it really matters – just do whatever works best for you. 🙂

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 7:18 pm

      Yes, that’s the problem I always have. It seems rude to not respond to every comment, even if the response is just, “Thanks!” or something.

      I really don’t leave comments every single time. I try to do that, but sometimes I just don’t have anything to add and it seems stupid.

  • Kailana December 7, 2011, 10:34 am

    I reply to all the comments on my blog, too… Hypothetically. I have found lots of posts where I thought I did and didn’t, life got busy and I fell too far behind, etc. I have been thinking lately that in 2012 I am going to make more of an effort to visit the bloggers that visit me and comment there. I am terrible for that. Every so often I will go back through posts trying to find comments from people that I don’t read their blog anyway. That can take a while! If it is people I read anyway, like you for example, I know that when I get around to making my blogging rounds I will visit them anyway; so I don’t stress if I don’t immediately visit their blog after reading a comment. I guess it just comes down to timing and how much procrastinating I have done…

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 7:22 pm

      Ha ha, yes, hypothetically. Same here 🙂

      I really started doing the visit other blogs thing because I felt like I was lurking too much and because my blogging circle was getting small and i wanted to expand and find other blogs to read.

  • Stephanie December 7, 2011, 11:20 am

    My system is not quite as widespread as yours. I do try to comment on the blog of everyone who comments on mine, but I don’t beat myself up over it if it doesn’t happen because pretty much everyone who comments on my blog is on my reader, and chances are I will be commenting on a post of theirs within the next few days anyway.

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 7:25 pm

      I’ve been trying to let myself off the hook about it more too and just accept that doing the best I can is good enough. Most of the people who comment regularly are people I read, so it gets caught up anyway, like you say 🙂

  • Andi December 7, 2011, 12:34 pm

    Like you, I often don’t return to a post to see if a blogger has replied to my comment unless it’s a hot conversation. I hadn’t given it much thought, but it’s true! I typically respond to every comment on my blog (even if it’s a short response), but since I’ve only been posting 3ish times a week, it doesn’t get too overwhelming.

    Balance is key!

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 7:26 pm

      I do think it just depends on the week, how overwhelmed I feel about responding to comments. On slow blogging weeks, it’s not such a big deal, but other weeks it seems so busy! But yep. balance 🙂 Easier said than done!

  • Savvy Working Gal December 7, 2011, 1:07 pm

    I try to respond to all of the comments on my blog, but must admit I am not always prompt. I feel comments can add quite a bit to a post by adding both additional information and alternative viewpoints.

    When leaving a comment I no longer sign up to receive follow-up comments. (Some of you are just too popular and your comments were filling up my in-box.) If I ask a specific question or offer a different point of view I may go back and read responses/additional comments otherwise follow-up comments are wasted on me. I think any comment that just says loved the book too, great review or great post don’t require a response. I’ve noticed the popular bloggers only respond to the most relevant comments. Perhaps you are now at that level.

    As to leaving comments on my commenter’s blogs, I always try to do so. I don’t just leave a comment to leave a comment to leave a comment though. If their current posts don’t spark my interest I wait ‘til one does.

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 8:38 pm

      Yes, comments aren’t just about responding — they can give more depth to a post than the post itself. It’s good to be reminded of that.

      I think part of a solution may just be to find a balance between comments that require responses and comments that it’s less important (“Good review!” or something to that effect).

      That’s what I try to do about comments as well — if a post doesn’t spark me to say something, I won’t, but I like that the practice of visiting blogs that comments here helps me lurk less.

  • Trish December 7, 2011, 1:52 pm

    LOL! I wish I could READ these comments here. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, Kim. I like to respond to comments on my blog because it makes me feel like I’m letting that person know that she/he is heard. I like when people respond to comments on their own blog posts but the reality is that it seems that most people don’t do this anymore and I rarely find myself subscribing to follow up comments.

    Like you said, it does feel like a waste to spend all of that time responding to comments only to have no one read them. I’ve thought about putting up a similar policy on my blog stating that I will no longer respond to comments but would love to follow up via email if blogger has email listed in profile (though this won’t work for people who comment using Open ID).

    But you’re right, when it comes down to it, I’d rather spend my time visiting commenters than responding to comments. I HATE to let that ball drop (the responding to comments on my own posts ball), but it’s a struggle.

    I think the solution is more time. Can we haz???

    And now I subscribe because I’m interested in hearing what others say. 😉 Though Erin of Erin Reads did a survey on this a while back and found that many bloggers love when people respond to comments but not many actually subscribe or remember to check back.

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 8:39 pm

      Yes, this has been a very useful discussion! I love reading what other bloggers do and compare what works for different people. If you find more time, be sure to share it with me 🙂

  • Kathleen December 7, 2011, 2:47 pm

    I respond to comments that ask a specific question or are particularly insightful/thoughtful. I also have a plugin that emails the person when their comment has been replied to; that way I know they’ll read it. I don’t ever expect my comments elsewhere to be replied to unless I ask a question, so when they are, it’s a pleasant surprise.

    I also only comment on a blog post when I have something to say. If nothing jumps out at me, I don’t try to force it. Overall, my “policy” is to not stress about comments, and it’s worked so far!

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 8:41 pm

      That sounds like a great plugin. I should maybe look into something like that, if that seems like something people appreciate. At least that way I’d know I wasn’t just responding in a void, you know?

      A no stress policy/ I like it. You’ve got enough going on with with your little lady that stressing about blogging should not be part of it!

  • Anastasia @ Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog December 7, 2011, 3:20 pm

    I (now) respond to every comment on my blog, even if it’s only a “thanks for visiting.” When I leave comments at other blogs I always look forward to getting a response, even if it’s just a “thanks for visiting” one. It makes me feel like the other blogger and I have connected in some visible way, instead of me putting something out into a void.

    I don’t subscribe to every post’s comments, but I do bookmark places I’ve left a comment and check back to a reply every other day or so. If I haven’t gotten one within, say, two weeks, I usually just delete the bookmark and move on. I know not everyone can or wants to respond to every comment, so it doesn’t really hurt my feelings if they don’t. 🙂

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 8:42 pm

      The internet can feel like a void, can’t it? Like we’re all just writing into the ether or something.

      I never thought to bookmark blogs to check for comments. How obvious is that?

  • Teresa December 7, 2011, 3:49 pm

    I’ve really been trying to respond more to the comments left on my blog simply because I’d like to foster discussion. At the same time, I know how much I love getting comments so I always try to visit the blog of the person who has left the comment as well.

    It can be a time sink and I don’t get to do as many as I’d like, but its something that is important to me, so I’ll continue to do it.

    There are some comments that I will respond via email just to make sure the person who left it gets their response. Afterwards, I may or may not also respond on the blog so that others may see it.

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 8:43 pm

      I do love the discussion that can develop in a well-organized comment section. It’s really great. I never think of responding via e-mail, but that’s a good idea too.

  • Gwen December 7, 2011, 5:35 pm

    Where is the hat for the worst comment-back person in the world? I seem to need it daily and I just had a convo about this very subject with the co-author of my non-book blog. She said that the pressure to having not only reply, but to go and visit the other person’s blog made her not want to post at all. I get that and can relate. Her solution is to turn off the comments on her posts for a bit as an experiment. Me? I think that is going too far & she is crazy pants.

    I am not an organized or even very emotionally stable person. (take that in a LOL way, not a oh my god, she is a crazy stalker sort of way) What works for me today, doesn’t usually work tomorrow. I know that I should try to respond to comments if I feel they are warranted. I also will occasionally jump over to that person’s blog and check them out. Often though, I just feel that there is too much info coming at me and can’t keep up. There are the blogs that I already follow, those need responses. Then there are the posts on facebook that lead me to some new post, those often need to be read and most likely, commented on. Then there is the news, the latest recipes from Savuer & Bon Apetit, and don’t forget the deals this week from such and such store, didn’t I want to get a new pair of pants from them? And so it goes. Before I know it, It is 2 PM and I am still sitting in my pajamas wondering where my day went.

    I have no answers, only the knowledge that if we keep playing nice, and replying and then visiting all of the dear dear people that comment on us, we will never get a new post up, finish that book, paint that dresser, or cook that fabulous recipe that we saw last week. Argh.

    • Gwen December 7, 2011, 5:37 pm

      P.S. It is 3:36 and I am still in sweats!

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 8:44 pm

      Yes, excellent points. It’s easy to let one task distract from other tasks. I think the key about comments for me is that I do think they’re useful and I do enjoy spending the time replying and leaving them when I can set aside time to do it. In a perfect world, I’d do a little bit every day… but it never seems to work that way!

      • Gwen December 9, 2011, 3:54 pm

        I may have to try actually setting aside time, like set a timer and not stray until it goes off.

  • Jenny December 7, 2011, 6:09 pm

    I try (I’ve been awful about it this year) to respond to comments that people leave on my posts, because I do like it when I go back to a post on someone else’s blog and they’ve replied to my comment. I like the feeling that we’re in conversation!

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 8:45 pm

      I love that feeling too! I wish it happened more often.

  • Teresa December 7, 2011, 6:11 pm

    I do make a point of replying to every comment, especially on recent posts. If I get a comment on a post that’s several weeks old, I may not, unless it’s particularly thoughtful and warrants a response. A big part of the reason I do that is that discussion is one of the things I like most amount blogging, and I like to create conversation. I also subscribe to comments on any blog that lets me, because I like to read replies and other people’s comments.

    As for commenting on other’s blogs in return for a comment, I don’t worry about it. To be honest, I kind of dislike that idea of a commenting quid pro quo. I’d rather people comment because they want to, rather than out of obligation. That said, I have made a point of putting the blogs of all my regular commenters in my feed reader, but I don’t comment unless I have something to say. And like a lot of people, I don’t have time to comment on every post that interests me, so if I do happen to realize that I haven’t commented on someone’s blog in a while, I might make it more of a priority. But it has little to do with whether the blogger has commented on my posts–it’s more that I want them to see I’m still reading.

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 8:47 pm

      Yes, I get the feeling about a quid pro quo being a little bit annoying. That’s not how I meant it, although I see how it seems that way. It’s more of a strategy to beat my own worst habit, which is to be a lurker that never really branches out and connects with new people. By trying to comment on blogs who comment here, it helps broaden my horizons to new blogs and keeps me from being a lurker, if I have something interesting to say. Sometimes I don’t, and I’ve learned to just skip it then.

      • Teresa December 8, 2011, 9:34 pm

        That idea of broadening out makes a lot of sense. It’s the same reason I try to always add new commenters to my feed reader, even if I don’t always comment back.

        I think I’ve just come to accept that my blogging circle can only be so large before I feel overwhelmed. I’d like to be able to connect with lots of new people, but at this stage, I’m more concerned with keeping up with my long-time blogging friends than making new ones. That probably sounds terribly snobbish, and I don’t mean it that way. It’s more that I recognize my limits and try not to worry about what I can’t do.

        • Kim December 11, 2011, 1:18 pm

          No, I totally know what you mean. I only have so much capacity of blogs to read regularly, which is why I’m slow to add new blogs in to the regular rotation. But the commenting piece is one way to keep expanding and maybe find new blogs to add as other bloggers start to pull back and post less. It’s trucky, for sure.

  • Lu December 7, 2011, 7:18 pm

    I totally struggle with this one, too. It’s hard, because I don’t even know if people are really coming back to see if I commented. But then going and commenting on their blogs about what they said on my blog seems silly and confusing. I don’t really have a solution. Like you, I’ve been trying to do both, but it’s difficult, especially when I’m struggling to find time to blog at all.

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 8:48 pm

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who struggles with it. Reading all of these comments has helped though, knowing other people aren’t always sure what to do either 🙂

  • Philip Weiss December 7, 2011, 8:18 pm

    I’m actually not a huge fan of comments on my site. I like comments that add substance, but random run of the mill comments bore me. I only respond to comments that add something interesting, and then usually only if I have something additional of substance to add. It doesn’t have to be something super-substantive though.

    And that’s pretty much my policy with respect to comments I leave on other sites.

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 8:49 pm

      That makes a lot of sense, and maybe that’s an approach I should be using — only reply to comments if I’d want to read the reply, and only leave comments that I’d want to read myself. Easier said then done though, I’m sure 🙂

  • Amused December 7, 2011, 10:17 pm

    I loved reading your posts and these answers! Personally, since I don’t have the time to go back and read responses to my comments on other blogs (unless I’ve asked a question!) I assume others don’t either. So unless someone asks me a question, congratulates me on something personal or its a discussion post in general, I don’t respond to the comments.

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 8:50 pm

      Thank you, and yes, I’ve loved the comments too. It’s good to hear not everyone response to comments. I like that all bloggers have their own style and what they try to do for all these blogging issues.

  • Aarti December 7, 2011, 10:34 pm

    Oh, I completely understand your dilemma! I have no solution, though. Sometimes I respond to comments on my blog and sometimes I don’t. More recently, I’ve struggled to balance school, reading, blogging and then commenting, too. Commenting has really taken a back seat. I just can’t keep up the volume any more, and it bums me out. But I try to at least go to other people’s blogs and comment rather than comment on the stuff they write on mine.

    I also rarely go back to a blog post I’ve commented on and read what anyone else has said in response to me, unless it’s on a topic that I think is important/relevant. So maybe we can all stop with the comment responses on our blogs 🙂

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 8:51 pm

      That was part of what I was wondering — how useful are replies to comments. It sounds like people mostly care if they ask a question or the post is designed as a discussion post, otherwise, most of us are too busy to really follow up on all the comments we leave. That is good food for thought, although I’m still not sure what I might do.

  • Diane@BibliophileBytheSea December 8, 2011, 6:11 am

    I only respond to comments left on my blog, if someone asks a question.

    I do make it a point of visiting the blogs of those who leave comments on mine to comment on their posts as well.

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 8:52 pm

      This seems like what I might start trying to do — put more effort into outreach and save comments on my own posts for when a reply is useful. I’ll have to think about it.

  • Jeanne December 8, 2011, 7:10 am

    I like reading through all these comments to see what others do! Like many here, I value the conversational aspect of comments. I often go back to see if I’ve gotten a response. But I rarely leave that kind of “I was here” comment (the exception is for bad news–everybody needs sympathy). It’s usually feasible for me to respond to every comment because I don’t have that many. I can’t imagine how Jackie does it. And in terms of visiting the blogs of people who comment, I don’t feel obligated, but since I don’t use a feed reader (or any organized method of seeing who has posted recently) it’s a signal to me that so-and-so has been on the blogs lately and might have posted something herself. (I just did that with Aarti.)
    I rarely want notification of comments by e-mail. What’s said on the blogs stays on the blogs, for me. I don’t mind the two people who reply by email (Florinda and Jenners), but it’s always a little bit of cognitive dissonance to be reading through email and find a bit of book blog conversation.

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 8:54 pm

      I know, Jackie gets so many comments! It’s very impressive. Other bloggers always blow my mind with how awesome they are.

      I tend to use my blog comment section as a bit of a feed reader too, which can be useful because it helps me keep up with posts I might miss.

  • Meg December 8, 2011, 1:09 pm

    As some others have mentioned, especially Kathy, I generally only respond to comments on book reviews when I’m being asked a question. I’m all too happy to engage in a conversation about anything and everything on the blog, but I don’t always think a response from me in necessary.

    I do tend to reply to many — or most — comments on “personal” posts about life, love, etc. Those responses are generally a little more detailed, and I like thanking people for leaving feedback, etc. When I ask questions at the ends of posts, too, I usually respond to everyone’s thoughts.

    Personally, whatever works for you works for me! I don’t assume bloggers will respond to my comments, and I don’t look for their answers, either. Every now and then I might check up to see if I got a response on something, but I’m not bothered if I don’t.

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 8:55 pm

      I like that idea, Meg, responding less to reviews and more to personal/discussion comments. Although reviews are a big part of the blog, they don’t tend to generate a lot of discussable comments unless it’s a controversial review or a very popular book. I’ll have to muse on that one 🙂

  • Care December 8, 2011, 3:10 pm

    and this doesn’t even cover that time suck issue of all the comments I draft and then delete cuz I feel like I sound stupid. (Like this one?) I have nothing to add, really. I comment on each comment I get and I visit the bloggers who visit me out of nicety and dare I say ‘obligation’ but it is a HAPPY obligation and a reminder that I like you people. and I need to remember to visit your blogs and say hello because Google-Reader overwhelms me. Why am I here right now? Because I realized I haven’t stopped by in a few days and wondered what’s happening with you. I’m now going to go read your review of The Marriage Plot and then click over to Teresa’s fridayreads post. 🙂

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 8:56 pm

      Exactly, a happy obligation! I don’t at all resent my “policy” to try and comment on bloggers who comment here, but even things we like to do can become a time suck sometimes. Plus, it helps remind me of posts I read in GR at work but then forgot to comment on until I was at home doing comments.

  • David Abrams December 8, 2011, 5:42 pm

    When I came here and saw there were already 29 comments, I started having sympathetic high-blood pressure and sweaty palms for you. I thought, “Oh no, now SD will have to spend half the night answering all these comments!” Really, my advice is: Just Relax. Don’t feel obligated to respond to each and every comment here. You’ll burn out faster than a satellite on re-entry.

    As a blogger, sure it’s nice when people leave comments at The Quivering Pen, but I don’t judge a blog post’s effectiveness or quality based on the number of comments alone. I’m sure you (and other book bloggers) do it for the love of books–or, to paraphrase the blues classic “Boogie Chillun,” “it’s in him and has to come out.” Comments make me feel good, but the act of writing about books I love makes me feel even better.

    As a blog commenter, I don’t expect a response from the blog host/hostess. In fact, if there’s not an option to notify me of followup comments (like there is here), I rarely return to the post I commented on to see if there was a response to what I said. So, to all those bloggers out there waiting for me to reply to their reply, I’m sorry I left you hanging.

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 8:59 pm

      Lol, I had that same thought too when I started responding 🙂 But this is exactly what I was asking for, so I’m excited to do it!

      I think commenting — how often and where and whatnot — is just a part of the whole blogging mixture. There’s not really a “right’ way to do it, so I’ve liked finding out what other people do. It’s mostly confirmed my thought that people like when they see blogger’s responding to comments, but don’t always return to check replies themselves.

      Too bad there isn’t a check box that says, “Do you want a reply to this?” or something 🙂

  • Sheila (Book Journey) December 8, 2011, 7:50 pm

    I used to be so much better at commenting. My approach was similar to yours, I would comment back to everyone on my blog as well as try to go and visit them too. Those were the early blog days…. now I still try to comment on my blog to each person, but I am no where near as good as I used to be at getting around to everyone.

    I love chatting it up with other bloggers and hope to get better at this again in 2012, but yeah… I too struggle with a happy medium.

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 8:59 pm

      I have good weeks and bad weeks. Ironically enough, this has been a bad week for replying to comments 🙂

  • Christy (A Good Stopping Point) December 8, 2011, 8:43 pm

    I don’t post often, so it’s not usually many comments that I have to catch up on, though I still often take my sweet time in getting around to it!

    As far as visiting a commenters’ blog, I usually get around to it. I make it a point if it’s someone new to me. If it’s someone whose blog I subscribe to and comment on (maybe not frequently but at least sometimes), then I don’t worry about it.

    I do usually check to see if a blogger has responded to my comment on their blog, especially if I said something a little more meaty than “nice review. I should read that book someday.” I never get offended if someone doesn’t reply to my comment, but I am thrilled when someone does.

    • Kim December 8, 2011, 9:00 pm

      At least we’re all procrastinators! I also worry less if a commenter is someone I read regularly. I figure I will catch them sometime soon. I love seeing replies to comments too, especially if I put a lot of time into writing it or I was really inspired by the post.

  • jenn aka the picky girl December 8, 2011, 9:49 pm

    I respond to all my comments, but I honestly don’t get that many – certainly not as many as you have.

    I also visit blogs several times a week – but not every day. Some days are just too busy. I love Bloglovin, though, as my feed reader, and it does encourage me to leave comments. But if I don’t have anything of substance to say, I don’t leave a comment.

    Also – I don’t expect people to leave comments if I leave them one, but it is always nice every once in a while to get comments from bloggers I read and like. 🙂

    • Kim December 11, 2011, 1:19 pm

      You know, it really just depends on the post. I’m excited and a little overwhelmed by the number of comments on this post! I get a lot fewer on reviews, generally speaking.

      I’ve heard of Bloglovin, but never used it. Now I’m curious how it helps encourage leaving comments?

      • jenn aka the picky girl December 11, 2011, 1:24 pm

        Well, with Google Reader and other RSS readers, you don’t see the actual blog and have to sometimes add a plugin to be able to comment.

        Bloglovin is cool in that it opens the actual blog in a separate window, which keeps the personality of the blog at the forefront for me and makes it easier for me to comment (personally).

        • Kim December 11, 2011, 1:28 pm

          Oh, that’s cool! If the post is open, it is easier to leave a comment than if you have to open the post separately and then go back to leave something. Maybe I’ll try that and see how it works.

  • Aths December 10, 2011, 2:58 pm

    I do the same thing – respond to all the comments on a post in my blog and then revisit their blogs and comment on a post that interested me. But I do the revisiting part only for bloggers new to me or bloggers I don’t follow on my reader. The rest – I already follow them, so I comment on their posts when I’m going through my reader. They usually know I follow them, and so I assume that they won’t feel “bad” if I don’t visit their blog right away. This way, it’s less of an obligation for me to respond to all blogs right away.

    But*** even that’s becoming a lot of work for me. Life is not getting any less hectic for me, and it may never. I’ll just have to give up on responding to comments on my blog that don’t really need a reply. I haven’t been able to adopt that policy yet, because it does make me feel bad.

    What I’m thinking of doing instead (or at least trying for now) – either respond to all comments on my blog right away and star the email in my inbox (the comment notification email). Then, later, whenever I have time to visit blogs, do the “courtesy” visit. Alternatively, visit the blogs of the commenters right away, star the email in my inbox, and reply to the comments whenever I have time. I like the second approach better, because I like visiting blogs better than replying to comments, lol 😀

    The one thing is – I use Disqus and have a Disqus app on my own. So I get a notification on my phone every time someone leaves a comment. It’s actually a pretty easy job to reply to the comment right away (after all, it wouldn’t take more than a minute to reply to each comment), and I won’t have to come home to the job of replying to all the comments. I do that diligently some times, but then things get busy and I fall behind again.

    In the end, I should just remember not to stress it out if I don’t follow my policy a few times, but I’m too anal for that.

    Did I really just leave an essay on your post now? Now you’re going to have a tough job replying. 😀

    • Aths December 10, 2011, 3:00 pm

      I meant “Disqus app on my phone”. Ouch, typo!

    • Kim December 11, 2011, 1:21 pm

      Yeah, not leaving comments in reply makes me feel bad too… but at some point time is going to make me get over that, maybe? I sure hope so.

      I wish I could get in the habit to just reply to comments right away, or spend 30 minutes every night leaving comments… but I’ve never been able to make that work! I love commenting on blogs that use Disqus, it’s such a nice system.

  • Meghan December 11, 2011, 5:36 am

    I used to be really good at this and go out and visit everyone who commented on my blog. I’ve never really been a big responder to comments on my actual blog, unless someone asks a question. I never go back and check the response to my comment elsewhere, so I just assume no one else really does either (although I do check if I’ve asked a question). I barely have time to comment on the blogs in my feed reader now though, let alone go out and seek new ones (which is why I opened this post to comment a couple days ago and am only doing it now). It makes me feel very guilty, though, so it’s a question I’ve been pondering. Maybe I should try replying to my comments more often!

    • Kim December 11, 2011, 1:25 pm

      It seems like everyone figures out a system that works for them, but also feels some guilt about not doing more, you know? I actually think I’m worse about going out and commenting on blogs after I read a post in my Reader… I’m usually just taking a break at work or something and don’t have time to leave good comments. It’s funny how we all do things differently.

  • jennygirl December 27, 2011, 4:25 pm

    Super late comment but thought I would add my two cents.
    I try to respond to every comment on my blog, no matter how long it takes me. I also try to visit the blogs of those who commented. Seems like the nice thing to do. I also subscribe to the comments on posts I comment on, so as not to miss out if the the blogger has a question for me.

    However, I will say that over the years, there have been quite a few blogs that I have consistently commented on, but never received anything back. No response to comment, no occasional visit to my blog, nothing. This makes me wonder. I know there are lurkers out there. I am occasionally one of them my self. But when a blogger sees the same person, commenting here and there on their blog, wouldn’t it be nice to respond to them in some way? Acknowledge them. Am I crazy in that thought process. I can be too nice sometimes 🙂

    And I think this brings us back to your original post of how to deal with comments. No easy answer for sure, but I think whatever is going to work for you for that particular post. Maybe if the post that was commented on was just a book review that doesn’t warrant in-depth discussion, you could just visit the other person’s blog instead? That might cut down on the commenting/responding.
    Great food for thought. Have a Happy New Year 🙂

    • Kim December 29, 2011, 9:08 pm

      Nah, I don’t think that’s a crazy way to think about comments. I’m always curious when new people leave comments here, so part of the trying to leave comments ins curiosity. I don’t think there’s a right answer exactly, but I do think any future plans for comments will need to have more balance 🙂

  • Cindy La Ferle February 9, 2012, 11:00 am

    I found your comment in a BlogHer post on this topic, and responded there. In a nutshell, I think blogging is a two-street. With that in mind, I try to respond to comments left on my posts and I also try to reciprocate by visiting the sites of bloggers who leave comments. But wow, this can become a full-time job … and sometimes, it can get in the way of work that pays. Finding that perfect balance is never easy 🙂

    • Kim February 22, 2012, 7:28 pm

      I’m glad other bloggers have this problem too. Well, not glad, but relieved. It’s definitely a tricky balance!

  • Laura is Undeterrable February 9, 2012, 12:42 pm

    I don’t always respond to comments on my site. I will always answer a question or respond to a concern (as best I can). If the comment is an extension of the conversation, I will 9 times out of 10 respond to it.

    At times I get comments that are “Good luck” comments. These I try my best to respond with a simple “Thank you!”

    Other times, I’m completely stumped on if I should respond. I may state in a post that I do something peculiar, and a commenter might say “Me too!” I don’t really know how, or if, I should respond. I’m grateful that they took the time to comment (and to find out that I’m not the only weirdo in the world) and I feel bad for not acknowledging their comment.

    • Kim February 22, 2012, 7:29 pm

      That’s one of the things I’m working on — responding to comments that are part of a discussion and not spend time feeling guilty if I can’t comment on every single one.

  • Cherie February 10, 2012, 9:32 pm

    When you have 70 some comments, I can certainly understand how responding to every comment and visiting every blog is not really practical. But when one is trying to build readership or relationships with individuals, I think that it is vital. It really doesn’t matter to me whether the person comes back to read it or not. I want something to be there just in case. If someone bothers to take the time to comment, I should take the time to respond. Truth be told, if I’m commenting on someone else’s blog, and they don’t respond, I’m offended. I usually check. I consider it good blogging etiquette … unless they’re getting too many on regular basis, like I said.

    • Cherie February 10, 2012, 9:33 pm

      P.S. Great question though. It’s one that needs to be asked. 🙂

    • Kim February 22, 2012, 7:31 pm

      This is, thank goodness, not a typical number of comments for me! People just had a lot to say about this, I guess, which I’m really appreciative of.

      I wouldn’t say I’m offended if I don’t get replies to comments, but if I notice that a blogger doesn’t respond to many comments it does make me wonder whether it’s worth the time to comment there rather than interact in some other way.

  • Virginia February 10, 2012, 10:54 pm

    I just met two bloggers yesterday and this was part of our conversation. I have two daily photoblogs that I’ve had for almost 4 years. As crazy as I know it is, I still relate the “worth” of my post by the number of comments when in truth I know that the comments are a miniscule number compared to the stats. That said, I do try and return a visit to new commenters but I have had to give up repsonding to each comment. I try to answer questions etc. on the comment section but I can’t keep up with what you are trying to do. More power to you!

    • Kim February 22, 2012, 7:32 pm

      It’s hard not to equate comments with how good a post is. Blogs are designed to be conversations, so it’s easy to think a post isn’t good if no one is responding to it! I’ve definitely been there 🙂

  • Cindy La Ferle February 11, 2012, 7:58 am

    I agree with your comments, Virginia. Due to its reciprocal nature, blogging can be very hard work and is time-consuming.

    Over the years I learned that blogging is very different from freelance writing, though I had hoped I could generate extra income from it. But the amount of time/work I had to put into blogging in order to generate ANY income made that nearly impossible for me. When I write a column for a newspaper, I put my time into crafting a good piece, then email it to the editor, and I’m done. I am not expected to answer any letters or email that it generates. (But I do try to respond in some cases, if the letters require it.) I simply collect my paycheck from the newspaper and move on to the next piece.

    But if you want a blog to be successful, whether that means earning money or a lot of comments, it takes a tremendous amount of time and reciprocation. Of course, for most of us, blogging is enjoyable. And with that in mind, I try not to stress about it 🙂

    • Kim February 22, 2012, 7:33 pm

      The blog/newspaper comparison is interesting. I do some freelance writing for newspapers, and it’s the same thing. But newspapers want to be more conversational online, it’s just not always the author of a story who is in the comments interacting. It’s very cool when journalist do it well though.

  • Dona February 11, 2012, 8:54 am

    This is something I think about often. I like it when a blog author replies to a comment I have left, but I don’t expect it. I don’t always respond to comments on my blog, but I am trying to remember to do that. I like that you reciprocate by leaving a comment on a commenter’s blog.

    Thank you for taking the time to write about this. It is funny — I say I write because I need to write, but I do feel sort f sad if a post I’ve written receives no comments at all.

    • Kim February 22, 2012, 7:34 pm

      It was a good conversation to have. I’m glad so many people took the time to share their thoughts! I feel strange if I don’t get any comments on a post too 🙂

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