Why comment on blogs?

As I’ve noted before, I’ve been on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s bad list (she says her assistant put me on– I haven’t checked since writing this post to see if I’m still on it).  Essentially I can comment in the morning and then sometime in the late afternoon or evening, my comment appears not as a new comment, but as if it were never in moderation to begin with, sort of in the middle of a conversation that has passed it by.

This process has made me wonder about the point of commenting.  I mean, if all I care is that the blog-owner (or hir assistant) read my comment, then that situation should be fine.   But what if I don’t actually care about the specific proprietor and probably care even less about assistants?

Do I want fame, or links back to our blog or to rile things up or to see myself speak?  These are potentially painful questions.  If I’m just commenting to annoy people, well, then maybe I shouldn’t be commenting.  If I’m doing it to try to drum up business for our blog, then we should monetize it so as not to waste that effort.  If I just want to see myself speak, it would be better to turn the comment into an entire post rather than leaving it as a flyby freebie.  (Especially since we have a few money posts in the blog queue right now but nothing else!)

Ultimately, I think I care about the conversation.  I like learning things about people and maybe having people learn from me too.  I like seeing different perspectives because they make me think too and I like to think.  I also care about people not believing things that aren’t true.  I care about people not thinking that they have to feel guilt and etc. for living their lives the way that is working for them and for their families, no matter what other people on the internet say.  Admittedly, this latter reason sometimes makes me irritated and I have to take a break after leaving a possibly sharply worded comment here or there.

Now, of course, you should never wonder about whether or not you should comment on *our* blog.  We treasure every comment (except, of course, those of the occasional tiny-penis man who slips through before getting blocked).  Our commenters have really nuanced and thoughtful conversations– it’s a point of pride that when people link to us, the link more often than not says, “read the comments section.”

Why do you comment on blogs?  (Or if you can be enticed to de-lurk, why *don’t* you comment on blogs?)

62 Responses to “Why comment on blogs?”

  1. taylorqlee Says:

    I comment on blogs just like talking to people and I want them to talk to me back! And because my meatspace friends are sick of hearing me obsess about money…

  2. Byrd Says:

    For whatever it’s worth, I subscribed to your blog after reading one of your comments on MMD. And MMD is still one of my very favorite blogs. :)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I still read it occasionally, but I comment a lot less than I would if I didn’t know my comment was going straight to moderation. Mostly my comments these days are just benign book-related ones that it doesn’t really matter if anybody reads them or not (and often I don’t bother with those). There’s also that feeling of my viewpoints not being welcome, so I shouldn’t provide them. I guess that putting someone in permanent moderation thing is a good way to get someone unwanted to disengage with a blog without causing a big blow-up.

  3. hollyatclubthrifty Says:

    Like you, I think I enjoy the conversation. I hate it when I read a really good post and the comments are turned off for some reason. What is the point in that?
    Commenting is also a form of socialization for me. Since I work at home and don’t have anyone to talk to, it’s my way of creating a mini work tribe.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I’m ok with comments being turned off if it’s a post that’s likely to attract trolls. Sometimes a person just doesn’t want to deal with misogynists, racists, or rape-apologists.

    • Cloud Says:

      Even on non-controversial posts, people sometimes turn the comments off because they don’t like dealing with spam. If you run a WordPress blog, you probably don’t see this as much- from my unscientific comparisons, the WordPress spam filter is very good. I run several sites now, and the WordPress one gets by far the least spam. More spam gets through on my Blogger blog, and there are days where I have several spam comments to delete. So much spam gets through on my Drupal site (tungstenhippo.com) that I’m probably going to turn comments off. It just isn’t worth the hassle of having to clean up the spam.

    • Holly@ClubThrifty Says:

      I hear ya. Trolls and spam both suck.

  4. xykademiqz Says:

    I generally comment when I feel I have something to say, and comment in spaces (like here) where I feel I have been received respectfully and in good faith (as in, I don’t get in too much trouble even if what I say is not 100% innocuous, as people are willing to talk with me without pile-ons even when they disagree, etc.)

    While these days I try to lurk for a long time before commenting and generally try not to be too abrasive with comments, I still get in trouble, probably because my default setting is direct and commenting generally requires a lot of restraint and self-editing; sometimes that process fails, especially when I feel passionately about something. I recently (almost?) got in trouble (I haven’t been back to check the comments, I don’t have the stomach) for basically stating at some blog that what the blog owner, a young professor, was advising a graduate student to do was in general and in most fields a very very bad idea; I was welcomed with a jab from the blog owner. Now, people have a right to their opinion, but there is such a thing as people with no experience versus people with a lot of experience in working with graduate students, and this is a type of problem where experience is definitely critical; I have no intention on arguing on something I know I am right about with someone with whom the first interaction was not in good faith. So I won’t be back there.

    Anyway, I like the conversations. I’ve got opinions and, like many academics, I like being a smart-ass. But I generally like to comment where I think what I say won’t get me in too much trouble, because, while very opinionated, I don’t have the emotional bandwidth for internet drama. I am sorry Mrs Darcy is moderating you; I don’t read her at all and have no idea what she’s about, but I generally stop commenting or comment very, very infrequently if I notice I am not welcome… Some online communities just don’t want you (the rhetorical you) and that’s okay; there is always lurking.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Yeah, I also generally stop commenting or comment less frequently if I feel I’m not welcome. I’ve been socialized not to go where I’m not wanted.

      I actually doubt MMD knows me from Adam, but there’s still no point in commenting when the conversation has passed one by.

  5. monsterzero Says:

    Because I don’t get out much.
    Because I have something to say (which hopefully has not already been said. I need to work on that).
    Because I have questions.
    Occasionally, on commenting systems which allow some form of upvoting, just for the upvotes because POINTZ!

  6. gwinne Says:

    Interesting topic! While I don’t comment on every post on every blog I read, I do feel like I’ve engaged with the writer frequently enough to be part of a community. And I feel like I’m part of several semi-overlapping communities of bloggers, largely around ALI and academic mother types. It’s like being involved in a good seminar.

    I recently started that new blog about my son’s sleep, which is mostly record keeping for myself, but also if it helps anyone else. What I hadn’t anticipated–and I just shut down the feature–was anonymous commenters basically using some version of those old CIO lines. If I *know* a person, just based on repeat commenting, I’m generally happy to listen to their perspectives (yours, Ana’s, etc) but hiding behind a veil of anonymity to say something semi snarky? Ugh.

    For myself, with one exception, I’ve stopped reading the blogs that make me want to say snarky things. Clearly they’re not my people so why am I wasting either of our time or energy?

    Now I need to stop commenting and start actually working :)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I’ve leechblocked blogs that make me want to say snarky things (where snarky = honest things that the blogger does not appreciate). I’d rather keep the illusion that I’m a nice person.

  7. Cloud Says:

    I primarily comment to be part of a conversation (and maybe learn something). I used to get involved in more contentious comment threads than I do now- for the most part now, if I think it is going to be an argument and not a discussion I steer clear. I’ve learned that those sorts of threads do me more harm than good, even if there is something useful to learn in them.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I’m still not sure if it does more harm than good or not. I think we had a post on that a few months ago– essentially the thought was it probably doesn’t change much in a positive way for the people doing the arguing, but maybe having someone say, “no, it’s totally fine for kids to go to daycare” has positive effects on the people reading.

      • xykademiqz Says:

        I agree here. There are issues that are too important to just let people air out their opinions, when you know that they are factually wrong. Did you or Cloud (or both) recently link to an article entitled something like “Just because it’s your opinion doesn’t mean that you are not wrong”? Also, lived experiences matter; someone coming to tell me that the exact opposite of what I have lived is true might result in heads bitten off.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I saw that headline somewhere, but I don’t think we linked to the article.

      • Cloud Says:

        Oh, it might help OTHER people, but it harms me, so I don’t do it very often anymore. I dislike really confrontational arguing and it makes me feel stressed.

        That said, sometimes I’ll argue if it is a topic I feel strongly about and want to counter something I see as not just wrong but harmful to people.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Me too on both counts. (Sidenote: Academic arguments sometimes seem confrontational to outsiders but they’re usually not really. So I don’t find those stressful!)

  8. SP Says:

    I enjoy the conversation. And sometimes, someone on the internet is wrong, and I have to chime in (https://xkcd.com/386/).

    I learn things in good comment sections – but I’d say the vast majority of comment sections are not so good. The blogs I read/comment have sane comments, because there is no point hanging out in crazy town.

    I totally agree that having a moderated comment show up in-line kind of defeats the purpose of commenting. It should at least show up in order as new.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Yay, you didn’t go into spam this time!

      • SP Says:

        Yay! Thanks! I was wondering what happened to my comment the other day, since I didn’t see the message telling me I was moderated.

        I saw a spam-like comment linking back to my blog (!) and supposedly from me – which I didn’t post – on another blog. So that may be part of the issue. (Early retirement extreme)

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Yeah, you weren’t moderated, you went directly into spam. We’ve been getting so much spam lately that we haven’t been doing a good job flipping through it to rescue people.

  9. CG Says:

    I comment when I feel I have something to add, when I’m concerned or wondering about something, or when I feel really strongly about something. That last instance is when I tend to get myself into trouble because sometimes it’s that I’m feeling judged by the op about something I may be a bit insecure about and I get defensive. It’s mostly when someone says that their marriage or family arrangement or kids are optimal because they do it THIS way. And sometimes I wish we did things a little more THIS way, but oh well, that’s not the people we are and the situation in which we find ourselves. So I can either read those posts and feel like I’ve sold out or I can just get on with living my life, which is pretty good on most days. I know that neither of you ever feel insecure so you don’t have to worry about making that kind of comment. :)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      No, but I do leave comments because I know those kinds of posts make *other* people feel insecure, It’s not guilt I feel but anger. Like, how dare you make people feel insecure about something they should not feel insecure about! It doesn’t have to be this way, guys! Come join me in the light! I have to take breaks from time to time though because it’s not often I feel anger (those links about racism and stuff we post on saturdays mostly make me feel sadness, helplessness, frustration, and the need to share) and I don’t like the sensation.

  10. middle_class Says:

    I comment when I feel like I c an add to a conversation. I also like to chime in on certain topics (usually in area of working mom guilt) if I feel that it could be helpful to readers in the future.

  11. Ana Says:

    As a blogger, I appreciate greatly any comment that adds to the discussion in a respectful way—whether it agrees or disagrees with what I said. I honestly try not to get involved in any kind of debates or to jump into a heated comment session—I do not have the mental energy for that and I tend to get all riled up and obsess over it when I do. I don’t comment on every blog I read, and I don’t comment on every post on the blogs I read, usually only when I have something to say that will enhance the conversation (or if I really want to lend my support to someone I “know” well, with “hugs” or “congrats!”). I have to be in a certain mood to comment something that COMPLETELY disagrees with the blogger’s post—the mood to want to educate people that they may be wrong and to not worry about getting piled on by the fans.
    IF I were being moderated or felt unwelcome, I would probably stop reading and definitely stop commenting. Again—mental energy.

  12. chacha1 Says:

    I don’t like confrontation and argument, especially between people who know nothing about each other except for some words on a screen; I do like conversation. I comment more here than anywhere else.

    My observation is that on PF blogs (which I’ve read more of than anything else), there is less willingness to take advice from fellow commenters. Everyone wants to work through their stuff at their own pace and in their own style. Which is okay except, as noted so well above, experience counts. A comment from someone who has already been through something is usually intended, and should be construed, as “learn from my mistakes, you don’t have to make them yourself” NOT as “you silly child, go on the defensive immediately.”

    There was a bit of that on an advice thing you had recently. The question concerned a step to take to get out of debt. But it became clear that the questioner wanted to get out of debt without changing the way she lives. (Another observation: you can’t change your life without changing the way you live.) Well, fine; good luck; it will take you a long time, but whatever. I didn’t take it personally because she doesn’t know me, so rejecting my advice is like brushing off a bad horoscope.

    I do feel that I have something to add to most conversations. I’ve got a lot of education, and a lot of experience – more education and broader experience than many, if not most, Americans have. But much of the time either someone else has already made most of the point that came to my mind, or the environment simply doesn’t invite – or require – comment. “A Country Doctor Writes,” for example, is an excellent blog; but the posts don’t really require discussion.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I’m not sure we knew all the details in that particular questioner’s case. It sounds like they also had a big emergency fund and hadn’t been in that income bracket for very long, so the weird amounts of debt given that income and their listed necessity expenditures might not have been caused by spending. It’s hard to know when you don’t have all the details.

  13. Solitary Diner Says:

    As a blogger, I love when people comment on my blog, so I try to comment on others’ blogs in return. I also comment when I think I can add something to the conversation (personal experience, information, etc.) or when there’s an interesting discussion going on and I want to be part of it.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We love it when people comment too!

      We would return the favor, but blogspot is still not letting us through. (I just tried… nothing profound, I just said, “That sounds like a difficult situation.”)

      • notofgeneralinterest2 Says:

        This is why I comment. I like to contribute to the conversation, but I also love it when people comment at my place.

  14. Insect Biologist Says:

    I rarely comment on blogs, even though there are several that I read regularly. One reason is that I mostly read blogs to learn new information (eg, grant writing strategies), so I often don’t have much experience with the topics of discussion. Another is that, like many introverts, I like to ponder new ideas for a while before I discuss them. In real life, it’s easy for me to say “Remember that thing we were talking about yesterday. Well, I’ve been thinking about it, and …” With blog comments, I feel like commenting a couple of days later is too late. I mean, is anyone still reading at that point? The third reason is that I read blogs while I’m eating lunch, and it’s hard to type while holding a fork. By the way, thanks for making me feel welcome on the rare occasions that I’ve commented here!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We’re still reading! WordPress notifies us that we have new comments, no matter where on the blog they show up. So it is never too late for the two of us. Though it’s true that the full-on discussion usually dissipates after a few days. Unless it’s something really controversial and people set up comment notifications.

      And you are always welcome!

      • Insect Biologist Says:

        Thanks for the information. It’s good to know that there’s time for pondering!

  15. crazy grad mama Says:

    Like many others have said, I comment on blogs when I feel like I have something to add. (Although my social anxiety then makes me worry about whether or not the blog’s owner will agree that my contribution was valuable.) And sometimes I like to leave comments just to express strong agreement with a post. I’m still too nervous about whether or not people like me to go around starting debates.

  16. Abigail @ipickuppennies Says:

    Honestly, a lot of it really is just to get people checking out my site. But as I’ve gotten into the groove of things, I am starting to enjoy kibitzing for the sake of kibitzing. So I guess my motivations are a little more pure than when I started (?).

  17. Aurora Says:

    Accepting your invitation to delurk…I have been reading you (and Cloud too) for such a long time that it feels kind of stalky to delurk now. I don’t really comment on any blogs I read. It’s probably more of a time thing than anything, I worry so much about saying the wrong thing that it takes me ages to say anything at all. I should really leave some comments, as crazy grad mama says, to express agreement, just by way of saying thanks to the blogger for the work they have done to entertain/inform me. So – love your work!

  18. Revanche Says:

    I try to only comment when I have something of value to say (rarely) or when I feel like I know the people somewhat well enough to have a conversation with them via the comments (more often). I noticed some time ago that people don’t turn on notifications so I often wonder if commenters care if their comments are replied to but it feels uncivil not to so I try to always answer.

    On the other side, I enjoy comments for both the conversation and the fresh perspectives. Though I don’t seem to stir up any controversy ever so most people tend not to disagree strongly with me ;)

  19. Rosa Says:

    I’m for the conversation. I’ve been in communities (old school bbses, Ta-Nehisi Coates spot back in the day) that were like suddenly getting moved into the AP class where everyone’s smarter than me and has done the work and I learn so much.

    Other kinds of blogs, including personal finance, it’s because most of my RL people don’t care about the stuff on them or aren’t enough on the same page to talk to. Personal finance, especially, because we have a lot more money than half our friends and a lot lower standard of living than the other half. I learn so much from commenters, on blogs (like this one) where the commenters are actually valued & encouraged.

  20. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    I’m in the kibitzing camp.

  21. plainandsimplepress Says:

    55 comments! I love it.

    Why do I not comment on blogs? I’m achingly tired. 14-hour days, 7 days a week…surfing the old favorites (like grumpy rumblings) = a few minutes of relief. But haven’t got the energy to say much.

  22. Name Under Development Says:

    I am a long time reader and lurker who really enjoys this blog. I rarely comment here or anywhere. A lot of this is due to time–I don’t work as many hours as plainandsimplepress, but leaving the house before 7 am and not returning until 8:30 or 9 pm is not uncommon (not on weekends, though). I read in fits and starts as my schedule permits, so the conversation has usually moved on by the time I show up. In addition, I am not faculty with the protection of tenure–I’m a grant funded staff member in an area where jobs are few, so public opinions feel pretty risky.


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