What's a Comment Worth?

Would you be a better blogger if you didn’t receive comments? This is the question posed by Anea for this week’s shared topic.

Why a Blog?

My first reaction is–well if there were no comments, it wouldn’t be a blog, now would it.  Technically that isn’t true: blog is a description of how the website is arranged for viewing.  Yet, to me, a blog doesn’t feel like a blog without a commenting system.  Part of the allure of having a blog instead of a resource website is the interaction I get to have with other WoW players.  I could just post my advice out in the ether and watch people stumble across or bookmark goodies, but with a blog, people get to tell me how they feel about what I’m saying.  Do they think it’s good information?  Did I have an error that needs correction?  You don’t get that when you have a standard website.

What It Adds

Commenting makes the writing experience seem more like a conversation, and less like a deposition.  People are more likely to make personal connections, and to feel like they know the author because they can respond and get a response in return.  Forums give the same kind of advantage, but it’s not your own space.  You must fit your ideas, discussions, and questions into these little boxes.  If it doesn’t fit in the box, or doesn’t add to that particular community, its got no place to go!  That doesn’t mean you don’t want to share: you’ve got screenshots of your latest skill, an awesome boss kill strategy, an idea for collecting that cool hunter pet.

Even better, because people gain a certain connectivity with you, oftentimes, you’ll get a comment or e-mail from a reader asking for help with a particular problem or question.  This is the best–you as a writer can’t know everything that a reader may want to read about, but are more than willing to provide helpful information.  Starting a community, whether it be 10, 50, or 500 readers who regularly come by to read your stuff and comment or ask questions is all to the good, and a great reason to start a blog or to contribute as a reader.

The Risks

There are some inherent risks to opening your viewpoint to commentators.  Ignoring general spam looking to drag your readers into icky content, there is still the off-chance that you’ll gain nay-sayers.  While nay-sayers are not inherently bad, they can affect your psychology as a writer.  Its hard to feel enthusiastic about a project when you feel like you’re defending the fort from invaders.  Good nay-sayers improve your content, and require you to improve, awful nay-sayers make you want to shut down the whole she-bang and send them off for the hills.

Even “good” comments and questions can change your outlook…. if you let them. You have to decide whether you are writing for yourself or your readers. Most authors will tell you non-chalantly, “Oh, I write because I love it and I wanted a place to express myself.”  Suuuuure.  Wait 6 months and see how they feel about it.

All in all, if there weren’t comments, I wouldn’t be doing it.  Despite the impression I give here, I don’t really like to hear myself talk that much that I wouldn’t feel fulfilled throwing out information and not getting any feedback whatsoever.  The fun part, to me, is the talks I get to have with other people who visit.  I’m generally not too attached to my projects past the inital dizzying “ooo shiney” syndrome, but when I feel invested in other people it becomes a different story.  Ya, so you’re just a bunch of pixels and words… but I know there are other people on the other side of the screen who have options: to spend their time playing the game, reading a comic, or other sites, but who choose to come by here because, well, I don’t know why, but they find something!  Knowing that, I wouldn’t feel right about shutting up shop, at least so long as I’m playing the game… and maybe even when I switch to a new one–you never know!

No comments wouldn’t make me a better blogger… It would make me a non-existant one!

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13 thoughts on “What's a Comment Worth?

  1. A blog is essentially a form of communication, just like an MMO is (or twitter or whatnot). Half the fun is knowing that beyond the screen sits another person, a person with opinions and feelings. While of course also true for books, films, and radio, a blog (or an MMO) is a chance to interact more directly with a person (or several persons).

    Us being social animals, human to human interaction beats solo pursuits most of the time. The blog becomes the medium for interaction as it were, and I think you're quite right that a blog becomes a blog only when there are comments on it.

    That said, I don't think the amount of comments matter too greatly. I rarely get comments on my blog, but the few that do pop up I appreciate all the more (whether good or bad). The reader took time to comment, they showed interest, they cared.

    Put slightly more concisely: I absolutely agree ;)

    • Well, I and I guess I should have been more specific. I like my commentators so well because they often are correcting my mistakes, or adding something to the conversation. I don't need or want 20 "amen's" every time I put something up, but I like continuing the discussion. Less is definitely more in that case ^^

  2. I love comments – I don't write *for* them, or *expect* them but I do love them. I mean, change and development is the essence of thinking – if I wrote a thing and nobody commented, then I'd go on thinking about it exactly the same and I'd learn nothing. I do often find myself completely changing my opinion about things because of comments. Maybe that means I'm an incurable weather vane … but I say it's no bad thing :D

    • Pshah, that's called growth :P If the goal is to keep a journal, then comments don't matter, but if the point is to talk to the community, then I think they do!

  3. I agree – comments are a pretty vital part of the entire having a blog thing. For me, I wouldn't be writing about my opinions if I didn't care what other people thought about my take or didn't care to hear opposing view points.

    The sense of community is huge for me, too. Despite living in Nerdville, USA, there is hardly anyone to talk to about the game I love so much (apart from my husband). Blogging gives me an outlet, gives me friends and gives me a way to get through the work day with a smile on my face.

    With one exception, whenever I've seen a blogger shut down comments, it feels a bit like a slap in the face. "I want you to know what I think but I don't care what your opinion might be." No thanks.

    • I think that's the funnest part for me. Yes, you get your guild fix, but sometimes, you wanna talk about WoW outside of the game. I'm sure my current GM is happier that I started blogging because I'm no longer bending her ear about "management" issues. Yes, she'd listen, but man, would she ever get burned out. Now if she wants to know, she just stops by!

      Bloggers who don't have commenting are telling me they want to be a resource, not a community point. While I may bookmark information for sharing with others, I surely won't be coming back everyday–I have no value to you beyond using your resource.

      • Awwww, but I <3 discussing management with you! *hug*

        Actually, the most fun thing for me was learning about your blog after you joined us and then getting to see what you wrote about us when you were applying to the guild before you really knew us. It was excellent feedback. (I will fix the application before Cataclysm, I swear!) ;)

        I love that you provide a blog roll. You've introduced me to so many new sources of information. Now I can hold my own in those discussions more.

  4. I think that knowing that someone is reading, and getting some sort of feedback is vital. I mean… why on earth am I going to take a picture of every menu in droodfocus if nobody but me is reading it? Obviously that's for an audience.

    That said, I am disappointed sometimes when those resources that get the most views get few comments, while random crap gets a ton of comments.

    • Sometimes, it's just more fun to comment on the fluff! I'm awful about commenting on guides and things, because a) I don't know enough about the subject to comment or b) It was such a great job, there's nothing I'm going to add to the conversation.

  5. Blogs were originally "web logs" i.e. diaries so the concept of commenting didn't really apply to them. Of course now, comments are expected, appreciated and desired.

    To me, comments do two things: they share someone's feedback and thoughts and creates discussion and they also give my post meaning but recognising that someone has actually read it :D

    • Ya, I almost linked to the wiki for the definition of a blog (web log, diary style formatting, etc.) but I assumed the sophistication of my audience was such that they didn't need the history lesson ^^ Add on top of that, I think blogging has changed a lot since the original "format style" and even news outlets are following a more blog type approach to sharing information by actively soliciting feedback from their readers.

      It's definitely nice to know that you're not just a voice in the dark!

  6. I find it's the comments from people I 'know' and play with are more likely to make me question – why blog – why have an opinion in the first place – why disagree with someone who makes a comment on your blog – It's different when there is too much personal behind a comment, because they aren't just commenting on what you have written – they are commenting on you.

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