I’ve been thinking about the unwritten rules that most bloggers follow when leaving comments and how those rules are different for different types of blogs. The distinction I am making about the different kinds of blogs is between personal blogs and blogs hosted on news sites such as CNN, MSNBC and FOX. You could include any entertainment blog in that category as well such as TMZ. Basically I see the difference between these kinds of blogs as the personal blog has a staff of one and the news site blogs have a staff of many.
Commenting is a pretty intuitive action, you read an article leave a comment.
However, there are some nuances that can only be learned with time and experience.
Keep on Topic
If the post is about the horrible customer service at the post office don’t leave a comment about the high cost of gas these days. Often times new bloggers will discover a blogger and want to answer a comment left on their blog at the commenters blogs. Doing this is confusing to the other readers as it breaks up the flow of the discussion. If someone leaves you a comment on your blog respond to it on your blog, don’t go to their blog and respond to the comment on your blog.
This holds true for personal blogs much more than at the news site blogs where often commenters drop a bomb and run away, often using an alias so no one can challenge them. It would be nice if everyone were more respectful in the blogosphere but as long as the new sites don’t link back to the comment, like most personal blogs, do this won’t change anytime soon. It should go without saying that calling other people who leave comments names is childish and petty.
It’s okay to disagree
I visit many blogs who have different opinions than mine and I still leave respectful comments that hopefully furthers the conversation in a meaningful way. In the personal blog world this can be a balancing act if you don’t know the blogger well. Recently I left a comment on the blog Tarheel Ramblings. Because I know Lee, I left a much more informal comment than I would if I didn’t know the blogger. I know Lee understands me and my position on certain topics, that doesn’t mean he agrees with me. In fact it might be safe to say he can’t understand why I hold certain beliefs but because we have a friendship he lets it go. On a news site blog, where I don’t know the author or readers my comments are going to be more guarded and, depending on the topic, possibly defensive. Many use the anonymity of the blogosphere to say things they would never say to another person if they were face to face. That makes commenting on personal blogs certainly more enjoyable but generally speaking there is less disagreement because bloggers with strong differing opinions often refrain from leaving comments so not to offend anyone.
Responding to Comments
The longer I blog the more I am convinced this is an art that is cultivated over time. When I first started blogging I didn’t respond to comments. I don’t know why but eventually I got with the program and started responding. Depending on what was said I could contribute to the discussion or at least comment on their comment. At the very least I could welcome them if they were new to my site.
I try to respond to all comments but sometimes that can be a challenge because someone will leave a comment that just stops the conversation in its tracks. These comments are usually self serving or self centered from the reader’s point of view. Don’t get me wrong, I often leave self serving and self centered comments they just happen to be self deprecating as well. Making fun of yourself might change the direction of the conversation but it doesn’t stop it. If you want to see an example of this head on over to Mike’s place at Too Many Mornings, just make sure you have a whole bunch of time because you will get swept up in all the comments.
Yesterday I read an article by Mayim Bialik you might remember her from the TV show Blossom. Ms. Bialik is the new Mom Blogger on the Today Show website so it was her first post. She wrote a rather controversial piece about alternative parenting methods. Whether by design or inexperience she basically threw down the parenting gauntlet and there is a bit of a war between moms going on over in the comment section. Many readers asked her questions, myself
included and have yet to get any response. Which is like dropping a bomb and running and irresponsible in my opinion. I don’t expect her to respond to comments because generally that doesn’t happen on those kinds of blogs. It would be nice if she did but I’m not holding my breath.