On Commenting

John Scalzi is one of the most widely known men in science fiction today. Not only is he known for his fiction, which have won numerous awards (such as the prestigious Hugo award), but also for his blog, Whatever (whatever.scalzi.com.) Not only does the blog benefit from Scalzi’s amazing wit and superb writing skills, but also from the wide corpus of regular commenters that frequent the site. Part of this is due to the commenters themselves, who provide valuable insight to whatever topic John Scalzi might be writing about that day, but also to Scalzi’s approach to managing the comment thread. If you took a look at his website you would find links to various pages where he discusses how to comment on Whatever and the penalties for acting like a troll. He refers to this approach as “the mallet of loving correction” and it inspired his book of the same name.

As a result, according to Scalzi himself, the comments are generally worth reading themselves. Whenever I read news articles or blog entries I usually go straight to the comments section when I’m done reading, so that I can get a taste of what people’s opinions might be on that particular piece. Doing so has given me the privilege of witnessing the diversity of the human mind in terms of opinions and intellectual thinking.

Recently, I recreated my original blog and have written several posts in the days since I brought it online. I have also followed many other blogs on WordPress and took a look through each one to get a sense of the content level and to see how many people have commented. A good way to see if a blog is any good is to see how many people comment on it. As of 8/24/2014, I have also written six (the seventh is on its way) entries for Amazing Stories, which has a wide fan base and dozens of bloggers and editorial staff members. While I’ve noticed a few posts on Amazing start to get a decent little thread, I’ve only had one person write a single comment on any of my posts.

As a blogger and writer, this makes me sad.

There is no way for me to tell how many people read any of my posts for Amazing at any given time, but I know that my new blog is starting to get a few readers, which is good for a blog that has not even existed for an entire week yet. I’ve even received a few likes and comments on Twitter regarding some of the stuff I have written, which has done wonders for my self-esteem. I wish there were more people out there who would take the time to comment.

Commenting on somebody’s blog entry, just like commenting on Facebook or Twitter, allows the writer not only the satisfaction of knowing that somebody really does read what they write, but also valuable insight as to the quality of their writing ability and the quality of their thoughts. Everyone has their own opinions about everything, so for readers to take a few short seconds and add to whatever it is they had just read turns the situation from reader and writer to that of a conversation. When that happens, people are bound to experience viewpoints they might never have known to exist. They might learn new things and figure out mentally ways that they could improve not only the quality of their blogging but new ways to back up their own arguments. Not only that, but the quality of the blog in general improves the more commenting a post gets. Even minor things such as grammatical errors have a tendency to be corrected faster if a commenter takes the time to point it out.

My challenge for everyone who reads this is to take a few seconds after every blog post and let the blogger know what you think about their post. Tell them your opinions, give them advice, or simply pat them on the back.

The blogosphere will thank you.

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  1. I know how you feel writing into the ether! I’ve discovered though that you can sort of see a post’s popularity by checking out how many times it’s been shared on social media. I just wish more people would engage in a more human fashion, with language, rather than a click. Sigh.

  2. Oops. To expand. I see your point as to the contract between writer and reader, however, I hesitate just to blather to fill space. A well concidered reply often will stir others to join the conversation and at times I find myself commenting on a comment.
    I hope I’ve explained my approach to blog comments and hope others join me to express theirs.

  3. Start each day with the thought that, “You are good, you are worthy and people like you.” Even if they don’t leave a comment. Ha.
    Seriously, I tend to read my Amazing Stories links on my phone and to type on it to leave a comment is a task.

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