What’s the Future of Commenting?

Posted 4 April, 2014 by Amanda / 28 Comments

discussion

Copyblogger announced that they’re removing comments from their site. I’ve long been a proponent of using comments to build a community on your blog, but they make a great point here:

If you’ve been running your own blog for awhile [sic], you probably noticed that comments started to become less frequent when Facebook and Twitter really started to come into their own. (And that’s only picked up speed with the incredible growth of the other social platforms like Google+ and LinkedIn.)

Why? Because the conversation moved to a wider public platform.

 

Has conversation moved to social media?

I think not getting enough comments is an oft cited complaint among bloggers. We see comments as a reward for all the hard work we’ve put into our blogs. We love comments.

But book bloggers post a lot of content. Maybe even too much given how many people we try to follow. Let’s say I have 50 blogs in my feed reader. If they have 5 posts a week, that means 250 new posts appear in my reader every week. I won’t read every single post—I skip a lot of posts, actually, which is perhaps another topic for another day—but it takes time to sift through everything and choose which posts I’m going to comment on.

And that’s all the time I spend on top of reading and maintaining my blog. Plus, you know, living the rest of my life.

Many bloggers have moved their conversations to Twitter where it’s easier and faster to connect with more readers. We follow bloggers on Twitter when we don’t read their blogs and don’t even feel like we’re missing anything. Twitter is often where the fun happens, where you truly get to know other readers and bloggers.

Maybe it’s time to change how we think about comments and blogging

I don’t think getting rid of comments is something that book bloggers should do, but I do think that we need to heed the idea behind Copyblogger’s decision: social media is changing the way we blog. And if you’ve been blogging for more than a couple years, you know that book blogging when you started is a lot different than what it is now.

We can either cling to the practices of the past or embrace the trends. I won’t ever get rid of comments for On a Book Bender—they’re too vital to building my community of readers—but I could do a lot better at connecting with people on social media and through events like Bout of Books and Bloggiesta.

And I think the future of commenting isn’t in the comment section of my blog—or yours. It’s in fostering interactions on social media. It’s in bonding over reading and blogging. The most successful bloggers are the ones who are building relationships with other readers.

What are your thoughts on comments?

 

Filed under: Discussion,

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28 Responses to “What’s the Future of Commenting?”

  1. I think Copyblogger is not even really a blog anymore, so they can do this and succeed and get the engagement they desire. For most other blogs, which are MUCH smaller, I don’t think they have the issues that Copyblogger cites. The time Copyblogger spends moderating comments etc. can be better spent on writing content and promoting the products they have for sale. Plus no doubt they have someone who’s specific job it is to create and maintain social media buzz.

    • I’ve seen plenty of conversations about comments (and even views) dropping on blogs, and Twitter (and other social networks) is where much of the interaction between book bloggers happen. While Copyblogger is certainly in its own class, the point remains that we may not be interacting with blogs the way we used to even two or three years ago.

      I don’t think comments will ever go away—and like some have said, the lack of ability to leave a comment, especially on a smaller blog, makes you seem distant and unreachable—but I do think we’re seeing a shift in how people interact online. And that affects us.

  2. Commenting is a big part of blogging, always has been, and always will be IMO. I agree that social media plays a vital role in all of this, but if bloggers are complaining about a lack of comments on their sites, they don’t really have anyone to blame but themselves. If I leave a comment on someone’s blog 2-3 times and never receive one in return, I stop all together. Yes, it’s time consuming, but you can’t expect peeps to comment if you never do so yourself. It’s all about balance.

    • I’m fine with commenting on someone’s blog and not receiving a comment on my *blog* in return, but if I don’t receive a reply on my comment, I’m less likely to keep leaving comments. (I haven’t been posting my paranormal reads lately, for example, so if I comment on someone’s paranormal-bent blog about their review, they may find it difficult to comment on my historical romance reviews, especially if they have no interest in the genre. And I don’t expect anyone to comment for the sake of commenting like that. Respond to my comment on their review, or if they feel like they need to be reciprocal, talk to me on social media.)

      But. Getting comments does involve building relationships with people. Which, as you said, is time consuming. But ultimately worth it in the end.

  3. The way I’ve built my blog, I focus more a post a day during the week and commenting. I do play on twitter, which is fun and a different way to interact but I don’t have a FB page for my blog or an Instagram/Vine that I use consistently. Comments are important to the lifeblood of my blog, I think. They’re half the reason I’m still blogging after nearly four years NO FIVE years! (!) So I don’t plan on getting rid of them anytime soon. But I can see how that might work for bloggers who’ve put time and effort into other platforms.

    • Meh. I think using FB pages is on its way out as far as using it as a way of connecting with people online.

      Anyway. I think we’re seeing a shift away from interaction with the author of the post and toward talking about the post in other forums. Commenting will never fully go away, but I think we’ll see a decline. It’d be cool if there was a way to bring in what people are saying about your post from around the web (social media and otherwise) so you could see the true reach of your blog. Many share without commenting.

  4. I think for broadcast content (which is like copyblogger and for book bloggers I think things like cover reveals) that probably is not conversation inducing then comments are not needed. I don’t know that I would turn mine off on those posts but I don’t expect engagement. However, if I was a bigger blog (or had any intention of getting there) I would turn off comments for those blog posts. They have a tech cost (DB Size, Time, and Cleanup).

    I don’t know for community based blogging (mommy, book, fitness, ect) that doing away with comments is good overall for the community. I think it would make fostering connections harder (not everyone is on twitter, FB keeps screwing with pages, and google + is a little confusing and still isn’t adopted by every one). I think it makes it really scattered. That being said, if you want to succeed (which is a goal you need to set for yourself) outside your community and grow you really need embrace those other connections as MUCH as your comment community. Even if you want to become a big fish in a small pond (your community) you need to leverage those social media connections. Especially if you need people to get to your site to see your advertising or sponsor ads (which would be tricky to leverage in social media with the current FTC rules).

    I do think the decision copyblogger made spurred a conversation that needed to happen and will probably continue as the blogging world changes/grows :)

    • I think you’ve nailed it, Felicia. Commenting won’t ever go away, but growing your community involves embracing where your audience is. And right now, people are on social media as much as (or more than) blogs.

      As for the everything being scattered (which I totally agree with), I’d really love to see a plugin or an ability of pulling in conversations from around the web to your post, so you can see what people are saying across platforms.

  5. It’s hard for me to think of switching my focus from comments to social media to be honest. Comments have been a staple of my day since I started the blog – I get up, I comment on the blogs on my side bar (and any new ones I might find along the way), and then go on with my day. It’s time consuming for sure, but it’s how I built the blog so it’s hard to thing they might not be as vital in forming relationships as they one were. I know I don’t take huge advantage of social media and I should, I just often find myself intimidated by all the goings-on on Twitter and Facebook!

    • Whenever I’m on a social media downswing (which happens every so often), I’m always kind of surprised by how much has happened while I was elsewhere. Not so much in missing out on conversations (that happens even when you use social media a lot), but in the way people form new relationships. It’s easier and quicker to form (or strengthen) relationships on Twitter. That’s where Kelly and I first met.

  6. I agree with having to sift through the posts to get to the ones you want to read. I try to make an effort to comment on posts that make me think, have content that speaks to me or reviews that I just couldn’t pass up reading.

    As much as Facebook and Twitter have pretty much taken over the commenting section for interactions with other book bloggers – I still probably use them less than most book bloggers.

    I kind of move to the beat of my own drum. Make my own rules and do what I want. I’ve stopped worrying about what others want and do what makes me happy. Whether it’s hosting less memes, adding more discussion posts or commenting on every post I read.

    I have to say that I do love getting comments, so I’ve made a bigger effort to comment more often on other blogs. Only seems fair.

  7. I think that if I ever went to a blog and it was obvious that commenting had been disabled, I would be annoyed. Maybe everyone wouldn’t see it that way, but to me it seems like a sort of slap in the face–we don’t need your stinking comments/who cares what you think?

    I agree with what everyone else seems to be saying–that you need to be open to change, find a balance, etc. but to deliberately remove such an important platform for interaction . . . doesn’t seem like a good plan.

    • Yup. And I think why you’re blogging makes a difference too. Book blogging is so strongly community based that if you don’t have comments, well…you’re probably not blogging for the reasons the majority of book bloggers blog, which is partly to connect with other people.

  8. Sometimes commenting/engagement just lacks do to the cycle of where we are in our lives. Busy times | family |or just life unconnected. Idk. I know I’ve been more hit & run on twitter & blog commenting than I used to be. Just choices on how to spend my short spurts of time available. I’m not an industry mover & shaker or trender by any means. But I agree. Twitter makes for a lot of ease & comments have their place still.

    • Yup. It certainly could just be part of a cycle, especially as a lot of people (at least in my circles) hit a couple years in their blogging.

  9. I think it’s important to have a strong a presence on social media, Twitter specifically, almost as important as it is to visit blogs and comment. I know I’ve attracted some new readers simply by engaging them in conversation on Twitter, or by them jumping in on a conversation I was having with someone else.

    But to completely remove the ability to interact with your readers on your blog? Why would you cut off access to those people who choose not to participate in social media? Or those who have more to say than what social media would allow for? Seems counterproductive.

    • I think maybe it depends on who your readers are. Though I know there are those who don’t have social media, to my knowledge, none of them actually comment on my site. But I think not being able to respond to someone’s review or discussion post on their blog would be weird and awkward.

  10. I love reading other people thoughts in the comment section. And seeing known *faces* around the bloggosphere . But that’s just me . I think when a blog becomes something like buzzfeed or ect. The community part goes away . Just my 2 cents ( am I using this hip word ,right? Haha)

  11. I think I can see both sides of the coin on this one. On one hand, I like engaging with readers through my comment section, but I have seen the comments fall off and I have spent too much time and energy trying to format my posts in a way that get people commenting and I think it has taken away from my content in a way, as well. I blog for myself first and foremost and I need to get back to that. I love engaging in conversations on Twitter through events like Bout of Books and Armchair BEA and I need to put more time and energy into my social media presence as well, I think.

    • Most of the interaction between bloggers goes down on Twitter, I’ve found. That’s not to say it never happens on my blog, but it’s easier to jump in and see others’ conversations on social media. Which is pretty cool.

      • I think I almost definitely need to work on improving my social media presence outside of the time that I am participating in events. I am great at getting involved on twitter during read-a-thons, et cetera, but otherwise, I tend to flag a bit and don’t interact nearly as much, which then limits my engagement with my readers and may keep them from coming back around.

        • Yup. And when I see someone’s Twitter feed full of automated tweets or huge gaps in time, I’m less likely to follow since that says the account isn’t very active. Sometimes I go a few days without tweeting, but I usually scroll through tweets on a daily basis.

          • Hah! So you have been paying attention to my Twitter feed, then have you? Because between events, you totally just described what my twitter looks like. A baron wasteland of pushed tweets related to my blog posts and stuff through Triberr and not a whole lot else. I am working on it, though.

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