Late last April, in the throes of a hypomanic high, I wrote my first post, “AA: Threat or Menace?” for my new blog, Shithouse rat. It was cold and lonely out there in cyberspace at first. For various reasons, I had decided to post under a pseudonym, not because I was ashamed of anything I wrote, but for other practical reasons. Plus, I wanted to be able to say what I wanted without the risk of offending those I knew, though I don’t think I’ve posted anything cruel or unfair then or since.
As a result, I told no one I knew about my new venture; no family members, friends, or colleagues. Since then, one person who reads and comments is from my “outside” world, and I sometimes read my boyfriend an entry or two, but that’s it. All other close encounters of the blog kind have been made via Herman, my trusty Apple PowerBook G4.
My very first comment was witty, wise, and wonderful. In other words, it was from me.
RE: The sound of one blog blogging.
“Hey, Shithouse Rat. I’m adding comments to my own posts in a pathetic atttempt to make it look like someone is commenting (and thus reading) this blog.
I thought about contacting an AA website or board and welcoming them to comment on this topic. I’m sure many of them would love to since they can be a spirited and verbose bunch. But do I really want a bunch of hate mail? Something to consider…the only bad publicity is no publicity, right?
Well, take care of yourself, you crazy (and breathtakingly beautiful) chick, you.”
Rather than continue to comment to myself, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Since my post was controversial and involved negative experiences with AA, I proceeded to troll around the internet and try to incite some comments and maybe stir up some trouble. I contacted some anti-AA sites, and a few people visited. One of them, a certain Dr. Bomb, got a little ornery on my ass, but I put him in his place. I’m not afraid of criticism, and have never censored any comments on my blog, except for a few spambots. I welcome lively — even heated — debate, and I’m perfectly ready and willing to defend myself to all comers.
I put up a site meter right away, and was instantly obsessed with it. I confided to one of my very first blogpals, telling him my shameful secret — yes, I did care about visitors, dammit! If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, has it really fallen?
In any case, what all this is leading up to are some issues I’ve touched on in the past on my own blog, but wanted to get into here in earnest.
About six months ago, I was surfing around and discovered a blog that looked interesting. Although the guy seemed to have a healthy number of posts, and had been blogging for about five months, I saw nary a comment.
The blog looked promising — it was kinda one of those Boing Boing type things where you find provocative, noteworthy media clips and post links to them — but I should have known something was weird when I looked at the profile-ette on the home page: Aaron, United States, 5’9″ 150 lbs.
Never before have I seen someone’s height and weight posted on their blog before. It gave me pause.
In any case, I also wanted to see if people read and commented to more than their most recent posts, because it seemed that a lot of people didn’t. I think some folks just didn’t choose the template option of receiving copies of comments to their e-mail box. This in and of itself seemed puzzling to me.
In any event, I decided to leave me a few. First I went to an older post — but not very old.
Here’s the post:
Monday, August 29, 2005
Chris Farley gets a star on the walk of fame. Link.
posted by Aaron at 8/29/2005 10:36:00 AM
Here’s my comment:
“Helloooo, Aaron? Can you read me?
I just wandered by and was browsing, and decided to be lazy and just post to this for the time being ’cause it was short and I’m a bit smashed.
Also, I don’t know if you read comments from old posts. If you do, and you see this, let me know, maybe. It’s kind of part of a survey. Sort of.
Anyway, here’s my comment:
Then I went back to, I think, the second-most-recent post and left another few lines there — trying my best to be amusing and clever, the better to evoke some sort of response — though perhaps I was just being obnoxious and asinine.
Again, no response. Nada.
Now, this brings up one of several nagging issues I have, after blogging for 10 odd months. As far as Aaron and his ilk goes, I am mystified at to why someone who has recieved none or very few comments, as far as I can see, wouldn’t want to respond to one when he finally received it — even if it was to tell the person what an asshole they were for leaving such a stupid comment (as was probably merited in my case). After all, if he didn’t want comments, why not turn the comment option off? (OK, maybe he couldn’t figure it out, but I doubt it). In any case, I’ve found more than once that my more sober and well-thought out comments to blogs with no comments sometimes meet with the same abysmal result – the sound of silence.
I finally told myself that since, in Aaron’s case, he was fashioning himself after BoingBoing — one of the most popular blogs in the universe — he might consider commenting irrelevant. However, if you want to get somewhere between zero readers and a zillion, wouldn’t it behoove you to respond with at least a “thanks for the comment” — sort of to encourage a reader to return?
Uber-sites have a reasonable excuse for non-response – and some sites do respond to comments sometimes. But shit, they’re busy staying at the top of the heap, so one could understand if they lacked the time to give every reader personal feedback. And granted, Boing Boing-ish blogs are not personal websites, so comments may seem less relevant, but not necessarily so.
But this guy?
So without further ado, here is my list of things that personally irritate me about some blogs. Note that this is just my opinion. In fact, some of these things don’t irritate me as much as merely leading me to ponder the curious nature of mankind at large. Plus, I’m just a blogging baby, and I know I have a lot to learn. So cut me a break, ok?
1. Blogs that bite the dust before their time.
They just give up the ghost after a few posts. As with anything else, it pays to be proactive and persistent. And if you get some flamers and trolls, I say have fun with it. Make it work for you (see number 4 below). If you start a blog, you’re opening yourself up to the world at large, and weirdos and wackos may visit and stir up some shit. That, to me, is all part of the fun. Um, famous last words…
2. Blogs that don’t allow comments.
What’s up with that? I always thought the internet was, as they say, one great big worldwide conversation – an exchange of ideas; a dialogue rather than a monologue. When I wrote for publication, most of the time I had no idea of what most readers thought about what I wrote — no sense of reader demographics or any of the of the other neat goodies you can find out just by taking 5 minutes to install a site meter. Stats, together with comments, makes me feel like I’m not just writing to hear myself write.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; I am a craven comment whore. I am happy to see that people feel free to rant as much as they like. There is no length limit imposed on my blog for comments. When people apologize for going on and on, I always try to reassure them that this is just what I hope they will do. I really do believe that comments can be as integral to my blog as the posts themselves. Sometimes it’s a way of delving even deeper into an issue than I’d done in the original rant. Plus, it’s a chance for me to blab even more.
3. Blogs that don’t respond to comments at all.
I can’t help but think of these folks as just plain blog snobs who think they are too good to respond to someone who was thoughtful enough to drop by and respond to their post. To me, it seems like a slap in the face and an implication that they think their shit don’t stink. Well, it does – and so do you.
The following “rule” is null and void for any blogger who links me to their blogroll. In that case, all bets are off and I adore you unconditionally.
4. Bloggers who delete comments and/or let everyone know they can and will do so.
I fervently believe in the sanctity of free speech. Why, then, would a blogger choose to censor a post because it takes them to task or offends them? Do you simply want a bunch of yes-men, telling you only what you want to hear? There’s a word for that–B-O-R-I-N-G. No, no, not that positive comments aren’t cool, but the whole idea of blotting out any dissent is really distasteful to me. Yes, of course, it’s your blog and you’ll delete if you want to…you would delete too if it happened to you–blah de blah bullshit.
I don’t get too many nasty comments, but if I do, I usually wind up glorifying them by posting a “SIZZLING HOT comment of the week” tribute to their ass, thus garnering more comments. One particularly obnoxious troll inspired a SIZZLING HOT comment of the year post, which devolved into a massive blogfight where I and the dastardly commenter gleefully flamed each other endlessly back and forth. I can’t remember when I’d ever had more fun with my clothes on.
5. The late comment conundrum.
I’ve been dismayed to discover the unwritten rule that on some blogs, comments to old posts are more likely to be ignored. Again, it makes me wonder if these bloggers don’t have the e-mail option turned on, or if they just don’t want to revisit the past. I like to browse an interesting blog and drop the odd comment to old posts too. And I am more than thrilled when someone comments to an oldie but goodie(?) at my site as well.
This is a bigger beef for others, but it does mystify me, for example, that there are a few people hailing from parts of California and Tuckahoe, NY who spend a lot of time reading but never chime in. It’s kind of creepy, but I’m not complaining. I’ll take what I can get.
7. Spam-ette comments.
These look like spam, sound like spam, and taste like spam–except that they’re from real people (I think) who just post 3 words like “check out my cool blog”–(oh, I guess that’s five words) with a link back to their site. Self serving, lazy, rude, and cheap.
8. Blogs that broadcast music clips when you click on their site.
What can I tell you? This is such a turnoff I often just click right off again. Maybe I’d feel differently if anyone ever played a song I really, really liked — but even then, if I want to hear it, I’ll play it for myself, ‘k?
Anyway, here’s my final take on the matter:
1. I figure if I’m gonna blog, I want some feedback. Otherwise I may as well just talk to myself in a rubber room.
If someone comments, I will try my best to comment back. Lately, more and more, I find myself falling behind, but if I no longer have the time or fortitude to respond to each comment individually, I’ll always thank all and sundry for their feedback at the very least. One of the reasons I’ve been remiss in the comment responding department on my own blog is because of all the juicy commenting activity that goes on at BC as a general rule.
2. If you want repeat visitors, for heaven’s sake, respond to comments!
People like to see comments to their comments, and it can be an extra added incentive for them to visit again. Why turn your nose up at your “audience?” Are you too good to come down from your lofty perch and respond?
If you’re super-popular, and can’t possibly respond to all, then you can do what you damn well please anyway, but the classiest bloggers at least put a general note saying thanks for all the comments, or respond to a few here and there.
3. If you have your comments option on, unless you have more comments than you can handle, leave your “receive your comments via e-mail” option on as well.
I’ve heard people say “I didnt’ know you commented until my friend told me” or “Sorry. I hadn’t checked my blog in awhile.” What’s up with that? When it comes to your own blog, who wants to be the last to know?
4. The best way to generate comments is to visit other blogs and comment to them, and link to them too if you think they’re good. Basic good karma/golden rule/blogger etiquette stuff.
Well, that’s all I can think of right now. I hope people will feel free to comment about my comments about (mostly) comments — if so, I promise I will try my best to comment back.