I've posted about comments before; and BookNut also had a great conversation about comments, On Comments and Commenting. And at Kidlitcon 09, comments were brought up again, by MotherReader and Gotta Book and others.
Listen; I'm not disagreeing with Melissa and Pam and Greg. Comments are a valuable, important way to be involved in discussions; and it's equally important to go out to other blogs and talk as it is to foster comments at your own blogs.
Here's the thing. I think I downplayed some of my issues about commenting (or not commenting) in my other post, so I'm just going to say it.
I cannot comment on blogs at work.
When I see comments being given such a big emphasis, to the point where the emphasis has shifted from "commenting is good!" to "not commenting is bad" with a side helping of "you can judge a blog by its number of comments" with a twist of "you can judge a blogger by how many times they comment elsewhere," my back gets up.
I cannot comment on blogs at work, so to the extent I do comment, it's after work hours or a day off (or, perhaps, during lunch or a break).
You know what that means? Sometimes the conversation is over at that point. My point has been made by someone else, and I'm not a "me, too" fan, not to mention that reading and finding those blogs to comment on cuts into my limited time to do my own blogging and reading (and other real life things.) And if a person's question is particularly interesting where I would find myself leaving a long comment, I think a post at one's own blog (properly linking to another's blog) is just as valuable as comments.
I, and other bloggers, talk about how we do this on our own time. This means different things for different people; we each have our own lives, that are full, with jobs, work, family, friends, school, classes, etc. And we balance it in different ways.
And that's all well and good that some people have more freedom to comment than others. Or when they look at their hour to do blog stuff, they take that time to comment. That people are doing that is great.
I'm not saying I don't comment; I'm not saying there isn't value to comments. It's great advice to say, "you cannot sit at your blog waiting for people to come to you, you have to go and engage with people."
But I don't like seeing the number of comments used as a way to judge a blog or posts or blogger; and it's why I don't like seeing the number of comments being made such a focal point. Because, frankly, it becomes a matter of privilege; some of us do not have the privilege of posting comments as frequently and quickly as others, and those of us who don't will always be behind those who do.
I cannot comment on blogs at work. And in all honesty, one of the reasons I say to readers, "I understand if you don't comment, don't feel pressured to do so" is I know some of my targeted readers are teachers and librarians, and, like me, cannot comment at work and then don't have the time (or for some the Internet access) to come comment after work. I don't want those readers to feel like they are unwelcome because they cannot comment.
That others have the time, and use that time, to comment is wonderful. But please, as discussions are made about the importance of some things -- commenting, twitter, frequency of blog posts, number of reviews per month, number of memes participated in, etc. -- please include not the quantity of what someone does, but the quality.
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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy