A Guest Post by Scott P. Dailey
I’m concerned about the purity of the conversations undergone in blog comments. I’m concerned that many are not all that pure after all.
I’m finding that often blog commenting appears to be something akin to a bunch of people not-so gingerly exchanging business cards and PowerPoints and even worse, trite and banal ass-kissing.
What if hundreds of comments on a blog you love were actually nothing more than a mirage? The post was terrific, but the post’s comment mojo was less the result of the post’s quality and more the result of self-important opportunism and profiteering? What if the 100 comments can be reasonably likened to a pack of hyenas scrambling to snag a bite of the feast the author has laid out by virtue of her blog’s popularity? Popular blog, popular blogger, hmmm?
The New Commute
What if everyone put driving traffic via comments above any other engagement priority? What degree of coloring the commenting exercise with this agenda is too much degree? “It’s networking,” some of you may be saying to yourself. I get that. But what I asked was, what if everyone did this? That’s my concern. I mix for business purposes too. But what if we’re cheapening the commenting progression to such a degree that it’s becoming the new overcrowded commute we all try so hard each day to avoid? You know the one? We funnel like drones off the train and force ourselves through the turnstyles, up the stairs, out the doors, all to chase a little bit of money? What if blog comments were the new matrix, the new false reality devoid of any pure and true moments?
To some of you, perhaps I sound naive, or maybe even a bit of a whiner. I’m probably a little of both to tell the truth. Well look, I believe, pie in the sky or not, that the world is what we make it. And so it is with blog commenting.
A Challenge to Contributors
Draft a comment to a blog post you sincerely enjoyed reading. Launch your word processing software and dazzle us. Done? Super. Now do it again, this time imagining that you do not have an online identity. No Twitter, Facebook or YouTube accounts either. You have nothing you want to sell, teach or promote. You need nothing from me. Plain and simple: you enjoyed the post and wanted to add to the dialog. There is literally no gain for you outside that which is had by engaging others in a meaningful discussion.
Are the two drafts the same? Now that you’ve completed both versions, each with a different agenda motivating you, what observations can you make about your commenting habits?
What kind of observations have you made about the state of blog commenting in today’s blogosphere? I would love to hear your take.
Scott P. Dailey is a Web designer, copywriter and network administrator. Recently Scott launched ( http://scottpdailey.com ), his social media blog that makes connections between social networking etiquette and the prevailing human social habits that drive on and offline business engagement patterns. You can connect with Scott via Twitter at @scottpdailey.
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Ellen Seidman says
Well said, and I love the challenge you throw out. But I don’t find impure, “dirty” comments to be an issue with my blog and ones I read. I think it generally depends on the topics of the blogs. I do a blog for parents of kids with special needs, and I get a whole lot of meaningful, relatable, meaty, from-the-heart comments. Sometimes, I get dissension. Sometimes, I get wack-a-doo comments. A few weeks ago, someone claimed I was trying to destroy Halloween after I wrote that I didn’t care if my kids wore costumes. But, again, the comments I get are very real, and they make my blog thrive.
Truthfully, I think blog commenting has decreased over the last 18 months or so, unless its something of a really passionate post, otherwise its just grandstanding to tag your name on it.
Scott, love the commentary- my biggest issue with MOST commentary on blogs is the level of buttkissery.
I realize the irony because I am agreeing with you, but I am one of those who is not selling a thing. I left my blog off the listing, but if you go there- I got nothing to sell either.
One other thought to stir the pot, guest blogging- which you just did here, would you have done it if your byline wasn’t plastered all over the bottom? Is you commentary any less applicable to this growing practice?
Ari Herzog says
For me, the two drafts are the same.
But it’s hard to gauge the sincerity of your question when your end-of-post byline includes links to your Twitter account and website and copy about what you do.
Ok, I tried to get my comments on there. Ari says functionally the same thing as I did in relation to guest blogging.
Scott P. Dailey says
Ari, thank you for chiming in. I really appreciate it. Love the contentious comment too. I have one problem with your retort though: I’m the blogger, the author. I’m asserting that the new matrix is the litany of disingenuous comments peppering the blogs I read. ‘In my new book,’ ‘in my latest podcast…’ Etc, etc, etc. The problem sometimes with the written word is that it cannot account in advance for contentious rebuttals. That said, I’ll append the following to my post above: surely some percentage of people are offering authentic and agenda-free feedback. Likewise, some percentage of people are not. I’m making a topic of the latter. I am concerned that the social construct that governs the matrix is at work in the blog commenting landscape – everyone accounting for themselves, their shiny badges on parade, glinting in my eyes. To your point though once more, the owner of this blog requires a byline in the logical event someone will be interested in knowing more about the author. Respectfully, I’m not sure I understand what you’re driving at. I would be grateful if you could expand.
Rosemary ONeill says
I’ve had this same thought lately…it’s getting harder to weed through the drive-by comments and get to the juice (even contrarian juice, as above).
I wonder if this is a function of the blog tool itself, as opposed to traditional forums, in which people established an ongoing presence, they are known as a permanent fixture, and their comments have context within their complete personality. It seems that in blogging comments, you are exposed to more random and sporadic visitors (not necessarily a bad thing, but it does change the character of the conversation).
Scott P. Dailey says
Thank you Rosemary. Very well made points. I find that blog comments, as a platform for dialogue, does lend to the drive-by comment and therein lies the challenge. Blog commenting is as much a worth while skill to polish as any other engagement practice, though I’m not too sure many of us are putting in the time to become stellar commentsmiths. Maybe if we continue to shine a light on the problems inherent in cavalier and/or self-important commenting, more bloggers will come forward to discuss commenting and how we can improve our abilities here.
Lucky Lilou says
No wishing to snuggle up to close to your rear end, but I like your writing style 🙂
There is no black and white answer, IMHO.
Spammy insincere comments are obvious and are a great self-destruct advert for folks who mention themselves in the same breath as their business.
There seems to be a negative spin here on drive-by commenting, but I could’nt agree that all drive by comments are bad. I read many posts that I really enjoy and often say nothing, but occasionally I just jot down an acknowledgement, nothing earth shattering, but something for feedback. (As an itty bitty blogger myself, it is great to have some sort of non-spammy comment appear in the dashboard from whoever, be they subscribers or one-time visitors!)
And I do tend to leave some sort of link to my site when I leave comments, but I would like to think that rather than a calling card, it is a link to more info about who I am and what I am like, and gives a clue as to why I would have been engaged and left a comment, however short, on your particular post. (I think that social media is the new platform for commenting?)
And just like real life, we can’t engage with all the people all the time. I have friends, former colleagues, family whose opinions I respect and enjoy. I speak to them once a year, do I think any less of them because of the infrequency of our interactions?
So personally I see nothing wrong with a constructive “drive by” comment from someone who has a business. (This is my second comment on this great blog 🙂