the loneliness of the long comment list addict


Once upon a time, with the aid of Excel, I conducted a thorough and systematic exploration of how to elicit excellent comments from excellent people.  Since then I’ve not really done anything to grow my comment list length. Blog-posters do all sorts of different, often subtle things, to manage their comment lists. These managing strategies are first  influenced by the technical environment that enables people to leave blog comments (or not):

  1. Exclusive members (entrance criteria). The registration, vetting,  process ensures the potential commenter understands the blog’s ethos and policies. Members only.  For example, iblamethepatriarchy uses this approach to filter-out people who do not blame the patriarchy.I found the approach refreshing because it cut-out, irritating and irrelevant comments. Comments on iblamethepatriarchy are almost always worth reading.
  2. Join the service (anyone can). Services like Blogger require registration prior to commenting. The blogger can control comments within their blog. Essentially an open approach within the (Blogger and partner services) community. One friend described their blogger blog as ‘ a pub – the regulars stop by for a banter and a chinwag and for something undemanding’. The commenters themselves moderate their own and each others comments. This can lead to long chatty comment lists with light entertainment and engagement value.
  3. Independent. Publishing a muse (comment) on the Wendy House does not require people to register with a service. There is some moderation. First-time muses are held for review before publication. This allows them to judge whether it aligns with the Wendy House muse moderation guidance. Once a person has one approved muse they can continue to publish without this pre-emptive moderation.

Once you have access to comment on a blog, how do you comment? Commenters self-moderate, and moderate each other, often following unnwritten social rules. On blogger self-moderation appears to focus on providing

  • positive feedback on the original post –  “what a lovely post, I really enjoyed that
  • positive feedback on other commenters comments – “I agree with madge, that was a lovely post”
  • their own stories inspired by the original post – “this bought back so many memories, my cat also died in a bizarre lawnmower accident

Occassionally a commenter may step outside the social norms for commenting. For example, they may

  • question a detail or perspective expressed in the original post – “not everyone has a garden that they can bury their cat in”
  • disagree with, correct, another commenter – “@madge – the HRH536 lawnmower is a rotary, not a flymo
  • present a personal experience not consistent with expressed views “for me, knowing that my cat’s out of pain and in heaven is a really happy, not sad, thing
  • write something mean “get over it, she’s a domestic cat, get a life”
  • write something that is difficult to understand – “typofilia can boggle the waffledog so puddlemaina it

These non-conformist comments are rare. Recently I watched one blog post where someone wrote a comment that was difficult to understand. The blogger’s twitter feed lept into action with a flurry of advice on how to deal with this, things like – ignore it, ask the commenter what they mean, or reassuring the blogger that the original post was high quality etc.

Another blogger recently wrote about how their engagement with comments distracted them from writing. Other bloggers have mentioned how addictive they find comments – wanting to get more, and more-flattering comments.

One blogger is trying to remove the distraction of blog post comments by:

  • disabling the comment facility on their blog – people can no longer leave commentds
  • suggesting commenters provide feedback by another means such as tweeting, emailing the blogger directly or linking to the post from their own blog or facebook account.

This will probably:

  • increase links to the blog (from facebook, tweets, other blogs)
  • have an emotional impact on commenters who cannot visit the comment box to read fellow commenters contributions in one place

I’m looking forward to finding out about the other techniques bloggers use and how they work. Here at the Wendy House post quality is assessed by a team meeting of the Wendy House judges and Excel. We use a rune reading and lashings of tea for the diagnositc process.

the loneliness of the long comment list addict
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4 bits of lovely banter on “the loneliness of the long comment list addict”

  1. jenn writes:

    Hi Wendy, Google own Blogger and they canjust take your blog away at any time. You dont own it like you do if you host it yourself –
    J x



  2. Bob writes:

    Wendy, please never go to blogger. I think it’s really telling that no professional writers use the service and its the nototious source of spam blogs. I enjoy your independent and thoughtful approach. Not having to give Google my contact details before commenting is a respectful privacy thing and you own your writting – not Google. Good stuff, keep it up!



  3. Scarlet writes:

    I did a LOL!!!



  4. wendy writes:

    The Wendy house is staying independent, hope Scarlet’s LOL didn’t leave a stain. The blogger that blocked their comments turned them back on a couple of days later due to falling visitor stats and popular demand.



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