Pay attention to your own commenting behaviour

Reviewing where I’m at with this new blog as I make the final prep for switching over here as my new permanent place – that switch should happen during the next 24 hours or so – I was struck by the posts vs. comments ratio so far.

Undoubtedly not a meaningful stat, but so far we have 5 posts (6 with this one) and 27 comments and trackbacks which includes around 9 as my own responses. Thinking about Stowe Boyd’s Conversational Index idea, that makes a CI value of 0.185. Or, looking at it the other way around with the CI Dodge Variant, 5.4.

Cool, I guess, but highly doubtful if that’s sustainable for long once I get up to speed with ‘normal’ topic content here.

One thing it illustrates to me, though, is how important it is for the blog author to respond when people leave comments to posts. If you write something that others feel interested enough to comment on – and thus stimulate a potential conversation – then at the very least it’s the professional and polite thing to do to respond, if only to say thanks for the comment.

Chris Garrett highlights this point very well in a post in which he offers ten tips for attracting more comments:

[…] First of all, as we have said time and time again, you must answer comments that are made on your posts. It is not only the polite thing to do, it also encourages more comments. If people see they are treated with respect and they will get answers they will comment more. It still surprises me the amount of bloggers who post then sit back and ignore the feedback they receive.

It surprises me, too, Chris. Almost as if those bloggers aren’t really interested in engaging in any conversation.

Comments are an integral part of the overall conversation, wherever those comments are made, be it your blog, someone else’s blog, wherever. And there we come across one of the blogosphere’s current limitations – getting the complete view of an overall conversation where comments are left in many different places.

There are tools like the BlogPulse Conversation Tracker which can help you see the connections between posts. But that’s only half the conversation as you won’t see comments to those posts unless you go to each post the Tracker indexes and see if there are any comments.

A new tool for tracking yours and anyone else’s comments to a particular post is coComment which I started trying out a few weeks ago over on NevOn. A nifty tool which I’ll continue using (and may include coComment functionality on this blog, although there seems to be a bit of conflict at the moment between the coComment bookmarklet not working and the Ajax-based commenting system here).

CoComment is now out of closed beta, by the way – anyone can now sign up.

So I think it’s worth paying attention to your own commenting behaviour. Especially on your own blog with your own visitors.

[Technorati: conversational index, cocomment]

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Colby

    I find that people tend to send me emails or discuss a blog I’ve written in another forum. I rarely find comments on my blog itself. Strangely enough, I leave comments directly on people’s blogs because I really enjoy the archive of discussion around the topic. I miss that opportunity to collect their comments in my blog.

    Nev – wishing you a most enjoyable and effortless transition to this new blog. Fingers crossed!

  2. neville

    Colby, I think a tool like coComment would interest you as it does enable you to display conversations you participate in (ie, comments you and others make) in many different places, in your own blog.

    There is a neat bit of code you add to your blog that enables this. It will work on your Blogger blog. I have it running over on NevOn in the right sidebar, and I plan to implement it here as well, most likely in a separate page.

    Thanks for the good wishes!

  3. Richard Bailey

    I long followed a self-denying ordinance: that the comments on my blog were open to readers, but closed to me. My logic was that I’d had my say in the original post, or in a follow-up so the comment space was for others, not for me.

    Now I acknowledge that you – and many others – have been right all along. It’s only courteous to show you’re listening when others are speaking. But how to be responsive but avoid becoming obsessive? We need sleep, fresh air, face to face conversations too.

  4. Lee Hopkins

    I hang my head in shame, but call on my learned friend Richard’s defence of needing sleep, fresh air and his original view that the post was ‘my say’, the comments for ‘your say’.

    Like Richard, I acknowledge my error and promise to do better.

  5. neville

    The most prominent anti-commenter (meaning, not allowing comments on his own blog) is Dave Winer. His view has been if you have something to say, do it on your own blog.

    Interesting to see that his new blog, a WordPress hosted one, has direct commenting allowed.

    No more self denial perhaps.

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