Monday, April 13, 2009

FtW: Letter to the Editor

Did you leave a Comment?

All of the major blogging sites have areas for people to leave comments but I have noticed a pretty weak showing in this area from the reader community in general. Unless it is the Bell of Lost Souls site whose comments area for every post grows to a rapidly unreadable length, most posts people put up generate very few comments.

Even a major site like From the Warp can write a excellent tutorial with tons of pictures and great ideas and end up with 2 comments. Did only two people read the post? Are only 1 in 100 readers commenting.

I recently did a short series of long posts about Apocalypse battles. While I understand they were very text heavy and most people would probably not read the whole things, I got one comment on them. Did anyone read them? I assume someone must have since I added a few followers during the time they were up. Did people find them worthwhile or could you learn that info directly from the Apocalypse book? I guess the posts were so great they were the final word on organizing and laying out Apocalypse battles.

From the Warp recently had an editorial about why it exists. The main point was about a community of blogging sites. That editorial was spawned by a comment. Communities certainly involve communication but currently it seems like most of it is one sided. Should we be 100 people each on a soap box yelling out our ideas only to hear our own voice echo back. Should we be 100 people who can each say something and expect 10 others to respond.

Given that people often post completed projects you might say that my comments will not do anything to the effort, but remember that others might look at that project read your comment on how it could be improved or changed in someway and follow that. The readers then got more than just one persons take on something. They get the communities.

While I personally cannot say that I comment on all the blog posts I read, I try to do it with most if I have anything related to say. I also try to put a response up for any comments I see here.

So have you left any comments today?


  1. Yes, actually, this one, nah just kidding I've been blog surfing today although I meant to go back and read the apocolypse stuff cause I didn't have time to read it when I first saw it. Going there now

  2. I guess I'll leave a comment... what a chore.
    I think that's how some people view it though.

    In all my travels, I once came upon a non-40k blog that talked about this kind of thing and how they went about "fixing" it. Not that it will work for everone but here's what he did and what I try to do every other day.

    When going through the FTW blogroll, I will look at everyone's posts. Sometimes I'll email people and ask them to submit it to me so I can post it in the Archive.
    What I usually try to do is leave at least 5 comments on 5 different blogs.
    This can be hard to do sometimes with all the upkeep I have, but I try and make it one of my daily things and set aside time for it.

    Another trick I've learned is to subscribe to the posts that I do leave comments on, that way I can follow the conversation as it progresses.

    It can be frustrating. It was for me at first, I didn't know why people weren't commenting. I could see my daily traffic and it wasn't adding up. I gues I've just come to expect the silence these days. Everyone is so busy I suppose.

    But that's it for me right now, it's off to the blogroll to see what's new.

  3. Peter, Those Apoc posts are an eye full so I would not do them all at one time.

    Ron, I remember you saying you tried to hit every updated blog on FTW so that is a lot of work but I think that 5 comments a day is a good number. I think another problem is the required login often. Sometimes I wish I had this setup to autolog me in the blogger for quick commenting.

    It also gets my goat when the blog authors do not respond to pretty direct comments or questions, but that is another post.

  4. eriochrome: That's another thing I almost always do. I make every effort to reply to comments.

    That is one of my daily priorities actually. Sometimes two or three will get in before I can answer back but I figure I owe it to the people who do comment to answer them.

    And I've gone away from requiring people to sign in or verify. Of course there is the chance of unwanted comments but I monitor things fairly closely.

  5. Part of the reason I don't post is because I'm unsure of the "comment protocol" concerning blogs. I know that most forums look down on leaving simple, short replies that don't necessarily contribute to the discussion--ie, "Looks good!" etc. Does the same hold true for blogs?

    Part of me thinks I should start leaving comments regularly, even if it is just a way to formalize the fact that I read the post.

  6. Shrink, I think even looks good is much better than silence. Almost any comment is better than no comment. I think I have only seen one comment on a Blog other than Bell of Lost Souls (their comments get as bad as forums) that I thought was better left unsaid where someone disparged the bloggers painting. It could have been more helpful as in "you might try this when painting or more careful here".

  7. I agree, any words, even if they are short... can serve as motivation for the Author or at least a way to let them know that someone has stopped by and taken a moment to say something.

    Of course it can be hard to comment on everything and you don't just want to say "good job" on everything. That can seem counterproductive.

  8. I will hold my hand up and say that I am probably one of these that doesn't leave a comment when they should, and I do apologise. I will thought from now on try and turn a new leaf and reply to all posts that I read.


  9. I assume most people don't always get around to checking everyone's blogs as often as some do. Some posts are very simple and do not leave much to comment on.(Just check my site for an example)

    How do we fix this? I do not know. Here are some suggestions. I believe that if in our posts we voice a more open thought process to our work, more people will be inclined to comment. This could be as simple as putting a question out there for the community in our post to reply to.

  10. I think most of the time it's because a comment would only be along the lines of 'cool' or 'nice', so most people don't bother. I know this is why I don't bother, hell some places (I'm thinking forums not blogs, but similar enough) discourage posts of only a few words. Alternatively when there are a few posts already, perhaps others just agree with what has already been said?

  11. With this issue, some of it is most likely basic human nature. If something is free, you're less likely to appreciate it than if you had to work or pay for it. does that mean that we should become an exclusive, pay-to-read network? No. But it does mean that as both bloggers and followers we need to make the first move sometimes to get a response. That can be another issue: people sometimes don't feel comfortable leaving their opinions because they don't think that they're educated about a certain topic.

    Then again, maybe it's just forum lurking habits being ported over to blogs. (Something I've been guilty of for quite a while.)

  12. For me, what happens is I make a mental note to come back and comment a post when I have more time. When I do have time I've either forgotten or something else comes up - but I do feel bad about it.

    As far as encouraging people to comment, I've found that VoidLord's idea works pretty well. Pose a question to the readers to provoke some interaction, and involve them in your posts. Even if it's not quite on the actual content of your post, but something relevant to it.

  13. eriochrome: too little too late, I read it all, then passed out and I had to eat a pringle sandwich. (Bill Bailey refrence)

  14. Aye, I felt a certain lack of comments on my posts. I did a massive story and received nothing. Not very encouraging, but then again it was a huuuuge story, so TLDR.

    I try now to add a little question at the end, just to attempt responses.

    I do note and visit those who respond to my posts so I can return them the courtesy.

  15. This post really brought out the comments. It is true that writing the comment takes some more time and that maybe you do not have something important to say to every post.

    I sometimes post things that people tell me are wrong in comments so I get to learn things often from people's responses to my comments. Happened on Warpstone Flux recently in a discussion on Deamonic Possession.

  16. I cannot speak for the viewing populace at large, but I can speak for my personal experience and why I do or do not comment:

    I do read pretty much everything that pops up on the blog-roll, and sometimes will check in again on comment threads that look interesting. I try to leave comments when I can, but sometimes I find I have nothing constructive to add ... and the continual "awesome, keep it up" I feel would only be parroting everyone else (or even myself from previous posts that received such a comment from me). I am generally of the impression that such would seem less meaningful due to the repetition... it hasn't been about the "chore" aspect of writing a comment for me, as I'm generally happy to rant at length. ;) My big issue is being relevant. If I see that someone else has already commented what I was to say, I may not comment at all, for fear of cluttering someone's comment thread with a long-winded equivalent of "What he said."

    Though, on the other hand I do gain a lot of personal motivation from each comment that one of my posts generates, repetitive or not.

    I think in explaining my thought-process, you may have changed my mind. Thanks for giving me the chance to gain a new perspective on things.

    Off to leave some comments. :)

  17. Yeah for comment generating editorial blogging! Now maybe more people will comment on my site, too. Thanks for the help!

  18. Hi, my name is Joe, and I comment of blogs I read.

    OK, not every blog, every post -- that would rapidly fill up the vast majority of my day if I did. But when I read something that makes me think, inspires me, or basically causes some kind of reaction for/in me, I leave a comment.

    I don't know how I managed to miss your Apocalypse postings, I mean I know I haven't had anywhere near the time I'm used to for bloggery these last few weeks but I get the feeling I missed something pretty major. I'll cruise through your back posts and give 'em a read as soon as I get the chance.

  19. Hi Eriochrome,
    I know how you feel. I personally try to adopt Ron's method of commenting on about 5 blogs per day. I don't alway manage to do that given time constraints, but that's my goal! I get a lot out of the comments that people leave on Warpstone Flux and I certainly learn things that I wouldn't otherwise.

  20. Well, I for one think that part of the problem is the comments tech used in the blogspot engine.
    Sometimes it is really hard to follow - and even for a blog owner it is hard to see if there are new comments on older posts (would be nice if the admin console would list all new comments).
    And then there is the question how do you follow-up or reply? Directly in the comment - so you hope the commenter comes back? Or do you follow-up via a reply - which may look to other visitors like you don't reply or care?
    If comments are posted in a new post (like just the day prior), I try to pick it up in the next post (like criticism or new suggestions) and let people know that I really care for their comments - but this is not always possible.
    On the other hand, these blogs were never supposed to be real forums, but sometimes this is exacly what we whish. Eventhough, all the spread and different blog entries would hardly reach the critical mass of readers to keep it running that way.
    I really do like to read most of the blogs on the FtW roll, but as Ron said, it is hard to post a simple "excellent" - and sometimes you don't know how the author will react to criticism. I try to comment if an author asks for opinions, if something is really great and excites me, or if I see something really flawed, where I think my criticism/suggestion could help.
    But, it is really nice to see, that this post sparked so many responses and that we have a real discussion going on :-)

  21. Personally, as a recent convert from Forum posting, have the whole "don't post two words that don't contribute to discussion" mentality still in place. I'm trying to shift it though because, from experience in opening up my own blog, any comment is a good comment, whether it be a "pointless" "that's great/bad/dismal" to a nice long diatribe on the meaning of life and how that model fits into it (it is nice if the person who think its bad/dismal gives an explanation though...).

  22. This was a great read. I find it soooo demotvating when I come up with a decent post about my progress and NO-ONE comments. Its a horrid feeling! I have been on here about twenty minutes this morning and already left 3 comments. Thanks to Dei Greci for bringing my attention to this post.
    Craig @

  23. Klaus

    Generally I leave the replies in the same comment string hoping people will be back. My wife says she likes to email the commenters back in person or actually put the reply on their blogs.

    While it is like getting spammed if the comments get to long you can subscribe to posts comment feeds. You can also turn on email notification on your own blog to let you know if anyone has done any deep link commenting.

    I recently added sitemeter to this site and was surprised to see the deep linking people get from google searchs. My most popular page that was not added since sitemeter started tracking is one where I have pictures of the different blood bowl boards I have gotten in different GW products.

  24. Ha Ha. This blog certainly attracted more than usual number of comments - your job done!
    Having browsed through the comments, I can't help but think that it's more a case of we do read blogs but didn't have anything further to add. This also implies that we're a great bunch of guys (or gals) that read and support each other's efforts by NOT actually commenting either way. Hmmm. Perhaps we need to just leave a couple of words in comments, if time is short and there are so many blogs to read.

    Having returned from Easter break (being offline mostly), I find I have at least 200 blogs in my Google Reader (not just W40k related). I can't and won't read them all but the skimming and browsing leaves me all too exhausted to place any comments.

    It is demotivating when no one comments (even a bad comment is welcomed after a week of waiting!). Nonetheless, we press on and blog, otherwise it'll be worse off without fewer blogs. Anyways, comments welcomed at my blog!

    Maxstar, (I'll get around to do a banner logo one day!)

  25. I agree that even posting a simple "Good post!" is better than silence. As was mentioned, these are blogs, not forums, so it's not like writing "Good post!" is going to up your post count or anything. Even if it doeesn't contribute substantively to the post at hand, it shows that someone's listening, which is all that most bloggers hope for.

  26. I try to leave a short note so bloggers know I'm reading them. I'm not always successful. I've also tried playing games with the comments. Asking people to post their comments in Haiku form for extra points for example. I had a post a week or two ago where I got two bloggers to comment in Iambic Pentameter! And specifically asking a question also motivates people to drop you a line. I've noticed Klaus over at DEI GRECI often asks for opinions, and he tends to get them! Speaking of Klaus, (prepare for thread hijack) his blog is what pointed me to this post today. And, Klaus, in response to your comment above, get Disqus. It will solve most if not all your comment tracking problems.

    This was a good post and I think the discussion it inspired will prove to be helpful to all in the future. For example, I'll choose to believe in the future that hundreds of people didn't leave comments on my posts as they didn't want to just leave, "You Rock!" as a comment as it's only two words... two true words...

  27. While this might only be a temporary boost I have already seen more comments out on other blogs that I was reading this morning. Peter from Aspect Portal seems to be everywhere.

    May more comments all around lead to more motivation and better projects.

  28. Good read, great comments. It's all pretty much been covered and I'm really no different than most. I'll only read posts that catch my interest, but I'll always comment on them in some manner.

    The trend that I'm seeing is as the FTW community becomes more saturated with new blogs it's taking away from the amount of comments people are leaving. I'd like to think that the more people that join FTW the more comments everyone would get, but this is not turning out to be true. In fact the opposite is true. I believe this to be the case for a few reasons. A lot of which was already mentioned above, but also... the more people that join FTW the more people there are with similar interests that group together. As a result some blogs are ignored for the ones that are more 'focused' on individual interests.

    Just my two cents. :)

  29. I'm finding it much easier to comment when I'm not doing the work I'm supposed to be doing, compared to being at home... So weekdays would seem to be the best time for me.

  30. 30 comments!

    Every little bit helps in the comment department, and when I say 'help' I mean it, even if it's just a couple of encouraging words about a project, WIP, or completed work. On my own blog I love getting comments, and always try to respond in turn, when I see them anyways, there's not a 'comment alert' left, especially for older posts. It's also a good way to generate more of a feeling of community since we all have similar interests, at least in the world of 40k.

  31. I'm sorry!

    No comments from Drax this past week as I've been away. My two-penn'orth:

    I love commenting on people's blogs when I can: apart from the ever-present ego-stroking hope of reciprocation, it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling of niceness. It is, after all, a lovely community to which we belong.

    I don't tend to comment if:
    a) I get a chance to view blogs at work, as my passwords etc. aren't stored;
    b) I'm on honeymoon and the hotel lobby internet computers do wierd Bermudian things when you try to comment;
    c) It's something I don't know much about, which is pretty much everything other than guard and scenery. An exception to this is paintwork: I may loathe the filthy xenos and traitorous scum, but I love a good paintjob and I'll comment where I can.

    ON THE OTHER HAND I love to comment:
    a) On most things guard-related;
    b) On The Inner Geek's blog when he provokes us with his challenges to bust a rhyme (or whatever);
    c) On foreign language blogs. I particularly enjoyed practising my French last year on one blogger, and I've dabbled in a little schoolboy German and even Spanish! Great fun!
    d) On anything else that truly impresses me: posts above and beyond the norm, for example, Col. Corbane's superb trench tutorial videos.

  32. I think oni might have a point, there are tons of new members and the blogroll can quickly get out of hand. Even for just commenting on 5 blogs.

    Sure some people clump together and visit certain sites repeatedly but I think one of the benefits to all the new members and the increase in posts overall is that the standard is rising. We are all exposed to an incredible amount of information and hobby experience at the same time.

    Gone are the days of posting one sentence saying what you did last night. As more people put more work into sharing what they have and do, and others provide feedback... the standard goes up.

    This can make it harder for new members and maybe even harder for some to keep up. And posting frequency is NOT what I'm talking about, I'm talking about quality... not quantity. Whether you post once a week or once a day, the standard is on the rise for what gets the attention/feedback it seems like. We are all learning so much from all of this that it takes something new and exciting to get people going.

    One of the differences between FTW and BoLS is that they cover rumors and news and FTW doesn't, it can be easy to throw in your two cents there. Bring up something a little more involved that takes some thought and it might be a different thing.

    Actually a quick search shows that most of their "hobby" stuff draws less comments than their "rumors" stuff does. And they have a huge reader base I'm sure.

    Don't get me wrong, I like comments. But that's not why I post.