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Your Drop in Comments Explained: The Incredible Shrinking Blog

One of my favourite movies growing up was The Incredible Shrinking Woman with Lily Tomlin.  The main character, Pat Kramer, is an ordinary woman who gets sprayed by some perfume that causes her to shrink.  Shrink to the point where she tumbles into the garbage disposal in the sink.  Shrink to the point where she becomes microscopic — not discernible to the naked eye.

I liked the movie because what child wouldn’t want to crawl into their dollhouse?  But it was also scary to see her shrink, and as an adult, I watch the trailer with not a small amount of trepidation.  Who the hell wants to watch herself disappear?  Watching things or people fade away can be frightening.  You know, people… blog comment sections…

There has been talk around the blogosphere about comments tapering off; where there were once vibrant conversations, there are now only a few people talking.  And yet the same people report that their overall stats haven’t fallen.  Readership for the most part remains constant, but the discussion has tapered off, almost as if it has been sprayed with experimental perfume and we’re witnessing the Incredible Shrinking Blog.

Like the film, we sort of know what caused it, but we don’t (1) understand how it happened or (2) how to undo it for our own space.  I mean, it’s obvious to the viewer (and from my vague memories, the characters in the film) that the perfume kicks it off.  But we (and they) don’t know how this perfume is causing someone to shrink nor how to reverse the effects and get Lily Tomlin back to her normal size.  Replace the perfume with the terms diffusion and consumption and you have the cause (yet not the how or the solution) to the blog comment situation.

Diffusion refers to all those other social media sites which are absorbing the conversation.  I think places like BlogHer provide the proof in the pudding — they bring the Twitter conversation, Facebook conversation, and actual comments all into a single space below the post.  If only comments were visible, as they are on this blog, you’d think that people weren’t talking much at all.  But if you start seeing the tweets and Facebook comments (not to mention the numerous other social media sites from Google+ to Pinterest), you realize that the same depth of conversation is taking place; it’s just diffused across multiple mediums.

And it doesn’t really matter if you are on other social media sites.  The reality is that a lot of your readers are there, and that’s where they’re talking.  Hence why there is nothing you can do on that front to shunt people back to the comment box; nor would you want to get rid of all those other social media spaces in order to bring the conversation back to a single place.  Social media sites bring conversation as well as take it away, plus they fill other community-building gaps.

Consumption refers to the medium on which people are reading blog posts.  Many people read on their phone or tablet, which makes commenting annoying at best.  Add in obstacles such as auto-correct and word verification forms, and it sometimes feels like leaving a comment is more work that it’s worth.  I have a tendency to read a post, mark it unread so I’ll return to it once I’m on the computer and can comment easier, and then unfortunately let things pile up so I never get to it at all.  Good intentions; poor follow through.  I’m willing to bet that I’m not the only person who is reading blogs in a medium that is not conducive to participation on said blogs in the same way that computers are the perfect medium for jumping into the conversation.  It’s one thing to type out 140 characters from your phone.  It’s another to write a comment with 50+ words, pulling in quotes from the main post to highlight your point.  Blogs were created for a medium (computers) on which they are no longer the sole way they are being consumed.

By the way, this is aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall based on assumption.  But doesn’t it sound like it could be true?

So we know the likely cause — diffusion and consumption — but we don’t know how these things that were supposed to add to the conversation ultimately took it away.  Do blog comment sections need to change in format to reflect our new needs?  Should blogging software pull in all mentions of the post across the Internet and compile them under the post so people can see all the threads of the conversation in one place?  Should we create a method for a person leaving comments from their phone to be able to bypass the need to fill in all the fields such as name, email address, blog url and only focus on the comment box (moving from field to field is one of my problems)?  What about everyone getting rid of comment verification boxes so people don’t have to suffer through captcha guesswork in order to leave a comment from their phone?

And we don’t know how to reverse it, to bring back the conversation to the comment box.  I have to admit that I’d rather have it there than in other places because I like being able to return to other people’s thoughts and see them in conjunction with my own.  Words on other social media sites are great in the moment, but irretrievable in the far future.  But I don’t want to give up talking about blog posts in other social media spaces.  And I’d never want to give up reading from my phone or tablet because the reality is that I also read more now than I did before.  I’m more likely to read a blog post while I’m waiting somewhere alone whereas I used to only read blog posts on the computer.  And if I couldn’t get to a computer, I couldn’t read.

The only thing I think people can do to bring back the conversation is to talk openly about it.  Tell your readers that you also love hearing their thoughts in your comment section so you have it in the future.  Make it easy for people to comment by getting rid of obstacles such as difficult-to-utilize from a phone log ins and word verification forms.  Or, change the way you view the change: accept that diffusion doesn’t mean drop-off.  There may be fewer comments than before, but there is more conversation all around.  The reality is that the blogosphere has always waxed and waned, and perhaps we’re just seeing it at one point of the cycle.  Even without doing anything, we may find that the conversation makes its way back to the comment box on its own.

At the very end of The Incredible Shrinking Woman, the main character — now so tiny that no one can see her — falls into some household cleaners which cause her to regrow to her normal size.  Of course, the movie finishes with the open question of whether she stops growing once she reaches her original height which is answered with the shoe splitting open.

How amazing would that be?  If not only did people figure out a way to reverse the trend and bring people back into the heyday of blog conversations but caused those conversations to grow exponentially.  Think of how much good could be accomplished by people actually talking things out.

Have you noticed a drop in comments through your overall blog traffic remains pretty much the same (obviously, if your traffic has dropped, there are different causes at work)?  Are you conversing on other social media sites about other people’s blog posts?

48 comments

1 Chickenpig { 05.14.12 at 8:47 am }

I think that the amount of comments I receive has remained steady, but I didn’t get that many comments to begin with. I find that the more I comment on other people’s blogs, the more people find their way to mine. When I go through a period of time, say a week or so, when I’m not as active in the blogoshpere, I’ll get less comments.

2 Elizabeth :: Bébé Suisse { 05.14.12 at 8:53 am }

These are interesting points. What I would really appreciate for continuing and sustaining conversations through blogs and comments would be a structure similar to Facebook – where one has a home page showing not only posts but also comments made by “friends” (so in the blogging case, by followers/followees) on the posts of other “friends” (on other blogs). I think this could facilitate more interaction and discussion in the comments section.

I personally dislike the idea, however, of using social media in place of the comment box, or as a way to facilitate it. I want to keep my blog separate from any social media identity, and I stopped reading other blogs when the only option for commenting was through a Facebook account.

I read and tried to comment on blogs last week using a tablet, but the Captcha phrases and resulting auto-correct nearly drove me crazy.

3 CAS { 05.14.12 at 9:11 am }

yes- I havn’t been blogging more lately, but blogging more vulnerable information which I thought that I would get more comments but that has not been the case?? But then I remember why I blog and more of it is for me to just journal my experiences. It is nice to have support though.

4 Karen Swim { 05.14.12 at 9:15 am }

Your points are right on target. When I blogged regularly I began to see a slow evolution of dispersed conversation. This was pre G+ and Pinterest. However, when you give it some thought, this is not new. Before blogs, we read newspapers, and we did not write a letter to the editor for every item we read, but we talked about interesting stories at work, school, the dinner table or over the back fence. The conversations were no less rich and even more dispersed than in the digital realm. The advantage of digital conversations is that we have not only the means of gathering those scattered conversations but dropping in and participating in them.

5 April { 05.14.12 at 9:16 am }

I always loved The Incredible Shrinking Woman too! And I’m also, in fact, reading and commenting fro my iPhone as I wait at the doctor’s office. I haven’t noticed a drop in my comments, but then, I have a small core of commenters who are consistently loyal.

I think the issue truly is simply convenience. It’s easier to comment or discuss from a social media app than on the blog itself, in many instances, when more and more readers are mobile. Then again, mobility also technically grants the ‘afk’ excuse, making it much easier to rationalize not commenting, when you would have if sitting at an actual computer.

But really, it just boils down to individual choice. I only read and comment from my iPhone, not having home Internet service, so I don’t have the convenience or difficulty issues that so many seem to be stymied by.

6 m. { 05.14.12 at 9:17 am }

My comments have tapered off, but then again, so have my posts. So as a blogger, I can’t complain. As a commenter, I feel the way you do about the various other platforms I seem to be reading from these day. Love reading on the iPad, dread having to write back. And don’t even get me started on the blog apps for the ‘Droid…..

I also follow the same pattern as you – read, think about what I’d like to say, mark as unread or star and plan to go back later when I’m a.) not at work, b.) have more time, c.) can sum up my thoughts a bit more cohesively. Sometimes this works. Other times, not so much.

I don’t find myself conversing more via social media. But I DO find conversations continuing in private emails. Which I appreciate and enjoy.

7 alimartell { 05.14.12 at 9:30 am }

Like so many bloggers, my traffic has remained steady, if not grown, over the last few years…but my comments are basically in the toilet. The conversation is happening on Facebook—not even Twitter, really, anymore. But truthfully, I think it’s people reading on their phones that has killed commenting, because commenting from a smartphone is a pain in the arse.

I try to keep the comments happening. I comment on 20 blogs a day. I know how happy I feel when that email notification comes in—so I like to that for other bloggers too :)

8 Rebecca { 05.14.12 at 9:54 am }

(fighting to leave this comment from my iPhone…)

I definitely think the platform is causing a drop. Lately I have only been reading from my phone and I long for the days of reading from my tablet much less my computer! I manage to comment sometimes but the “depth” of what I say has diminished greatly. As has my desire to fill in ID info and damned captchas…

9 Emily @ablanket2keep { 05.14.12 at 10:39 am }

Commenting seems to constantly change for me and I think it all depends on each post. Some posts will bring lots of comments and some won’t. It all depends on if someone connected with it. Just like I don’t comment on a post that I didn’t connect with or have something to say. I also know that a bunch of readers are taking a break right now so that definitely affects it. I personally don’t use twitter or facebook so this is it for me. I do read sometimes from my phone and if I want to comment the phone doesn’t hold me back. I also have an issue with replying to comments on my blog. No computer will let me so I have to do it from my phone. It still doesn’t stop me. I love this community and I’m not going to stop commenting. I want to let the people I read know I was there and think about them and love them.

10 serenity { 05.14.12 at 10:40 am }

This is one of the hardest things to accept, REALLY accept, about my blog. I started it up in a time period where everyone commented, and you clicked on a blogroll on that blog to connect to others, and I got used to the real, tangible support from my comments. (And I walked to school barefoot! Uphill! You kids, get off my lawn! Sheesh, I sound like a cantankerous old blogger, eh?)

It’s definitely been a hard adjustment to get used to less comments, and it’s easy to make the jump that your blog doesn’t MEAN anything anymore, or isn’t relevant, or you’re just BORING.

Except, as a reader, I definitely don’t comment as much as I should either; I’m just getting used to my smartphone and never seem to be able to comment easily using that medium.

And every once in a while, I get an email from someone who tells me that she’s been reading my blog, a lurker for a while, and she wants to thank me for writing.

So I’ve just recently come to the decision that, you know, I can’t judge my worth as a blogger by how many comments I get.

That said, I’d LOVE to get more comments. :)

I do know that some of my posts are not really comment – open, that is, it’s just not a topic where I invite discussion. But honestly, I never thought of structuring my posts differently, to really invite discussion between my readers. That’s something to think about for sure.

I have a twitter handle, but it’s like a swarm of bees or ADD or something – it really makes my head hurt trying to follow along. And I’m still blogging anonymously, so it’s hard to use Bacefook (as Geohde would say) to facilitate new comments.

So in the meantime, I’ve got my little corner of the world, and I’ll keep writing. Maybe more open-ended posts, where I invite discussion. I really like that idea. Thanks.

xoxo

11 Keiko { 05.14.12 at 11:01 am }

A timely post that I was considering myself recently. Was I super proud of some posts at my blog in the past couple of weeks? You bet. Did I get a lot of comments? Nope… but the Facebook Likes and Comments where I shared those blog posts got comments. I don’t know why I feel so territorial that I need to see them on the actually BLOG space – people are definitely talking about those posts, just not in the blog space itself. And because I had a great comment culture over at HWSL, it just feels a little bit like walking around an empty room over at my new place. Weird.

12 Esperanza { 05.14.12 at 11:21 am }

I have lost some comments lately, but when you don’t get many it doesn’t feel as bad to lose a few because you’re kind of used to it. I actually left my blog for a while because of how I was feeling about comments, or a lack thereof, because it’s always more complicated than we want it to be. Now I’m writing in my new space where I get even fewer comments, trying, as you once adviced us, to write for different reasons. It’s been a hard transition but one I hope will be worth it for me, in the long run.

As for making commenting on phones or tablets easier, I definitely think that would help. Captcha is damn near impossible on an iPhone screen and I’ve all but stopped commenting on blogs that have Captcha from my phone. I too try to go back and revisit them when I’m on my computer but as you said, best intentions…

Honestly, as someone who has never gotten many comments, at least not consistently, I don’t really know what might help rebuild or even augment the participation on my site or anyone else’s. An interesting question to be sure.

13 Tigger { 05.14.12 at 11:35 am }

I like the idea of software bringing it all together – probably because I like the idea that maybe people are discussing my post in a place where I don’t see versus not discussing it at all. I’m not one who has a big readership or comments, and one of these days I swear i’m going to get used to it.

Making commenting easier would also be useful. I don’t often read from my phone, because my screen is small, but then sometimes I do – if a post come across my twitter, and I’m in a place where I have time to kill, I might go read that post. Only then I can’t comment because it takes SO LONG and is SO HARD, and then I forget, and then…yeah.

14 May { 05.14.12 at 11:43 am }

Oh thank heaven. I thought it was just me. I mean, the amount of VISITS I get every day just goes up and up, but comments are going, slowly, down. And my blog is resolutely, absolutely, NOT linked to FB (I’d sooner slam my hand repeatedly in a door. I’m supposed to be anonymous!), and I’m not much of a presence on twitter, so if all the commenting has wandered off to those platforms, no wonder I’m being, well, not IGNORED (see visit stats going up?) but treated as read-only. Like an old-fashioned magazine article. Which is fine. It’s very good to know it’s not because everyone’s sick of me and my nonsense and can’t think of anything to say, but rather because I am, as ever, technologically backward and behind the curve.

Heigh ho.

(Another issue is that a lot of the people who started blogging when I did, or who I found while commenting was still The In Thing, have since, for whatever reason, stopped blogging, or blog about completely different things, and we’ve grown apart, and given the shift in commenty mentality, no one has taken their place in the same way. There’s not many of us left in the stuck-still-trying-for-number-1-after-seven-years camp. Most people have moved on to trying for number two, or three, or not trying any more at all.

Which sounded appallingly self-pitying and whiny. Oh well. I am self-pitying and whiny. I’m sure I’ll grow out of it, given some ice-cream and a foot-rub).

15 Lisa @ Hapa Hopes { 05.14.12 at 12:26 pm }

Like others, I’ve noticed that my comments are more prolific as I comment more on others’ blogs. My views have gone up, but my comment number is pretty stable. That’s cool with me right now. As far as my commenting goes, commenting from my phone is a HUGE PITA and at work… well… if the blog isn’t blocked as porn, I can’t comment form there because I work in the most clamped down internet blocking place EVER! I need to be better about staring things in my reader and going back when i get home. Sometimes I worry that by the time I get home, my comment isn’t pertinent anymore.

16 KeAnne { 05.14.12 at 1:26 pm }

I wrote about this recently: http://babywithatwist.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/online-and-offline/ I use my iPhone or iPad almost exclusively, and they are great for reading but not for commenting. I try really hard to comment, but I am not as good at it as I would like, especially at replying to my own commenters. I’m very active on Twitter as well and have conversations there. I do think that the comment platforms are going to have to catch up to smartphones.

I know I’m super busy right now, but please know that I’m still reading even if I don’t comment.

17 Katie { 05.14.12 at 1:38 pm }

Okay, I thought I was the only one! Yes, I have noticed this, too. I’m getting the same amount of traffic on my blog, but fewer blog comments and fewer responses about my blog posts on Facebook and Twitter. There have been a few moments in the last couple of months when I’ve had a pang of, “Is it something I’ve done?” So it’s nice to know that it *isn’t* anything personal. I think some of it has to do with the fact that people are busy. The other part of it is that a lot of the people I used to interact with have all moved on – and I’m still in the waiting game. Regardless, I’ll keep writing. Hopefully people will come back occasionally to comment.

18 Cristy { 05.14.12 at 1:43 pm }

I recently upgraded to a smart phone, giving me the ability to visit blogs during the day. Prior to this, I actually planned for time to sit down at the computer. This is, I’ve noticed that I’m leaving less comments. Part of it is due to having to figure out how to type and retype all my information in order to just post a comment. And any bloggers who use captcha inhibit me from posting comments (fail after fail). Honestly, it’s really too bad. As Keiko stated, I really want to see comments on blog posts. And not just my own. I feel it’s a way of offering support and I’ve actually looked back to comment sections when reading old posts in order to glean knowledge from readers.

I’ve been rather fortunate not to have a drop in comments, but that may change in the future (especially since now I’ve said it). Still, I’d be interested in a software that help facilitate conversations. Because I know I would use it, allowing me to comment more broadly on posts.

19 carlia { 05.14.12 at 2:02 pm }

i have definitely noticed this, too. my stats continue to increase, but, aside from my regulars, the number of comments has steadily declined. i’ve recently joined facebook and twitter, but haven’t facilitated either as well as i should. i’ve even taken to branching out in my topics, ranging from IF, to photography tips, to DIY, hoping that i might get a helping hand from pinterest. the change has certainly helped my stats, but i haven’t seen a change in my comments. i just have to remind myself why i started blogging in the first place – to give myself an outlet. i can’t let myself get caught up in viewing this as a popularity contest.

20 vablondie { 05.14.12 at 2:22 pm }

I think I may be a victim of this, too!

I also use smartphone to read, and I do not do a whole lot of commenting from there. Usually I will leave the post unread, and go back to it on my computer later. Of course by that time, my head is in a different place, and I do not feel the same way I did when I read the post originally. Or I think what I wanted to say was stupid or redundant upon a second reading of the post.

I have noticed fewer comments on my blog, but I have not really been blogging about much of anything exciting lately. I do not link it to FB, and I gave up on twitter altogether. I just do not have the time for all of it.

21 Kate { 05.14.12 at 2:30 pm }

My blog is still (relatively) new, and while my readership is slowly growing, my commenting is pretty minimal (but so appreciated!) The only basis I have for knowing that, however, is by comparison, and I don’t feel good about comparing my blog to others (especially in terms of how many comments others get vs how many I get). Once it starts to feel like a popularity contest, I start feeling, well… pissy. But I know it’s not about that. I look forward to ICLW every month because I get soooo many wonderful comments from new readers and regular followers alike. I love it! But it does tend to make things feel sort of lonely for the rest of the month.

I read primarily from my tablet and Iphone, and I know its a bitch to comment. (I’d love for someone to explain what captcha is and how to remove it… if it’s something I have and don’t know it, I’d like to not have it;) Also, FB and Twitter, etc. have nothing to do with my blogging/commenting stats whatsoever… I’m with May…I’d take repeated gut punches over posting any of my private stuff on FB!

My last thought is an encouragement to some of the veteran bloggers still in the trenches (forgive me if this is not the right place for this): I feel like I’ve read a lot of you expressing sadness (or other emotions) over being “left behind” by other blog friends who have moved on for whatever reason or another (usually bc they are pregnant or parenting)… while I’m truly sorry to hear that you are feeling this way (it must really hurt!), I hope some of you will reach out or respond to some of us “newbies” at some point! Because you are most certainly NOT alone in the trenches. I may not have an impressive archive section yet, but my journey and my pain are just as real and I am here because I want to connect with others who are going through it too (no matter how long you’ve been here or where you are in the process).

My understanding of the blogosphere is that it’s an ever-evolving environment. Making new friends does not mean you need to forget or neglect your “old” ones… it just means more love and support for everyone!

If I feel like my comments are shrinking, I know one answer to that is get out there and make some new friends!

22 Kate { 05.14.12 at 3:13 pm }

Wow, many Kates commenting today :) I wish FB comments at least would cross populate since I get more on FB more often. Otherwise, I get nervous being the only one commenting, and conversely, if there are too many comments I feel like I’m just following the crowd. I need to remember that other people probably value my comments, even just a ‘nicely said’, as much as I value theirs.

23 jjiraffe { 05.14.12 at 3:49 pm }

Here’s a weird thing I recently discovered: one of my Faces of ALI piece was shared over 100 times on Facebook (which is seriously awesome and means it’s getting the message of what it’s really like to go through Adoption/Loss/Infertility) but I realized I have absolutely no idea what comments were made on Facebook about the article because I’m not friends with the 100 or more people who shared the article. So, I don’t really know what kind of discussion took place? What comments were made?

24 jjiraffe { 05.14.12 at 3:51 pm }

Also, as you can tell from the above, I’m commenting from my phone which means: typos, typos, typos ;)

25 Anjali { 05.14.12 at 3:52 pm }

I’ve been blogging for 7 years, and have hardly ever gotten comments during that time. For a while, it was frustrating to write for so many years, comment so much on other people’s blogs, and not get any comments. The upside, is that I began purely blogging for myself, and not caring as much. But in general, I think comments are a wonderful thing, and oftentimes generate discussion as interesting as the blog post itself. I hope people go back to giving them!

26 It Is What It Is { 05.14.12 at 4:37 pm }

I have to agree with Serenity that way back when (2+ years ago), blogging seemed to be a more social interaction where you’d comment from your computer, link to other blogs via their comments or the blogrolls of others and knit together your own community.

I absolutely believe that we are a distracted lot. There is just so much stimuli and a finite amount of time in a day.

And, commenting must be made easy. If I have to log-in to the blog in order to leave a comment, I don’t. If there is a complex word verification puzzle, I don’t comment usually either, especially if I am on the iPad, and if the blog won’t auto-pop fields (some do, some don’t) from the iPad, it is too cumbersome to fill in all the blanks required. Of course, we want to track back to specific commenters if they blog, but we have to make it seamless to do so.

I have watched my readership go up and up but the number of comments has remained about the same. Of course, I’ve had some pretty good news of late that has brought a lot of people to the fore to show support which has been nice.

Blogging is a lifeline especially when you feel isolated IRL (as I do now). I honestly and truly feel the collective support even if folks don’t comment but especially when they do. Removing roadblocks to commenting would seem like a Square One thing to do.

27 a { 05.14.12 at 5:33 pm }

I don’t track my page views or readership or anything, and I don’t blog that often (as I have nothing much to say). But, I will say that blog platforms are making it more difficult to comment every day. WordPress makes you log in. Blogger has made the word verification impossible to get correct on the first time – and it doesn’t even block the spammers anyway (so turn it off!). Typepad is OK, but I think that’s the one I can’t even use my phone to comment at all. The blogging platforms are working against us in terms of commenting – I think they’re trying to retain their proprietary interest, but all they’re really doing is irritating those of use who want to comment using one ID. The worst part is, at least for Google and WordPress, it’s virtually impossible to complain to them. I give up looking for an email address after about 15 minutes of searching for it. 15 minutes worth of internet searching is a LONG time, so I’m guessing they don’t want my feedback.

So, what I’m saying is, we should organize and revolt! Make those blogging platforms become compatible with each other – and make ‘em track the links spread across the internet! (The only problem is that it’s hard to make them change a free service, and I’m not likely to pay.)

28 Wolfers { 05.14.12 at 6:11 pm }

Can’t say…. I had just started to write my blog since February. It was only last month or so when folks had started to write comments, at most one or two. I do know I have readers since the stats say so, but that’s okay.

29 Natalie { 05.14.12 at 6:30 pm }

I’ve been thinking about this recently. I’m reading more blogs than I used to but commenting less. Mostly because I now read on my phone. It is so difficult to comment on some blogs because off the verifications. I usually decide it just isn’t worth it. But I also tend to read the blogs that show up well on your phone. I don’t know how they are different, but some off the formats show up really easily on my phone our in my reader. I have to say that even though I really enjoy your posts, your blog had difficult to read. It won’t show up in my reader, I have to come to this page to read it and then shrink and expand to scroll through it all, even the comment box has to go back and forth. It goes to show how much I like your posts because I find that I end up dropping bloggs that are difficult to read. It is just about limited time in my life rather than a reflection on the writing. Even now I am painstakingly typing this comment on my phone as I pump in the bathroom at work, otherwise I won’t remember to comment at all.

30 Barb { 05.14.12 at 7:44 pm }

Yes and I agree with you.. though in my case it also has to do with less time spent online and on my blog overall. The quality of my writing has also gone down with the scattering of my attention. By the way, there was a long time where it wouldn’t let me comment on your blog because it said only team members could. Weird.

31 Esperanza { 05.14.12 at 8:10 pm }

Another thing this post made me think of, has anyone else noticed that in the last week or two, WordPress has been automatically marking the “notify me when someone else comments” box and then emailing you to request an authorization to email comments to you? I’m not sure how I feel about that. While I’ve done it a few times, and it’s been nice to follow a comment section to its conclusion I don’t have the bandwidth to do that everytime and I’m not sure I like WordPress basically bullying me into it. Anyone else have thoughts on this?

32 Trisha { 05.14.12 at 9:00 pm }

My views have remained pretty constant but I have noticed a decrease in comments lately. I know that personally I am actually reading more blogs, but perhaps I am guilty of commenting less too. I tend to comment when I feel I have something to say that can help or better someone. I don’t like leaving meaningless short comments just for the sake of commenting. But at the same time, I know I sometimes love getting those short comments on my own blog so maybe I need to re-evaluate how I do things.

I do think that the advancement of technology can have a huge effect on this though. So many of us do our internet time away from an actual computer these days and like you said, its one thing to write a 140 character comment, another thing to write something deep and meaningful on a phone.

Overall I know that when I’ve needed support it’s there. People come out of the woodwork that didn’t know read my blog. Conversation would be nice, but I know how things have changed lately.

33 Jo { 05.14.12 at 9:13 pm }

Jumped in to comment (from my brand new iPad) that I think you are right on the money. It is much harder to comment from here than my traditional laptop which has, sadly, bit the dust. And so my comments are fewer, though I read just as much. I am also posting less, for similar reasons.

34 Justine { 05.14.12 at 9:15 pm }

I’ve noticed a decrease in posts on my own blog, therefore, a decrease in comments. ;) (Actually, my regulars have been lovely about poking me to write, and I’ve even had some people speak up who haven’t done so in a while.) I never got scores of comments to begin with, though. It’s a really good day when I hit double digits.

That said, I feel mixed about this. If conversation is going to happen about an issue, it’s going to happen in the cloud … that’s just the way it is, I think. Do I feel territorial? You betcha. Do I wonder who pins my posts for recipes, once they’re out in the Pinterestverse and I can’t control repins of repins? Absolutely. Am I glad that those media exist, so that even if people aren’t telling me they’re reading and talking, they are? I think so.

Wait a minute … are we talking about external validation again? ;)

35 Stephanie { 05.14.12 at 9:41 pm }

Granted, my blog is only six months old, so I can’t really compare much over time…but I find that I’m getting crazy amounts of comments. I’m not sure why…I think maybe because I try to respond to most comments and pay visits to commenters’ blogs? I’m behind on that, but I really do try. Not much really happens on my facebook page (probably because I tend to neglect it), but I do love the Twitter interaction that is starting to happen. I spent nearly a year pretty certain that Twitter hated me. I think it’s warming up to me, though.

36 Maddy { 05.14.12 at 9:46 pm }

Great post, Mel. I used to leave and receive many comments. Then I started getting anonymous comments that were hurtful, and I decided to take my blog private. I knew this would mean I would lose readers and receive fewer comments, but I prioritized feeling safe over feeling popular. I find that there is a core group of bloggers/non-bloggers that I keep in touch with, either via comments but now more via e-mail or even phone. I wonder how many other conversations are also going off-line and simply developing into friendships, making it appear if there are fewer comments on the blogosphere overall? Also, in my case, because life has been tough lately, I have been more likely to passively read along with my favourite blogs and not comment – I just don’t have the strength to give all the time. I wonder how many others are also feeling that way – like their own experience is so rough or they are so depressed they just don’t have the energy to support others periodically?
Thanks for the chance to think about this.
Love,
Maddy

37 Alexicographer { 05.14.12 at 10:37 pm }

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have recently thought I left a comment somewhere only to go back later and find I didn’t. And I realized, I often “post” a comment and then close that page (I usually have 5-10 tabs open at any one time and am bouncing across them) and don’t realize that there is a captcha (sp?) requirement, so my comment is lost forever. I literally just caught that that has happened recently on @Chickenpig’s blog and I’m pretty sure (?) also on Esperanza’s, just to name 2 people in the commenters above (and there are others).

I suppose in time I’ll learn and remember to hang around and be captcha’d. Though I often have trouble reading them (particularly lately) and tend to keep my volume muted, so listening as an alternative is a hassle.

I don’t use a smartphone, or Twitter, or Facebook, as least, not (in the case of Facebook, which I use just for (a) family and (b) work, from 2 separate accounts) in the blogosphere. So I’m missing out on all that action, for better or for worse.

38 Alexicographer { 05.14.12 at 10:41 pm }

Ha. I just literally almost yet again did this on another blog. Also I wish captcha wouldn’t ask me to “enter the two words” when they are not, in fact, words. Enter the two strings of letters (or characters), OK. But words those are not.

39 Natalie { 05.15.12 at 5:03 am }

Yep I read on my phone now and it’s a big pita to type out my name and email and url and then a comment!

40 Pam/wordgirl { 05.15.12 at 9:11 am }

Here I am dictating my comments on my phone… This is absolutely true for me. I used to use only my computer I had a lot of time with which to comment… now I am reading mostly on my phone and snippets of time and even when I want to comment very often there is some glitch that eats my comment. I have been neglecting my blog as of late… Blogging crisis I guess. I always assumed that my drop in comments is related to my lack of community participation? But perhaps a combination of all of these things.

My blog is really important to me. I have realized that. I’ve been blogging for five years now and can’t imagine leaving it behind… But my feelings about it and blogging have involved I think. I am always trying to balance now what time I have and what I want to do with that time… And while I used to think blogging would bring me closer to my writing goals I see now that blogging is a tool for me to sharpen and continue to love the vibrancy of writing but not a means to an end for me in terms of publishing.

I had to ask myself how much was blogging taking me away from the immediacy of my life. For me I needed to step back and so my posts have lessened and so too my comments.

I love this community. I love my blog. I will continue to blog when I have time and enjoy the camaraderie of these wonderful people I have met blogging.

This entire comment has been dictated from my phone and let me tell you it was a pain!

Xoxo

P

41 Bea { 05.15.12 at 11:22 am }

A large part of my droppoff in comments has been my drop-off in blogging and in finding new blogs to follow (the community suffers a certain rate of attrition as well, so not to actively participate/ post/ comment/ add new blogs at a steady rate is going to lead to a drop-off in readership without any other factors). But as a commenter, yes, what you say is true. I read a lot of blogs on the phone, working them in to short snippets of time and then never quite getting to the computer, pretty much, ever… except tonight yes. And sometimes I comment but it doesn’t seem to work on the phone for reasons unknown (gaaaaaargh). Then if I look at facebook or something one day it pretty much kills my blogging time, it is that limited. So I am commenting less per post than I used to, for both those reasons. I should probably get rid of my catchpa… you’re right about those on phones, I guess a short experiment will tell me if it’s worth it in terms of spam.

Bea

42 Ellen K. { 05.15.12 at 12:07 pm }

I don’t have a smartphone or iPad, but I agree that platforms are problematic. I don’t comment very often lately because I made the mistake of trying to switch my blog to WordPress, then changed my mind and decided not to blog on WordPress, but once you have a WordPress account, you can’t delete it. You’re stuck with it. And when I try to comment on other blogs, WordPress barges in and tells me to log in; I can’t use an open URL to link back to my Typepad blog. It pisses me off; I rue the day that I tried out WordPress.

I don’t see many blogroll sidebars these days — I hadn’t given it much thought, but that is a difference.

43 geochick { 05.15.12 at 2:22 pm }

I never got many comments (except when Baby X finally arrived) and I’m in transition because of the life change. Stats and comments have both dropped off, although stats not as much. I lost a follower in the past couple of weeks too. So, it feels like no one is reading. I’ll keep on, and keep trying to comment. I can’t link to FB because I’m anonymous. But, I’m trying to participate more, comment more, amd write halfway thought out posts….

44 geochick { 05.15.12 at 2:25 pm }

…and I comment alot from my phone too….hence the disjointed comment above :) On my blog I turned off thr captcha (I hope) and just use moderation to try to make it easier for others.

45 loribeth { 05.15.12 at 7:21 pm }

I can’t disagree with your theory, Mel. I’ve never had a consistently huge number of comments on my posts, and I haven’t really been counting, but I have felt that I’ve been getting somewhat fewer comments lately.

As for my own commenting, I tend to go in spurts, it seems… a couple of weeks ago, it seems like I was posting every other day & keeping up relatively well with the latest posts in my Google Reader. The past week or so, it seems like I have had NO time to blog or read other people’s blogs or comment — and I was off work!! My reader is back up over 1,000 posts — again.

I don’t have a smartphone or iPad, so I can’t comment on how that might be contributing to commenting or lack thereof. I don’t link my blog to Facebook (or vice versa), but I am friends with some bloggers & “like” some blogs on FB. Generally, though, I do most of my commenting on the blogs themselves.

I don’t mind having to do a word verification to publish a comment, but I find it annoying when my name/e-mail/URL info doesn’t get saved from post to post & I have to keep inputting & reinputting it. :p Especially on blogs that I comment on frequently.

Esperanza, I’ve noticed that lately about WordPress too!! I started getting all these e-mails asking me verify my subscription, & I couldn’t figure out where they were coming from. I finally noticed the ticked-off box. I’ve been trying to remember to untick them, but it’s a pain in the butt. :p

46 YogaDawg { 05.17.12 at 2:08 pm }

Yep same here. Tons of comments of Facebook and minimal on my blog where I once had lots. I think you might be correct regarding smartphones as I’m typing this comment on my smartphone.

47 magpie { 05.18.12 at 4:44 pm }

yes, absolutely. and i feel like i leave few comments as well – probably because i’m often reading on my ipad which is less well suited to commenting than a real computer with a keyboard and everything. and then there are the people who comment on facebook even though i know they had to click through to the blog to read…

also, the blogger captcha sucks, and wordpress is funky with gravatar, and blogger doesn’t play nicely with chrome if the comments are in-line, and i could go on…

48 clare { 05.31.12 at 3:08 am }

It’s really nice to see this discussion…While overall my blog’s stats are dropping (uh, not a lot of plot points going on in my story, or at least the part of my story I write about over there, so can’t really blame people), but there is now no correlation to comments and site views. In the past when one went up, you could count on the other going up too….

I agree with all that is above, but I also wonder if there is a bit of a vicious circle — when there are 30 comments on a great post, it feels somehow easier to write one myself, but if there are only 2 and two that are really really different from each other… I find myself get a bit shy. and as soon as there is a really negative one, I’ll comment but not freely, and my comment becomes more of a ‘sorry people are being mean on your blog’ comment. I wonder what starting a blog now would be like. I doubt I’d get the same kind of experience as I did 5 years ago. I learn how to support people here by watching what others did. You’d read a post.. you read the comments and go.. a ha! so that is what support looks like. I think we all learned things by watching how different people comment. I know I did. Now, its harder not only for the blog authors to see the conversation, but for the rest of us too

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