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Why Comments Count: Learning and Growing from Blog Comments

Why do comments count?

I’m sure I could come up with more than 10 reasons, but here’s what I found for starters.

Comments generate ideas - for writing, for ways of tackling issues with clients, for learning, for ways of being in the world

Comments make connections - talk to me here and I’ll follow you to where you are. I get to find new blogs, new ideas, great writing, new people. We learn from and share with each other

Comments suit introverts - I’m still thinking this one through, but I think there’s something about this form of communication that suits us introverted types. It certainly suits me.

It’s a conversation - and over time, we get to know each other. I never realised that we would - but we have, and I’m grateful for it

Your comments are so thoughtful - interesting, reflective, considered, generous, kind. Beyond my expectations. A constant reminder that I’ve got a quality set of readers

It makes Confident Writing feel alive - and that’s probably the main reason why I love it so

You make me smile - maybe I’m lucky, but the comments you leave are 99.9% positive, friendly, encouraging. I smile when I get them. I look forward to switching on my pc and seeing what you’ve got to say

Feedback boosts my writing confidence - you help me to write, to stretch, to keep going. I could say that I write, I blog for myself, and to some extent that’s true. But feedback, responsiveness, constructive comments - well it makes the writing process just so much easier.

You notice when things are skewiff - I’ve no definitive answer as to what kind of posts generate more comments than others but one thing’s for sure, if I write a hint of things being a little out of synch, feeling a little down about something - you notice, and say something encouraging, and let me know you’re there. It makes a a difference, really.

It’s fun - your comments are often sharp, witty, funny. You make me laugh. I smile knowing why you are saying what you’re saying and what you’re referring to. All of this counts.

Oh, but there is one more.

I get to celebrate landmarks - like 1,000 comments earlier today.

And the person who hit the magic number was Robert Hruzek from Middle Zone Musings. He was talking about things like participation, and meaningful conversation, and how we exercise our creativity through blogs, and how we get to break some of the rules. And yes of course, being Robert, he made me smile.

It seemed appropriate to me that it was a long time supporter of Confident Writing who crossed this line, someone who’s kept me cheerful and motivated, who’s given me writing challenges aplenty to blog about, who’s guest posted here and written pieces on his own blog in contribution to my monthly themes. It made me smile to let him know he was the lucky winner of my 1,000th comment prize - his choice of book from my Amazon store - and of course to smile again when he said he was strangely drawn to Wild Mind… A great choice :-)

But there’s no rule that says it’s long time commenters who hit the magic numbers - you could just as easily be a first time commenter. There won’t always be prizes - but you will always be welcome.

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Comments

  1. Jim Murdoch says:

    I agree with all your points but particularly the one about introverted bloggers. The thing about the Web is that so much depends on you being proactive and I’m really not an in-your-face kind of guy. I’ve accepted that because I’m unwilling/unable to maintain this kind of front that progress will be a bit slower than I’d like but looking at the stats the majority of connections I’ve made have all come through leaving thoughtful comments on other people’s sites. People invariably check me out and a few stay.

  2. Michele Martin says:

    This is a great addition to the overall commenting conversation-thank you! I agree with Jim on commenting being good for introverts. I actually find the entire blogging practice to be a good thing for we introverts because we can be “social” but in our own time and on our own terms. I’m able to have much more thoughtful conversations this way and to dig in more deeply than is often the case when I’m working with extroverts. Plus I can hear myself think with blogging. :-)

  3. Robert Hruzek says:

    Joanna, it’s been real; it’s been fun; but most of all, it’s been REAL FUN interacting with you thoughout the year. Especially that we can help each other to bring out the best in the other person; now that’s something that can’t be beat!

    Interesting that the comment about introverts hits home right away; I’m one myself, although you may not believe it. Blogging has helped me come out of my shell in ways I never thought possible, and commenting was a big part of that.

    In fact, I wrote a post just today called “Why I Never Set Blogging Goals”; I think it may resonate with quite a few of us.

  4. Sue Waters says:

    Well I am not sure that anyone would call me introverted but blogging and commenting are very important for my learning process. I don’t think I could sum up the reasons why Comments are important better than what you have said - just as Michele has done an excellent job on reasons why people don’t comment.

    PS thanks Joanna for writing the comment on my blog in response to twitter. So far installing Snitter has been definitely worthwhile and is making twittering more fun again. I am hoping to follow up my post with a summary of my finding soon.

  5. Karen Swim says:

    Joanna,

    I am an off the chart extrovert but for many years I was extremely introverted when it came to my writing. Starting my own business “forced” me to let go of words and allow others to own them. Letting go has stretched me in ways I never thought possible. Blogging is not for the faint of heart. Your words are out there for anyone to see and “review.” Comments are an integral part of the process teaching you to hear, to learn, to grow and always letting go so that there’s room for more. Thank you for the inspiration and motivation that you so generously give to your readers. I feel myself growing inches taller with each read. ;-)

    Karen

  6. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Jim, maybe it will be a little slower this way, but you’ll build lasting, quality connections that will stand the test of time. I think this is the beauty of blogging - and commenting - that it provides the opportunity to make connections based on the way our ideas & words resonate. Which should be good for introverts :-)

    Joanna

  7. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Michele, thanks for picking up the point on blogging and introversion. What you say fits with my experience too.

    I’ve seen a few different discussions on this point around the place in recent times, but haven’t really thought it properly up to now. It seems important though, so I’ll give it a bit more thought, and come back to it in January.

    All best wishes

    Joanna

  8. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Hi Robert, it certainly has been real fun. You’ve got me writing and blogging in a way I wouldn’t have otherwise done (meant as a compliment!). Interesting what you say about blogging helping you to come out of your shell. I guess that fits with what you wrote for us here about authentic writing too.

    I loved your piece on why not to set blogging goals - a refreshing antidote to the same-old-same-old. Will pop over and comment at your place shortly

    Joanna

  9. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Hi Sue, learning is certainly a great by product of blogging and commenting. By the way are you familiar with the Joyful Jubilant Learning network? It’s all about - well yes, joyful and jubilant learning :-) but also how we can learn from using blogging, encouraging learning conversations at the blog etc.

    I look forward to your next piece on Twitter. I’m more intrigued by the possibilities of Twitter than I was when I first looked into it, but I’m still finding my feet. Maybe you could write a piece on Twitter use for introverts? :-)

    Joanna

  10. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Karen, I hear what you’re saying about blogging not being for the faint of heart - but one of the joys of it is that there will always be people there who will help, encourage and support you, who will give you courage and confidence.

    Thank you so much for what you said about my work here. It’s what I want to do - means so much to have it played back to me.

    Joanna

  11. Lillie Ammann says:

    Joanna,

    Congratulations on your 1000th comment and thanks for this excellent list of reasons to love comments. I agree with them all.

  12. Lis Garrett ~a writer's woolgatherings says:

    I appreciate, especially, reason #6 in that comments help to make your site feel “alive.” Truly, I think that ONE reason is the perfect summation of all the reasons why I love comments.

    Have a wonderful holiday!

  13. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Thank you Lillie, and for your own contributions to the landmark. All your comments have spoken to me of a thoroughly nice, outstanding and little-bit-nutty blogger :-)

    Have a peaceful Christmas and New Year

    Joana

  14. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Lis, that’s funny, I was a bit worried people might think I was weird suggesting my blog felt alive! But it is like that of course, because blogs are populated by real people.

    I know that quality connections are important to you too, and I guess that’s why you get the same feeling about your own place.

    Have a great holiday too

    Joanna

  15. Brad Shorr says:

    Joanna, congratulations on 1000 comments! That number says it all about your ability to spark conversation. Well done.

  16. Writing the Cyber Highway says:

    1,000 Comments? Woo Hoo for you, Joanna! I can understand why, though. You’re very pleasant and your posts are informative and you’re always friendly :-)

    Smiles,
    Michele

  17. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    @ Brad, thank you, and for all of your support and encouragement in getting me to here.

    @ Michele - you always make me smile! I think being friendly is probably a worth a lot more than killer content - especially when it comes to getting to know people, making connections, and smiling a lot :-)

    Joanna

  18. Stormy says:

    The thing I like least about comments is that I feel like I drop in on a conversation, say something and then walk out of the room.

    I like some of the new features that let me email further comments to an email address.

  19. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Hi Stormy, I know what you mean and there certainly wouldn’t be much satisfaction in that unless you just want people to follow you to your site - which is a different ball game altogether. (Although I did with your comment, and found a tip on clearing up on my desktop, which was funny because it was just after switching on my pc and cursing it for taking so long to start. All cleared up now!)

    I comment a lot in a about 10 blogs so it’s easy to go back there and feel part of the conversation - it’s one of the things I enjoy most about blogging, getting used to familiar voices and smiling at what they say. For new blogs it’s good to try some of the software options like you say, including e-mail subscribing, co.mments (which I’m using now and is making a big difference) and RSS comment subscribe. I’m hoping Typepad will roll that option out to me soon so I can offer it to readers here

    Thanks for stopping by, you’re welcome to rejoin the conversation anytime:-)

    Joanna

  20. Jeanne Dininni says:

    Wonderful post, Joanna!

    You’ve made many excellent points about the things that make comments so special-and I’d just like to second them all!

    Congrats on hitting your thousandth comment milestone! (And congrats to Robert for being the lucky thousandth commenter and winner!)

    Though I realize that I’ve missed the deadline for the Christmas wish list entries, I still wanted to add a few of my own thoughts, which I’ve done on your Resources for Writers: Your Writing Wish-List post.

    Take care!
    Jeanne

  21. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Jeanne, well thanks to you for being such a generous commenter here (and elsewhere), it really does make a difference

    Joanna

  22. Cristina Costa says:

    I couldn’t agree more.
    Once again it just reinforces my thoughts and feelings about blogging: http://elgg.jiscemerge.org.uk/cristinacost/weblog/159.html

    I find blogging a great communication startegy: a communication that happens not only with others but also with myself, as it stimulates my critical thinking to be sharpen and refined.
    I agree 100% with all the reasons why you blog http://elgg.jiscemerge.org.uk/cristinacost/weblog/283.html

    I blog because I want people to comment. Their comments work to me as a “sign” of their approval about what I write. And when they challenge my thoughts than it means that they are showing me a new perspective of the landscape I was trying to capture. And that can only be good too.
    I used to be a very shy people too, and through blogging I get to improve that trait of my personality. I am able to reveal and give more of myself through writing than I am f2f. People get to know me differently. Maybe the side I sometimes don’t dare to show f2f.
    I love blogging and I love commenting and get comments.
    What a nice way of establishing a conversation! ;-)
    Happy New Year!

  23. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Happy New Year Cristina, it’s good to hear from you.

    It sounds like we’re on a similar wavelength. I enjoyed the second piece you linked to in particular - about ways that we can improve our writing skills through blogging, how we can learn from the comments we receive, how we can step out of our shells a little (for those of us who need to…) - it was just a shame I couldn’t comment on it though!

    All best wishes

    Joanna

  24. Matt Keegan says:

    Comments are valuable for so many reasons, including what you mentioned. I have seen a short, simple article transformed into an information powerhouse because of the comments shared. Comments are the collective thought to an original idea espoused by the blogger.

  25. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Hi Matt, I agree with that.

    It’s also great to see that collective thought then manifesting itself in other linked posts and articles by those same readers and commenters, and in your own work - it’s a way that we can keep on learning, sharing and growing together.

    Thanks for stopping by

    Joanna