Using Comments in Blogs

You might not realize it until you get deeper into your blogging lifestyle, but bloggers spend an amazing amount of time tracking the influence of their blogging. That means attempting to locate other blogs citing their work and figuring out who is talking about them. Blogging isn't only about writing; it's about inducing other people to respond, either on one's own blog or in another blog. The macrologue, the big blogging conversation, encourages bloggers not only to participate but to hope for an influential role in that conversation and compete for it.

Topical blogs are the most likely to join the influence race. Their owners are serious about blogging, and they track their ripples on the blogosphere. Casual bloggers — diarists, families blogging together, teens blogging in social networks, and many other bloggers — don't bother with techniques of self-infatuation.

If your blog accepts comments (most blogs do), the comments you receive are the most direct indications that people are reading and responding to your stuff. Tending to your comments — reading them, responding to them as you feel moved to, and clearing out the irrelevant ones — occupies some time in the blogging lifestyle. The degree to which you're willing to attend to your comments can determine the extent to which your blog becomes a conversation forum and the style with which you write entries.

To a large degree, comments are solicited by bloggers who write in a conversational style or even directly request comments. The old "What do you think?" directed to the readership at large is a request (a somewhat desperate invitation, at that) for feedback. Some bloggers run polls and surveys to get some traffic flowing in the comments section. Well-known bloggers attract comments simply because people want to talk to them or because a comment that contains a link to the commentor's blog is a promotional gambit.

The degree to which you respond to comments can also set the tone. Bloggers who quickly answer comments and lead discussions usually get more comments than bloggers who essentially lecture to their audiences and leave comments unanswered. But there should be no judgment of that approach; some bloggers prefer to let readers talk among themselves. It's a matter of personality, really. If you're a conversational type who enjoys group discussions, you'll find a way to encourage participation from your readers. If you are quieter, your writing style will probably encourage reading but not responding. If comments make you uncomfortable, simply turn them off. (Some blogging services do not allow you to disable comments.)

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