Monday, November 20, 2006

What's Up With Comments?

Those of you who run blogs (and I know you are many)—will you comment on your comments?

I have been following this phenomenon for some time. I swear there’s a sociological book in here somewhere, just waiting to be written. About why some posts garner lots of comments, and others don’t.

Let’s back up a minute. First, I’ve noticed the difference in comments from one blog to another. Granted, usually a blog has more comments because it has more readers. But not always. Some blogs just have chatty readers.
Girls Write Out—now there’s one chatty blog (and fun, too, btw). Those gals over there (well, mostly gals) always have something to comment about. Yet readership of that blog, as I’ve gathered from its writers, is pretty equal to Forensics and Faith.

Here, comments range wildly from day to day, even though readership doesn’t. Sometimes I’m surprised as to what garners comments, and what does not. Take a look at some of the posts from this month, and their number of comments:

My Love Affair With Halloween—NOT (a light look at why I hate the day): 23

Oh, Blogger, Where Art Thou? (a rant on the constant failings of blogger): 17

My Dear Gobdrip (the Haggard scandal, a la Screwtape): 16

New Fave Compliment (short post about a one-liner a fan sent me): 17

Preaching to the Choir (Robin Lee Hatcher guest blog on why she writes what she writes): 18

Not Too Proud A Californian (reacting to the failure in California to pass the parent notification act for abortion): 25

Bestseller Lists, Take 2—Part 1: 6

Bestseller Lists, Take 2—Part 2: 9

Bestseller Lists, Take 2—Part 3: 7

Bestseller Lists, Take 2—Part 4
: 5

Man. Look at the fall-off of comments on that last series. Yet that series took a lot of research for me and probably presented a lot of information that readers did not know. Certainly a lot more information than the Blogger or Halloween posts. The final post alone (Part 4), after all the research, took 2 ½ hours to pull together. (I couldn’t run a blog if I took that kind of time every day.) Yet it garnered the least amount of comments.

The Gobdrip post was popular. My readership nearly doubled that day, due to email links, and generally people telling people to read it. It was a good amount of comments, but they certainly didn’t double, so they actually ended up representing a smaller percentage of readers.

Overall, from looking at many months, it seems the F&F posts that get the most comments are either: controversial topics, my style of rant, or one of my humorous stories. None of which take the longest to write. I have a feeling (at least I’d like to believe) that the various series on craft are appreciated, but they don’t tend to get many comments either. Although they, too, can be buggers to write.

Even in the case of a lot of comments, they still represent a small percentage of total Forensics and Faith readership. Most BGs apparently like maintaining their lurker status. Although some will surface occasionally if the right button is pushed.

So there you have it. I’m still not quite sure what to make of the patterns. I’d love to hear what you’re experiencing on your blogs, or what your thoughts are about the sociology of the issue in general.

Now won’t it be interesting to see how comments this one gets.


Anonymous said...

hmmm.... I am very new to this whole blogging thing, so can't offer you much insight, but from what I have seen, people tend to comment when they identify personally with something written (or is it blogged?), or when they are highly offended by something. I think that just information doesn't evoke strong enough reason to move their hand off the mouse and onto the keyboard.
btw, I found your blog very interesting and will probably visit again in the future!

C.J. Darlington said...

Interesting topic, Brandilyn. I suppose this type of question falls in line with, "What's the best way to promote a book?" -- no one really knows the answer. But even so, folks more knowledgable than I surely have some insights into this issue.

One way I've seen blogs garner comments (and readers) is if they're associated with a group. For example, I'm a member of the FIRST blog tour (
Most of the few comments I've had on my blog come from folks who visit all the sites in the tour. This is purely speculation though. I'm not promoting my blog all that much, and I don't post all that much either (gotta change that).

I'm interested in what others have to say on this. Oh, and for anyone who wonders, my blog link is

Rachelle said...

A GREAT question! I've been interested in the same thing, and I've been keeping close track of the type of posts that garner comments. It doesn't seem to be related to the readership that day. My number of readers per day is amazingling consistent (with a constant slight uphill climb) but my comments vary. I don't have a large readership, so the numbers aren't generally very high, but I've found that the more personal the post is, the more people will comment. It's the same phenomenon that's true with writing books. You can write what you think will appeal to the most people, and hardly anyone will respond. But pick a tiny topic that relates to a personal experience, especially anything that involves either something frustrating, or some kind of confession or weakness, and suddenly everyone can relate. Whenever I write a short, pithy post in "confession" mode (for example, the other day when I confessed how jealous I am of Jennifer Aniston) I get quite a few comments. I think generally people don't comment on posts that are informational in nature, but they love to give their two cents when opinion, emotion, or controversy are involved.

Dineen A. Miller said...

I agree with Rachelle. I've noticed the same phenomenon. I usually garner more comments when I get personal, and my visitors go up. I find it very interesting that I'm not the only noticing this. That makes me feel much better. LOL!

Wandering Writer said...

I get the most comments (and hits) on popular/controversial topics. I blogged about Dakota Fanning and her rape scene in the new movie she made and got lots of hits and comments. Unfortunately, the comments got out of hand. Many I could not publish and I deleted the post.

I am fascinated with what people google. I have a post about my dress heels that clack on the floor when I walk and people hit it by googling "noisy shoes." Another post is about our granddaughter drawing chalk figures on the drive--forensic style--and I said it looked like a midget massacre. Yup, people googled "midget massacre." Where are the psychologists to explain some of this?

Sheryl said...

My two cents worth :-)

Lack of comments does not at all mean lack of readers or lack of value of a post. I know I read your blog daily, and always receive something of value. I also read quite a few blogs daily, and if I commented on every one, I wouldn't have time to do anything else!

I think I tend to agree with Rachelle. I comment if something "hits" me emotionally, I feel like I have something to add to the topic, or (being brutally honest!) if I have the chance to win a book. Ah, the secret is out now! I am a bookaholic and love the opportunity to win books I want to read :-)

Anonymous said...

I think that when you get all personal and vulnerable, it encourages readers to do the same. Information causes a sponge-like reaction.... we all soak it up and stow it away for future use. Vulnerability causes a mirror-like reaction.... and we write what we see in the mirror. Either way, Brandilyn, my daily dose of "Forensics and Faith" comes just after my daily devotions every morning. Does that tell you something about this "lurker"?

Anonymous said...

I like to comment on blogs I visit because I think in my head it makes the blogger feel good.

However, I don't comment every time I visit. I tend to comment when I know something or have a feeling about the post.

I found the series of posts fascinating and educational, but I just don't know enough about it to disect it and comment (other than the need to call Mr. Barna) LOL

I do love to poke fun and tease with my friends, so I think you'll find me commenting a lot more during funny posts.

Comments on my blog? The same handful post comments on a regular basis. My readership is not anywhere close to what yours is, B. I love the surprise of finding a new comment.

Tina Helmuth said...

Today is a prime example of a reason I would choose not to post. Someone already expressed my opinion pretty much as I would have said it. (Rachelle with the part about emotion, opinion versus a purely informational post.)

When you make me laugh with a story, I usually want to thank you for brightening my day. If I have an opinion on something, I usually don't mind exressing it.

Sometimes I don't comment because I'm not that interested in the topic. (Hey, you already know you can't please every reader every time.) But a lack of comments might not mean a lack of interest. Like Michelle, sometimes a topic might fascinate me, but I don't know enough to feel qualified to comment.

I suppose a simple "thanks for the info" would do the job in those cases.

Tina H

Unknown said...

I agree with what Michelle said. I love the craft and industry posts (so don't stop!) but a lot of it is information I need to mull over through out the day, so I don't feel like I have anything intelligent to say in response.

Of course one of my posts on my blog that got the most comments was where I said, "Hey, I don't have anything to blog about. What do you want to talk about?" I got some silly answers and it ended up being pretty fun.

Tina Helmuth said...

Oops! Sorry for the missing p in expressing.

Anonymous said...

Since my blog is new, and since you can count the comments on one hand (well, almost), for this insecure, desperately needing affirmation on a regular basis person,I'm inviting you all over to visit me (it) right now. (
I know I post on blogs when I'm emotionally moved, challenged, angered, or "led" to comment. Not trying to be extra spiritual there either, but, sometimes the Holy Spirit does encourage a thought to be added.
Yours is a regular, daily visit for me, BC, because it's informative, humorous, emotional, and thoughtful.

Tina Ann Forkner said...

The other Tina here (Hello Tina H!:
Maybe we are afraid to show our lack of knowledge compared to the very smart Brandilyn. :) I am not totally joking though. Maybe if we don't feel we know enough about things, we don't want to show our lack of understand. However, that is probably why we Should post. We need to learn and I think part of your blog's purpose is to inform and teach. It's like in class when the professor says there is no stupid question.
Tina F.

~ Brandilyn Collins said...

Tiny F.--there IS no stupid question. Besides, if you don't know something and speak up, you're probably speaking for 10 others who don't know either--and wish they did.

Of course, if you ask and I answer, "Sheesh, I have absolutely no idea," -- then we're all in the same boat. :)

Susanne said...

I find the number of commenters totally does not equate with the number of readers that day. The posts I get the most comments on are the ones where I share something personal or when I just sort of ramble. And when I do a post on that I really studyied out and put a lot into, it's my "everyday commenting friends" that leave a comment. Which is really nice to me to know that there are some friends who will chat with me no matter the topic. I try to leave a comment on those sites I read every day even if it's just to let them know I had stopped by.

Unknown said...

Ditto to everyone else. My blog is still a baby -- but I have a couple who comment on my information posts, some who comment on the more personal posts, and then those who like the book reviews. It really is random. And the posts I'm sure will draw comments don't.

PatriciaW said...

I read a lot of blogs, although lately I've been skimming them based on title and first few sentences. Some I read in whole every day. No question. But I can't comment on every blog every day or I wouldn't do much else. Not good for all of an aspiring novelist's daily word count to show up on other people's blogs.

And there's that. My own blog, which is still an infant. Occasionally garners a comment, for which I am eternally grateful. Haven't learned how to monitor the reading traffic yet but it's nice to know that someone is reading/listening.

Please know that all of your craft and industry posts are greatly appreciated. Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by the amount of info and therefore, go away to digest, rather than comment. Don't feel I have anything to add so I say nothing.

I think the more conversational posts get more comments because it's more like having a conversation, even if it is in Cyberspace, like this one. Don't be surprised when you get a boatload of comments on this post.

D. Gudger said...

My blog hasn't been around for very long, I started it in March when Kyle was born to keep family and friends updated on the whole adoption process.
Oftentimes I write, feeling like I'm talking to myself b/c the comments are so few, but then people I don't really know come up to me telling me they loved the "Poo Fountain" story or some other post on my blog. I've also progressed on the food chain of Truth Laid Bare ecosystem which means hits are increasing steadily.
I try to get people to post, but some don't know how, and others tell me they don't have anything eloquent or witty to say.
As far as I can tell, comments are pretty random.
My blog is

Kristy Dykes said...

I guess we bloggers will be the main ones to comment on this post since we're running blogs and monitoring comments too. Ditto, on your findings. When I talked about your spouse not treating you right on my blog, I got lots of comments. When I have humor, I get comments. Also get hits. For ex., on "The Fruit of the Looms Caper," I got a hit from someone searching for "men's underwear stories." What a hoot!

As far as Girls Write Out, I've found that it's interactive, in that "the girls" comment to commenters' comments, and that provokes more comments. I like blogs where the author(s) responds. It lets me know the author cares about what his/her commenters say.

Now I'll go back and read all of the comments. Sometimes I read them first.

Eden said...

Hi Brandilyn! I have found this to be a strange phenomenon as well. As you know, I'm newer to blogging than alot of the other BGs out there.
I was amazed when I saw some counters on other blogger accounts and the # of people that visit their site. Not alot of people comment on my blog and I wonder if they even stubble across it or read it.
I didn't necessarily start blogging for readership. I originally started to keep family and friends updated. But as I have started reading other blogs and making BG friends, I really wanted to know if my site was being looked at because my average comments are about 4.
Within the last 2 weeks, I have had 299 hits, but the # of comments doesn't seem to increase for me.
I know my blogs are dull. I definitely have trouble expressing emotion and being personal. When I recount an event, it's more facts/statements. Which would make sense why I don't get alot of comments, b/c it's hard to leave comments if you are not emotionally touched.
I do however always leave a comment if I read or visit a blog.
Wow! this comment is really long and there is alot of rambling that probably doesn't make sense. lol
Have a great day, Brandilyn. I love your blogs!

eileen said...

I don't blog, just read. So if I'm not commenting, I should? Sheesh. Your words, O Wise Woman, are worthy of comments everyday and are really appreciated. I apologize for my lurkdomage and will speak up more often! Don't quit teaching us, please!

batgirl said...

I find it amazing how important a silly thing like comments is to me, when only months ago, I didn't know what a blog was! Now that I have one, all of a sudden I need comments to make me happy:) Go figure. I haven't gotten many comments lately. But just when I think no one's reading, people at my church (people I didn't think KNEW about my blog) and tell me how much they are enjoying Janet's Planet. Me? I usually comment on what I read, unless it really doesn't interest me.

Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

Sometimes stupid Blogger just won't let me comment and I'm too busy to come back!

Lynetta said...

I think for me it's just a matter of not having time, though I certainly read yours every day. Which is saying a lot, since all the others only get weekly perusals. But as always, I appreciate all the effort you put into it! Happy Thanksgiving.

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Well, I have to admit--I comment because I'm opinionated. I wish it weren't so, but there it is, staring me in the face.

The thing is, I learn so much from reading other people's opinions. For example, I was all ready to chime in with my affirmation that controversial subject matter is what garners the most comments. Then I read Rachelle's thoughts and the number of people agreeing, and suddenly I'm thinking of how I can improve my blogging.

I really love the interaction.

It's just that it is so time consuming. I did a lot more commenting on blogs and discussion boards BEFORE I had my own blog.


Unknown said...

Are comments average about 5% of total readership a day. Up to 10% on a good day. I find that if I make a rare commentary revealing a bit of myself, that garners a percentage closer to the ten percent and if it's more dry, news stuff we sink lower than the five percent because what's there really to say.

Interesting topic that I've pondered myself. Thanks BC