Commenting on Comments: Building a Blog Community

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One of my favorite things about blogging has been connecting with my readers. I especially enjoy the comments section here–it is often more interesting than the original post.

When I first began blogging, I scanned the blog frequently for comments until I realized that I could set Blogger to send me an email. At one point Jameel and I had an exchange of eight comments on a post about blogging, setting the record for many months. (Those early comments disappeared when I switched to Haloscan.)

I’m not 100% sure how the community here grew the way it did, but I’ll share some of my ideas:

  1. I started by commenting on other blogs that address similar topics. If a blogger begins posting here, I usually add that blog to my reader. (A reader is a web page that lets you know when the blogs you like have been updated. I use Netvibes, but Bloglines and Google Reader are more popular.) Lately I comment less (I hope temporarily), but I still read.
  2. Despite my semi-anonymous status (soon to be retired), I am fairly open. People are more likely to comment when they feel that they know the blogger.
  3. I try to write on issues that my readers have responded to in the past. Of course, if you don’t comment, I have no idea what topics you like.
  4. I enjoy learning how others handle challenges I have encountered.
  5. Even when writing about daily life I try to present an unusual perspective. I also like to throw out some kind of provocative question.
  6. When I get overwhelmed by a lot of intense comments I might decide put my energy into a new post instead. Or bury my head in the sand for a day or two. Some bloggers never respond to comments–that’s hard for me to understand.
  7. I welcome new visitors, and try to be respectful of those who disagree. I actually like dissenting comments, because they generate the most interesting conversation.

As for you lurkers, don’t feel you have to leave a comment if you have nothing to say. Visiting and reading is a form of appreciation too. [But comments are better.]

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Comments

  1. I more or less follow your guidelines.
    Some bloggers never respond to comments–that’s hard for me to understand.
    Hard for me too.

  2. try to be respectful of those who disagree.
    I jump when I see conflict. I want to go do the head in sand thing. But I’m trying to get better at this.
    You are good at the above (respectful of disagreement).

  3. I enjoy your blog because you often bring up new topics that no one else is talking about.

  4. 5. Even when writing about daily life I try to present an unusual perspective.
    Your whole blog is an unusual perspective for me. I have learned so much about life in a Jewish home from you. Thanks for welcoming me even though I don’t “fit in” here.

  5. I enjoy the topics and lively discussions on your blog. I try to comment on the blogs I read, but sometimes I “read and run” due to time constraints or brain drain.

  6. Lion in Zion says:

    “Some bloggers never respond to comments–that’s hard for me to understand.”
    unless you explicitly warn that you don’t respond to comments, there is no excuse for not responding to all comments (assuming we are not megabloggers here with tons of comments). my blog doesn’t really “deserve” the attentin that a reader gives it, so if he actually takes the time to comment then he deserves a minute of my time for a response.

  7. I’m with frumhouse, repeating what I asked before, how do all of you have so much time to spend on the computer??
    and MII, how did you go from just commenting to actually blogging?
    How did you learn all the technical stuff?
    My favorite blogs also are those that are honest and daring- and of course, well written. I’d also be greatly afraid of those who disagree, especially in a critical way – glad to see there isn’t that kind here.
    also, isn’t there a pressure on you to always come up with something? Doesn’t that get hard on you??

  8. mother in israel says:

    Taking LOZ’s mussar to heart:
    I-D: Your blog has a variety of interesting topics.
    Leora: Thank you. Mimi (Israeli Kitchen) and I have an ongoing discussion about how to respond to “annoying” comments (which may not always be critical). We think the best way is to address them directly, but with respect.
    Raizy, thanks, which topics do you mean?
    Frumhouse, thanks. You see, I commented twice on your blog yesterday. This morning I am writing a post in my head that is a spinoff from that discussion. We’ll see if it sees the light of day.
    Klara, it’s an obsession. I like the topics I choose,and I like writing about them. I don’t think I commented much before I started blogging, but I did read. There are ways to discourage critical comments, but it is an open forum. Sometimes I feel pressure, but then I remember that it’s only a blog and I have other, more important things in my real life. You never know how it will be until you start.
    LOZ, responding thoughtfully to each comment took a lot of time. I enjoyed it, though.

  9. mother in israel says:

    Tasha, sorry for skipping you! Thank you for participating, and I’m glad you enjoy the blog.

  10. mother in israel says:

    LOZ, you see what happens? You end up missing somebody. . .

  11. comments allow the post to go in different directions, allow people to clarify their thoughts and positions… comments are sometimes more important than the actual post (though your posts are pretty good)

  12. “Some bloggers never respond to comments–that’s hard for me to understand.”
    I read a lot of blogs; some are bloggers who are Orthodox Jewish men who hardly get any comments at all. So when I do comment, I almost feel like they don’t know what do with it! Every now and then I’ll get a sign that they actually did appreciate my saying something. I keep reading. (And Lion in Zion is always great at responding to comments; rah, rah).
    But I’m getting better at hitting ‘unsubscribe’ on blogs where I don’t feel my opinion is welcome. Or someone else’s opinion.
    MiI, I have noticed you have been commenting more on other blogs in the past week!

  13. Leora,
    and the rest of you,
    how many blogs do you read daily??

  14. Klara, do you think I am going to confess my addiction here in public? ;-)
    I just click on Google Reader too often. It makes it easy to find something great to read.

  15. mother in israel says:

    Rafi, yes, comments can confirm, contradict or clarify the point made in the post.
    Leora, unless I am really overwhelmed I comment when I have something to say. I don’t usually comment just to show I was there, but I see the value in that.
    Klara, I have about 40 in my reader, but many do not post for weeks on end. I don’t read every post, but I read very quickly.
    Fern, thank you!

  16. I agree with Lion of Zion that never responding to comments is kind of rude unless there are an overwhelming amount of comments. I tend not to return to a blog when the author doesn’t respond to any comments, even direct questions.
    I really like your blog, Mother in Israel. I don’t even have children, but I like your perspective on parenting and am just trying absorbing as much of it as possible until I have my own children. I especially like it when you talk about things directly related to raising Jewish children, as I grew up in a largely secular home and don’t have my own childhood experience to rely on when it comes to raising my future children.

  17. Klara — I have over 100 blogs in my feedreader. In my own defense, I keep up on issues related to my work through blogs that cover topics related to my field.
    Using a feedreader makes reading blogs much more efficient. Instead of having to go to each blog you follow and see if the author has published anything new, you visit just one site where all your favorite blogs’ content is aggregated in one place.

  18. You have done a good job building the community here.

  19. Eleanor Q. says:

    I’m still “reading on the run.” Your post have been great! Keep them coming!

  20. mother in israel says:

    Thank you Jack and Eleanor.
    By the way, I tried to post a comment on a blog (and yes it belonged to an Orthodox man) and comments are only open to “team members.”

  21. Although not jewish I thought you might find this interesting
    http://www.idratherbewriting.com/2008/11/05/the-best-training-for-corporate-bloggers-live-with-a-mommy-blogger/
    Dad’s view of Mom blogging

  22. mother in israel says:

    Keren–
    Thanks, I love it. My husband is probably my biggest fan, but there have been times when he objected to things I have written. I show him almost any post that is the least bit sensitive, before I publish it.

  23. I love reading your blog MiI. I’ve learned so many things about so many topics! I have many blogs I like to read and I just wish I had something I could share in a blog, but rather than clog the blogsphere with nothing, I’ll stick to reading those blogs like yours that add something special!

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