Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Commenting and Such

Wow--let me first say thank you for the BBAW nominations--yesterday I noticed I was short-listed for Best Commenter/Commentator. While I'm flattered, I have to admit that I'm also quite flabbergasted. This is one of those categories that didn't require any input from me, so I have no idea what the criteria for the judging panel was. Did they do a search to see how much the nominees had commented in the past week/month/year? Were repeat nominations taken into consideration--if you were nominated in a category last year, were you more likely to be short-listed again this year?

I'm not trying to sound ungrateful, because I appreciate that someone out there thinks I'm a good commenter. Really I am. The problem? It instills guilt within me. Guilt for being a bad blogger, for not being more active in the community, for being comfortable with the status quo etc etc. If you've been following along for quite some time, you know that I have a constant battle with commenting. Once upon a time, I would have said I was a really good commenter. That was before the blogosphere doubled/tripled and I could get around more easily. Now I just watch my GReader climb into the triple digits knowing that I can't possibly get around to the 100+ blogs I subscribe to. It's frustrating and discouraging and I usually just shut down--as I have the past couple of weeks. I know how ridiculous this all sounds.

It's been a rough year for me, and I've really struggled to come to terms with what I want to get out of blogging and how to balance blogging with life. And for those of you who can read between the lines have gathered that life in general has been tough the past year. I want so badly to be a big part of the blogosphere, but in the end I just can't put in the hours each day or week due to this that and the other. Neurotic me says, well, if you can't be a big part of the blogosphere, why blog at all? Sane me responds, because you love blogging and have met some great bloggers who you've really connected with. Neurotic and Sane me battle all the time. It's enough to drive me batty--and make me disappear for a few days.

I don't really have a point. And I'm not trying to be all "woe is me" whiny little baby. And I don't want to argue with whoever was generous enough to nominate me, but I also know in reality that I haven't been the best commenter these past couple of months. And I struggle with that because commenting is such a huge part of the blogosphere to me. It's my way of telling you--hey, I'm listening to what you're saying and I care about what you have to say. I keep hoping that I can do better at this, that I'll be a better community member...just gotta find that damn elusive balance!

Ok, let's brighten things up. Tell me what makes a great comment? If you happened upon a new blogger who was wondering about commenting (you were that timid commenter at one point...), what would you suggest to them?


Bookfool said...

Well, I have no idea what their guidelines were but I consider you a faithful visitor to my blog. Don't feel guilty. There's no point to that.

Amanda said...

Trish, I think you are a wonderful commentor. I imagine the whole year is taken into account, not just the last couple months, so it doesn't matter that you've been sort of taking it easy. It's important to take it easy when you're feeling stressed, tired, burnt out, or just overwhelmed. No one faults you for that. Your comments are always thoughtful and at least I can tell that you have read the post. To me, that's what makes a good comment - one that stimulates conversation. Not every comment can be that way, of course, but it's lovely when they are. You've always been able to stimulate conversation with your comments, which I love.

Please don't feel guilty. I was honestly very excited to see your name on there, because you are one of the best commentors I know.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

To me a good comment shows you've read the post, and have something to say about it. This is not always how I comment however! Sometimes I say stupid vapid things like "great review" because I do want to let the blogger know someone is reading it, but I don't have anything to add! But I won't do that if the person already has a zillion comments. And on my blog I do appreciate even the comments that don't say much, because it does let me know that someone was there! Ideally, I guess, it would be a back and forth discussion, but does anyone have enough time for that? Probably not!

Melody said...

Congrats on making the shortlist, Trish! You're an amazing commenter, and I really appreciate your taking the time to stop by my blog and comment. You're one of my favourite blogger friends so of course I always love hearing from you! :P

Do not feel bad about not being able to bloghop/comment, we totally understand!

softdrink said...

Exactly what that other Jill said! I love a comment that has further insight on the book, or makes me think about something.

However, I'm totally guilty of just saying a few words to let someone know I was there. And I think that's great, too.

In the end, I'll take whatever I can get. :-D

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said...

I think a good comment is one that shows the commenter read the post and thought about it a little bit. It's one that, when I go to respond to it, I have more to say than just "Thanks for commenting!" It's one that makes me as a blogger feel like my message got through to someone, and one that helps spark other comments.

It's hard to not be able to do everything. I recently unsubscribed to a bunch of blogs that I'd usually skim through because I wanted time to read and comment on the blogs I love. So you're certainly not the only one who feels like they can't do everything -- I think every blogger feels that way. I hopw whatever is going on is getting better and don't beat yourself up about not commenting much, and don't let that keep you from blogging yourself :)

Jason Gignac said...

I hope you feel better - one of the reasons I love your comments (mostly on Amanda's blog, so this is secondhand) is that you always seem to actually have something to say. Comments are conversation, after all - it's very easy to leave a comment that closes rather than opens the mind of the author.

cj said...

Trish -

So, a good commenter is someone who says something when they say something, you know? It's more than a generic comment. I can't tell you the number of times you've made me think about things with either your posts or your comments. That's a good thing.

Now, however, if I may...

Feeling guilty about not commenting is silly. No one expects you to comment on every single blog, every single day... except you. That's what makes you such a good commenter. You care.

So, take a deep breath, GF, go off to Europe and have a great time and when you come back, scale back a tad. Comment when you want to, not because you think you have to. Those are the comments we're all looking for, aren't they?


TheBlackSheep said...

First off, congratulations with the nomination. Personally, I think you deserve it. You've always had something interesting to say when you've commented on my blog. So much so, that I'd love to sit down and have a conversation with you about it. That's what makes a really good commenter, not how often you comment.

Noth that I don't appreciate short comments from people to let me know they read my blog, because I do. I understand that as well because we don't always have the time or inclination to come up with super quality comments. Sometimes a "great review" is all you can find to say. It's the blogging wquivalent to a pat on the shoulder.

I also agree with the others. Maybe you just need to scale bacl a bit. Blogging is great, but there's real life to deal with too and that really needs to come first.

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

The best commenter shortlist was decided by how many people nominated you. So not just one person thought you are a great commenter but A LOT of people think you are. And seriously, if you feel guilty about commenting then where does that put me? That makes me a TERRIBLE commenter because really, you do put us all to shame with your wonderful comments. You have zero reason to feel guilty.

To me a great comment is one that is better than a "hey, I was here, great review!" but rather a response to something in the review that leaves the blogger to understand that they took the time to read it.

And like CJ said. Take a deep breath, enjoy your time in Europe, come back and don't worry about the ENTIRE blogosphere. Just worry about the blogs that make you happy. It only has to be as big as you'd like to it be.

ANovelMenagerie said...

Not being "shortlisted" in other categories does not necessarily mean that you are not a well balanced, engaging blogger. There have been and will be several more posts across the blogisphere about the process that got you there. I recommend The Book Smugglers or The 3 R's. I do know that last year had nothing to do with this year.

Soooo many great blogs didn't make any short-lists.... so... smile... be happy... you are known and loved. YEAH!


Veens said...

ohh Come one Trish - what makes you the best commentor is the fact that you always put in meaningful comments.. Seeing your comments brightens my day too :)
So there you go --- i love your comments and your blog!
Last week i have not blogged ... my life got in the way you see! but then it is ok ~~ whatever time you really do spend ~~ you make the ost of it and brighten up peoples day :) :)

now smile :) :)

Nymeth said...

As Natasha said, it was determined by number of nominations, so really, a lot of us love your comments! And also, Amanda rightly pointed out that the whole year was taken into account.

For me, a good comment is one that shows that the person truly listened, and yours always do.

I'm sorry things have been so rough, Trish. Personally I'd much rather see you around just a little than not see you around at all.

Stephanie said...

To be honest, when I saw the category for Best Commentor, you were the first person I though of!!

I've struggled the last year myself with being able to find any time during the day to blog or comment at all. As is, I can go a week sometimes without the time. And I really hate it, but I don't see it changing any time soon. You do what you have to do. The rest of us will be around when you have the time. That is one thing I have learned this year!

damnedconjuror said...

I don't comment on every blog because a) there's too many and b) sometimes I have nothing useful to say

However, being a good commentator isn't only about commenting on other peoples' blogs. It's about commenting on your own. I've commented on this site a few times and you've replied back with not "totally agree" or "nice one" and any other empty phrases but something that furthers the discussion and makes me want to reply back.

That's the thing, commenting isn't about saying one thing it's to facilitate in a discussion.

I think the commenting system can be quite flawed because you comment on a post but a lot of times we don't comment on someone else’s reply apart from the author of the post. I would like to have it more like a forum where people quote each other and it becomes more a group talk. Y’know.

A good comment is like having a conversation where one of you is able to make the other person talk more. They keep the conversation from stalling.

bermudaonion said...

Commenting can be tricky. After I read some of the comments I write, I think it was all about me instead of the author of the post - you know, why I can relate to what they said. I do think it's fine to say, "This is a great review" at times because sometimes that's all you have to say. Just do what feels right for you and your life at this time.

Lezlie said...

I think any comment that lets the blogger know you're there and listening is appreciated. We can't always add a lot to the conversation, but it's nice to know people are listening.


christina said...

Trish - just face it. You're a rockstar and we adore you!

Anna said...

Congrats on the nomination! No need to feel guilty; we all do what we can on the commenting front.

As for comments themselves, don't stress about them. I appreciate each and every comment I get, no matter how long or short or how detailed. Just someone popping by to say hi or to say they liked a review I wrote or they're planning on reading that book, too, totally makes my day.

I'm guilty of short comments, but if I leave a comment, you can be sure that I've read your post. I might not have anything clever to say, but I just want to show you that I'm paying attention and appreciate what you're writing. (This goes for all the blogs I read, of course!)

Diary of an Eccentric

Eva said...

*hugs* My health has been awful this year, and there are times when I decide that I'm never going to blog again. But pretty soon, I start missing it!

So I've just been putting less and less pressure on myself. I don't feel guilty when my posting becomes erratic. I don't feel guilty when all of my reviews are super-short. I don't feel guilty for having to mark all read, or not commenting as much as I would like. And I just have to keep reminding myself that this is a hobby, something I do for fun, and I don't owe anyone anything.

It's difficult sometimes, but it's worth it! :)

Stephanie said...

I think we all struggle with the issue of commenting/blogging/time commitments. Blogging is a huge commitment, yet it is a lot of fun and has given me such great opportunities over the last few months. I hope you stick with it Trish - you would be missed!!

Paxton said...

Commenting is a huge commitment, yes, and I can't comment on everything, as much as I would like to. However, I enjoy letting a blogger know if I agree or disagree or just plain enjoyed their post. Many times I think I'm going to leave a 1 sentence post and BAM! I have three paragraphs.

Having blogged myself for almost 4 years I know how much even the smallest comment means. But I also know I don't do it for the comments, I do it because I really do enjoy writing blog articles and I think I'm getting better every day at it. As soon as it starts feeling like a "chore", I'm done.

I definitely know how you feel about being "overwhelmed". As I tell my wife, though, you can only do what you can do. Nothing more.

BAM! This comment is twice as long as I thought it was going to be. :-p

tanabata said...

Congratulations on the nomination and the shortlist! I think you're a wonderful commenter. I'm always feeling guilty for not having the time to comment as much as I'd like, so I know where you're coming from, but seriously we all know that life gets in the way sometimes. Until we can figure out a way to quit the day job and blog for a living, we all have to prioritize.

I love all comments, even the short ones because it lets me know someone was there and reading, but the best comments are the ones where the person has something to say about the post that shows they took the time to read it, and gave it some thought. It's impossible to comment like that on every post of every blog every day though, so you really shouldn't beat yourself up about it! We simply do what we can.

Enjoy your time in Europe, don't think about blogland while you're there, and start fresh when you get back! We'll be here. :)

Literary Feline said...

I really don't have anything new to add to the discussion. Like others have said, I don't think it's the quantity of comments a person leaves that matter, but rather the quality. Your comments are always so thoughtful, Trish. It's really no wonder you are up for this award.

farmlanebooks said...

Congratulations on making the shortlist! Balancing real life and the blogging world is always so hard. The fact that so many people nominated you for this award shows that you are doing a fabulous job. I hope that the next 12 months are better for you. Keep up the good work!

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

Congrats on the short list!

Comments are hard. It is hard to keep up with all the blogs I know we all read. For me, I would rather have 1 comment that shows someone read and got my post as opposed to 10 that basically say look I was here. I guess quality means more than quantity.

Missy said...

If I happen upon a new blogger, I will leave them a welcome comment. It is always nice to be noticed and welcomed into the blogging community.

As for the guilt about commenting...try not to feel bad. Here I am telling you that, and I feel the same way. There is not enough time in a day, week, month...to read and comment on all of the blogs that we love.

claire said...

Trish, I can so understand why you're feeling that way. But don't worry, as based on all the comments, just sit back and let us appreciate you. :)

As for what makes a good comment, anything goes, really. It's nice to get really introspective ones, but even one sentences (e.g. "I loved this book!") I totally appreciate and am glad to receive anytime.

About being overwhelmed by the number of blogs, I felt much the same way a few weeks ago. What I did was just to pare down blogs who reads books that I'm truly interested in, even if there are so many more who are wonderful people, I just couldn't find the time to read blogs just for the blogger, even if they write about books that don't interest me. If I didn't have 3 kids and a job I probably could do well with that, but like Eva said, this is a hobby and I shouldn't let it run my life! :)

Lesley said...

Well I am one of those bloggers who is probably considered antisocial - I don't have a lot of time online, so I don't blog daily, I don't participate in the various memes and weekly installments, and I don't visit other bloggers sites as much as I want. So with that said, take what I say with a grain of salt, but I don't think you should feel guilty (easier said than done, I know) and judging from the reaction of others and your nomination in the first place, obviously folks value your presence in the blogging community and think you're doing just fine. Bottom line, there's enough to stress about in this world and our lives that blogging shouldn't be one of them.

Congrats on the nomination!

Debi said...

Oh goodness, my sweet, silly Trish!!! I sure as hell hope Sane Trish wins this battle! Everyone understands that life gets in the way sometimes. I don't think it's about quantity at all. It's all about quality...and every single comment you leave me is genuine and thoughtful and makes me smile! And sometimes laugh! And always leaves me wanting to reach through the screen to give you a big ol' hug! So that's why I was one of those many, many people who nominated you!
Now, Neurotic Trish, just shut up and leave poor Sane Trish alone, would you?!!

Sherry said...

Any comment is a good comment because it lets me know that someone is reading (except for spam comments. Those are BAD.)

Congratulations on your nomination.

Amy said...

Sweetheart....you are a fantastic commenter. Anytime you comment it's meaningful. And I think that's what people were thinking. :)

J.T. Oldfield said...

thanks for coming and commenting on my blog when I am able to entice you with the first paragraph of a post that you seen on Google Reader! I always look forward to your comments.

carolsnotebook said...

I think any comments are great, even if it's just a "hi!" It shows you're out there and reading the post, even if you don't really have anything to say about it.

I'm also always touched when people leave comments encouraging my daughter. The feedback is great for her.

Diana Raabe said...

It's a bit subjective, don't you think? Nevertheless, I enjoy your comments and your blogs.

Incidentally, you've been "tagged": http://theraabereview.com/2009/09/08/


Lahni said...

For me, I'm lucky to get one comment on each of my posts, so if you can imagine how important one little comment is to me! I am also a person that only comments when I feel I have something to say, I'm not going to comment just to say "hmm, sounds intersting..."

Jodie said...

Aww Trish we can't all be everwhere all the time, it's the tragedy of a busy life ;)

For me a great comment is one that really engages with what you've been saying in your post. So it might take a small detail of the post or review and realy open up new ideas about that part of your post.

Shanra said...

(I am not here! But some posts must be responded to by virtue of what they are.)

Sweetie, you don't sound ridiculous at all. Just so that's out of the way. I think (and I admit I'm avoiding the comments) a lot of people know how you feel about the blogosphere and about how many blogs they watch. I truly don't know how some people do it.

As for me... I learned long ago that I need to keep my reading circle a lot smaller than what most people manage or, like you, I'll shut down. *hugs* It's nothing to be ashamed of or feel guilty about. You're only human, hun, and you only have so many hours in the day. Spend them in ways that make you happy, not ways that stress you out even more. Especially with the year you've been having. *hugs*

I know you say you don't want to be whiny and want focus on the question at the end, so... I should probably point out your post doesn't come across in a 'woe is me!' fashion at all. It's just... I feel I have something hopefully useful to say about it and so I've just said it.

As for your question on what makes a great comment... For me a great comment is something that lets me see the personality behind the words. And everyone does that unless they're very good liars or leave only very generic comments. *hugs* Comments don't have to be super-long or aught. Just... I like that little bit of honesty.

C. B. James said...

I for one, always look forward to your comments.

A good commentor is a regular visitor/commentor who says something in her comments. More than just "Nice" or "I agree". A good comment asks a probing question or makes a point that adds to the discussion.

Trish said...

*Everyone - I am totally and utterly overwhelmed by your comments. I promise I didn't mean for this post to be a lovefest, but can you see me blushing over here? :) Thank you so much for your kindess and above all your understanding.

And thanks for all of your feedback about commenting. I too like comments that further the discussion. I love comments with questions that can give people something to ponder. As Damned Conjuror says, I wish that there could be a little more discussion within the comments, but I am #1 guilty of not reading other comments when I leave mine or the comments that come after mine except from the blog owner. Maybe when the ultimate forces decide that we really do deserve more than 24 hours in a day...? ;)

But really--thank you.