Saturday, May 20, 2006

Comments on Comments

I love commenting on other people's blogs. If I see a post that doesn't have comments, I feel like it must be lonely, like not having gotten a valentine in the decorated shoebox in 4th grade. I want that post to be loved, to feel included.

Because to me, the whole idea of having a blog is comments. I mean, if I wanted a website where I just put up content, that would be one thing. But blogs become a conversation when people comment. You learn all sorts of things from people's comments.

In Blogger, people's comments can have an icon to show who they are. I love this! I have seen actual photos of Joke but I love to imagine him as the dapper Esquire man. Blackbird's is (shocking, isn't it) a blackbird! Babelbabe's is that girl from Scooby Doo. Not the one with the long hair, the other one. Gina's is a Lego person. Some people use their dogs (Lazy Cow) or childhood photos (Andrea, PJ). Mine is the pink shoes--which is a picture I took with a disposable camera on Memorial Day, 200? I have always liked taking pictures of my feet and I have to say, this is one of my favorite pictures, ever. I love the yellow lines on the parking lot... (It's the Wendy's in Harmar, on the way to the Penna Turnpike. I just had to share that because I'm obsessed with geography.)

People have different comment styles. Some people write a mini-novel (that would be me) on how that post reminded them of "that time, in band camp"... some people just say, "Wow, that's so cool." Some people (who shall remain nameless) shriek "Gah! I forgot to vote!" if your post is about how you're going off to vote, now. Some people don't comment, but tell you at a party that they've been reading your blog and they like it.

Comments are also a way to get to other people's blogs. In Blogger, most people's comments link back to their profiles and then back to their blogs. So if Blackbird is hosting a show and tell, she posts hers and then everyone comments, saying "I'm up!" and then you dutifully (well I do) go and visit them, and comment. To me, it's the modern day equivalent of having calling cards. If you comment on someone's blog and then they visit your blog and comment, well, you might have the potential for a blog friend! If they email you and it's not the email equivelant of hate mail, you're in! I have a bunch of regular and not so regular correspondents and some true kindred spirit friends that I've gained this way.

Then, of course, there are spam comments. They suck, which is why most people have word verification on their comment pages. And then there are ranting lunatics, who use the comment box as their soap box. John had a very interesting comment recently. He actually moderates his comments, which means that you see who commented and then you publish them at your discretion. I like the immediacy of people publishing their own comments. They or I can later delete comments. So, yes, if you commented at 4 am when you were feeling cranky, you can usually go back and delete your comment on your friend's blog. But most folks have their comments emailed to them (although this seems to be working sluggishly this week) so if your intent was to not offend the blogger whose blog you posted on at 4 am, you might want to send them an email too. (I speak from experience, of having regretted later the comment I left.) (And I was absolved.) (Thank you!)

Commenting has given me a new voice, as has blogging in general. Before, I was always careful to agree or not say anything. But Babelbabe and I disagree on some things and she has empowered me to disagree, in the comments. Joke is amazing at commenting on a controversial subject and deflecting it by making it humorous. (He's not called Joke for nothin') Back in December Babs and Gina posted about a big controversy about Target and their policy on dispensing contraception, emergency and otherwise. The posts are interesting enough, but if you didn't read the comments, you missed the iceberg under the water (and only got the tip).

I adore it when people comment and hate it when they don't. It's like that Sally Fields moment at the Oscars "You like me, you really like me!" I realize blogging is not a popularity contest but I never won those either. Whenever I discuss blogs with BJ, his blog-envy is that I get comments. And my blog-envy is that Babs gets them in the double digits. (The grass is always greener, my friends...)

Back in March, I had a hissy fit and begged for comments. I got 24! Which is where I'd like to be, because any more than that and it would be out of control. But when you have 24, you usually have a couple of folks that have come back to see what other people commented on *their* comment and then they comment again.

So, for the record, my stance on comments: they are a way of saying, hi, I was here, I read what you wrote. I hated/loved/feel indifferent about it. Monosyllabic comments are cool, as are novelettes. E.M. Forster has a quote (and no, I don't know which book it's from--but if you do, please comment!) that goes like this: "Only connect." And that is how I feel about comments.

Now, I know that many of my readers have children on their laps or are on their way to somewhere else, but hey, come up for air every once in a while. (And they do. For which I love them dearly!) One time Babs dear left four comments on one day. One of them was "I may not always comment but I'm commenting now!" (I love you, Babs!)

My favorite comment of all time is one that Blackbird left on one of Gina's posts. It was highly emotional, and Blackbird commented thusly, "I think I'm just going to stand over here and not say much of anything. Okay?" It was the kindest comment I'd ever read, because it said it all there: I'm here, but I don't know what to say, but I'm here!

My most drop my jaw comment was one (that same week) by Brenda Coulter, a true blue author, who found my post on Christian Romance novels via Technorati. I was BLOWN away.

Some fun facts about comments on my blog
(stats start on Dec 11, when I switched my comments email to hit my yahoo account.)

My first, second, (and third and fourth...) comments were from Babelbabe, who in all (since December has commented on my blog 32 times. (Her numbers are higher, I promise, but this is since December.)

My first comment that wasn't from Babelbabe: from Katy, who found me on Behind the Stove and was curious b/c her mom's name is Sarah Louise and she wanted to make sure it wasn't her mom.

Number of comments, in ascending order:

Erin, 30 times.

--erica, 39 times.

Blackbird has commented 73 times.

Joke, 151!! (are we surprised? No, I didn't think so.)

A short history of comments on my blog:

My first post that had 2 comments from two unique people was also my first spam, back on August 15, 2005.

My second third post that had 2 unique commenters was September 18. BJ posted two comments, John posted a comment, and I responded: so it was my highest commented post to date, 4!

My third second post that had 2 unique comments was on September 2--oh, I see, blogs are upside down in the archives too. Anyways, my good friend (we met through our blogs) Marlaena was noting that we were listening to the same album at the same time. (Cutless, Strong Tower.)

October 10: 5 unique comments!

October 23 marked my first comment total of 9! (a blogversattion)

Sunday November 13: I fall on my a$$ and get 11 comments: a blogversation between moi, Joke, and Babs!

Dec 9: my first REAL show and tell with my digi camera (happy birthday!) and 7 unique comments, some from folks I'd never heard of before!!

Dec 11: Babs shows me how to be confrontational in a blogversation.

Now, if you're new, you're like, who are all these people. I may or may not link up later. But now I am going to bed, because it is after midnight. It is so easy to lose track of time while composing and messing around in your archives...

(oh, and help! I want the archives to say Month Year, not the bizarre numbers like it is now.) (Advice?) (Appreciated, thank you.)

And my favorite song just came on (one of my favorites) "King of the Road."


Badger said...

Hey look! I am commenting!

To change the way your archives display, log in to blogger, click on the title of your blog, click "settings", then click "formatting" under that. There will be an option to change your "archive index date format". It's a pull-down menu; easy-peasy!

blackbird said...

how did you get the comment stats?

I don't know how to do that...


Sarah Louise said...

My Lord, someone can write a novel. I had to scroll forever to get down to comment--oh, that was me.

I will try the archive thingy again--that's how I got them looking the way they did (before, I had each week).

bb--I have my comments in a separate yahoo file. I counted how many were sent. (Yahoo posts 25 to a pane, so that did make the counting a little easier.) After that, it was pretty darn old fashioned. One, two, three...

oh, and I absolve you from voting too, assuming that like in PA, it was mostly just primaries.

MsCellania said...

Dam that Badger must never sleep. She's numero uno alot.

I always read all the comments. That's why I probably look like a stalker for those of you who read stats; I go back to re-read and comment on the comments in the blogs I enjoy.

Off subject, but iris seem to be at their peak this week around heah.

BabelBabe said...

what a great post! I had my moment of not-sure about this topic, but I have to admit, fascinating.

Howard's End, btw.
"Only connect"
It always makes me think of the Pittsburgh busses with "Connect" written all over them - I posted on THAT eons ago...

Paula said...

Your post made me break my no weekend post rule. Well, not really, I've already broken that but, your post was thought provoking...

Joke said...

moxhi, I was here, I read what you wrote. I hated/loved/feel indifferent about it.


I canNOT believe I'm the first one to comment this!

Sarah Louise said...


We all do that. We may not admit to it, but that's how you have a blogversation, by going back to see what the comments are on your comments. So don't label yourself as a stalker. It's just not a healthy word.


J-what is moxhi?

Simon said...

Hey Sarah. Just popped over from Kirala where you were commenting on comments and mentioned that you had a post regarding commenting on comments so I thought I'd come over and comment. (That's the most times I've ever used that word in a single sentence. And it happened on your blog. Lucky you!)

I agree with part of the one point you made in that blogging shouldn't be a popularity contest, but so many people try to turn it into one. And if that's the case, you're not really sharing your thoughts so much as soliciting some sort of approval rating.

I can appreciate the commentary though. And, uh, nice shoes!

Katrina said...

Your blog rocks, SL! And I always, always read, even if I don't always comment. But I will try to comment more, and pass on the bloggity love that I so like to receive! Great post. :)

Joy! said...

Hey, I just dropped in via Five Star Intrepid Tuesday. I enjoy browsing around and finding new bloggers. I confess I mostly lurk a lot. What to say, what to say? :)

Great post! I feel the way you do about commenting to my Flickr friends as you do about commenting on blogs. I'm trying to get into the habit more out here too. Hi!