Every so often a small ruckus occurs in the book blogosphere as bloggers discuss how often they comment on other blogs and how often they respond to comments on their own. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t comment on other blogs as often as I would like, due to a combination of factors that includes a lack of free time, an inability to get my WordPress account to be recognized on Blogger, and frustration with trying to comment on blogs that want me to log in with Facebook or that refuse to believe that I am human. However, I do make a sincere attempt to answer every comment on my posts, even if the commenter only said “Great review!” and even if all I say in return is “Thanks for stopping by!” Sometimes, due to real life, I may miss a few comments. But, generally for me, responding is not optional.
I think it can be easy to forget that a comment left on a blog was written by a real person, someone who took the time to read with and engage with a post. Regardless of whether the comment is a three-paragraph mini essay debating themes in Shakespeare or simply a few lines saying “Hey, I’ve never heard of this book! It looks cool!”, it is essentially a human interaction. Someone somewhere is speaking to me. If someone addressed me on the street in real life, I would feel incredibly rude if I kept on walking, refusing to interact with them. Likewise, I would never think in a real-life conversation “Hey, I just gave a beautiful and quite intelligent explanation of this thing and all this person can do is answer with ‘cool’? I’m just going to end the conversation now by pretending I didn’t hear them.” But that’s what it feels like is happening sometimes on the Internet. We speak. We reach out. And we are met with silence.
Of course, everyone has their own blogging style and not everyone can commit the same amount of time to their blogs. When we have events, such as the Tolkien one that just ended, responding to everyone can be feel like quite the feat! I think most of us understand that and probably will not be surprised if a blogger does not answer every single comment. However, I think many of us also feel secretly ignored when we take the time to respond to a blog or a post, and the author never acknowledges our existence, especially when we comment often. We are, many of us, here to make friends, to discuss literature, to build communities. Achieving that is difficult when you reach out only to hear no one answer.
So I think we should try to reframe the way approach blogging and remember that a comment is not just line of text on a screen, but a communication from another human being. And those communications are valuable, regardless of the length or content. Even a simple “Fun list!” is someone taking the time to tell us that they really did read our post and enjoyed it–what a warm, fuzzy feeling to have when our stats are low! We like when our contributions and writings are acknowledged. Why not spread the love by acknowledging the contributions and writings of our readers?