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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Attracting Comments

I had fully planned to write a post on blog comments this week. By coincidence (I swear) this weekend brought some of the strongest feedback I’ve received so far. A recent post on a woman who searches for cars illegally parked in spots reserved for people with disabilities attracted a couple of angry violators.

I've never garnered much feedback with my writing, although the only other time I had the opportunity to attract any was with my disability-related articles at the Inquirer. Evoking response seems critical to a good blog, and important to good writing in general. (Traffic helps too, but that's another issue.)

As I mentioned, both folks commenting over the weekend were rather pissed. So, is that the secret? Tick folks off, and have an active blog! Nah. There must be more to it than that.

A recent scan of my comments revealed a few more real comments than I thought I’d received. There were a few thoughtful comments on a book or two that I’ve reviewed, which are always welcome. Then, of course, there are the weak attempts to post links to other blogs, which I delete. Look, I don’t mind subtle efforts to garner traffic, but commenters with their own traffic hit counter in mind should offer up more than this typical spam:

Hey :)
You have a great blog here, keep up the great work! I'll definitely bookmark you.
Do you wanna check out The Coolest Guy On The Planet's website?
Check it out if you get some time, and I'll be sure to check back here regularly!

I mean, at least act like you read the post you’re commenting on. By the way, I removed the link encoded in “The Coolest Guy On The Planet’s.”

My favorite comment so far? My review of Maze received this reply:

i can tell by your review that you must be a white guy,its not uncommand for some races dont get(not understanding or not feeling the music) some of our best music. i was at that concert in new orleans when it was recorded,and his slower songs,well you have to feel what he is singing as well as listening to it, then you might get it. but it is almost impossible to to even think that he has never won any type of award, but yet all of his concerts sell out of tickets,and just about every black person 38-39 and above owns atleast one copy and in some cases the entire collection. those who really know r&b knows that he is amoung the greatest,smoothess soul singers that is still alive today. to get it you might have to listen to (look at california,the golden time of day, oh well the entire antholgy 2 disc set). better yet see if you can find a concert that he is doing,and when you do,then you might get it.scott

I love that — honest and heartfelt, without attacking. Plus, he’s right . . . I am a white guy . . . and, he’s probably right . . . maybe I don’t “get” Maze enough to offer a better review.

But the question remains: What gets people to take that step to actually go to the trouble to add a blog comment? Steve can’t be the only black guy to have read my Maze review who thought I’d missed something. What got him to comment, when others just moved on?

I read a lot of blogs, and I’m guilty of commenting in the hope of attracting traffic to my site (though I at least make my comments relevant). It also takes a lot to get me to post. Usually I have to feel knowledgeable about a topic, have a very strong opinion on it, and, generally, disagree with the blogger.

That seems to be the key for evoking posts — generating disagreement. I sincerely hope I’m wrong, because that would seem to be just one more indictment of the internet, if not society.

Hopefully, a commenter or two can shed some light on the topic for me.

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