Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Commenters, Unite

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so it's time for The Insecure Writers! The IWSG is an online group created by Alex J. Cavanaugh for writers. You, too, can join us anytime!


Hello IWSG-ers and honored guests! It's that time of the year, when kids and teachers are heading back to school, summer is turning to autumn (hypothetically, anyway; here in New England someone forgot to tell summer that it's over), and, in my house at least, vacation-time is really over. I always feel like this is the real New Year, when everything starts again; I guess I was in school too long for that feeling to ever really wear off.

So, in honor of this new beginning, I'm going to finally run a little poll I've been meaning to run for months, which has to do with comments. So many of us spend a lot of time reading other blogs and commenting, sometimes to ask a question or contribute to a discussion, and sometimes just as a way of saying, "Hi! I was here and I enjoyed this!" I thought we all might benefit from knowing the general consensus on responding to comments. Not returning visits, but responding to comments left on our posts.

The only issue is that I cannot for my life find a way to embed a simple poll in this post without a) signing up for a service I don't want, b) making all of you scroll around the page and search for it until you get frustrated and give up, c) sending you to a results page full of ads, or d) breaking my blog.

Yes, I'm sure there's an easy way, but I can't find it. I am feeling insecure about this. Moving on.

SO, I'm going to ask all of you lovely people to please go ahead and answer two easy questions in your comments, and we'll call that a poll and move on with life and pretend that I am a very tech-savvy blogger.

Before I ask the questions, let me explain: as I've mentioned, I'm struggling a bit with time. I read a lot of blogs and leave comments, and I love writing, and then there's my day job and my family and my friends...and I'm looking for something to give a little. I'm wondering if responding to comments is something I might be able to give up. I often feel like I'm just responding to let people know that I read their comments, instead of responding to an actual debate or question. And that's starting to feel like something I might not need to do. However, I will always, always respond if you ask a question or raise an important idea or even just leave a long and thoughtful response.

Here are the questions I'd love for you to answer (and please, be honest!! I will not be offended!):

1. Do you think it's important for a blogger to respond to all comments on a post?
2. Do you check back to see if the blogger has responded to your comment?

My own answers:

1. No, I don't think it's important for a blogger to always respond to comments. I know we're all busy and we all have a lot going on, and I don't take it personally if a blogger doesn't respond to my comment - unless I asked a question or raised a new idea, or left a very long, unusually thoughtful comment.
2. Sadly...no. I'm sorry!! I used to subscribe to comments on every blog I visited, but now I visit too many and my inbox got so clogged that I had to delete everything. Now, I only check back if I did one of the things I mentioned in my first answer: asked a question, raised an issue, or left a long and thoughtful response.

Please leave a comment and tell me what you think! I'll report back on the overall results next week. Thank you!

71 comments:

  1. Wonderful post! I've, too, struggled (as we all do) with the time/blog/comment conundrum. How do some people seem to have time for it all? Like you, I don't, no matter how hard I try! In answer to your questions, No, I don't think it's important to respond to every single comment. Second, no, I don't check to see if someone has responded to my comments. If I ask a specific question then yes, but most of the time I'm just commenting to let the blogger know we're on the same lines of thinking or to offer some encouragement. Neither of those require a response therefore I don't expect one!

    Happy Wednesday and I hope things settle down for you in this "New Year" (PS: I've always felt a little like fall was a new year. Glad to know I'm not alone!)

    ~Jen

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    1. Nope, you're not alone! Happy New Year!! ;)

      Thanks for answering my 'poll'. That all makes sense, and I appreciate the feedback!

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  2. I don't think it's important for the blogger to respond back and I never check to see if they responded to my comment. I just assume they read it and appreciated it because I say such clever, sincere things.

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    1. Indeed, you do :) Thanks for the feedback!

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  3. My answers are just like yours! No & No. I stopped responding to comments a while back for time reasons---the more time I spent writing responses that probably no one was going to read, the less time I'd have to visit other blogs. I figure most people would prefer a comment on their post to a response to their comment. Exceptions, though, are like you say---when someone asks a question or leaves an extra thoughtful comment I like to respond. But even in those cases I'll often respond w/ a PS at the end of my comment at their blog.

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    1. Yup, I do that, too, because I have a feeling it has a better chance of being read! Thanks, Nicki :)

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  4. Liz, I think that as we get busier we just don't have the time. Life gets in the way. I don't always check to see if a blogger responded to my comments (unless I asked a question). I personally enjoy responding to comments on my own blog (most people leave insightful comments and I always feel compelled to). I don't think you should stress about this. Respond when you have time, and when you don't, well, don't.

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    1. Thanks :) That's the general idea - not stressing. I was really curious about other people's thoughts on this, though. Thanks for weighing in!

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  5. 1. It depends on the post, but no. I don't thing it's obligatory for every post on every blog. I do, however, think it should be fairly all or nothing. With rare exception, if I respond to one person's comment, I keep responding to the rest on that post.

    2. No. I rarely go back and check for a reply.

    IWSG #179 until Alex culls the list again.

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    1. Hmm, parity in responses? That makes sense. Thanks, Melissa :)

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  6. I never did respond and then I realized some people like to check back so for me, personally, I do respond even if it is simple thanks.Yes I do look to see if I got a response to my response-hahahaaa. I am way too curious. Now this is my personal answer ut do I feel offended or feel the universe will implode because I felt it was rude...God help me ! No way! There are bigger things to get offended about not this:) If people respond-great and if they don't-no worries. People are busy and it takes time. Now Liz, I hope you don't mind but I nominated you for the Liebster Award. If you partake-great and, if not...no worries:). I nominated you cos I think you are swell(there's an old slang word:)

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    1. Haha, no, thank goodness, the universe will not implode if we don't respond to all comments! But since you do check back, I thought I'd better leave one anyway ;) Just kidding! I'm happy to. THANK YOU for the award!!

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  7. I think it all depends on the comment that is left. I used to try to respond to every comment left on my blog, but I don't always know what to say, especially if the comment is just saying that the person enjoyed my post. Plus I think most people don't check back to see if you responded, so isn't kind of a waste of time? But I agree, if the person left a question or something really meaningful, then you should respond if you really want to. Ultimately it's your blog and you can do what you want. I sometimes check back on my comments, but only if I left something meaningful, so I guess my answer is kind of the same on both counts. :)

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    1. Yeah, I wondered if it was a waste of time - and it sounds like we're right about that for the most part! That's very helpful to know, though. Thanks for weighing in!

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  8. I'd like to say yes to both questions, but that reality was put to the test during the last A to Z when I couldn't keep up with responding to comments, or going to every blog and reading and commenting on them (especially the really LONG blog posts). I do try to respond back to comments on my blog. And, if I'm going to someone's blog I will always leave a comment, for just the reason you said, to let them know I was there. But I don't expect a response for every comment I make, unless I've asked a question or start to subscribe to that blog. There you have it! Good questions. I've always wondered about the "etiquette" of blogging!

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    1. OH lord yes, the A to Z really highlighted all of this. I had to stop responding to comments, and then the world didn't end and people still stopped by, so I started wondering how important it was. Thanks for your feedback!

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  9. 1. No. I think it's nice if they respond if a question is raised, or they have something to add to an ongoing conversation, but I don't expect them to reply to all comments.

    2. Sometimes. It depends if the blogger typically replies to comments, and if my comment meets the same criteria you put down in your answer. If I know that the blogger doesn't typically respond, then I don't bother checking back, even if I did ask a question.

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    1. Thanks, Loni :) I was thinking of you when I put in that 'if i ask a question' criteria!

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  10. I think it's really up to you. I personally like to respond to the comments I get because it lets new visitors see that I am active and that I pay attention to them. Or at least that's what I want them to see and think. And it's just automatic. But when I leave a comment on another blog, I don't subscribe to the comments anymore or check back to see if they replied (unless I asked a question that I really need to know the answer to). I'm just too busy otherwise.

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    1. Good point - the responses do make things seem active. I'll have to think about that one. Thank you!

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  11. You ARE tech-saavy *wink, wink*

    Well, I'm a big on the whole to each their own concept. I choose to respond to people who comment on my page both in my comments and on their blog. But, after a day or two, I have to let them go because, well, I just don't have time to sit on Blogger all day answering people back. I do make sure I visit them the next time I post though. It's a matter of being polite. As you mentioned, if I ask a question, I'll go back and check on the post, or if I left a long and thoughtful comment (not like this one that is totally rambling), I go back and see if they said anything. If they didn't - I don't get my feelings hurt. People have lives outside of blogger. So, my answer is still, to each their own. :)

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    1. LOL! Thanks. Not at all, but we'll pretend :)

      That makes a lot of sense - and it's a good maxim to live by. To each her own! Thanks for weighing in.

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  12. My answers are pretty much the same as yours. I only reply to a comment if the blogger asks a question or raises a query. I just don't have time to reply to every single comment that is posted on my blog. However, I will visit the blog of whoever commented.

    For the second question, my answer is no, I don't usually go back and look for a response. Only if I've asked a question.

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    1. Thanks, Laura! Seems like that's the majority consensus so far...

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  13. I think many of us struggle with this, Liz. It's honestly why I quit trying to grow my blog (by participating in the many bloghops, etc.). I just couldn't keep up with commenting and visiting everyone who did. As silly as it sounds, I think it takes a particular skill to be really good at growing a blog and being super engaged in the community.

    At any rate, don't view it as a personal failing. The people who are your friends will stick with you. :)

    Answers: 1) I try to reply to all of the comments left on my blog for the first couple of days a post is up. I also make those people the first on my list when I scan for familiar faces in G+, Twitter, etc. (My blog follow list is out of control and I quit trying to monitor it for updates. When Google shutdown its feed thing--which I kept on my homepage--it really hurt my blogging interactivity.)

    2) I never check back to see if a blogger replied to one of my comments. I usually get an e-mail, but if I don't, I'm probably not aware of their response.

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    1. Oh yes, I really hear you - it's so hard to keep up with everything. It actually sounds like your plan is a really good one, and I might need to adopt it. I always think I should try to build my audience more, but I barely can keep up now, small as it is!! Thanks for taking the time to come by and weigh in :)

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  14. I respond to comments in batches although not every single one. (My comment section might explode if I did that.) Some people come back to check. I usually don't unless I asked a question.

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  15. 1. No, they don't need to respond back to comments, but it is courtesy to visit the commentor back. (Which is obviously not a problem for you.)

    2. I don't usually check back to see if someone commented back, but there are the rare occasions. Also, if they don't blog again for a couple weeks, I do pop back into their blog to see if they commented back. So there's that.

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    1. Thanks. I do try to be courteous! :) Thanks for adding feedback!

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  16. I do on my blog, but many times I only leave comments on blogs I have followed for a long time that way I can come back to check for an answer. I understand the inbox exploding. I made the mistake of checking "Notify me" on Alex's blog once...it was not pretty.

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    1. Oh dear. No, that would NOT be pretty. I'm amazed your email account survived the experience ;)

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  17. 1. Do you think it's important for a blogger to respond to all comments on a post?

    I don't think every comment needs a response, unless it evokes a response from any of the readers of the comment.

    2. Do you check back to see if the blogger has responded to your comment?

    Sometimes, if I pose a question in my comment. But if I don't get a response, there's always contact forms and email messaging! :)

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    1. True!! very true. A good point to remember. Thanks!

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  18. I don't think it's important to respond to all posts, although occasionally doing so for posts that catch your eye can be a good thing. I don't have the time to go back and read the responses to my comments very often, so I only do it when I've left a specific question whose answer I value.

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  19. My answer to both is no. I have never once checked to see if a blogger responded to a comment I left. I can't imagine ever finding the time to do that! I have always responded to comments on my blog but have recently eased up on that for the same reasons you mention here. I've been thinking about this issue as I struggle with finding time to keep blogging so I'm glad you brought it up!

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    1. haha! I know, I do it pretty rarely myself. I'm glad I brought it up, too!

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  20. This past summer I decided that responding to every comment was just not going to work for me. It took ages! And I just couldn't do it. In answer to your questions, no for both. On very, very rare occasions I'll check back, but like you mentioned, only when I'm asking something or needing some more info. Wish I had that kind of time! :)

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    1. Me, too!! Then I wouldn't even need this poll. Wouldn't that be lovely?

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  21. 1. I think it's important for a blogger to respond to some comments. I currently respond to all the ones I get, but I know that won't last forever; I figure as long as I read them all and respond to a few, the blog won't seem like it's all one-way. I like to feel that I'm talking with people, not at them.

    2. I only check back if I asked the blogger something, or if I think I had something interesting or important to say about their chosen topic. Doesn't happen often. ^_^

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    1. Yah, that's a good point, about talking with people instead of to them or at them. I like that :)

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  22. I know, what's with this heat wave? This better be the last one of the year.

    I tried to put polls on my blog once. I found it as hard to deal with as you. I'm pretty good with computer stuff, but I threw my hands up at this.

    1. I do think it's important. But it's also acceptable for a blogger to return the visit.
    2. I don't check back. I don't have the time. It's why I reply to comments on my blog through email if they have their accounts linked to email, so they know I've replied.

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    1. Ok, that makes me feel a little better. I'm glad I'm not the only one!! Thanks for the feedback :)

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  23. I DO try to reply to people's comments, but I don't thinks it's absolutely necessary. And not all blogger reply. I rarely check back to see if someone did reply unless I was looking for an answer or something.

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  24. I've been wondering about the same thing. Sometimes it seems like I'm just responding to say "I read this," instead of offering something important to the conversation.
    My answers to both your questions are no.

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  25. I try and always respond(though some slip through the cracks) mainly b/c I enjoy saying something back, especially if the comment feels sort of discussionist. (is that a word?) Also, I feel rude if I only reply to a few comments and not all. I'm always worried about offending ppl! Now the posts I've decided here lately that I 'probably' won't comment on are my Author Stop ones. Most of the comments are what we all normally do on those types of posts- Sounds like a great book! Love the cover, etc. and there's no point in me replying 'You're right, thanks!' twenty times. Lol! As for checking back? Sometimes I do, especially if I know I'd recently commented on a post then I'll take the time to click on Older Post and see if there's a reply. But I think if you decide not to respond to comments, everyone will understand and totally get it. Life is crazy hectic and you've got to put your main priorities first. And now that I've written you a book sized comment, I shall bid you adieu. ;)

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    1. If discussionist isn't a word, it should be!!

      Thanks for the thoughtful answers! I agree, it often does depend on the post and the content. I appreciate your book-sized thoughts :)

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  26. I'm starting to 'batch' response to comments on my blog, simply because I don't always have an original reply for several similar comments. I generally don't check back to see if a comment I made was replied to. I tend to show love by trying to comment on the blogs of my commenters, if that makes sense :)

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    1. It makes perfect sense! Thanks for weighing in :)

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  27. I do like to see a blogger's comments on comments. It shows they are engaged - BUT I don't expect them to comment on every comment. Just to answer questions or highlight an interesting comments.

    When I ask a question on a blog, I do come back to see the answer. I am disappointed when it goes unanswered. After three days I give up. But other types of comments, i don't check back. GADS, could you imagine the time suckage there?

    I don't expect a blogger to email me the answer, though I know some do.

    I don't care for the batch responses. I don't like searching for a response.

    Me- I end up responding to a lot of my commenters. I didn't use to, but now I do. I dunno why. I'm more chatty maybe?

    When there is a question or something that I really want them to know, I do email a commenter. Not all the time just for things that are more time sensitive, so to speak.

    I have had commenters come back and comment on the comment I left them. Mostly, it's when they asked a question or wanted clarification. I try to respond the same day or the next at the latest.

    Hum... what else. Oh, I don't subscribe but it doesn't subscribe to my comment and let me know when there is feedback. It tell me every time a new comments in general is posted. And that is not helpful.

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    1. Thank you so much for the thoughtful response! I really appreciate it. I CAN imagine the time suckage - I did that at first! It was seriously out of control very fast. There's courtesy and friendliness, and then there's craziness ;)

      Chatty is good! I think it's nice to have a conversation with commenters when the comment is that sort of comment...I just said comment fifty times...does that make sense?

      Anyway, I really appreciate this. Thank you!

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    2. Hey, I used comment/commentor 13 times, but when one talks about commenting, you sort of have to use the word.

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  28. Now on the autumn not being here in New England, I agree. It's sticky hot today and the leaves are bright green.

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    1. I KNOW! I wouldn't mind so much - I don't want summer to end! - if it wasn't so insanely humid. Blech.

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  29. First, I completely agree with you about this time of year, Liz. In fact, I just blogged about how September is that "new" timing of year for me. I feel like it's the beginning of my regimen as a dedicated writer who wakes up at 5am before the day job to get as much as I can done for the longevity of my author work.
    It's hard to juggle everything when we have fulltime jobs, family, friends and an on-going struggle to make it in this business.
    This means we actually have to WRITE. It can be quite time consuming to visit the amount of blogs most of us do and comment. And then to have to read our own comments and comment back... well, I will say this in answering your questions.
    I always read my comments and I usually always comment back. Unless the comment was left over a week or two after my post, I'm pretty good with this. But then again, I've only been blogging for a year so maybe this is the beginner in me?
    If I see there is a discussion going on my blog from an answer I have given, I will go back to check. But if I am cramped for writing time and have to decide whether or not I can keep checking my comments, I will choose writing because again, not all of us are blessed with and endless amount of time for our craft.
    I remember when I was writing my novel, my blog suffered because I knew I wouldn't be able to respond to everyone or even have enough time to come up with posts. I took some time away but I tried to keep up with other authors' work. I just put my own blog on the backburner until my novel was at a decent place of word count.

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    1. That's a great idea, to use this "New Year" as a chance to develop some good new habits! I admire that you're up at 5...I don't think I could do it!

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful answers. It IS a balancing act, all of it, and that means that sometimes one thing will take precedence over the others, and that will change as our circumstances change. We can only do the best we can do!

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  30. If there is a discussion on a topic then I go back and check comments. Otherwise no, I don't check. And yes you can forgo answering as long as a question doesn't go unanswered.

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  31. Agree to both the points. There is no need to answer to every comment. You will just end up writing "thanks for the comment" (Unless there is any specific pointed question in the comment)

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    1. Exactly. Thank you (and that's pretty much proving your point.. ;) )

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  32. I love this highly technical poll because it lets me answer "maybe" and "maybe" - something most polls don't allow you to do.

    Is it important to respond? Maybe - depends on you as a blogger and the visitors you are hoping to attract. As a reader, I am more attracted to blogs where there is some interaction, otherwise it feels like a one-way push of the blogger's opinions. It's called "social" media for a reason. So unless the blogger has some unique and very interesting things to say I will soon stop bothering if they clearly aren't bothering to interact with their readers. It just comes across to me as slightly arrogant.

    Do I check back? Maybe - often not, but I will if I asked a question or am hoping to see a reply to a point. On blogs I visit regularly I will often drop in on posts where I commented, both to see responses and what other commenters have said since.

    Speaking of which...I left a comment on your previous post, and included some information about the interview with Teresa Cypher. That is one I'd love a response to :)

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    1. Ha! Well then, I'm glad I could provide a more open-ended poll. I KNEW there was a silver lining in there somewhere... ;)

      I hear you -I like blogs where I can interact with the blogger, too...but I don't like the feeling of having to respond if there's nothing to interact WITH, if you know what I mean? Some comments need responses, and some don't.

      My apologies for not responding to your other comment - and your generous offer! It completely slipped my brain. I will go take care of that now.

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  33. LOL - I'm not the only one who thinks the year starts when school does- YAY!

    I use Survey Monkey for polls on my blog. But yeah, it can try the patience.


    1. Do you think it's important for a blogger to respond to all comments on a post?

    For me, I try to do this. But I know not everyone does. And bloggers with a huge following probably don't have time. So perhaps then only when the comment requires a reply- such as a question asked.

    2. Do you check back to see if the blogger has responded to your comment?

    Sometimes. If I'm waiting for an answer on something, I will. And, since my blog moved to Wordpress, I find that if another wordpress user replies to my comment, I can FIND that reply easily, so yes, that makes me happy. But if I've just left a short comment that isn't discussion worthy, I suppose I don't really expect a reply.

    If it came down to it, I'd rather have a comment on a new post on my own blog, and then come back and visit the other person's blog and leave them a comment. Perhaps a bit of conversation might happen after time during the back and forth. I don't know.

    BUT, not all comment leavers have a blog for me to visit. :/
    So the plan has that flaw.

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    1. I agree with you! The return comments on posts are the most important to me, too, although I LOVE a good discussion when it can happen.

      Thanks for the thoughtful reply :) And I wonder how many people think of the new school year as the new year - even if they're not in school? Maybe that should be another poll...

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  34. No and No -- but I faithfully return every comment I receive by visiting the commenter's blog and leaving a comment on the most recent post. That'll have to be good enough. =]

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    1. It's good enough by me! Thanks, Milo :)

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  35. No to both points, but I return to comment on the bloggers post.

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