Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sorting Through the Data on Comments

Last week, I ran a highly technical and scientific poll about comments, so of course that means that this week, I'll reveal the results that I have carefully sorted and analyzed. Rest assured, the results are just as technical and scientific as the poll itself.

Which is to say that I went through and counted the responses by hand, and tallied up some numbers in my head and used those to come up with some rough estimates (calculator? Who needs a calculator?) to share with you today.

Granted, I had about 35 responses, and there are about 5,467,872,536 blogs out there (that's a real number based on my imagination), so that represents 0.00000001% of the blogosphere...but it's my 0.00000001%, the people who come and comment and whose blogs I read, so that counts for something, I think. I'm not sure what, exactly, but it's something

I know, I know, I'm not getting any points for technical prowess. But I did read everyone's responses carefully - and I have to say, I really appreciate the thoughtfulness displayed in most of the answers. Thank you again to everyone who weighed in.

Now, on to the results. I asked:

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

Result: Almost everyone replied 'No' on this one. The clear majority - like 98% ish - thinks that unless the comment asked a question, raised an issue, or was very thoughtful, there's no need to leave a response if the blogger doesn't have time. If the comment doesn't meet those criteria, replies are nice, but it's better to use your time to visit that commenter's blog instead.

A couple of you did note that you like to see lively blogs, and bloggers who are invested in and care about their readers, and so you do try to respond to everyone who comments. To you I say thank you, and I admire you, and where on earth do you find the time?


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

Result: This one was almost unanimous, except for those of us who have an insatiable curiosity (and I love you for it! :) ). None of us go back to see responses to our comments - unless our comments met those criteria I noted in the first question. If we asked a question, raised an issue, or left a long and thoughtful response, we do check back. Otherwise, we wish we could, but we just don't have time.


Conclusion: So, what does this all mean? Well, I can't come to a definitive conclusion, because the blogosphere is too big and I am one little blog inside it, but I can share what I've decided. Based on the majority consensus that responses aren't essential, I'm no longer going to respond to every comment on my blog - but I am going to read and enjoy and appreciate every single one, so don't doubt that your words have been seen. I love comments, and I gobble them up, and I get hungry if there aren't any. If you happen to ask a question or raise an issue, I definitely will respond. I will probably also respond to other comments that tickle my fancy or make me smile, and still others for no discernible reason, because I'm the blogger and I say so.

I also will not expect any of you to respond to a comment I leave on your blog, unless, again, I ask a question or raise an issue or say something incredibly insightful and interesting and thoughtful, which of course I do All. The. Time. I am like an Insightful Comment machine.

Ahem. Anyway, don't worry about responding to me if I happen to have an off-day and say something that doesn't require any kind of response. It happens. Rarely, of course, but I'm human. Or I'm a machine. Wait, I seem to be contradicting myself.

MOVING ON.

The thing that won't change? I'll always return your visit.

Hey - look at that! I wrote two whole blog posts just about commenting. Pretty cool, huh? See how I managed to not talk at all about how my writing is going? A sure-fire sign that I am likely feeling overwhelmed and frustrated at my own perceived lack of productivity? I know, I'm a sneaky one. Suffice it to say that I have too many pots boiling and I'm worried I'm going to forget about one or more, and then the water will evaporate and before I know it I'll have a gross, ruined pot. And then what will I cook with?

Not to worry. I'm sure I'll vent talk about that next week.

So, what about you? What do you make of the poll results? Are you horrified and offended by my conclusion? (I hope not.) Will you change your own responding habits, or keep them as they are? If you didn't weigh in last week, feel free to do so now. That's the joy of nontechnical, unscientific polls. I knew I did it that way for a reason...

33 comments:

  1. Since you asked I am in fact horrified and offended by your conclusion. ;) :D
    Seriously I am glad to read that most people feel the same way I do about this issue. I think I will continue responding to comments as I do now but won't feel pressured if I don't have the time to do it. It seems like most people are laid back about all this which is great. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh NO! I'm sorry I horrified you! ;) Yes, I'd say we can all relax about it a little bit, which is lovely.

      Delete
  2. Oh goody - it feels nice to be in sync w/ popular opinion every once in a while. You do always leave fantastic comments!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I would much rather, as a blogger, receive a return comment on my blog than a response to a comment on someone else's. (In part because it saves me the trouble of going back to see if anyone replied to my comment.)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm not surprised at the results of your scientific survey but am glad it turned out that way since I do what you do.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I was pretty sure those would be the results of your highly technically poll.

    ReplyDelete
  6. These results don't surprise me. Most people are too busy to go back and see if a blogger responded to their comment (unless they asked a question). And by the way, your comments are always great.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's because your posts are always great!

      Delete
  7. Comments can get very interesting sometimes. In the beginning, when first connecting with a network, I think responding to comments via email had value. But now I only due that based on the criteria you noted.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I like your logic! And your math skills.
    Doesn't surprise me. Some people do go back and create a really long, drawn out conversation, but as you said, there is only so much time and they can only visit and revisit so many blogs to do that. (Besides, wouldn't a conversation like that be better suited for Twitter?)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I loved that you analyzed all of that. It's an act after my own heart. <3

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am one curious person..I must have been some sort of cat in a previous life:) I love reading comment, I respond and I can't help but look back but if i get offended that people don't respond to my response then I need to have a visit by those men in white coats and take me to a spa...hmmmmm. actually that doesn't sound too bad. I could sit, read, have a margarita or 5 (who stops at 2?)...you can join me at this spa if you wish:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HA! If that's what a mental institution is like (spas, books, and margaritas), then sign me up!!!

      Delete
  11. I try to respond to all of the comments people leave for me, but I don't always have time.

    I do agree with the criteria you discussed above.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm rather relieved to see your findings here. This past summer I started not responding to all comments, because I just didn't have the time. Unless there were those caveats like you mentioned, I just return the visit. Anyhow, I'm glad to see that I'm in good company :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. It's usually easy for me to reply to comments because I don't get all that many :P.

    It's probably better to visit the commenter's blog instead of replying to the comment anyway. Still, doing it by email is very easy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How DO you do it by email? I need to figure that out.

      Delete
  14. lol Visiting the people who comment on your blog is the most important thing you can do. :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. This post made me smile. That is all. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  16. "A sure-fire sign that I am likely feeling overwhelmed and frustrated at my own perceived lack of productivity?" I hear you there; that's me pretty much all the time. Especially over the past week. O_O Is it weird that hearing that sort of thing from other writers never actually helps me feel better? Gah!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well...no. I mean, it's nice to know we're not alone, but it doesn't actually make the feelings go away. Ugh.

      Delete
  17. I'm easily amused, so I think half the comments I leave are self serving ,and are just for entertaining myself. If it makes others smile then thats a bonus.;-)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thanks for this, Liz! You helped me not feel so guilty for when I don't comment back--although I always return visits too.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I'm the same way. I'll visit like minded blogs and comment when something strikes me or poses a question. Sometimes congrats are in order and sometimes you just want to comment because you have your hot cup of coffee and you feel all energized,etc. lol

    yep, that's me!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I missed the survey but I totally agree with this one! When people start preaching about the importance of replying to every comment, I just shake my head. if I visit your blog and comment, I'm not very concerned about whether you reply. In fact, I'll probably never come back to see. But returning the favor by commenting my blog definitely makes a difference. That's the "giving" that you do out here in bloggy-world!

    ReplyDelete
  21. LOL. Lovely stats. I should nominate you for some kind of technical (or approximately technical) position with a somewhat-accurate research firm. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'm impressed with the work you put in here. Sorry though I missed the survey. I'm like most of your respondents. I also don't think responding to all comments is necessary unless there's a need to answer something and I also don't look back at the comments except on some occasions. Most importantly, I always return the favor to my blog friends. And you're one of them :)

    ReplyDelete
  23. Well done, Liz. I appreciate every comment I receive, but they're not mandatory. I value loyal readers over commenters who feel obligated to return a comment. And I agree: if a commenter asks a question, it should be answered.

    ReplyDelete
  24. The responses are about like I expected. I used to try and reply to all comments, especially during IWSG Wednesday, but that takes a lot of time and I had no idea if anyone was paying attention. Thanks for the survey results.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I asked the same question on my wordpress blog-- and the vote there was very different-- 'if you don't respond to me, I won't follow you.'

    I try to respond to comments on my blog, and I also try to visit back all those who comment on my blog, but I can't say that I do both every single time.

    I don't really check back on comments I've left, unless, of course, they're the sort you've talked about.

    Interesting discussion here-- I guess at the end of the day, each blogger has to make her own decision on this one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow - really? People really check back that often to see if you responded? That's...intense. I wonder why the response was so different?

      Delete
  26. when i know the person usually responds, i sometimes check back when i visit them again. but in the interest of time, i like to answer my comments by commenting back... i think the poll depends on the people, all different! fun post!

    ReplyDelete