Bloggers Love Talking About the Comment Problem
If you’re a longtime blogger, you’ve already pondered the big comment problem that has been affecting the blogosphere for years.
So what is the “comment problem” with blogs these days? Simple. People largely don’t comment anymore.
A recent post from Darren Rowse’s ProBlogger listed comments as one of the “7 Warning Signs That Your Blog Needs More Attention.”
Rowse points out that a lack of comments could mean your readers aren’t as engaged as they could be. But he then makes this interesting point: it could become a self-perpetuating issue:
If readers see there aren’t any comments on any of your recent posts, they may be reluctant to make the first comment.
I hadn’t thought about it that way before. Sure, when someone brings in a box of doughnuts or a big cake to work, everyone is hesitant to take the first piece. But it never occurred to me that comments might work the same way.
I don’t think I’d be hesitant to post a comment if I saw no one else had, yet.
But maybe there are some who actually do feel that way.
The classic advice doesn’t always work.
I’ve heard blogging guru after blogging guru suggest the “simple” to encourage people to comment is to ask a question. They act like they’re almost embarrassed to offer such a “no brainer.” The problem is asking a question doesn’t solve the problem. That’s been proven time and time again because for years there are bloggers who always ask questions. They do so because they’ve heard the same sage advice.
And when everyone’s asking a question, it’s the same as if no one does: no one’s going to answer every question at every blog they visit.
Sure, if they’re passionate about the subject matter, they may.
But I’ve found that my posts that don’t end with a question typically get more comments than those that do.
Why is that? You might assume that I ask lousy questions. I don’t think that’s it, really. (At least, I’d argue that wouldn’t explain every instance of a question not resulting in comments.)
I just think that in this day and age, people don’t want to take the time to comment. Sometimes, they want to scan just long enough to get the answer to their question. My most popular posts happen to be grammar-related. That’s the kind of post people get to via Googling the grammar rule, read the answer to the question they have, then leave.
Another issue for blogs that may cause the comment problem is that so many more people these days are engaging on social media. Bloggers, in some cases, are to blame for this: they encourage their readers to move to Facebook or Twitter to share their content. They (and some of their followers) may well engage and comment on your content on social media. But that doesn’t translate into a comment on the site.
Some beat the comment problem by killing comments.
Several bloggers — some of them big-name bloggers — have announced the decision to kill comments on their blogs altogether. Some of them then take their posts to their Facebook page and encourage engagement there.
Some encourage people with comments to just email them, which obviously does nothing to encourage a public discussion.
But in the past, I’ve seen bloggers claim that since so few blog readers actually leave comments, it isn’t worth the effort.
How much “effort” can there be if there are so few comments to even read?
I’ve suspected some kill their comments primarily because they don’t want their readers to see how few comments they receive.
Still, I’d rather receive fewer comments than prevent those who are still willing to leave one to be prevented from doing so.
Is there a simple answer to this growing comment problem? Probably not. But as long as I still get even an occasional comment, I’ll plan to keep them open here.
And I hope you’ll consider leaving a comment every now and then. (If not on this post, there are plenty of other topics you can comment about!)