On Comment Whoring; Or, Really, I Just Seem Like a Giant Unrepentant Asshat
I haven’t metablogged in a while, and maybe that’s why my fingers are so itchy. I have several beefs to bring up regarding the status of things in the blogosphere, but since I’m probably going to go to BlogHer in July, I am too concerned about my safety to keep it real here. Just kidding. I don’t care. As a mother to a young child, I’m all about flying by the seat of my pants, popping off, and throwing caution to the virtual wind! That’s not true either. But what is true is that to address my beefs in their entirety, I would need to dedicate several posts, and I really can only tackle one issue today. That issue? is trying to convince you, my loyal readership, that I’m not a giant asshole because I don’t regularly comment on your blogs. Now, don’t get me wrong–I am totally an asshole, mmm hmm, 100% for sure, but this specific issue is not evidence of it, or even an example of it, and here is why.
See, it started this way: I became a blogger and slowly started attracting some readers. I advertised on Dooce for a few months and got a bunch of traffic that way, and some of you even stuck around and kept reading. I would go and visit my readers at their blogs in an open gesture of kindness, and offer some comments occasionally both to let them know I had been there, and to offer interesting commentary, if I actually had any. And sometimes even when I didn’t. They didn’t seem to mind. This worked out pretty well for a while, and some of the people I met this way are still here today (Hi Stiletto Mom, Jen, J., Shonda, Ginger, Amy, the ex, Pauvre Plume, Eliz, and Kerry, and anyone else I’m forgetting right now, because, like I said, I’m an asshole).
After that, I started reading more blogs, and commenting more and more, and trying to become a real member of the mommyblogging community. Because although I’m not sure I can always be said to be a mommyblogger, I’d certainly have to say that’s the community with which I’m most closely aligned. So I would read and comment, read and comment, and a bunch of those people would read and comment here, and it seemed like I had more and more readers! Yay! My blog was growing.
Except it wasn’t. Well, it was growing, but it wasn’t growing in proportion to the number of comments I was getting on my posts. I was getting a ton of comments on really stupid posts, like mind-numbingly boring posts with 36 comments or whatever, but my rate of growth was just the same as it was before, when the comments were like 0 or 2 or 3. I just had a higher percentage of people reading who would then comment, as opposed to the great silent majority of my readers, who prefer to read and then mock me silently behind the safe confines of their LCD displays.
My blog had been overrun by comment sluts! People who commented only because I commented first! They didn’t even care about what I was saying! SLUTS!
Now this is not to say that reading my blog and not caring about what I have to say isn’t a totally reasonable and sane response. On the contrary: perhaps these were the sanest of readers ever to grace the RSS feeds of ABDPBT, present company excluded, of course. But why feel compelled to comment? If you feel obliged to comment, is it really a wothwhile exercise, I wondered?
And I couldn’t ignore the evidence that there were several comments that demonstrated a complete lack of familiarity with the content of the post. These comments were like the smoking gun of empty comment whoring sluts taking over the blog. And my reader. Like, if the post were a reading comprehension question on the SAT, these comment sluts were doing the equivalent, in comment style–of going through and just marking “C” for every question on the exam, because they knew that “C” is the most likely to be correct, from a statistical point of view. Mind you I’m not talking about the occasional confusion that stems from poorly articulated points in the post. I’m talking wholesale point-missing, points flying over people’s heads, a point-missing party and everyone was coming. And this could only be happening because they weren’t even reading the post, it was the only explanation, because these were otherwise intelligent people, and my writing may be occasionally convoluted, but not to such a degree as to explain this madness!
And I was like–STOP THE INSANITY. So I started testing things, what would happen if I didn’t always reciprocate? Many times, I would read a post and just not have anything worthwhile to add, but would feel like I had to say something. So I did. But now I would limit myself to just posting when I had something intelligent to add. And guess what happened? Readers started dropping off–or comments started dropping off, I should say.
And I think this was OK, because one thing about the whole reciprocity thing is that you end up with a bunch of people who really don’t have that much in common with you. And you can end up boring them or, worse, pissing them off. And then you’re stuck in a kind of bad situation of constantly trying to keep up, and somebody has to put an end to it. Somebody has got to say ENOUGH ALREADY.
That person? My friends, is me. I read as many blogs as I ever did, and even still comment sometimes, when the mood strikes me. But there’s not a whole lot of rhyme or reason to where and when I comment. If I have extra time during the day, you might see a bunch of comments from me. Or, you might go months without seeing me comment anywhere except here. Doesn’t mean I’m not reading. This policy all sort of fell into place after I wrote an email to one of the people whose blogs I read regularly and he/she wrote back explaining that because of blog politics, he/she did not always comment very often. And I started thinking about what the situation must be like for this person, who has a considerable readership, that it would be a difficult situation to navigate, to not post everywhere might be construed as cliquish or elitist, when in reality it was a losing proposition because there are only so many hours in the day. And I am a far, far cry from having the readership or recognizablity of this blogger, but I think there can be some of the same issues, even lower down on the totem pole.
So, readers, know that I’m thrilled you’re here to read and that you keep coming back. And know also that you never know when I might take off my shoes, tip toe in my socks around the backdoor of your blog, sneak up on you, and scare the virtual shit out of you by leaving a flaming pile of poop in your comment section. When you least expect it: expect it.