On Comment Whoring; Or, Really, I Just Seem Like a Giant Unrepentant Asshat

by anna on February 4, 2009

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 View definition in a new window 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 View definition in a new window 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 View definition in a new window, 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.

{ 48 comments }

OHmommy February 4, 2009 at 6:21 am

My sister got engaged last week so I posted pictures of my wedding and revealed what I liked and didn’t like about my wedding.

2 commenters left me a comment, “Happy Anniversary.”

I got married in August.

OHmommy´s last blog post..No future DNA tests needed…

anna February 4, 2009 at 7:01 am

omg–that is classic, OHmommy

Marinka February 4, 2009 at 7:15 am

Some other blogger referred to this as the lime popsicle syndrome. Or maybe not a syndrome–but you can write a whole post about coming back from the dead and at the end mention how you had a lime popsicle, and the comments will be “mmm, I love popsicles!”

Marinka´s last blog post..Does This Make Me Look Hippy?

Perpetua February 4, 2009 at 7:20 am

It’s me? It has to be me. I’m one of the whores. It’s me, isn’t it?

Sorry, Catholic guilt.

But I totally RSSed you months ago, so I’m counting that as penance.

bessie.viola February 4, 2009 at 7:29 am

This is so interesting – I was just thinking about this as I drove to work today. I tend to definitely visit the blogs of those who comment me, mostly because I want to see what motivated them to visit me in the first place. I’m nosy like that.

But as for keeping up with my feed reader and commenting myself? I’m sort of lame about it. For example, I read you almost every day – and I LOVE your personal finance section as I’m about halfway out of a hellhole I dug for myself.

And yet? I’m mostly a silent observer. So HI!! I like your blog, even if I’m quiet about it. :)

bessie.viola´s last blog post..snippets

anna February 4, 2009 at 7:33 am

@perpetua, no, no, the comment whores dropped off when I stopped commenting on their blogs! That’s why they’re whores, you see. :)

@bessie.viola, I’ve got no problem with that. I’m happy to have you!

Laurin February 4, 2009 at 7:35 am

I would love to be entered in this giveaway!

Anyway. I continue to read what I like. I comment when and where the mood strikes me. Sometimes I respond to comments on my blog and sometimes I don’t if I’m too busy, lazy, sick, distracted, whatever. I hope that doesn’t make me an asshat. If there is a blog game going on, I don’t know any of the rules.

Laurin´s last blog post..Weblog World: Worthington Wire

anna February 4, 2009 at 7:39 am

@Laurin: LOL. Touché

@Marinka, that’s a great expression–lime popsicle syndrome. We should try to popularize it like ‘penultamour.’

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah February 4, 2009 at 7:56 am

I have never felt an obligation to comment on every post I read. Hell, I read so many blogs that if I tried I wouldn’t have time to eat – or sleep.

I also don’t understand when people feel like they need to comment back. Comments are for when you actually have something to say about a post. Right?

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah´s last blog post..Really? I’m Not Seeing the Connection

Amy February 4, 2009 at 8:01 am

I always read, but will admit that I rarely comment here or anywhere regularly. I try to only comment when I have something to say….like right now I am considering not posting this because it really doesn’t have a point! Oh, well.

Amy´s last blog post..Grace’s pictures

Jess February 4, 2009 at 8:01 am

I completely agree. I tried for awhile to comment back on everyone’s blog but it just wasn’t doing it for me. I rarely even respond to comments on my own blog because by the time people find my little place on the great big internets and leave comments, I’ve already lost interest in what I posted yesterday. Not saying I don’t still love the comments, I just suck at the reciprocity thing. Because I, too, am an asshole.

Jess´s last blog post..Wii Fit wants to know if I trip a lot. Uh. Duh?

Chris February 4, 2009 at 8:57 am

I agree with and understand this post. I’m not blogging for money, but I enjoy knowing I have an audience. I don’t have time to comment either sincerely or “supportively” on all the blogs in my Reader. Like all of us, I’m busy and I have to prioritize. For the bloggers I know are trying to make a buck (no shame in that), I skim the post in my Reader and if I sincerely like it, I’ll at a minimum, give them a “click” or a “hit” for their stats. I’ve emailed several bloggers to tell them, please don’t assume because I’m not commenting that I don’t like your content or am not reading. There are so many talented people with blogs. It’s impossible to support them all with a comment stroke. It does feel good though. If I see someone only has a few comments, I’m more inclined to add a comment.

When I get a comment whore on my blog, I comment back “Thanks, So-and-so! Did you read this?”

You’re doing great. Very smart of you to advertise on Dooce.

Chris´s last blog post..There’s airborne, and then there’s Airborne.

Michele February 4, 2009 at 8:58 am

I do the same thing. Sometimes I comment; sometimes I don’t. Take your blog. I read it pretty consistently but haven’t commented for a long time. That’s just the way I roll.

Michele´s last blog post..Pull over and get the heck out!

Nadine AKA Scarbiedoll February 4, 2009 at 9:03 am

Hi, why aren’t we friends? You are right on the money. The only time I ever got 61 comments is when I wrote something similar three years ago: http://scarbiedoll.blogspot.com/2006/05/blogging-is-not-cool-anymore.html

The never ending thank you note, pyramid scheme bullshit that is mommy blogging is for the type of people who would be in the Hell’s Angels if they were men. you’ll notice that tons of people are not great writers but just happen to be attached or following some of the more popular bloggers. It’s a sham — just wait until you go to BlogHer — that’s another mess altogether.

Stop checking your stats. Blog because you have something to say. Comment because you are moved to. No one would be expected to maintain 75 female friendships in real life. It’s a load of shite. And if you end up being not so popular for it, whatevs. At least you have your integrity and were able to spend time with your kids. (I seriously don’t know how some of these over-achieving chicks do it.)

Thanks my $0.02 (or $0.018 Cdn)

Nadine AKA Scarbiedoll´s last blog post..Identity Crisis

Ryan February 4, 2009 at 9:20 am

You know I am embarrassed to admit I am just now learning the luxuries of using a reader to scroll thru blogs. I am fairly new to this blogging “community” and lately after I burn thru a long list of blogs I realize I never really commented on anything. I never feel bad. I comment on the same blogs usually because they usually set me up to say something smart ass or fun. I am still playing naive and pretending there aren’t any politics involved in the blogging world. So I guess I belong to a clique, the one where people are hilarious.

I liked this post very much. I am going to start using “Lime Popsicle” as a return comment to anyone that I think is skimming and whoring. How funny.

Ryan´s last blog post..“Drinking the Kool-Aid (the show that saved pre-School programming for the Hipsters)”

Kerry February 4, 2009 at 9:21 am

Okay, so what if we turned the lime popsicle thing into a drinking game? Like, everytime someone posts one of those, we shout, “LIME POPSICLE” and take a drink (I don’t actually drink, so mine would be Diet Coke, but that’s okay because Diet Coke is yummy). Who’s in?

This post is very timely for me, because I’ve recently met a bunch of bloggers I didn’t know, through my blog and Twitter. And they’ve been great and very supportive, and I am really grateful, and I’m trying to show it by commenting on their blogs…but I don’t have a lot of time (unless I want to do it while my son wails and my daughter says, “PLEASE play with me Mama!”). Plus, sometimes I have nothing to say (especially on the blogs in my genre, because unlike mommy/lifestyle blogs, HR blogs can be sort of boring). So I’ve been feeling guilty, because I thought I was supposed to always reciprocate. So I’m glad to know that it’s not just me, and that I can just silently appreciate other people’s good posts.

I’m learning that the blogosphere is very political. It’s like my old junior high, but with the Trojans mascot.

Kerry´s last blog post..Calling to follow-up? Hand me a fork.

Kerry February 4, 2009 at 9:24 am

Nadine–is BlogHer that bad? I was considering trying to go (which would be a huge hassle, but it’s 90 miles away, and I’m cluefree about so many things because I’m new to blogging). Am I going to be snubbed for not having Guess jeans, like in junior high?

Kerry´s last blog post..Calling to follow-up? Hand me a fork.

anna February 4, 2009 at 12:24 pm

@Kerry, I’m sure BlogHer is going to be a giant clusterfuck but I’m going anyway. If nothing else, maybe sweetney will corner me in an alley and give me a black eye or something. Lots of material to blog about later! And I’m coming all the way from LA.
.
@Ryan, you’re a daddyblogger, so you can pretty much do whatever you want. Just ask Black Hockey Jesus. But yes, I support you popularizing lime popsicle along and calling people whores. :)

@Nadine, I don’t know, why aren’t we friends? I like the comparison to a pyramid scheme! It is kind of like a thank you note vicious cycle, and I do agree about some of the mommybloggers who are popular not being good writers. Some are good, some aren’t, but there are definitely politics involved. For me, I write for myself in the sense that I should have always been a writer, and somehow got sidetracked by academia for a while, and I want to make money from writing. I could care less if I am popular personally, but I need my blog to be popular to make money so it’s a delicate balance. Because I don’t want people to hate me or think I’m rude, but I have to be true to myself as well.

All interesting thoughts, guys.

Keely February 4, 2009 at 9:38 am

Hm. I agree with you up to a point. I generally don’t comment unless I have something to say, although if someone NEW comments on my blog, I will visit theirs (as someone else said, I’m nosy about what made them comment in the first place) and leave a comment to let them know I was there.

However, blogging is a social medium so I find that as I read blogs more regularly, I have more to say, because I “know” those bloggers. So I comment some places regularly, and they comment back.

Things like hosted memes, however, I kind of feel the hostess is obligated to comment on her participants’ posts. You wouldn’t host a tupperware party and not say, “Hey, how are ya?” to your guests, would you?

Keely´s last blog post..I guess I’m not the only one looking for a Wii Fit

anna February 4, 2009 at 12:13 pm

@keely, you make some interesting points. I am guilty of hosting memes and not always commenting on my participants’ blogs. My only excuse is that I chose a day for the meme that is not very good for me to read blogs, so sometimes it’s all I can do to link people up. But I will need to give this thought so as to figure out how I want to handle it in the future . . . I like list Mondays, but maybe I will discontinue it as a meme per se and just continue to do it. I will give it some thought.

AKD February 4, 2009 at 10:34 am

I don’t have a blog. But I like lime popsicles!

anna February 4, 2009 at 12:11 pm

@AKD said LIME POPSICLES, DRINK!

It feels a little strange leading a drinking game when you’re a recovering alcoholic, but oh well. I’m all about the paradox.

3carnations February 4, 2009 at 10:42 am

I comment when I have something relevant to say, or for support on a post where someone has a problem. But, if the best I can do is “Me too!” I usually won’t bother.

3carnations´s last blog post..Things I do at work do not also occur at home at the same time

Chibi Jeebs February 4, 2009 at 11:05 am

O hai! This is all about MEEEE!

But seriously: when I saw your tweet about comment sluts, I automatically figured I was grouped into this classification because I commented yesterday. I also have the Catholic guilt. *blush*

I lurk a lot. Sometimes I have to force myself to step outside of my reader and comment. I try to only comment if I have something to say, not just “me too!” At the same time, sometimes I just like to let bloggers know I’m reading. This blog newb has to ask, in blog politics, is that bad?

Chibi Jeebs´s last blog post..Wordle is fun!

Tracy Lynn February 4, 2009 at 11:16 am

I only usually comment if I have something to say or if the writer is someone I have known awhile, and not always in Real Life, at that. I can’t respond to every comment, although I try to email first time commenters. I also tend to email people if I have a comment response.

There really are only so many hours in a day, and I have to cut co9rners somewhere if I want to have a life offline as well as on.

Tracy Lynn´s last blog post..Trust Me, You Do Not Want To Know What I Think. For Serious.

Heather, Queen of Shake Shake February 4, 2009 at 11:22 am

God, I can only hope one day I’ll get a flaming pile of poop in my comments from your.

Awesome post. And I define awesome posts as the ones who bluntly speak the truth and throw in some well-placed curse words for good measure.

anna February 4, 2009 at 12:10 pm

@Heather, QofSS, you better watch out for flaming feces when you flatter me so. :)
@Chibi, no, no, no, like I said, if you actually are reading this post and responding to it without mentioning a LIME POPSICLE (DRINK DIET COKE, EVERYONE), then you aren’t a comment slut! I love comments, don’t get me wrong. I love it when people comment on my posts. But I look at commenting as like, say, sending a greeting card “just because,” it’s a nice thing to do but you never do it with any kind of expectation of reciprocity, or expect to win awards for doing it, or base relationships on it. When I comment, that’s what I am doing, basically–commenting without expectations or demands. And I think we all should do that from now on. Because I’m the boss. :P

eliz February 4, 2009 at 1:42 pm

I agree with @Nadine’s comments about BlogHer. I went in ’07 and it left me with a bad taste. (Even tho I am considering going again.) I’ll tell you what I’d really love to do, and that’s blog all the behind-the-scenes stuff. (And about blogging being a pyramid scheme … just yesterday Penelope Trunk said getting a PhD is a pyramid scheme: http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/)

shonda February 4, 2009 at 2:24 pm

I like comments just because it lets me know someone at least sees what I posted, even if they don’t read it all. I mean, of course I would prefer them taking in every word of my genius, but if a random look over is all they will throw at me, I’ll take it.

@OHmommy,
That’s pretty funny. When your anniversary does arrive, I hope you have a happy one.

shonda´s last blog post..The Genetic Love of Ranch Dressing

Jennifer, Playgroups are no place for children February 4, 2009 at 2:55 pm

Fun topic, I love metablogging. I notice very often that people comment only on the last thing I’d written, the Lime Popsicle syndrome mentioned by Marinka. Honestly, I’ve done the same thing, but not because I was trying to be a slut! REally! I think that there are so many people I WANT to read that I get sloppy and don’t read as carefully as I should.

Keely mentioned the whole “hosting meme’s responsibility in commenting on all the participants” quandry. I co-hosted a weekly meme thing for about a year and quit for that very reason. I couldn’t reciprocate and got some less than kind emails from people acting like I was an asshole for hosting but also having the nerve to have a life.

Also, BlogHer…well, I had a great time last year. I felt very awkward a lot of the time because I’m terrible at going up to people and actually talking. It was also awkward when someone (most people!) hadn’t heard of my blog or vice versa. I’ll definitely be going again this year, but with my expectations more in check. Or possibly more liquor.

I think this was the most disjointed and random comment I’ve ever written.

Jennifer, Playgroups are no place for children´s last blog post..Superbowl party lessons

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