Blog comments are a really sore subject for a lot of people right now. The fact is that, like it or not, the days when conversation used to mostly happen in a blog’s comment section are long gone, and with comments spread over a variety of social networks instead, it’s really easy to feel discouraged, and to miss the “good old days” when blogs felt more like a community, rather than a one-way broadcast.
This isn’t a purely personal observation, by the way: I actually don’t think I do too badly for comments (and thank you for all of the messages you’ve been leaving on my recent posts!), but I also know there are a lot of comments I miss, because they’re being left on networks I don’t necessarily check all that often. I’ve also seen quite a few Twitter conversations lately on the subject of declining comments, and I’ve felt a little bit guilty about it, because while I know perfectly well how important comments are to bloggers, I also know this is something I tend to neglect when I’m visiting other blogs.
So, in the least accusatory way possible, here are five reasons I (probably) didn’t comment on your blog post…
You use Disqus, or another commenting system that forces me to log in first
This will be controversial, I know (And I should say here that this IS a purely personal observation, and I hope this post comes across the way I intend it to, which is an explanation for my own woeful lack of commenting skills, not a “you should/shouldn’t be doing this!” diktat! As always, there are no “rules” when it comes to blogging, and you should do whatever works for you, not what works for me…), but I absolutely loathe commenting systems which force me to log-in in order to leave a comment.
At least 90% of the time, I can’t remember my log-in details (and can’t be bothered reseting them), so if there isn’t an option to just leave my name and email address, I probably won’t bother. As far as Disqus goes, I also hate getting those ‘Disqus daily digest’ emails which keep updating you on recent comments on a blog you’ve commented on: I’m sure there’s a way to switch this off at my end, but I don’t know what it is, and again, I’m too lazy to dig around trying to figure out how to work someone’s commenting system in order to leave them a comment, so… I just don’t.
(I know the flip-side of this is that some people hate having to type out their name and email address to leave a comment, the way most blog themes are set up. With most of the themes I’ve used, you should only have to do this once, and the next time you visit, the details should be automatically filled in, but I do get that there are pros and cons to both systems!)
…or require me to comment via a social media handle
Similarly, I come across quite a lot of blogs which don’t use Disqus, but don’t allow totally open commenting either, instead forcing you to link your comment to a social media handle. I’m guessing people use this method to cut down on spam or trolling, but I just find it really off-putting, for reasons I don’t even understand myself. It’s not that I want to spam or troll people, obviously (I always link my comments to my blog), but I just prefer to comment with my name/email/URL, than with a social media account.
On the spam issue, if you’re using WordPress, there are numerous anti-spam plugins that work really well: I use Akismet, and hardly ever get a spam comment with it switched on. As far as trolls go, well, I know the theory is that people won’t want a rude/aggressive comment linked to their identity on social media, but I’ve actually found that, if anything, people can be a little ruder on sites like Facebook or Instagram than they are in the comments section. I suspect this is because it’s so quick/easy to comment on social media that people are more likely to just say the first thing that comes into their head – or just because people on social media tend not to read the full post, so are commenting without knowing the full story. I don’t know.
With that said, I find that truly rude comments are few and far between these days: I might just be lucky in that respect, but for now I’m happy to allow comments from everyone, anonymous or not. It’s also worth noting here that if you only allow comments linked to social handles, you’re excluding people who don’t use social media – yes, they do exist!
I’m normally reading on my phone
My blog-reading habits have changed enormously over the past few years, and these days I almost exclusively read blogs on my phone (Although, if I come across a new blog I like, I’ll always open it up on desktop too, purely because I’m a bit obsessed with blog design, and like seeing the post with all of its bells and whistles, as opposed to just the mobile view, which is often a stripped-down version of the full blog. But I digress…). This is probably the main reason I don’t often comment, even on the blogs I read regularly: I find it really fiddly to type on my phone, and although I’m getting better at it, I’ll still only do it if it’s a post that really resonates with me.
If you have a captcha code enabled, meanwhile (Again, this is done to prevent spam, and again, there are much more user-friendly ways to achieve that!), forget it: I might give it a go if I’m on my desktop, but I normally won’t even try on my phone.
I know I’m not unusual in this respect, either: around 50% of the traffic to my own blog now comes from mobile devices, so if you’ve noticed a drop in your comments, be reassured that it’s probably not anything you’re doing “wrong” – it could just be that more people are reading on mobile, and, like me, don’t have the dexterity to type out lengthy comments on tiny screens!
Not all posts require a comment
Awkward, but true. There are only so many ways you can say, “Love your outfit!” after all, and thanks to all of those stupid Instagram bots that I’m always complaining about, those kind of comments can end up sounding insincere, too – even when they’re not.
I get the lowest blog engagement on my outfit posts (Although, conversely, they get the highest engagement on Instagram), but I can’t really complain about that, because, the fact is, I don’t often comment on other people’s outfit posts either, even although I read and enjoy them. I just find I don’t have much to add to the conversation, and while I know the blogger would undoubtedly appreciate even a short “love this!” comment, just to let them know that people are actually reading and appreciating them, I’m just as guilty as anyone else of leaving those posts un-commented on: awwww!
TL:DR If you want more comments, try writing longer, chattier posts instead of short, image-heavy ones: they’re much more likely to generate discussion!
Finally, we come to the crux of the matter: while all of the things I’ve listed above are, indeed, things that stop me commenting on blog posts, the REAL issue is that I’m just plain ol’ lazy. Or busy. Or some combination of the two, anyway. Isn’t everyone busy these days, though? I don’t know about you, but I feel like, no matter how hard I try, there are just NEVER enough hours in the day, so commenting on blogs gets pushed further and further down the priority list, until it finally disappears altogether.
I actually really annoy myself with this: commenting doesn’t take THAT long, after all, and I KNOW how much bloggers appreciate it… still, though, I frequently find myself reading a post on my phone, thinking, “Oooh, I must leave a comment on that later!” (Sometimes I’ll even email a link to myself, so I don’t forget, and can do it when I’m back at my desktop), but then I just never seem to get round to it. I know I’m not the only one who does this, either, so once again, take heart and know that if I (or anyone else) didn’t comment on your blog, it’s not you – it’s aaaaaalllll me.