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July 09, 2012


I have also noted that I get fewer comments than I used to -- and I suspect I leave fewer, too. It may have something to do with feeling spread-thin, attention-wise -- blogs and twitter and FB and G+ and so forth -- and it may also have something to do with the reality that many of the blogs I read today feel anonymous to me; I don't have a relationship with their authors, nor they with me. Hard to say whether this is the result of commenting less, or the cause, though.

Beth, I read everything you write, but very rarely leave comments. I land on your site and read other blogs, there is precious stuff that I read from blogs like Blaugustine, Clive Hicks Jenkins Artlog, Velveteen Rabbi; I read everything written in Via Negativa, Mole. I don't leave comments there either. Social networking/FB-ing, in a way that personal interaction will not allow, helps me remain silent even as I connect. Is this a personal trait, a sort of shyness? How do I feel when I see no comments in my blog? Of course frustrated :)

I definitely leave fewer comments now than when I used to, and I probably get fewer comments, too. In the "old days" when I commented a lot, I read far fewer blogs, and those were mainly the sites of friends with whom I had a reciprocal relationship: I read and commented on their stuff, and they read and commented on mine.

Nowadays, that direct relationship/ratio seems more scattered and diffused. I subscribe to a LOT of blogs on my feed-reader that I scan and seldom comment on: feed-readers make it so much easier to do that, for better or worse. I don't necessarily "know" all those bloggers, nor do I necessarily "know" all my readers: sometimes it feels like everyone is trying to read everything, everywhere, and that makes it difficult to get to know anyone all that well.

So, I guess I'm echoing what Reb Rachel said: there is so much stuff to comment on, and so many places in which to comment. I'm commenting on this post here, on your blog, because I saw it on Google Reader...but I could just as well commented on Facebook, since I "see" you there, too...

Rachel, I think the personal-relationship thing is a key factor. Maybe some of us established relationships early and just haven't felt like we had time for many new ones -- I've been wondering about this.

Uma -- thanks for this. Yes, I meant to say that one change is FB friendship and blog cross-posting, where often a reader - like you - might click "like" or make a short comment on the FB listing for a blog post, or conversely, sends readers here who don't comment at all. And that's fine. I try to visit the sites of people who I know read my blog and occasionally leave a comment, and to respond to most, if not all comments, by email. But I don't manage to get around as often as I'd like! I think it's important for people to feel they can be silent. After all, silence, reflection, and anonymity have always been a big part of reading -- we don't comment on the books we read!

With you all the way, Beth. Both my blog posting and my commenting have dwindled to a trickle. In my case I have to admit that a sense of a significant falling away of those with whom I shared so much dialogue through the post-and-comment process is responsible. I feel now much as I did when I started blogging nearly 10 years ago and had difficulty breaking into the scene as it was then - that the game's barely worth the candle! I've tried regularly to revive interest by touring my blogroll and endeavouring to renew faded contacts and I've attempted to make new contacts, neither with any great success. Since contact with old friends is maintained largely via email and Facebook now, I can envisage my abandoning the blog when it comes to subscription renewal in February. Sad.

Thanks, Lorianne. You're basically describing my own pattern, and I think this is true for a lot of us. Feed readers do make a difference - i read more blogs that way, and comment on them less! Anyway -- thanks, and thanks for still being there with Hoarded Ordinaries.

Oh, Dick, I hope you won't do that, but I can see why you might. I wonder if some of us have become like old friends and lovers: affectionate, interested, but with less to say because we feel we've already said it to one another. Certainly there isn't the same excitement of new connections and finding kindred spirits that there used to be, but I feel impoverished when any of my favorite bloggers - like you - decides to close up shop.

Beth, I second every word you write here! (and thanks for the mention). I do read every one of your posts though I don't always comment - maybe because all I can say is 'yes' to what you write. Sometimes I wonder if another reason for fewer comments occur when long time readers become bored with reading the same blogs year after year, and I for one am repeating myself at least some of the time. Then again, commenting is something of a two way street - I tend to comment more on those blogs whose writers comment on mine. And I try to visit a new blog now and then and perhaps comment - should do so more. Social media has certainly had a great impact though I don't take part myself. I still keep blogging though less often at times for it is something of a creative outlet for me, and I still find a few new friends along the way to make it extra rewarding.

I noticed, Beth, that you tried to comment this morning and had no luck, for which I'm very sorry! I don't know why it is or has to be so difficult to register and log in. I don't like it and am still on the fence about staying or giving it up. It's wonderful to not have spam (and I was getting a lot). My son-in-law manages the family blogs and liases with the host. This spring my daughter's blog suddenly had so much spam that it almost shut down the server that hosts all our blogs - hence the recommendation from him for the registration. Sigh.

Hi Marja-Leena -- I'm amused that this post is eliciting a lot of comments from old and faithful friends! I guess we're all in the same boat. Yes, I keep going partly for the creative-outlet part too. Something about the blogging form and regularity just suit me! And it's a challenge not to be too repetitive. Thanks for your comments here about spam and sign-ins. It's certainly an issue for all of us. I'll try again to sign in at yours - for some reason it doesn't "stick" when I do it.

"Affectionate, interested, but with less to say because we feel we've already said it to one another": that certainly resonates with me.

And the technical stuff! Commenting on Wordpress blogs with certain settings is now very difficult and unpredictable, and the same with those that have the Echo comment system. I often can't decipher 'captchas'. Ugh to all of this. So I've just taken word verification off my blogs to see if it has any effect.

Hi Jean -- yours is one blog where I'm willing to go through the process! The WP blogs are the most problematic for me these days, and I often simply don't comment, or can't. Sometimes it takes three "captchas" before the comment is accepted. I'm sure this is frustrating for everyone...and makes the (lazy and simple) FB interface that much more appealing. Thus comments become shorter, or reduced to a "LIKE," and the sense of connection-without-real-communication is reinforced.

I really miss the extended dialogs among bloggers that took place frequently across comments and posts. The web has moved back toward the cultural model's mean of consumption rather than participation and creation. Facebook and Twitter have become huge (and gated) gravity wells of time and attention.

I'm not pointing fingers; like you, I too comment less.

I read your blog regularly Beth, as I do the others in my "original" list, but don't leave comments these days on many blogs. I feel bad about that, but I am spread thin myself, not just by social media, projects, but also my life these days. I appreciate the long connection we all had, and should speak up more often, but I am, as a rule, so exhausted by the time I get around to carving time for more leisurely blog conversations that I feel I have little to contribute to the conversation.

Besides, like Jean, I am noticing lately that technology is getting int he way. I, too, have difficulty deciphering those 'captchas.'

Beth, amen to all that! I too have dwindled, in blogging, in commenting and in getting comments, for all the same reasons that everyone above mentions. I don't Tweet and I very rarely look in at FaceBook so blogging is still my main connection to the cyber world but, as you said, a lot of the excitment that it had in the early days has now become more routine. This is perhaps inevitable but it's a shame and there should be some way to revive the excitment. A big problem is simply time: if I'm really absorbed in my work or just in 'real' life, sitting down at the computer to visit all my favourite bloggers, read them attentively and comment relevantly takes a big chunk out of the day. So what I tend to do is to leave it until very late in the night and then I hop too quickly from one to the other on my blogroll and don't often leave comments, even when I should. The 'captcha' thing is indeed a deterrent but there's also the problem of commenting relevantly: it may be enough to just say: I like this, or I agree, or bravo, or yes! But that seems ungenerous or banal and sometimes I just don't have anything meaningful to say though I've enjoyed reading a post.

The truth is that commenting is never going to be the same as having a face-to-face conversation with someone - for one thing, typing one's thoughts is too slow and the other person can't respond fast enough either. It certainly is discouraging if there are very few or no comments to something I've posted, images or words that mean a lot to me but I think I've become more or less immune to that silence. After all, c'est la vie!

I do think having to fill in info and then try to decipher hard-to-read captchas is a deterrent for many of us. It certainly is for me and I have d plenty of comments disappear during the process of filling in requested info. That tends to discourage me from bothering in future. I think feeds are another reason many do not leave comments. The other reason may be that many people are doing all their reading on smart phones and tablets and tapping out a comment feels like a hassle. BTW, I am tapping this out on the ipad which is my only net connection in summer. On my own blog, I do still get quite a few comments in response to most of the posts. I currently write a post about twice a month. Most commenters have been visiting the blog since I started it after ending my previous blog and starting the new one after Don's death. When I post more than a couple of times a month, I notice that there are fewer comments. I am thinking that there is some reader fatigue these days. I think I experience it too and am not trying to read as many blogs as before and when someone is oarticularly prolific, I tend to only visit the blog occasionally and scan through to read the posts that most interest me. I am not a heavy Facebook user, so that isn't really my excuse for not reading as much. Maybe just feeling the pressure of ldealing with life alone for four years has done this to me. I don't really know. I do know that when the weather is bad and I'm stuck indoors, I spend time catching up on friends' blogs, but there are getting to be fewer and fewer. Good discussion!

Hello, I've been reading your blog for a while, but this is the first time I've actually been on your site. I use an aggregator, which means I don't see the comments. I'd never thought about what I might be missing!

hi. i don't remember if i've ever commented here. i started reading you a few months ago. i found you by accident and liked what i saw and kept on reading.

i read a lot of blogs, a few hundred a day most days. a lot of the time the writer seems to be writing to a group of people he or she knows, or has a large following of frequent commenters, and i often just don't feel i have anything to add to the conversation besides "hi. i am out here, and i am reading what you write."

sometimes i do say that, but it's not very substantial as a comment.

i mourn a little, though, every time a blogger i read stops blogging and switches to status updates.

Captchas have never turned me away, being made to create an username/password will almost everytime though. I really started consuming content in the early days of youtube and content agitators (reddit, digg..) so I never read or commented on many blogs. Even when I read a great blog post, i almost always was directed there from reddit and I go back to the reddit comment section for that post because their system of replying to comments and up voting comments helps generate better conversations.

BTW Hi Beth! Hope visit you guys soon :)

-Chris H

Beth, this month I completely caved in and gave my blog's comments over to Facebook. (A summary of my vacillation and sorry reasoning appears here: http://slowreads.com/2012/07/01/zuzus-photos-my-jump-from-facebook/ .)

Oh dear, so many comments I don't know if I'll be able to answer them all personally, as I like to do! Here's a stab at it:

NT: thanks. You and I have been reading each other for a long time, and I know I haven't been good about commenting, but I really appreciate the fact that you're there and say so every now and then.

Maria: we, too, go way back. And maybe that's partly why neither one of us feels the need to comment frequently.

Natalie and Bev, you and Marie bring up the fact the fatigue is a real reason why we often don't comment! It's true. reading blogs is part of relaxation for me, but I'm often tired when I do it too, and that plays a part in how much I respond, or don't. And I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who finds deciphering "captchas" both difficult and annoying.

Hi Dax -- yes, the comment threads are sometimes the best part! Thanks for reading and for commenting today. I'm glad to hear from you.

Hi Flask -- yes, you've commented before, thank you, and I'm astounded to hear you read so many blogs per day! Thanks for visiting and for taking the time to comment today, I appreciate it a lot.

I found you a few months ago, have read some of your older posts and am daily looking forward to read a new one. I follow 20 blogs. The majority of them are blogs that teach me something or inspire me to do something. They feel like gifts to me and since I have nothing to give in return, I very seldom make a comment. I feel like a thief. I take and take but have nothing to offer.
And, if my own blog were someone elses blog, I would not read it nor make a comment.
Don't ask how long it took me write this comment. It's so frustrating to be overflowing with thoughts and not be able to express them.
Thanks for sharing, Beth.

How funny/fitting that you will get many comments on this....:)

I, too, find I comment less on blogs (though I visit more and more of them). That's the thing that goes away when I'm busiest (the commenting).

Should we all disable our comments at once? :) I'm not completely serious, but I'm not completely joking, either....I'd still read blogs without comment sections (I do now!)...I could always email the author to share my feelings, maybe?

Hmm, my comments disappeared! Perhaps that is the problem?

Whatever was I saying?

Many things, none profound. I think the one thing that I said that was newish was that many of us who have been blogging for a long time are now a great deal busier with writing-related projects and books than when we first started (although no doubt we thought ourselves busy then.) But I would not have imagined myself having quite so much to do as in this year, say, when I first started. And that means I fly through posts a bit faster and don't always leave a note.

Thanks for the mention. On the technical side, I wanted to mention one thing I wasn't aware of until a few months ago: getting a flood of spam comments can spell trouble for one's blog even if they are all caught by a spam catcher if the blog uses (for example) PHP to dynamically generate pages when someone visits them (as opposed to static HTML sites such as Blogger). Every time a comment is left, even if that comment is blocked from appearing on the site, it forces a reload. I didn't understand this and got kicked off my old webhost last November for using too much CPU. Hence the appeal of CAPTCHAS for more heavily trafficked sites. I refuse to deploy CAPTCHAS for all the reasons people have mentioned, and am trying another, more experimental plugin to block spam bots from leaving comments. But I fear it may be blocking some legitimate commenters as well.

A minor point perhaps, but shows the complexity of the problem.

Hello, Beth. I'm a regular and appreciative reader of your blog. Because the comments tend to come from a small number of your fellow-bloggers, and also, perhaps, because the world is awash with information, I tend to remain a quiet observer. But I do read you several times a week, and would miss the Cassandra Pages were they to disappear. So please keep up the good work!

I've been a regular reader on here for a few years now. I suspect that in addition to the dissipation of our energies via social media, the fact that one is able to read via an RSS reader rather than being required to read a post on the blog itself also contributes. I find I am more likely to retweet a link to an article I particularly liked (from within Google Reader) than actually leave a comment - which I guess is a shame in itself..

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.