Dumb Blog Comments

Dumb Blog Comments

by Kerry Scott on 24 February 2011

Post image for Dumb Blog Comments

Last night, I couldn’t sleep, so I came downstairs to my office to look at…blog stats. Don’t laugh. Reading your blog stats is the new counting sheep.

So I’m looking at my stats, and I’m noticing an interesting thing:

Not everyone reads blog comments.

I know, right? Crazy. But there are people who just read the posts, and they think that’s it. They don’t realize that the post is just the kickoff. The real action happens in the comments. In the comments of the last post, for example, Elizabeth Shown Mills laid out her 10 Commandments for source citations.  If you didn’t read the comments, you’d miss them, and you’d totally wander around in the desert worshipping a golden cow or something.  That would suck.

What bothers me more, though, is people who tell me privately, “I didn’t want to leave a comment and look dumb/disagree/piss people off/whatever, but…”  Folks, leave your comment.  It’s fine, really.  Blog posts are not articles; they’re conversation-starters.  The whole point of most blog posts is to start a conversation.  Your participation is key, and I can just about guarantee that someone else has the same “dumb” question you do.  Even if your question really IS dumb…who cares?  Use your cowboy name or something.  As long as you’re not being a jerk or impersonating someone else, it’s fine.  Or write a post on your own blog about the topic.

If you have thoughts on a topic, express them.  Be part of the conversation.  No problem gets solved if people don’t talk about it.  We’re lucky to live in an age when it’s so easy to discuss just about anything from the comfort of our homes.

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

kristin February 24, 2011 at 10:43 am

Yes! I wish I could get my family and friends to leave comments on my blogs instead of just emailing me or saying stuff on fb. i try to tell them just what you said, it’s a conversation – be part of it.


Yvonne February 24, 2011 at 10:50 am

Kristin, I email my 3 sons the link to every single blog post. They text me back with comments. I hate it,too.


Kerry Scott February 25, 2011 at 7:45 am

I’m actually okay with family (close family, not the kind you find via Google) not leaving comments; I like actual human contact for that, and this is my workplace, so I wouldn’t necessarily bring my close relatives to work with me. Things can get weird fast.

But it kills me when I see someone who has googled someone I’ve written about, and I see that they read the posts about that person…but then I never hear from them. I want to reach through the screen and say, “Come back! COME BACK!”


Yvonne February 24, 2011 at 10:48 am

<—– Sheep counter


luckie February 24, 2011 at 10:50 am

I completely agree Kerry! It always burns my buns when a particular OGR has garnered 200+ reads yet, only 5 comments?! As long as the commenter is respectful, I always welcome their participation & opinions.



Kerry Scott February 25, 2011 at 7:45 am

Luckie! You’re back! Yay!


Dee February 24, 2011 at 10:55 am

Agree with the commenters above.

Part of what makes blogging satisfying is the ability to engage in discussion.

Of course, I’d write anyway. I have to. But that is way off topic.

If I read the entry, I read the comments.


Suzanne Lucas February 24, 2011 at 10:59 am

I totally agree. I wish people would leave more comments. I love to read comments.

I don’t always write them, especially on your site, because I know squat about dead people and how to find them. And how do you find them? Because I’ve been through several training sessions at LDS family history centers and they have all focused on computer programs. I was raised on computers. Heck, we had an Atari 48 and a Commodore 64 hooked up to a television set as the monitor. I can figure out how to put people into the darn computer program. What I can’t do is figure out how to find the dead people themselves.

(Or rather records of them, because my house is already too cluttered to want actual dead bodies lying around.)


Kerry Scott February 25, 2011 at 7:47 am

Suzanne—email me and tell me what you’ve done already and stuff. I’m not sure what you have access to from there (you’re still in Europe, right?). But I’m sure there’s a way to at least get started.


Tessa February 24, 2011 at 11:47 am

Great post – Guilty as charged! When I starting reading genealogy blogs I was a lurker (that student in the back row who never said anything). But I decided to start commenting, asking questions, and reading others’ comments. A whole new world – it is great to follow along and see how others work through issues and questions; it is amazing to see the interaction with “leaders in the field” (I am thinking ESM in your recent Source Citations blog).

To fellow bloggers – make it easy to comment; give us some questions or ask for our comments; have a poll; do something to encourage interaction. On my blog I have a monthly roll call (sure I got this idea from someone??) of birthdays and anniversaries of people in my family tree (with a deceased and/or 100 year rule). I have had two people contact me regarding family connections. These interactive things work!

Finally I was always taught that there were “no dumb questions” (if you don’t know the answer how else will you find out unless you ask). In this same vein, there are “no dumb blog comments.” So get out there and interact! Thanks for generating so much discussion.


Kerry Scott February 25, 2011 at 7:50 am

That’s a good point.


Rosemary February 24, 2011 at 12:28 pm

I read blog comments. It may not be until the next day,or even a day or two after that, but I do go back and look at comments for the last few days. I don’t, however, subscribe to the comment feed. I suppose I should, but the feed is long enough as it is.


Kerry Scott February 25, 2011 at 7:49 am

I only subscribe to the comment feed if I’ve actually commented. Otherwise I’d never get anything done.

(Incidentally, everyone: You can hit the “Subscribe to comments via email” button whenever you leave a comment here. Then you’ll receive an email with each new comment. This helps you know if someone replies to YOUR comment.)


Whitney February 24, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Thank you!! I think people don’t get blogs mostly. And I think you hit the nail right on the head, that people often equate blog posts with articles and that their comments would then be a lot like a letter to the editor. Except that blogs are about community and the post is really just the jumping off place!!

With that said, I often lurk because sometimes everyone else’s comments are exactly what I’m thinking and I feel like I have nothing additional to add to the conversation. I mean how many times do you have to hear, “Exactly what everyone else said!” before to gets old and you wish that people would just say something new, or disagree just for the sake of conversation.

But good job! I’m going to make more of an effort to read & post comments in the hopes that people will read my blog’s comment and post some of their own!


Kerry Scott February 25, 2011 at 7:51 am

Oh, definitely. I try to only comment if I have something to say, because a bunch of “Great post!” comments are no fun for everyone to wade through.


Thomas MacEntee February 24, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Tessa has hit part of the issue – blog posts need to invite comments, invite conversation. It doesn’t mean a blog post has to be controversial. My best blog posts that garner the most comments are ones where I have an open ended question for the community.


Kerry Scott February 25, 2011 at 7:52 am

I love those community threads on Thursdays.


Alex February 24, 2011 at 1:07 pm

I agree that comments almost always add something valuable to the topic and experience of blogs. But I must confess that unless I am actually visiting the blog post page, or at least the blog itself where I can see the number of comments left, I don’t generally read the comments – as Google Reader doesn’t tell me they are there and sadly I am not blessed with unlimited reading (or commenting) time. Just another of my genealogical failings!


Kerry Scott February 25, 2011 at 7:58 am

Oh, I definitely don’t read the comments on every post either. I’d never get anything else done if I did, and on posts that are about someone’s family specifically, I don’t have anything to contribute.

What I’m talking about are the situations where someone has a strong opinion on a topic, but they don’t post it. For whatever reason, I get a lot of email or Twitter DM responses to certain posts of mine. People send me intelligent, well-written thoughts on posts, and I say, “Why don’t you post that in the comments?” And sometimes they say, “Oh, I didn’t want to disagree with you” or “I don’t want to piss off [whoever]” or “Oh, I’d never say that in public” or “I don’t want to look like an idiot.”

If you have nothing to say, that’s cool. But if you have something to say, and it’s not a personal message, a jerk-y diatribe, or an ad for your ishy porn site, share it with the class, please.


Robert February 24, 2011 at 4:03 pm

I’m snail mailing my comment. Unless you’d prefer a fax.


Kerry Scott February 25, 2011 at 7:58 am

What, no Pony Express?


Susan Tiner February 24, 2011 at 5:24 pm

I agree with Whitney that most people don’t get blogs.

There’s generational differences too in how people feel about technology and privacy. I’ve heard that baby boomers are technophobes. I’m not, but most of my boomer friends are. If they read my blog, they send email comments or facebook notes. Or they call, or just mention it the next time we’re together. Weird, huh?

That’s for the pointer back to the previous post. Elizabeth Shown Mills is funny and I like all of her points.


Kerry Scott February 25, 2011 at 8:00 am

You know, one of the interesting things about RootsTech is that at 39, I was STILL one of the younger people there (and also the only one still trying to figure out how to work the stupid cell phone). There are tons and tons of people older than both of us who are tech-savvy. I think those age lines are much blurrier these days than we think.


Yvonne February 25, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Susan, ‘generational differences’ is such a keen observation! I have 200 Facebook members for one of my blogs – many of them are my own friends, and quite a log of them are much older than I am. They ONLY comment if I ‘share’ a blog post on my personal Facebook wall. I’m constantly encouraging them to “follow” or “subscribe to email,” etc., but they just WILL NOT!

Any ideas about what can we do to relocate them from the comfort of Facebook to our blogs? Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather them comment on Facebook than not at all, but the blog would create so much more interaction.


Yvonne February 25, 2011 at 3:21 pm

**Well, they’re not ‘logs.’ I meant “quite a LOT”


Susan Tiner February 26, 2011 at 1:02 pm

I know that for the friends who avoid commenting on my blog, part of the issue has to do with privacy. The feel like facebook is more private, though depending on settings, it may or may not be!

Also, there’s the annoyance of having to “sign in” with email address on the blog whereas on facebook posting is easy.

There’s a social aspect to it as well. My friends don’t necessarily want to randomly interact with the public as you would at a conference, for example. I’m more open to these interactions.

Kerry: I agree with you that the generational lines are getting blurrier. I know that the connections I’m making online span multiple generations. I really was referring to my offline friends. They are mostly boomers or a bit older and don’t love technology or relate to the power of social networking.

Missy Corley February 24, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Doing my part to help you get some sleep tonight :o) I too am obsessed with my blog stats and with getting comments. Trying to be more proactive about leaving comments of my own.


Greta Koehl February 24, 2011 at 7:43 pm

When I read a post that I know is going to generate some good comments or when there already are a few good comments, I will return several times to make sure I read them all. However, like Whitney, I may not always comment when someone has already expressed my thoughts.


Lauren Mahieu February 24, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Okay, okay, okay….I was one of your non-commenting readers last night who LOVES your blog! Entertaining and informational! Keep up the good work!


Debi February 25, 2011 at 10:53 am

I love the comments almost as much as the ‘main event’. But I’m guilty as charged about not leaving comments – mostly because I feel like my question might appear dumb or unimportant. So, thanks for the assurance that I can ask or say anything no matter how dumb I feel.

I’m still thinking about the whole blogging thing. I have lots to share about my dead friends!


Kerry Scott February 25, 2011 at 10:57 am

Seriously, Debi—just do it. You’ll really enjoy it, and you’ll meet lots of cool people, and it’s a great way to record your stories and info for your kids and grandkids.


Steve Bonnell February 25, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Ref: Your “.. The whole point of most blog posts is to start a conversation. ..”

I’ve always felt that, too, but don’t usually leave a comment if I don’t have anyting more to add than “Me too” or some other basic comment. But, if something I’ve read nudges me, I’ll typically (well, maybe) add to it.

I’ll even disagree if I can provide a good example, or show a Fault in the blogger’s logic.

Sometimes, I’ll just follow the comments to get other’s points-of-view.

However, you shouldn’t feel that just because
No One is responding to you,
it doesn’t mean that No One is reading you.

And No, you’re not a boob!



Kerry Scott February 25, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Oh, I definitely don’t feel un-read. I just wish people felt comfortable saying in public comments what they’ll say in emails. I have some really smart readers, and they email me these really intelligent comments…and I want to share them.

People are having really meaningful conversations out there, but they can’t necessarily do any good if they aren’t having those conversations where other people can hear them.

As for being a boob…I was in HR before this. I fired people for a living. I’ve been called just about every body part there is.


Steve Bonnell February 25, 2011 at 8:03 pm

I want to elaborate for other readers… continuing the conversation, so-to-speak.
I was referencing your other subject concerning “Source Citations in Genealogy: Church or Cult? ” for the boob comment…
“..Maybe my anonymous email pal is right, and I’m a boob. But there are lots of boobs out there, and if you want to be able to reach them… well, you’d better learn to speak boob. ..”

After reading my comment and your response, without knowing where that reference came from, things could be misunderstood!


rodokmen February 27, 2011 at 6:58 am

Yes, its true. Comments are salt and pepper of blogging, the best feedback and source of useful information.


Kimberly March 1, 2011 at 11:55 am

I posted a link to your Citations blog post for my BU class – and specifically told them to read both the post and the comments – the discussion generated by an insightful blog post is where growth, change and inspiration can really take off!


Kerry Scott March 3, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Ahh, that explains the traffic from the BU domain…thank you! I loved your post on the subject too. One great thing about blogging is that we have the opportunity to discuss these things in a way that includes a lot more people than before.


geniaus March 6, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Some people just don’t get the collaborative nature of blogs. They treat them as they would a newpaper or journal article. You can see what I think at http://geniaus.blogspot.com/2010/12/blogging-is-two-way-street.html


Charles Hale March 6, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Good post, Kerry. Very accurate. I actually did a tongue-in-cheek post about “commenting” on my blog today. Seems I was getting more comments about my hair–at least on Facebook, not as much on the blog–than my content.
Personally, it’s the communicative nature of the comments that appeals to me. You feel as if your remarks resonate.
Very nice.


Jacquie March 12, 2011 at 1:28 pm

I am totally a blog newbie. I went to a genealogy meeting at my local library and altho I’ve been doing research for 30 years, I did not know about genealogic blogs. The speaker said the Clue Wagon was her favorite so 2 months ago I thought I’d give it/you a try. I didn’t realize I could comment until I read this posting. (I just assumed that those were special invited guests.) Thanks for the helpful hints (in general) and this encouragement about leaving comments. Thanks.


Kerry Scott March 12, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Oh wow. This comment made my day. Thank you, Library Speaker, whoever you were…and you, Jacquie, are hereby a Special Invited Guest for sure. Welcome!


Comeka August 21, 2011 at 11:41 am

It might have never occurred to me that a blog post should be the start of a conversation before discovering your blog . . . the world is shifting under my feet so excuse me while I find my balance!

My personal experience with blogging has, mostly, been in the craft world . . . there, folks mostly post pictures of completed projects so other folks can post complements. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but about a year ago, I decided it just wasn’t that much fun considering the amount of work my OCDish self put into how my blog looked. Sure, I like both giving and receiving complements but it just didn’t seem like worth effort . . .

Who knew?


Kerry Scott August 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I think the degree to which people view blogs as conversation spots varies by niche and by blogger, but in general, I think they’re under the umbrella of “social media.” For me, the #1 reason I blog is to connect with other people, and I think that’s true of lots of others as well.


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