Thursday, March 20, 2008

Blog Comments - Not Worth the Trouble

When I first began exploring this strange new world of LDS blogging, I almost never commented on other blogs, preferring to get the lay of the land. I became excited about the prospect of intelligently and respectfully discussing topics which bothered me, or which I had thought a lot about, or which were entirely new to me. Then I started commenting profusely, whenever a topic interested me.

After time, I realized that blogs do not necessarily represent an opportunity for intelligent and respectful discussion and that they more often resembled verbal food fights. I never did like food fights. Realizing that what I say makes little real difference, I stopped commenting altogether for a time. After some prayer and pondering, I felt guided to continue to comment despite the frequent disappointment in doing so, but to comment more judiciously.

Now, I use the Spirit as a measuring stick. I try to never comment without first asking the Lord if I should. If I can't comment with feelings of the Spirit in my heart, I pass on the chance, no matter how interesting the topic seems to me. I've found that this makes commenting a far more pleasant experience for me. Though I read many posts cross-sectioned from many blogs, I rarely comment. Sometimes I don't comment because I don't feel I could add anything to the conversation. Sometimes I don't comment because I'm not yet sure how I feel about a topic. Sometimes I don't comment because I don't think it will do any good. There is no point sharing an opinion that will only offend people without any hope for positive influence on them or on myself. Sometimes I don't comment because of the blog the post is in, and the history of commenting dynamics I have observed on that blog.

So, what inspires you to comment? What keeps you from commenting? Why do you blog/comment on blogs in the first place? When you comment, do you have any rules for yourself?


  1. I comment when I have a perspective that I don't think has been represented by the comments already written (I'm usually late to comment), or when I think someone with an unpopular opinion is getting picked on or misunderstood. Of course, then the person(s) who were previously picking on the someone starts feeling picked on and misunderstood themselves, and then it starts being about how mean everyone is--so that's a mess. I should really stay out of that stuff.

    There are times when it's obvious that my perspective is unwelcome, but it's so hard to let one side think they own the conversation, that all reasonable people only think one way. On the other hand, some of these conversations seem pretty pointless, 300 comments later and still no clarity on the subject, but a lot of hurt feelings.

    Wow, I think you just talked me out of ever commenting on another blog again. :)

  2. SilverRain: my experience with blogging has been similar to yours. I don't comment very often (you might disagree based on my frequent participation here). I think reasons for commenting or not commenting may vary from blog to blog and even from topic to topic within any given blog.

    For me, blogging is mainly a tool for learning. I think blogging has great potential for gaining other perspectives- it can be like sitting in a huge classroom with some very smart people all sharing their thoughts on a topic. But, it rarely seems to reach that potential.

    When I comment (or post something on my own little blog), I usually hope to get some kind of feedback. It's the dialogue that occurs that promotes learning and growth- without that, you are right- it isn't worth the trouble.

  3. I recognize your frustration. I used to leave a lot of comments on, which is a bulletin board, but again a lot of the dialogue ends up in silliness and "food" fights.

    When I read blogs I prefer to learn the gospel and to gain new perspectives that I have not thought much about.

    I have started my own blog, but I rarely get comments. Maybe I need to publicize better.

  4. madhousewife - It was certainly not my intent to discourage commenting, but to examine why commenters might feel discouraged. (Though I understand your sentiment. There are times I feel entirely too discouraged to comment.) I think it's important to examine why we comment before we comment. All the reasons you listed are great, even the "unwelcome perspective" one. I have to watch and make sure it's not merely perpetuating contention, though. I like debate too much.

    Jim - I appreciate your participation here. Thank you! Dialogue is the #1 thing that attracted me to blogging to begin with. Never before have we been able to instantly swap opinions across the globe. It's really a miracle, if you think about it.

    S. Faux - Unfortunately, self-publication is necessary to get people to read your blog. I dislike advertising, but recognize it as a necessary evil.


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